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 a handful. 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 art-house classics, discover small films from other parts of the world, or watch South African cinema past and present. Other events at The Bioscope include talks, live performances, and film festivals.
The Bioscope is about invigorating a new appreciation of film as an art form, celebrating the medium and bring exciting cinema to as wide an audience as possible.
The Bioscope is a single screen, 62 –seat independent cinema theatre located in the heart of Johannesburg’s old town, in the eastern part of city. The Bioscope is located on the ground floor of Main Street Life, the 2010 development by Propertuity who have gone on to develop the successful Maboneng Precinct.
The Bioscope is equipped with a High-Definition video projector, and open seven days a week. The Bioscope has placed focus on the following programming areas: First Run Films of local and international cinema Repertory Selections, Special Events, as well as Film Education
The Bioscope has always strived to create an independent & sustainable cinema theatre for interesting & engaging media in Johannesburg. Since the Bioscope is wholly independent, it will have the freedom to exhibit exciting, risky and provocative work across all media platforms. This creative programming has included: Art house classics, Contemporary world cinema, Classic blockbusters, Documentaries, South African films, Experimental films, Shorts Digital arts and new media, Music Videos, Animation, and film education programs for inner city schools
Since opening in 2010, The Bioscope has formed relationships with both local and international distributors, ensuring that a broad range of content not usually accessible in South Africa, has now been made available for programming. The Bioscope has also enjoyed hosting regular film-related events. Such events include; filmmaking workshops by experienced film and media professionals, award ceremonies and special screening events for all media-based schools in Johannesburg, music and film events and many more.
Through this focus on innovative and diverse programming The Bioscope has done everything possible ensure that it becomes the site of independent cinema in Johannesburg.