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Secret Cinema Kabul: A Film Brought to Life

BY Boon Koh
Published 12 January 2012

I finally stopped procrastinating and went for a Secret Cinema event. I know its taken me a while, but when I first heard about it all those months ago, it looked as though it might be one of those fads that stayed for a couple of months, and then moved on.

But the Secret Cinema is still going strong, and I was surprised to find that their latest incarnation, Secret Cinema Kabul, is a mammoth series of dates over the months of December and January. More people will go for Secret Cinema Kabul than will for some minor music festivals, which really is a testament to what a permanent institution to London it has become.

Still, I had mixed feelings about Secret Cinema, especially after finding out it costs an eye-popping £35 per ticket, for what will essentially be a unknown-till-the-day retro movie and some recreated sets from the movie. It got even worse after the money had left my credit card – I was invited to befriend a “Laurence P Williams” on Facebook, a character that would leave me clues and hints and instructions, all in the spirit of the movie.

So between all the random Facebook messages and emails with secret meeting points (just around the corner from Barbican station!) and objects with hidden meanings (a single flower), I found myself at a deserted, derelict central London factory that had been converted for the Secret Cinema. I do have to give kudos to the creators of Secret Cinema, bringing back disused sites in London in a creative way.

The live entertainment part of the Secret Cinema experience was very professionally created and run, with scenes from the movie that took alot of effort to create, especially sourcing all the props from that black and white era! The actors and actresses too gave very convincing performances – too convincing, maybe, as even amateur cinephiles would be able to easily guess the movie.

A huge tip for anyone thinking of going for a Secret Cinema event: it is alot more enjoyable during the summer than in the freezing winter. Despite dressing up warmly for the afternoon, it was difficult to sit in a unheated warehouse in the late afternoon, with the sun going down, and not feel like I was turning into a popsicle.

And, despite the high enough £35 ticket for the event, food & drink are rather pricey too once inside – bring along a hot thermos flask of cocoa and you’ll feel rather smug with your austerity self during the screening amidst plunging temperatures.

Overall, Secret Cinema is very much a unique experience. Why no-one else has ever thought of bringing movies more to life, I don’t know. But the team behind Secret Cinema have executed the live entertainment bit perfectly, and its definitely worth going for one of their events at least once while in London!

Gallery of Secret Cinema Kabul: