The power of cinema to bring together communities

Elise Hassan (BA Global Cinemas and Screen Arts 2019) is deeply passionate about cinema. In 2020 she founded Haringey’s Global Cinema Club, a one of a kind, pop-up community cinema that solely showcases some of the best non-English language cinema from around the world.

As a recent graduate, Elise was looking to find a place in the film industry that would combine her interest in programming and curation with her love for world cinema. “Cinema, especially independent cinema, and the Art World in general tends to be extremely inaccessible, in every way, socially, economically and in terms of location. I wanted to make this kind of cinema, free and accessible to all, to create a space that was warm, welcoming and to help support our community’s wellbeing and engagement with the Arts”.

For Elise, the Haringey community, which she has been a part of her whole life, was a driving force behind creating a global cinema club. With 65% non-white ethnic groups, with nearly 200 different languages spoken, Elise wanted to celebrate what makes the Haringey community special, bringing people together to share their differences and similarities. “Cinema and community very much go hand in hand. For people like me and those in my community, language takes on many different forms, and there is so much beauty in seeing your story and language represented and reflected back to you.  I really wanted to try and make cinema a community experience again, to put the films and the audiences above everything else”.

Haringey’s Global Cinema Club was established during the first lockdown. Elise reflects that whilst it has been an incredibly challenging year, having the time and space to pause and focus has allowed her to take the next step in setting up the cinema to be the very best it can be.  “If there are any positives to be found in the pandemic, this is one of them for me, which I think a lot of people can relate to. I have spoken to so many people who have started their own businesses or started new hobbies and completely changed their outlook on life since the pandemic started. The pandemic allowed me the time and space to stop and think and really go for my dreams.”

Elise, like so many at Birkbeck, did not go straight to university after school. “Birkbeck allowed me to work during the day and study at night and the support they offer, especially for those who don’t come from academic backgrounds and have been out of education for a number of years, was amazing. I’d never got an ‘A’ let alone a ‘B’ once in my life and I left Birkbeck with first-class honours. A real dream come true!

With Haringey’s Global Cinema Club going from strength to strength, Elise looks forward to what lies ahead. “In the next year we are so excited to be setting up physical screenings inside North London’s very special Alexandra Palace, which is more than I could have ever hoped for! I can’t wait until our community can get together, see films, talk about them, eat and drink and have a fantastic time watching and sharing cinema […] Cinema has the power to reach the furthest corners of the word. With my programming, I want to bring these stories home to the people they resonate with most.”

To learn more about Haringey’s Global Cinema Club or to join a free upcoming virtual screening see their Instagram @haringeysglobalcinemaclub