Stanley Halls was built by the inventor and philanthropist William Stanley as a means of entertaining and informing the local people in South Norwood, south London. Over 110 years on, and now under the watchful care of the Stanley People’s Initiative, the centre is continuing in this tradition as it becomes a stunning home for the new Stanley’s Film Club.
A volunteer run community cinema, Stanley’s Film Club aims to exhibit ‘new releases, cult classics, documentaries and shorts.’ Speaking to Gorilla at the opening, Katie Brandwood (Creative Director) emphasised that Stanley’s has a genuine community focus and can act as a platform for local filmmakers with its quarterly short film night celebrating filmmaking from the area. It also hopes to plug a gap in an area of London that is severely lacking in independent or arthouse cinemas.
Stanley’s Film Club announced itself last week with a screening of the critical and commercial smash Amy, the documentary by Asif Kapadia (Senna, Far North). It’s a pretty big name film for a new film night to put on, and it’s one that gave Stanley’s a big local impact as a local crowd packed out the theatre.
At their next screening on November 4, Stanley’s Film Night will display their true independent film credentials with their ‘Shorts in the South’ night, when they will be screening 10 short films that are linked in various ways to south east London.
Katie and her team aim to widely publicise Stanley’s as a place to view and exhibit film; something which it’s predecessor, Stanley Halls Film Club, was unable to do due to licensing issues preventing it from properly promoting its events. Now with a more suitable license they are free to shout to their beautiful Grade II listed rafters.
Indeed, Stanley’s joins the recent wave of enthusiasm towards community cinemas, exemplified by the London Free Film Festivals or more widely by the BFI’s Neighbourhood Cinema Programme which, as part of their five-year-plan, aims to diversify cinema audiences by supporting travelling and community cinema.
Hopefully Stanley’s can continue to harness the enthusiasm of the surrounding south London community and provide a source and platform for original film.
Find out more about Stanley’s Film Club including upcoming events.
All photos by Ben Gold. See more of his work here.