Leisure & Culture #010

The Secret Cinema: Tell No One About This

Secret Cinema

Psst. Want to know a secret? I’ll let you in, but remember! Don’t tell anyone about it. There’s a cinema somewhere in the world where everything is a secret!

In today’s demanding world, we want gratification now. We constantly seek the different, the strange, and the interactive; and in the face of instant satisfaction and real-time social media updates, the suspense of the unknown adds to the adrenaline rush when people take part in something like the Secret Cinema. The premise is simple: attendees need to sign up via Facebook, Twitter or the official website where info on upcoming events is released; tickets are purchased without knowing the film or location (although these days, the event reveals certain film titles as another way of adding to the suspense). A few days before the event, the secret venue would be revealed via e-mail.

Secret Cinema Presents: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Secret Cinema Presents: The Grand Budapest Hotel

It is pretty amazing when you think about how the whole thing works. With the world increasingly obsessed about letting the cat out of the bag, both participants and organizers are wonderfully tightlipped about the Secret Cinema. But that’s how Fabien Riggall of Future Cinema planned it to be: a communal experience where everyone starts on the same footing. People who attend Secret Cinema events love film and surprises, creating a space where strangers can mingle freely and together. And it started out in an equally unexpected manner as well – Riggall had been asked by one of his friends to curate some films for his club event. He put together some short films, music videos, prepared a DJ and in the cozy space, people began to talk and debate about the films. Riggall discovered that he had a knack for creating a narrative from the films he chose and the Secret Cinema formed in his head.

Secret Cinema presents: Ghostbusters

Secret Cinema events are by no means your normal movie screenings. Most are themed, and feature live performers, DJs, cutting edge multimedia installations and a variety of carefully curated soundtracks. In his journey to reinvent the movie theatre experience, Riggall is tapping into a very human insight: people need to be challenged and inspired, and being able to be part of something much larger. Secret Cinema is a chance for anyone and everyone to develop a personal experience with motion pictures and with other people. The unique locations help intensify this experience: an event in Finland saw films being projected onto an ice block, another in Berlin was located on a river where people could swim up and watch. To Riggall and Secret Cinema participants, the event is a collective creation and re-living of memories. People are encouraged to get up from their seats and interact with the performers present, the detailed set recreations, all in a bid to make the film their own.

In a Secret Cinema screening of Blade Runner, Riggall and team partnered with Canary Wharf and created a travel agency (‘Utopia Skyways’) that gave participants could book tickets to “off-world colonies” and begin again. You could board one of the coaches, be whisked away into the night where actors played replicant bounty hunters before arriving at your final destination: a massive recreation of the movie’s Chinatown set. The upcoming incarnation of the event will see Back To The Future’s Hill Valley town recreated in an undisclosed location in London, with hidden passageways that allow the audience to travel back and forth through time.

Secret Cinema presents: Blade Runner

There is something different – almost a kind of ritual – when you leave your house and travel to see a film. Surrounded by likeminded people who are there to partake in the director’s vision (just like you!), watching a movie in cinema with them is certainly an experience that’s irreplaceable.

Secret Cinema makes such an experience even more special, because you can discover different facets of a film physically and emotionally; you can be assured that you’re joining a community that loves cinema even if you can’t tell anyone about it.

Secret Cinema presents Lawrence of Arabia, Photography by Mike Massaro

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Official website: www.secretcinema.org