Encountering Urban Space Live at The Floating Cinema

Harris, Ella R S. 2017. Encountering Urban Space Live at The Floating Cinema. In: Sarah Atkinson and Helen W. Kennedy, eds. Live Cinema: Cultures, Economies, Aesthetics. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 9781501324833 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

It is often argued that pop-up cinemas reintroduce a collective model of film spectatorship; bringing cinema back to the centre of public, urban life. At a time when films are routinely watched on laptops, iPads and mobile phones, pop-up cinemas buck the trend. They encourage sociality and interaction and put an emphasis on sites of film spectatorship as spaces of collective urban encounter. What’s more, pop-up cinemas are seen to engage a critical perspective on urban space. It is suggested that their site specific screenings produce an orientation of ‘serious play’ (Pratt & San Juan, 2014); a cinematic way of seeing through which urban issues can be imaginatively explored and connections to place can be strengthened.

In this chapter I explore the London based ‘Floating Cinema’ to examine pop-up cinema as a social model of film spectatorship and ‘serious play’ as a cinematic way of seeing the city. The Floating Cinema are a pop-up cinema who operate out of a purpose built canal boat. They travel London’s waterways bringing pop-up film screenings and related workshops to urban communities. Here, I explore a series of events that The Floating Cinema held in the London suburb of Brentford in the summer of 2015; events that marked the start and end of a tour they undertook from Brentford to Bristol and back again. Through a detailed examination of The Floating Cinema and their Brentford based events I offer a critical account of the modes of encountering public space they engage and the conflicted instrumentalities those ways of seeing have at a time of rapid urban change.

Item Type:

Book Section

Additional Information:

This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Bloomsbury Academic in 'Live Cinema: Cultures, Economies, Aesthetics' on 28 December 2017, available online: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/live-cinema-9781501324833/


Pop-up cinemas, Floating Cinema, Film spectatorship


28 December 2017Published

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Date Deposited:

20 Dec 2018 16:10

Last Modified:

28 Jun 2019 01:26



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