As we step into the second – or perhaps third? – week of scorching hot weather, the cinema is my unlikely hero. An offer of air-conditioned respite and a couple of hours of escapism: a moment to forget about peeling, lobster-red shoulders and what’s going on with the footie in favour of..practically anything else.
This week, a month after the bustling Sheffield Doc/Fest took over the city, cinemas play host to a pair of distinctly different documentaries. The first, an emotional rollercoaster plotting the brilliant rise and crushing fall of pop sensation Whitney Houston comes just one year after Nick Broomfield’s doc Whitney: Can I Be Me. This new film, simply titled Whitney and directed by Oscar-winning documentarian Kevin MacDonald is perhaps a deeper, more intimate examination. Featuring new interviews with those closest to Whitney – including Bobby Brown - Whitney isn’t a film that will give you all the answers, but it certainly isn’t afraid to ask you to draw your own conclusions about what lead to the complete self-destruction of this stunningly resilient, bright star of a woman.
Taking a sharp left-turn, this week also marks the release of crowd-funded documentary Postcards from the 48%. Postcards offers to tell the heavily-debated tale of Brexit in a film entirely created by and featuring people that voted Remain on 23 rd June 2016. Providing the voices of the 48% with a platform, the film’s director David Nicholas Wilkinson is taking the film on a Q&A tour of the UK throughout July, providing people with a platform to share how they feel about the referendum results and discuss what’s to come. Showroom Cinema will be hosting Wilkinson in conversation with Madeleina Kayon Sunday 8 th July at 3pm.
In fact, lots of this Friday’s new releases are true (or true-ish) stories, reflecting and recreating reality for the big screen. Mary Shelley, the first English language feature from Haifaa Al-Mansour (director of the award winning 2012 drama Wadjda) is a dramatic retelling of the life of the woman behind one of history’s greatest pieces of Gothic literature.
The film features daring performances from some of cinema’s most promising new stars, including Elle Fanning (The Beguiled), Masie Williams (Game of Thrones) and Bel Powley (Diary of a Teenage Girl). A second dramatic adaptation, Lek andthe Dogs, - which has a Q&A with director Andrew Kötting on Friday 6 th July – is an artistic reimagining of Hattie Naylor’s award-winning play Ivan and the Dogs, based on the startling true story of a Russian child raised by feral dogs. It’s a spectacularly absorbing film from one of the great contemporary moving-image artists. So perhaps this week, to escape our humid reality, we can step into someone else’s story for a while.