With the high prices and talking, mobile phone using, noisy eating patrons of Odeon and the like continuing to frustrate, the appeal of alternative movie venues continues to grow. Along with the large scale outfits such as Luna Cinema and Secret Cinema, regional events designed to attract the enthusiastic moviegoer are starting to flourish. One of the best of this new breed of film events is the Rochester Kino.
Specialising in dedicated screenings of cult classic films, and well ahead of the new trend for themed film events, Rochester Kino is now in its eighth year. Offering showings in London at Belgrave Square, South Kensington and Stepney Green, at its spiritual home of Rochester in Kent the Kino has recently moved to a new location, the Sun Pier Café. Located on the banks of the River Medway, the view from the Café takes advantage of the Historic Dockyard and Upnor Castle to the east, and Rochester Cathedral and Castle to the west. It’s an impressive locale, and the Café’s third floor layout is warm, welcoming and modern; an idyllic and inspiring spot for likeminded film enthusiasts to gather and enjoy the very best of the big screen.
Heading to their second showing of the year, Rochester Kino bucked the traditional trend of Alien franchise screenings by hosting the rarely shown Alien 3 (1992). Also new for this year is a unique take on pre-film entertainment. Supporting local musicians, Kino are inviting Medway bands and performers to play a fifteen minute set before each showing, with music inspired by the themes and tone of the film for that evening.
For Alien 3 Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society provided a brilliant prelude. In trio form for the night, the threesome offered the songs When (a melancholy swipe at corporate greed; take that Weyland Yutani), Solitary (a minor chord exploration of life support technology; a nod to Ripley and her penchant for decade long hypersleeps), and an encore love song to leave the audience on a cheerier note. The music was an excellent mood setter, invoking the emotions of Ellen Ripley’s long and arduous journey through the Alien saga.
A nice introduction to the main event provided some fascinating background information on the much maligned third Alien film, before the lights were dimmed and the projector was fired up. With a sound system to rival any commercial cinema and a fine projector / screen combo, audience members were free to pick any spot amongst the rows of chairs, the comfy Chesterfield sofas and armchairs enticing a number of patrons.
Rochester Kino offered a plethora of additional touches to make the evening special. Sigourney Weaver and Brian Glover facemasks were offered to every patron for those who wanted to the full Fiorina 161 vibe, a welcome sachet of candy was on every seat for sweet-toothed viewers, and the bar area had a mood setting Alien inspired light display backed by soundtrack snippets from the trilogy of films. It was as well thought out and encapsulating an evening as a film fan could wish for, and highlighted just how unfairly Alien 3 has been treated over the years. It’s an underrated, nihilistic slice of science fiction; can you see a major study releasing such a gloomy summer blockbuster these days?
Chatting with the organisers during the evening it was easy to see why; Rochester Kino is run by film fans for film fans. Organised ostensibly as a non-profit venture, ticket prices are kept low (£5 for adults, £3 for students) just to cover the cost of venue and license hire. The event organising itself is a wonderful coming together of movie fans who share their skills (be it sound tech, light and design, promotion, etc.) and free time to put on the sort of film event film fans will enjoy. It made for an all-round sociable atmosphere and as Rochester Kino newbies we received the warmest of welcomes from everybody in attendance. Despite the gloomy conclusion of Ellen Ripley’s adventures (her dubious ‘reincarnation’ in Alien Resurrection(1997) notwithstanding) we left the Sun Pier Café on a high, already marking our phone calendars for upcoming events.
With future monthly screenings planned well in to 2017, including The Princess Bride (1987), The Thing (1982), Blade Runner (1982), and Batman Returns (1992), the future of fan dedicated events is in rude health both in Rochester and London. For more details on upcoming events and contact details for more information on how to get involved in the Kino ethos, visit Rochester Kino’s website at