Published on February 4, 2013 | by Rory Moore

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Free Film in London

Cinema at The Montpelier

Each month The Montpelier shows a free one-off screening of an art house classic film. [Jon Durr]

Be honest, going to the cinema is something that we all enjoy, but with the average London cinema charging around ten pounds per ticket, it is something that many of us rarely do.

We here at Arts London News feel like it is a shame that this activity is something that we have all practically blacklisted due to financial reasons so we have compiled a small selection of venues across London that house intimate free film nights weekly or monthly.

The Alibi

Better known for being one of Dalston’s popular nightspots on a weekend, this bar also holds a weekly film night every Monday. The usual programme consists of screening cinematic gems from the 80s and 90s, but this is not exclusively the case with a handful of recent releases smattering their listings.

The screenings themselves start at around 8pm running until around 10pm. Once the film has finished, the bar very quickly returns to a state not greatly dissimilar to a normal Friday or Saturday night, with the new focus of the evening being Karaoke. There is also a prize of free drinks for all of those that perform.

Overall it is a great way to spend a Monday evening while keeping costs down.

The Big Red Pizza Bus

A five-minute walk from Deptford Bridge station stands a classic red double-decker bus. Look again though because this bus is a permanent fixture on Deptford’s Church Street. The bus itself has been stripped out and reupholstered as a restaurant – a trend that is echoed around the corner on Deptford High Street where an old freestanding train carriage sits, which has also been revamped and turned into a cafe known as the Deptford Project.

Not only do the guys over at the Big Red Pizza Bus serve up some of the best pizza in south-east London; they also put on a series of free film mornings around 11am every Saturday and Sunday in their ‘Film Truck’ outside. The films screened at this time tend to be more family friendly with a mixture of old and new Pixar classics being prominent on the listings.

The ‘Film Truck’ is also home to a selection of one-off screenings put together with the Deptford Film Club – some of which are free screenings – but the majority of which may cost only a few pounds. February’s listings play host to a Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender (LBGT) history special, with screenings of classic and new LBGT films throughout the month.

The Montpelier

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Peckham’s Rye Lane, sits The Montpelier. A warm, welcoming and well-stocked local pub, it has its own private film screening room in the back. The screen comfortably seats around 30 people on a selection of old church pews and benches.

The room itself is frequently used for a variety of screenings including a handful of new to DVD releases and a selection of classic films from the 70s until modern day. You can expect the listings to reflect what has done well at film festivals such as Sundance or Cannes, rather than necessarily their success at the box office.

“It is a really good idea to bring free cinema experiences into central London.” Hannah White

Each month there is a free one-off screening of an art house classic film selected by the film blogging site Days Are Numbers. The date on which these screenings happen rarely stays the same so it is best the check the pub’s online website for details of each screening. With standard tickets for the back room cinema coming in at £3.50 each it is well worth also checking out their paid screenings at www.themontpelier.net.

The Garrison

A small gastro found between London Bridge, Borough and Bermondsey stations, The Garrison is a well-decorated and comfortable pub, which plays host each week to a free Sunday evening film club.

Offering up an ever-changing seasonal menu, The Garrison is a great place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon as well as a Sunday evening enjoying one of their screenings. The Garrison tends to stick to higher profile, more recent Hollywood releases as opposed to Montpelier. If big budget Hollywood comedies and action films are your thing, this is the place for you to get your free film fix.

The screenings themselves are held in a private room self-described as being halfway between a garden shed and country cottage, which is available for hire for customers’ own private film screenings and meetings should they wish.

The Duke of Wellington

Each month this Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) approved pub in Dalston plays host to a series of screenings, all put on by Howling at the Moon – a group who aim to provide their audience with a selection of the best in “far-out, good old-fashioned and spine-tingling cinema”, as they describe it.

With most screenings being horror films based on classic themes such as house tales, possessed objects and ghost stories this film night is not for the squeamish. As with the Montpellier these free film screenings do not always fall on the same date within the month so it is best to keep up-to-date with the listings and times for screenings via the Howling at the Moon Facebook page.

Olivia Cody, 21, an advertising student from LCC did not know that these free cinema venues throughout London existed but said she would be keen to check them out, “London has introduced a wide range of free and affordable cinema, accessible to all and tailored to a wide audience.”

Hannah White, 20, photography student at LCC comments on free cinema experiences in London: “Cinema in London is so expensive, it is much cheaper out of the capital city so it is a really good idea to bring free cinema experiences into central London, I will definitely check it out.” ALN hope that you have also been inspired by our list of favourite film spots and you feel encouraged to create a few new favourites of your own.

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