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Barbican Cinema Has Launched a Cinema On Demand Service - And Here's What's On

Barbican announces Cinema On Demand featuring bold, international curated films and free additional content - click here to discover.

Image: Retablo, courtesy of the Barbican

The Barbican announced on July 9th the launch of Cinema On Demand, a new streaming service showcasing the best international films and hidden cinematic gems through independent on-release films, exclusive one-off titles and film seasons, curated by the Barbican Cinema team and selected partners. Available to stream from home or on the move, the pay-per-view programme will also offer children’s titles from the popular Family Film Club programme, plusfree additional content and virtual ScreenTalks.

Cinema on Demand is the first-ever streaming service to be offered by the Barbican, and builds on the popular digital content programme from the Barbican’s Cinema, Creative Learning, Gallery, Music and Theatre curatorial teams, available through Read, Watch & Listen.

Cinema on Demand is available to audiences across the UK with a rolling four-week programme of titles and events that reflect the Barbican’s bold and international cinema programme. The launch programme available between 10 July and 7 August 2020 includes five film choices together with a poetry reading and two virtual ScreenTalks. Titles will remain available for audiences to stream for 48 hours from the time of purchase, and will include closed captions and audio description where available, continuing the Barbican’s commitment to access.

Barbican Cinema on Demand is supported by the Mayor of London’s Culture at Risk business support fund and the National Lottery through BFI Film Audience Network.

Gali Gold, Head of Barbican Cinema said: ‘We’re very excited to offer you this new way to experience and enjoy our rich film programme and curated content while our cinemas are closed, and to create an accessible and wide reaching programme once we reopen. The challenges of recent times have demonstrated the vital role of art and culture in our lives, the importance of collective experiences and collective responsibility. Cinema On Demand gives us the opportunity to continue and expand our commitment to great cinema and gifted filmmakers, to wide access and inclusion and above all, to our diverse audiences. It will enable us to keep connecting people with ideas, stories, experiences and also with one another, through film.’

Two new releases will be available to stream throughout July to 7 August: from Iceland, Hlynur Pálmason’s atmospheric psychological drama-thriller A White, White Day; and from Biosphere 2, the new documentary Spaceship Earth, which tells the story of eight people who spent two years quarantined inside a self-engineered replica of Earth’s ecosystem, in the name of science. A free virtual ScreenTalk with Spaceship Earth director Matt Wolf and film curator Justin Jaeckel from the Architectural Foundation will take place at 8pm on Thursday 16 July.

Audiences will have a chance to see a young Björk in the brand new restoration of Nietzchka Keene’s The Juniper Tree (1990), which was due to screen at the Barbican in April. It’s a visually stunning tale of witchcraft based on a Brothers Grimm story, set in the wilds of medieval Iceland. The stream will also include a reading by poet Annie Hayter, inspired by the Nordic island’s mythology, nature and landscapes, mirroring some of the film’s themes.

Following its sold-out screening as part of Forbidden Colours which celebrates rarely seen queer-focussed films from places where LGBTQ+ people face oppression, audiences will have another opportunity from 24 July to see the powerful, drama Retablo, set in a remote village in the Peruvian Andes. The director Alvaro Delgado Aparicio will join a free virtual ScreenTalk with Barbican Cinema Curator Alex Davidson on Monday 27 July at 8.30pm BST to discuss his BAFTA-nominated film, which tells of a teenager who discovers his father has been having sex with men. Retablo is subtitled with hard-of-hearing captions and the ScreenTalk will be live captioned.

Each month the programme will include new Family Film Club content. From 10 July to 7 August, the programme features ABsolutely Amazing Shortsa programme of films from AB Studios in Latvia, who have been making award winning stop motion animations since the 1960s. Expert in creating simple stories for children with a unique visual style, these quirky films with minimal dialogue, tell tales of bears on the loose, circus tigers running amok and vegetable garden shenanigans.

Image: The Juniper Tree, courtesy of the Barbican

Cinema On Demand listings: 10 July to 7 August.

Spaceship Earth (12) 2019, USA, Dir Matt Wolf, 1hr 55 Available to stream from 10 July, 10.00am – 7 August, 9.59am

Pay per view: Full: £5.00 | Young Barbican: £4.00 | Barbican Members £4.00

Thursday 16 July, 8pm: Free, virtual ScreenTalk with director Matt Wolf and film curator Justin Jaeckel from the Architectural Foundation

In 1991 the BIOSPHERE 2 was created and became home to eight humans for two years in an experiment that was a worldwide phenomenon. The film explores the daily life of the BIOSPHERE 2 inhabitants as they try to prove what could be done to change the world in the face of life-threatening climate change.

Whilst they faced growing criticism that they were no more than a cult, this curious story shows how a committed, small group of people go to extreme lengths to imagine a new world. Directed by the brilliant documentary-maker Matt Wolf, the events of Spaceship Earth are intriguing and, at times, out of this world.

A White, White Day (15) 2019, Iceland, DirHlynur Pálmason, 1hr 49 Available to stream from 10 July, 10.00am – 7 August, 9.59am Pay per view: Full: £10.00 | Young Barbican: £4.00 | Barbican Members £8.00

An Icelandic psychological drama-thriller that is chilling and striking and keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very end.

The film follows the story of Ingimundur, a cop on compassionate leave due to the recent death of his wife. He tries to take his mind off his grief by busying himself with construction work and looking after his eight-year-old granddaughter. But below the surface of normality is seems Ingimundur is harbouring feelings of anguish and frustration.

Whilst going through a box of old family photos and videos, he finds what he believes to be evidence his wife was having an affair with a man he knows. From there, his anguish grows to anger with explosive consequences. Writer-director Hlynur Pálmasonuses the foggy and expansive Icelandic landscape, a chilling score and brilliant performances to create an eerie and thrilling atmosphere onscreen.

