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Hackney’s Film Emporium – Keeping it Reel!

September 6, 2016 Leave a comment
Umit Mesut

Ümit Mesut outside his shop. Photograph: Richard Morrison #seenlondon

A happy surprise in our digital world was coming across Mr. Ümit Mesut, standing proudly outside his Hackney Film Emporium. The main window display is packed with old archive film and ephemera, but as you well see from my other photograph of the inside it is indeed a treasure trove of analogue filmic delights.

Inside the walls are stacked high with Super 8 and Super 16 reels, a mix of old, classic, cult and blockbuster films. It is a space also crammed full of VideoDiscs and VHS, posters hanging from the ceiling and a tempting range of sweets.

This Hackney native’s shop at 35 Lower Clapton Road (E5) takes you back in time to understand what cinematography was once about. Ümit knows everything about cinema and projectors and owns one of Europe’s largest collections of Super 8, and is on a quest to preserve 16 and 35 mm projectors and technicians who can actually operate them. His pride and joy is a Super 8 copy of Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon” – one of only twenty in the world.

“I am still discovering a lot of things, I am constantly learning. I have been trying to save the art of cinema for twenty five years.”

Inside Ümit & Sons

Inside Ümit & Son. Photograph: Richard Morrison #seenlondon

Ciné-Real – cine-real.com

Ciné-Real began in 2011, after Liam Saint-Pierre found an old super 8 projector lying in a bin. The projector looked in good condition, but Liam couldn’t get it to work. He remembered there was a shop in Hackney called Ümit & Son that specialised in super 8 and 16mm film projection.  As Ümit worked on the projector they talked about the beauty of celluloid and bemoaned the lack of places to watch film as film. Inspired Liam decided to set up Ciné-Real, a non-for-profit film club with the aim of bringing filmmakers and cineastes together, to enjoy a classic celluloid experience, along with promoting collaboration and discussion.

Liam Saint-Pierre.

Liam Saint-Pierre. Photograph: Chris Tang

Ümit was asked to be the projectionist, but, unsure of the commitment, declined the offer. Undeterred Liam bought a 16mm projector and managed to get hold of a 16mm print of “Jaws”. The first screening  in a small gallery attended by friends did not go to plan. Liam had problems changing the reels, dealing with jumping splices and warbling sound, and though the audience were accommodating, it was not a great success. The next day he returned to the shop and after a bit of persuading Ümit agreed to come to the next screening as a kind of projectionist’s mentor. Despite his initial resistance, Ümit loved the night. It still gave him a buzz to lace up the old projector and watch the warm glow of celluloid fill the big screen. He was excited by how many people were still interested in film and shared his passion. Since then Ümit has been the regular projectionist at Ciné-Real where Liam and Ümit have shown a 16mm film once a month for the past two years.

Ümit mentioned that he was very happy to see any body that wanted to pop-by.

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