The Bioscope is an independent cinema located in downtown Johannesburg. And yes, those are repurposed car seats!
The aim of The Bioscope has always been to increase the diversity of content on South African cinema screens thereby becoming an important cultural space in the city of Johannesburg. In bringing new films to new audiences, The Bioscope has helped play a fundamental role in growing new markets for new films, becoming a vital mechanism in developing local audiences for locally & internationally produced cinema.
There was once a time in Johannesburg, when going to the cinema meant watching a movie on Louis Botha Avenue at either the Astra or Royal Bioscopes or at one of the many bioscopes in Hillbrow. The days of the bioscopes are fondly remembered by many today. These were stand alone, walk-in cinemas housed in beautiful old art-deco buildings and were located all over the city.
Today however, independent cinemas have slowly dwindled down to almost none other than ourselves. Commercial cinema has come to dominate South African consumption and most movie theatres are located in bland shopping malls and all screen essentially the same content – mainstream films that look and sound like each other week in and week out.
At these cinemas there is very little will to bring in small international films or documentaries and many locally made films rarely receive a theatrical release for similar reasons. As a result of this conservative model, many great films are rarely seen in South Africa.
Johannesburg, unlike the city of Cape Town, did not have an independent cinema theatre that caters outside of the parameters of mainstream movies. The Bioscope has performed this important role by enhancing the cultural environment of Johannesburg by becoming the city’s only truly independent cinema. A unique exhibition space where on any night of the week, one will be able to find old cult classics, discover small films from other parts of the world, and most importantly watch South African cinema past and present. Other events at The Bioscope include talks, live performances, and film festivals.