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From caves to commons: DIY cinema in the UK

Wallers, C. ORCID: (2021) From caves to commons: DIY cinema in the UK. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00104245


This thesis draws attention to a DIY mode of contemporary film exhibition in the UK, evolving from subterranean roots in the early 1990s into a cinema of the commons during the first two decades of the 2000s. Much of the recent research on alternative film exhibition has been oriented around the experience economy. In contrast, the spaces and practices I attend to in this thesis are examples of a rediscovery of cinema as a form of dissent, prefiguring different possibilities for cinema-making as a spatially located ‘social practice’ celebrating community, democracy and freedom. Exemplifying an everyday utopian approach to the constituent relations of the cinema screening event - its place, apparatus, organisation, and aesthetics – this thesis proposes the term DIY film exhibition. The thesis is researched and written from the insider perspective of a long-term participant. It explores a history of utopian film exhibition practice in the UK at the intersection of amateur, activist, entrepreneurial and institutional positions in order to locate a genealogy of DIY Cinema, focusing in detail on the significance of the Independent cinema of the 1970s and the arrival of Punk. It offers a theoretical and historical interpretation of DIY Cinema as a utopian method, expanding from the values underpinning the ’DIY ethic’ to consider the roles democracy, spatial practice and cultural resistance play in shaping this mode of film exhibition. Using the testimonies of participants involved in the case studies of Star and Shadow Cinema in Newcastle, Cube Microplex in Bristol and Losing the Plot, a rural film retreat in Northumberland, the thesis explores the evolving tactics and strategies DIY cinemas have reflexively used to carve out and protect autonomous space from which to stage a pluralist, counterhegemonic film exhibition practice in the UK.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Butler, A.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Film, Theatre & Television
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design
ID Code:104245
Date on Title Page:2020


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