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Ever since Nick Hormby’s High Fidelity, it’s been the dream of every man of a certain age to own a record shop, or perhaps a bookshop, or even a small Indie Cinema – but surely not all three. That is precisely what has happened in a railway arch in Hackney. A record shop, where people can buy vintage vinyl from the BBE (Barely Breaking Even) Store, by day is transformed into a small cinema at night.

The brain child of local architect Joe Hagan, the concept came from a desire to utilise a cinema’s dead time during the day, and what better than to have a record store there. The adjoining restaurant cum bar’s décor is inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey, with the late 60s retro feel created by re-using the plastic interior of an old airplane to devastating effect. Even the cinema seats are stripped from a plane – pull down the tray from the row in front of you to rest your beer on during the film. Alternatively share a sofa with your partner or close friend.

On our visit Captain Fantastic was screening, a marvellous tale of a father who brings his children up far away from civilisation only to return to the normal world for his wife’s funeral. Viggo Mortensen is truly fantastic in the title role.

This autumn, Institute of Light (IOL), launched EUROPA, curated by Secret Cinema's Harry Ross, to celebrate the transformative nature of European film. The cinema is also associated with the Hackney Picturehouse, so expect lots of Independent films to be screened. And throughout November the cinema will take on an Americana theme to tie in with the US election.

If you do wish to take advantage of what must be one of London’s most atmospheric cinema space – the rumbling of the train passing overhead somehow adds to rather than diminishes the experience – don’t leave it too late, as the cinema will be hired out for parties closer to Christmas.

Unfortunately, Hagan was not able to comment whether IOL would be screening Airplane at some stage in the future.

The Institute of Light, Arch 376, 10 Helmsley Place, London, E8 3SB. Tickets are £6 or £18 for a two-seat sofa, and £30 for Cinedining (Three-course meal & film). For more information and the programme, visit:



Review of the Institute of Light
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