Whitechapel cinema welcomes audiences back to screens and studios

Family-run Genesis cinema in Whitechapel

Family-run Genesis cinema in Whitechapel - Credit: Stefania Di Cio

A Whitechapel cinema is one of the many indoor entertainment venues which have reopened in England as the lockdown measures ease.

Family-run Genesis cinema in Whitechapel, voted number one in TimeOut’s 25 best cinemas in London, is one of the many venues which will welcome audiences back in east London.

The cinema has been showing independent films for more than 20 years – although the site has been used for entertaining since 1848 - and has reopened its three screens and two studios.

Speaking before the cinema reopened, general manager Matthew Whiteley said: “The past year has been very difficult, but we have managed to find ways of staying active in our community throughout the openings and closures of last year.”

The café and kitchen have been open for takeaways and deliveries when legally allowed and a new outdoor drinking and dining venue, The Yard, was opened in April – which Matt described as “a huge success”.


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The showings line-up includes Nomadland from Oscar-winner director Chloé Zhao, which is about a woman who embarks on a nomad life after losing everything in the Great Recession.

Other shows include Judas and The Black Messiah, Sound of Metal, Spiral, Minari, Those Who Wish Me Dead and Tom and Jerry.

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Genesis is also supporting the vaccination campaign by displaying an outdoor advert encouraging people to contact the NHS on 119 to book an appointment.

As part of the Mental Health Awareness Week from May 10 to 16, organised by the Mental Health Foundation, the cinema hosted an online screening of Medicating Normal, a documentary on the US mental health care system’s reliance on psychiatric drugs to treat trauma, grief, and distress.

Its Q&A session also restarted from May 20, with the preview of Rare Beasts followed by a discussion with the writer, director and star Billie Piper, which is also part of a campaign to bring ever-greater films by women to audiences.

The cinema is reopening under Covid-19 rules with hand sanitising stations, temperature checks upon entry, staggered show starting times and social distancing.

“It’s been a very challenging year but it has been one where we stayed true to help our community and we are looking forward to opening our doors fully again,” said Matthew.

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