Watching movies has never been easier nor has the choice been wider. Movies on demand, streaming and subscription services all vie for our attention. But the abundance of choice can be daunting and there’s no substitute for the communal experience of cinema.

In 2017, Leicester’s fringe theatre Upstairs At The Western teamed up with filmmaker and BAFTA nominee Paul Kousoulides, to curate and present a season of classic films for Leicester movie lovers who value the best possible cinema experience.

Initially a childhood hobby, Paul’s filmmaker training continued at the coveted National Film & Television School.  With shows including the popular Cold Feet, his career as a film and TV director has garnered him some of the industry’s top accolades. Paul lectures part-time in film, but now anyone can enjoy his insights for the price of an admission ticket.

Silent Movie Night in Autumn 2017 showcased a selection of early cinema’s greatest achievements but didn’t stop there. Paul’s introductions gave an historical context, his short documentaries revealed surprising local connections to the films and his practical demonstrations explored the theory and practice behind some of cinema’s most powerful techniques.

The current season Film Noir Night includes some of the greatest films of all time. Rooted in German cinema and labelled by the French as dark film, this genre is one of America’s most stylish and enduring cultural exports. Themes of sexual obsession, moral and political corruption prevail in the dystopian cityscapes it’s doomed characters inhabit. Hardboiled detectives emerge from the rain-drenched gloom and narrate with detached indifference as cruel villains, sultry femmes fatales and hapless victims succumb to their fatal flaws. Sound familiar? That’s because when post-Word War II paranoia drove American cinema to the dark side, it chimed with worldwide audiences and has continued to do so ever since.

After Paul’s introduction, audiences can relax with a drink and enjoy the films in their fully restored glory. This is movie-going at its most immersive without nausea-inducing 3D headgear. The pre-movie introduction immerses the audience in the ideas and ambitions of cinema’s greatest directors and actors. After each of the Upstairs At The Western screenings, audiences are invited to participate in further discussion downstairs at the Western over one of Steaming Billy’s specialty ales.

The theatre has just shown The Big Sleep (1946) and The Third Man (1949) with Double Indemnity (1944) due on 1 November and The Night of The Hunter (1955) on 5 December. For more information, check out the show pages on upstairsatthewestern.com

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Great Central, John has been actively involved in Leicester's creative community for over a decade - promoting shows and releasing records under the name Robot Needs Home. He is a director of Handmade Festival, and ex member of the band Maybeshewill.

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