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Curzon Bloomsbury’s ‘Bertha DocHouse’ Puts Documentaries on the Big Screen
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Curzon Bloomsbury’s ‘Bertha DocHouse’ Puts Documentaries on the Big Screen

Picture of Edwina Boyd-Gibbins
Updated: 28 April 2016
With amber walls, backlit drink cabinets playing against bare, and highly polished concrete, there is a strong sense of early 70s cinema glamour meets contemporary art house at the newly-reopened Curzon Bloomsbury – formerly the Renoir.
Curzon Bloomsbury | Courtesy of Bertha DocHouse
Curzon Bloomsbury | Courtesy of Bertha DocHouse

With a bar on each floor, and plenty of plush, inviting furniture, guests will feel welcome to linger before and after their films. And with the usual servings of Q&A sessions and ‘meet the director’ events Curzon-goers will already be familiar with, visitors will be lingering alongside many movie lovers and thespian-type.

Situated in the Brunswick Centre, Curzon Bloomsbury is the Curzon Group’s new home for world cinema and documentaries, and boasts the UK’s first cinema screen dedicated exclusively to documentaries – the Bertha DocHouse.

Launched by DocHouse, which has championed independent and international documentaries for over 13 years, and Curzon, with the support of the Bertha Foundation, the 56-seat Bertha DocHouse now screens a wide range of documentaries from across the globe, and holds special events including master classes and educational courses. Each week Bertha DocHouse will also host ‘DocHouse Thursdays’ at Curzon Bloomsbury’s main 150-seat venue featuring premiers, exclusive screenings, and Q&As.

Here are three documentaries to watch now at Bertha DocHouse, Curzon Bloomsbury.

The Man Who Saved the World

Curzon Bloomsbury | Courtesy of Bertha DocHouse
Curzon Bloomsbury | Courtesy of Bertha DocHouse

The Man Who Saved the World is the story of reluctant hero, Stanislav Petrov, who on September 26th, 1983 prevented the outbreak of nuclear war. He insists he was simply in the right place at the right time when he averted a nuclear attack which would have turned the Earth’s surface to little more than sand and rubble, as he explains to Kevin Costner, who makes an unlikely cameo appearance along with Robert De Niro, Matt Damon, and Ashton Kutcher.

Directed by Danish director Peter Anthony, The Man Who Saved the World is an unsettling reminder of the absurdly destructive powers many of today’s governments have at their fingertips. And while there are several moments that feel forced or overly-scripted, the documentary asks a number of poignant questions that are no less relevant in today’s world than they were during the Cold War: What would happen if nuclear weapons fell into the wrong hands – if they are not already? Can warring cultures ever put a history of discord behind them to live peacefully? Is it ever possible to have a winner in a nuclear war?

Despite some dark themes, ultimately this is a film of hope, rather than of fear-mongering; hope that we can put our differences behind us; hope that an individual really can save the world.

The Supreme Price

The Supreme Price | Courtesy of Bertha DocHouse
The Supreme Price | Courtesy of Bertha DocHouse

Recounted by Hafsat Abiola and her siblings, The Supreme Price weaves together the history of the pro-democracy and women’s rights movements in Nigeria through the lens of their politically significant family’s recent past.

Her father, MKO Abiola, was thrown into prison by Nigeria’s military dictator after running for President, and her mother, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, became head of Nigeria’s pro-democracy movement, passionately campaigning for justice until her assassination in 1996. The Nigerian military has done much to silence the voices of the Abiola family. And yet, for human rights and democracy activist Hafsat, silence is not an option.

The Supreme Price is an expertly crafted documentary that is simultaneously deeply personal, fundamentally national, and also of global significance – shining a light on those Western governments that chose to quench their thirst for oil rather than support Nigeria in its hour of need.

We Are Many

We Are Many | Courtesy of Bertha DocHouse
We Are Many | Courtesy of Bertha DocHouse

When George Bush and Tony Blair revealed their plans to invade Iraq their decision sparked worldwide outrage and led to the largest global protest in history, over 30 million people took to the streets to make their voices heard. As one interviewee states in this beautifully put together documentary, the protests followed the sun – rising in Australia and New Zealand, spreading out across Asia and Africa, swelling up in Europe, and finally culminating in the Americas.

Through a series of interviews with those who organised and took part in the march, former politicians, veterans, members of the UN, and other notable individuals and celebrities in the UK and America, We Are Many pieces together the events that led up to the march, and analyses its aftermath.

Set against the backdrop of the horrors of the Iraq war, We Are Many restores faith that perhaps the world has not lost all of its humanity after all.

By Edwina Boyd-Gibbins