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Hidden-away screening room

SMALL and intriguing film screening cafes and bars are scattered around downtown, known by word of mouth. They show artsy films, serve snacks, coffee and drinks and sometimes feature live music, writes Yao Minji.

Every film buff dreams of his or her own projection room where she/he and friends can watch movies in comfort and discuss the films. The movies they love are seldom screened in Shanghai cinemas.

It's a plus if the screening room happens to be in an artsy or romantic place, not too far from downtown, with nice decor, aromatic coffee and delicious food. Sky-high property prices too often mean that the dream is just that, a dream.

But dreams are not always impossible. More small and interesting film-themed places - cafes, bars, studios, galleries - have opened in the past two years, catering for hip "literary youth."

Some provide food and snacks, and there are sometimes live performances on days without movies. Others are tiny and have a strong and mysterious ambience. Owners tend to be interesting, artsy young people who love movies.

Despite the global financial crisis, two more film-screening cafes opened in January. Most films screened in these intriguing spaces are equally intriguing, with alternative subjects.

Shang Ying Cang, or Shanging Loft, has hosted dozens of events since its opening in January.

While the name literally means "fashionable projection warehouse" in Chinese, its pronunciation in Shanghai dialect is exactly the same as the shortened name of Shanghai Film Studio. It's clear that the cafe inside the warehouse-turned-design zone, Hub 727, near Zhongshan Park is all about movies.

The old-style film projector at the entrance is the symbol of the bar. Most first-time guests love having their pictures with the antique. And yes, the cafe features real films, not DVDs. Projectors are rare in small screening spaces because of the difficulty in running the machine and the scarcity of films.

"It's a cute and cozy space. I love the couches and cushions. The food isn't the best, but who comes to such a cool place caring about food?" says 27-year-old designer Lucy Wang, who first visited on Women's Day, March 8.

Shanging Loft organized a Women's Day event titled "Become a Free 'Bad' Woman for One Day," with discounted buffet and three comedies about women - Chinese films "Fit Lover" (2008), "All About Women" (2008) and South Korean hit "My Sassy Girl" (2001).

When there is no special event, one film is screened nightly, most are artsy movies. Local band Mp4 plays after the film showing every Friday and Saturday night to make the place, with a capacity of 40-60 guests, even more alternative.

In comparison, Slow Life is tiny, with two tables for about five people at the most. As the name indicates, the owner, a young designer, says she dreams to live slowly in the crowded and busy city, even just for a few hours every now and then.

Hidden in a lane near Xinle Road, the space is so small that you can't even call it a shop. But it is very cozy and has the feel of home, with homemade cookies and puff pastry made by the owner.

You can also take your own DVDs to watch in Slow Life. You just need to make a call in advance.

Shang Ying Cang

Address: 739 Dingxi Rd

Tel: 5230-7757

Slow Life

Address: Bldg 3, 58 Xinle Rd

Tel: 1347-2881-693, 1376-1248-515


New releases from High Note Records

Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: In House 6Genre: House, dance, electronica, down-tempoThe album includes all billboard and UK chart No. 1 hits. Also included are masterworks from the world's No. 1 and champion DJ Armin van Buuren as well as French House legend Bob Sinclar.

Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: Loving Strawberry Genre: JazzIt's the sweetest jazz for lovers with 10 classic jazz love songs. The spice includes Celine Dion's "When I Fall In Love," Norah Jones's "The Nearness of You" as well as songs from top jazz divas Gaynor Ellen, Asheni, Lovisa, Sally Doherty, etc.

Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: Renaissance Pres. The Masters Series: James ZabielaGenre: Minimal tech-houseRemix master James Zabiela returns to his spiritual compilation home, taking up the mantle of the illustrious Masters Series for the first time, he expertly weaves cutting-edge electronic with his own innovative production.

High Note RecordsAddress: 455 Fahuazhen RdTel: 5259-9922

Live Music

Rogue Transmission

The new local band Rogue Transmission was formed in winter of 2007. Their music is rooted in heavy metal from the 1970s, with an inspiring and origin tension.

Date: March 14, 9pm

Venue: Yuyintang, 1731 Yan'an Rd W.

Tickets: 30 yuan

Debut of The Rank

Live Bar near Fudan University is one of the few supporters of local rock music. New student band The Rank will play their debut show here. Intriguingly, the four kids refuse anything heavy or metal from their indie Britpop music. They are more fans of sexy sound. The bar will also host Polish rock/grunge band Roan's first show in Shanghai two weeks later.

Date: March 14 (The Rank), March 28 (Roan), 9pm

Venue: Live Bar, 721 Kunming Rd

Tel: 136-517-87064



The DocuChina screening plan is starting again for the third year, with cheerful and romantic recordings of a group of young jazz dancers in "Burning Dreams." The documentary tells their dreams and efforts through the inspired movements.

Date: March 16, 6:30pm

Address: 6/F, 99 Huaihai Rd M.

Tel: 6256-5899 ext 6911

Tickets: 35 yuan

Film Cafe

The film-themed cafe eSPResso Coffee features music and youth in March. Scheduled for March 17 is British film "Billy Elliot," followed by French movie "Les Choristes" on March 24.

Date: March 17, 24, 7:30pm

Address: 691 Jiujiang Road

Tel: 6352-5612

Tickets: 25 yuan


'True Love'

A group of young drama lovers have localized famous Austrian writer Stefan Zweig's play "A Letter from a Strange Woman." Four women dancers will tell the romantic stories and act out the solitude one feels in the crowded city.

Date: March 14-15, 7:30pm

Venue: Ke Center for the Contemporary Arts, 613 Kaixuan Rd

Tel: 6131-3498, 6131-3499

Tickets: 150 yuan (includes gifts and coupons)

'When We Dead Awaken'

It is the last work of Henrik Johan Ibsen, the major 19th-century Norwegian playwright of realistic drama, who has an especially significant influence on modern Chinese dramas. Drama Studio 802 has presented it in 2001 as their debut show, a sold-out success. And they are back.

Date: March 27-29, 7:15pm

Address: 3/F, Bldg 100, 200 Longcao Rd


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