One of the things that makes the Electric Palace such a great place to visit is our fabulous, dedicated volunteer team. 

So, who are the people who welcome you  to the cinema? Find out...

Name: Natalia Christofoletti Barrenha

How did you become involved with the cinema?

As a film lover, when moving to a new place, one of the first things I do is take a look at the local cinema. I discovered the Electric Palace when I moved to St Leonards in mid-2020 when the pandemic slowed down for some months. The cinema was closed then, but I wrote to the director Rebecca who kindly showed me the lovely venue and we had an exciting talk.

As a film scholar and programmer specialising in Latin American film, I proposed to bring more films from Latin America into the programme, and was thrilled by how the team welcomed my idea! So I am now one of the cinema's film programmers.

How long have you worked at the cinema?

I believe that I've been on board for... a month now!

What's your favourite thing about the cinema?

Having joined the cinema during the lockdown, I have actually never watched a film at the Electric Palace! But following the past programmes, the online activities, and the meetings that I've participated in so far, I love the community vibe.

Before coming to the UK, I lived in huge cities such as São Paulo and Buenos Aires, where I worked in several cinema events, and everything was usually developed by a vertical and institutionalised team. It's refreshing to see other forms of organisation. Also, the lightness and joy the cinema managers convey is inspiring.

Tell us about an experience at the cinema (not necessarily from at the Electric Palace).

In 2010, I went to Buenos Aires for a short-term research stay within my masters' project on the Argentine filmmaker Lucrecia Martel's work. While there, I went to a different cinema every day. One afternoon, at the screening of London River (Rachid Bouchareb, 2009), the cinema was crowded, I sat beside a guy and we started to talk. We've been together since then :) This was quite an experience at the cinema that changed the course of my life! 

What film would you like to watch at the cinema?

The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d'Arc, Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928), to see Maria Falconetti's close-up on a big screen.

Singin' in the Rain (Stanley Donen, 1952), to have the experience of a great Hollywood classic. [See Singin' in the Rain featured in our '14 feel good dance scenes on film' article.]

A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971), because it was the film that made me interested in cinema. I watched it (on VHS) when I was 16, and understood nothing. As a very nerdy student that thinks yourself so smart (poor thing), I was puzzled that I couldn't understand a film. I hardly knew that these are the best kind of films! I would like to know how it would feel to see it now, in a cinema.

The Wayward Cloud (Tian bian yi duo yun, Tsai Ming-liang, 2005), or any other Tsai's film, because they completely transport you to another time, world and sensibility, which are entirely achieved just in a cinema theatre.

Have you ever gone to see a movie and wanted to watch it again immediately?

So many times! But a remarkable experience in this sense was with California (Marina Person, 2015).

If you could go on a date night at the cinema with anyone living, dead or fictional who would it be and what would you watch?

Agnès Varda. Who doesn't want to go to the cinema, have a beer, be friends with this woman?! We would watch any film by Ana Katz, Juliana Rojas or The Future Perfect (El futuro perfecto, Nele Wohlatz, 2017).

Tell us about favourite film of yours.

The Swamp (La ciénaga, 2001), because it made me perceive things in a different way: how many things can happen, and we are so distracted that we can't see them. All of Martel's films for the same reason.

Each day I have different favourites, but Naomi Kawase and Mia Hansen-Love are there on the list almost all the time. 

Tell us a good film to watch that makes you laugh out loud or blub your eyes out.

Laugh out loud: Superbad (Greg Mottola, 2007) and Booksmart (Olivia Wilde, 2019). I love American coming-of-age films and watching how adolescence is a messy period with so much fun, discoveries, doubts, hormones, hangovers, foolishness...

Blub my eyes out: What Now? Remind Me (E agora? Lembra-me, Joaquim Pinto, 2013). How to look back with generosity and rehearse a farewell?

Do you have a hot tip to share for where you get your film news? A good blog, online reviewer, enewsletter or podcast, for example?

I'm subscribed to tons of newsletters... I especially like Las veredas (about Argentine cinema), Lux and ICA. And I follow a lot of magazines, journals, film critics, film festivals etc. to have an idea of what's going on. Cinema Tropical, Remezcla, Variety, La vida útil are among them. I'm also a podcast fan and have been listening to You Must Remember This and The Final Girls.

What's a great soundtrack you listen to?

Mica Levi's Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013) soundtrack dazzles me for being so creepy, mysterious, eerie, fascinating, all at the same time.

I love some Wong Kar-Wai films that have a soundtrack of one song that sticks on our minds for weeks: "California Dreamin" in Chungking Express (1994), "Cucurrucucú paloma" in Happy Together (1997) and "Quizás, quizás, quizás" in In the Mood For Love (2000).

I'm crazy about the soundtrack of the Brazilian film Kill Me Please (Mate-me por favor, Anita Rocha da Silveira, 2015), a mix of funk carioca, disco 90s classics and coming-of-age tropes (again!).

Finally, tell us something unusual about yourself

I love Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos – I believe it's the first time I'm saying it publicly!

And to watch artistic gymnastics best of playlists when I'm depressed. They'll raise anyone's spirits!

Find out more about volunteering at the Electric Palace