Charlie Swinbourne: Saying goodbye to my subtitled cinema group

Posted on August 16, 2012

It started with a screening of Where the Wild Things are, and ended on Monday when we saw Searching for Sugar Man. Sob.

Over three years, the London Subtitled Cinema Group saw over 20 films, welcomed over 60 deaf Londoners to accessible art-house cinema, and was even responsible for bringing one deaf couple together, in a moment that nearly led to me buying a Cilla Black-style hat!

I set up the group not long after my first child was born. As a scriptwriter I was keen to watch more art-house films with subtitles (and not only the foreign ones) and I thought it’d be nice to watch them once a month with other Deafies, so I got in touch with the Curzon Cinema chain, who set about arranging subtitled screenings, gave us a group rate and even discounted the drinks. Fantastic.

Since then the films we’ve seen have included The Social Network, Drive, The Secret in their Eyes, and many more. The highest attendance was for Shame, which, for reasons I can’t fathom considering the sexualised content (!) attracted nearly 50 people to the screening. For the prize for the weirdest film we saw, it’s a toss-up between Dogtooth and The Skin I Live In. Both haunted me for weeks.

I’ve made friends through this group, not only with the members but also with the cinema staff, who couldn’t have done more to make us feel welcome. Screenings were followed by film and life chats in a mixture of communication methods over drinks in the Curzon Soho bar. I’m not sure I’ll find anything quite like it in the countryside, which will be my home one week from now… but I’ll try!

So all good things come to an end, and as my family and I prepare to leave the metropolis (more on this soon) it’s time to hand over the baton to the next group leader, Breish Rowe. I’m sure she’ll do a sterling job! I’m going to miss it, but I’m hoping it’s not quite the end, and I’ll be able to make the odd cameo appearance!

If you’d like to join the group email list, just email and you’ll then find yourself in line for advance notice of all the screenings!

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