Last week saw the East End's Genesis Cinema showcase everything it has to offer over the coming year crammed into just one night, with a Halloween twist. Part All-Hallows celebration, but also partly a statement of intent after 15 years in the business, the cinema's owner Tyrone Walker-Hebborn proudly declared to the assembled guests during the nights drink's reception in the upstairs Paragon Bar that this event showed that the cinema was still independent in term of ownership and attitude.
The night itself showcased just how much the Genesis Cinema, wedged in between Whitechapel and Stepney Green stations on Mile End Road, can offer to visitors today. "Independent" certainly should not be mistaken for "small" or lacking in the technical capabilities that multiplexes can offer. Apart from the aforementioned stylish Paragon Bar for events, the Genesis has developed over the years to the point where it now has five screens with digital, 3D and 35mm capabilities: Screens 2&3 seat 158 each, Screen 4 seats 100 and STUDIO 5 has 40 seats made up of sofas and armchairs. But the real treat is the huge Screen One, which seats 575 and retains a flavour of the building's history as a theatre - in this case The Paragon Theatre Music Hall which was built in the 1880s after the original music venue was destroyed.
You can find out more about the history of the cinema and its transformation under the ownership of Tyrone Walker-Hebborn- who rescued it from the derelict state to which it had been reduced by 1989- in this excellent feature written by by Zarina Rimbaud-Kadirbaks (AKA www.dutchgirlinlondon.com). In case you were wondering, yes you can book the Genesis for weddings, Zarina had hers there!
The events and screening list included so many options it was impossible to take it all in. This writer however could not resist a chance to revisit the work of Robin Rimbaud, AKA Scanner, who is a class act when it comes to rescoring films and giving viewers a new experience of an old classic. His electronic-driven score for Robert Wiene's German expressionist masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, which was screening in the giant Screen 1, is a haunting, pulsating experience.
Also showing at GENFEST were:
A special encore screening of the smash hit sell-out NT Live production of Frankenstein directed by Danny Boyle, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller.
The 30th anniversary edition of Ghostbusters remastered in 4k.
A screening of acclaimed horror film The Babadook.
The film club The Good, The Bad, The Unseen hosted a secret horror double-bill.
Live music and party in Bar Paragon from gypsy folk band The Wild Rye, plus DJs, comedy and poetry
Live street art from Kef in the ground floor gallery space.