Sands Films Tuesday Cinema Club August 2019

Rotherhithe | Events

Sands Films Studios present Tuesday Cinema Club, a selection of international films around a theme. August is dedicated to films from 1936. For times and bookings tickets on Eventbrite, click here



Tuesday Cinema Club in August

Tuesday 13 August 8.30pm |Films of 1936 season| Free, booking required

A title sets the tone: “Life’s tragedy begins with the bonding between parent and child.” This is a remarkable statement, outside the delusional reference point of a few American insistences: family as the basis for the successful send-off of the individual into society; independence; self-determination. It leaves no doubt that the tragic dimension of human life is something an individual can rarely, if ever, avoid or adjust. It also stresses the launching point of this tragedy: not birth (as in the case of the Judeo-Christian notion of Original Sin), but the parent-infant bond. This provides a psychological basis for what will inevitably beset the vast majority of human lives: parental disappointment in the child’s outcome as an adult; the grown offspring’s deep sense of guilt for having thus disappointed the parent.

This startlingly inflexible idea is illustrated in the film by a central example, although touching it, implicitly, are other human examples in a community of socioeconomic failure and canceled dreams. Ozu’s passivity, which often leads to a wholly admirable acceptance of life-as-it-is by his characters, here at least seems to lead to a darker sense of futility. Only tears can temporarily relieve the stress of living in a world governed by this futility.



8.30pm |Films of 1936 season| Dir. Jean Renoir | Free, booking required

Poverty, and fresh love’s capacity to undo its grip of despair, at least temporarily: in adapting Maxim Gorky’s play Nadnie for the French screen, Jean Renoir takes on a great theme. On this occasion Renoir’s primary interest lies elsewhere than in social analysis, the crux of Gorky’s concern. However uneven the result, Les bas-fonds has little or no connection with such analysis or with French poetic realism.

 Outdoors sunlight, liberated, expansive camera movement, Alochka, the young, agile accordian player who clicks his heels in the air: what does this have to do with the lower depths?. For one thing, all this speaks to the need of the poor to cope with their poverty. The alcoholic actor’s fate reminds us that not everyone can cope. But the Baron’s apparent transcendence of his gambling habit as he settles into his new existence in slum lodgings raises questions about individual responsibility that perforate the social rigor of the indoor setting. The Baron (Louis Jouvet, brilliant) trades in his high stakes, aiming at high-style survival, for sociable card games.

     For me, Renoir’s amiable film carries a subtext that defines it and lifts it into a category of its own. Wasska Pépel is a thief who has at least convinced himself he can turn over a new leaf for the sake of Natasha, the girl he loves and who loves him. Earlier, he said that he knows no other way of living because his father, a thief who died in prison, taught by his example. That may be the point: what fathers teach their sons. Renoir learned something else from his father. A phenomenal outdoor scene evokes the sociability of such a painting as Impressionist Pierre-Auguste’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette (1876).

     Like father like loving son.



8.30pm |Films of 1936 season| Dir. Efim Dzigan | Free, booking required

A unit of sailors from coastal Kronstadt is mobilized to defend Petrograd from the White seige against it. This confrontation underscores the contemporary need for Soviet vigilance against current enemies. 

My iz Kronshtadta was written by Vsevolod Vishnevsky, who at 17 had fought in the First World War and, as a Red, in the 1917 revolution and subsequent civil war. Efim Dzigan’s strikingly beautiful film owes much of its authenticity to the experience that informed Vishnevsky’s script. However, Dzigan’s filmmaking also is wonderful.

Consider the Baltic Sea approach of the White vessel to Kronstadt: three shots, beginning with a long-shot of the ship, followed by progressively closer shots of it. The ship appears to move effortlessly screen-right throughout the sequence; stealthy silence further renders the movement dreamlike. The camera does not move, and therefore the ship’s progress becomes an invasion of space: an eerie and powerful evocation of the idea of invasion as well as an action suited to that idea. 

Many other scenes are equally memorable: the Kronstadt detachment and other Red warriors sleeping on the floor and steps of the children’s home, and they and the young children interacting the next morning; the advancing singing battalion, their voices struggling against the din of gunfire (thus associating the Reds with art and its affirmation of life), with the added poignancy of the death of one of them—a final stilling of his voice; the drowning murders of all but one of the captured sailors, each with a heavy rock tied to him and his hands tied behind his back, some pushed from a ledge into the sea, others electing to drop of their own accord; their caps washing to shore; dressed as a woman, the sole survivor’s rowing to Kronstadt against a turbulent tide; the tracking shot of an expanse of slaughter; the Red band playing music as battle rages; the final battle, with Reds marching and cowardly Whites (in contrast to Reds earlier) leaping to their deaths into the sea. The film ends as one marching sailor asks aloud of all Soviet enemies, “Who will take Petrograd now?”—a stirring finish to an irresistible film




  • Food is not allowed inside the cinema.
  • Please DO NOT book a seat if you are not sure of your availability. Seats are limited and each booking reduces the number of seats available to others. If you cannot attend, please cancel your reservation as soon as possible by going to “MY TICKETS” on the email from Eventbrite; this will release your seat to someone else
  • If the film is SOLD OUT, there will be an automated waiting list, which will contact you if/when a seat becomes available.
  • Upon leaving the cinema, please consider making a donation towards the running costs to support the cinema club. 


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