The Juniper Tree (12) USA/ Iceland 1990, Dir Nietzchka Keene, 78 min Plus poetry reading by Annie Hayter Available to stream from 10 July, 10.00am – 7 August, 9.59am Pay per view: Full: £6.00 | Young Barbican: £4.00 | Barbican Members: £4.80

A young Björk stars in Nietzchka Keene’s visually stunning tale of witchcraft in the wilds of medieval Iceland, presented here in a new restoration.

Based on a Brothers Grimm story, this haunting fantasy, rooted in myth and magic, stars Björk as Margit, a girl whose mother has been burned as a witch in medieval Iceland. Her sister uses magic to marry a shepherd with a young son, while Margit begins to have visions of her own...

Nietzchka Keene’s English-language film, shot in black and white, is unforgettably beautiful, with scenes shot by the Seljalandsfoss waterfall and depicting the Northern Lights. Iceland’s unique landscapes perfectly evoke the story’s supernatural elements and Björk, not yet a household name, is perfectly cast.

Retablo (18*) Peru/Germany/Norway 2017 Dir Alvaro Delgado Aparicio, 95 min English subtitled with Hard of Hearing captions Forbidden Colours Available to stream from 24 July 10.00am to 7 August, 9.59am Pay per view: Full: £6.00 | Young Barbican: £4.00 | Barbican Members: £4.80

Monday 27 July, 8.30pm free virtual ScreenTalk (live captioned) with director Alvaro Delgado Aparicio and Barbican Cinema Curator Alex Davidson

Set in an isolated village in the Peruvian Andes, Alvaro Delgado Aparicio’s powerful BAFTA-nominated drama features excellent performances, especially from Junior Bejar as Segundo, the conflicted teen, struggling with complex emotions.

Segundo is a young apprentice learning how to make retablos – hand-made story-boxes depicting personal scenes – under the supervision of his adored father. One day, Segundo discovers that his father has been unfaithful to his wife with other men. In this oppressive community defined by traditional values, where male intimacy and vulnerability are held in contempt, Segundo decides to keep this revelation a secret, even as it threatens to tear his world apart.

ABsolutely Amazing Shorts (U*) Family Film Club Available to stream from 10 July, 10.00am – 7 August, 9.59am Pay per view £2.50

A beautiful shorts programme, from the creative and unusual minds of Latvian filmmakers AB Studios.

AB Studios in Latvia have been making award winning stop motion since the 1960s and are expert in creating simple stories for children with a unique visual style.

With no or little dialogue, these quirky films tell tales of bears on the loose, circus tigers running amok and vegetable garden shenanigans.


Acorn Boy The story of clumsy little Acorn Boy and his friends in the village of Stalks. Latvia 2010 Dir Dace Rīdūze 9 min

Bear Is Coming! Based on true events, a hungry Latvian bear somehow ends up on a neighbouring Estonian island. Latvia 2008 Dir Janis Cimmermanis 16 min

Let's Fly!? This charming film about friends Munk and Lemmy learning to fly was the winner of Berlin Film Festival's Glass Bear back in 1995. Latvia 1995 Dir Nils Skapāns 5 min

Tiger When a baby tiger escapes from a visiting circus, chaos ensues. Latvia 2010 Dir Janis Cimmermanis 8 min

Pea Children The latest from AB, this gentle story set in a vegetable garden follows a family of peas who are chased through the beds by a hungry caterpillar. Latvia 2020 Dace Rīdūze 14 min

Total run time approx 53 min Suggested age: 3+

Image: Acorn Boy, courtesy of the Barbican

About Barbican Cinema

We connect audiences with a curated programme of international cinema; from celebrated filmmakers to ground-breaking and under-heard voices from past and present. Our programme ranges from thematic seasons that respond to today’s world, to new releases, Screentalks, cross-artform collaborations, family events, access screenings, cross-artform collaborations and event cinema that presents the performing arts on screen. We showcase the work of emerging filmmakers, as well as less familiar work of exceptional filmmakers from the UK and around the world. We champion the work of Barbican young programmers and give stage to emerging musicians in our ongoing film & live music series which includes our flagship collaboration with the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. As part of a cross-arts centre, our cinemas are a cultural space for people to share the viewing experience. We strive to be inclusive in everything we do; providing platforms for the widest possible range of filmmakers and ensuring we are an open, welcoming and accessible venue for all our audiences. We programme free offsite events in east London, offer reduced price tickets to 14-25 year olds through the Young Barbican membership scheme and special student ticket prices.

About the Barbican

A world-class arts and learning organisation, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. Its creative learning programme further underpins everything it does. Over a million people attend events annually, hundreds of artists and performers are featured, and more than 300 staff work onsite. The architecturally renowned centre opened in 1982 and comprises the Barbican Hall, the Barbican Theatre, The Pit, Cinemas 1, 2 and 3, Barbican Art Gallery, a second gallery The Curve, public spaces, a library, the Lakeside Terrace, a glasshouse conservatory, conference facilities and three restaurants. The City of London Corporation is the founder and principal funder of the Barbican Centre.

The Barbican is home to Resident Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra; Associate Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra; Associate Ensembles the Academy of Ancient Musicand Britten Sinfonia, Associate Producer Serious, and Artistic Partner Create. Our Artistic Associates include Boy Blue, Cheek by Jowl, Deborah Warner, Drum Worksand Michael Clark Company. The Los Angeles Philharmonic are the Barbican’s International Orchestral Partner, the Australian Chamber Orchestra are International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra are International Associate Ensemble.

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