ISSN 2753-1422

And you may find yourself… 

In 1891, cinema was born. You can debate the finer points if you like, but on May 20, 1891, the Edison company presented a prototype of their Kinetoscope to 150 members of the National Federation of Women’s Clubs [Wikipedia]. Looking through the spyglass of this single-person box, they saw a smiling man moving, bowing, tipping his hat. Women leaving a factory, a train pulling into a station, and all of those other myths were years out. Here was a public display, a crowd gathered to witness a moving picture. 

And you may find yourself…

130 years later, we hit Cinema Year One. You know this myth by now. Sickened by the state of film criticism, stifled by a pandemic, bored by a lockdown, we bought a WordPress domain and set about putting the film world to rights. On June 14, 2020, Thomas Atkinson and Ben Flanagan, with assistance from Paul Farrell, released the first issue/volume/dossier/vomit of articles, cheerfully contributed by friends with free time. And thus, Cinema Year Zero was born. 

And you may find yourself…

With new releases at an ostensible halt, we decided to slow down. No new reviews, no hot takes, no news commentary. Instead, we wanted to give writers the opportunity to flex their muscles with articles that were unlikely to see the light of day in a reputable publication. And from tears at Sense & Sensibility to Thanos’ cock, from Orientalist silents to Breening Breathless, from taking shots at the British establishment, to working out what’s so Suspect about Documentary, our writers delivered. 

It has been incredibly rewarding to publish these innovative, charged, and at times experimental essays from some of the best young film writers. Watching our contributors go on to great success at other publications and with major new projects, we hope that Cinema Year Zero can have played some small part in each writer’s development. 

Our ‘columnists’ Cathy Brennan and Joseph Owen, who always provide the goods, sometimes with superfast turnaround, have stuck around this long, and their respective contributions to this essay are fabulous examples of their thoroughly researched, evocative film writing. 

In November, Kirsty Asher joined us as Associate Editor, providing invaluable perspective and talent to help us grow as we published an issue every 2 months this year. This included our year-in-review partnership with UltraDogme, whose EIC Max Proctor has shown us a great deal of support and advice, and whose essays in these pages are instant classics. He rounds out this bumper issue with a discussion of his own film Srećan Put (Happy Trails). 

Special mention must go to our Patreon subscribers, who put up with an inconsistent schedule and have shown incredible support throughout the year. Thanks to their donations, from the next issue we will be able to pay writers £20 per article, which will allow us to stop leaning on our mates and give some return for people’s time. 

And you may ask yourself…

What does this have to do with the kinetoscope? Cinema Year Zero Volume 7: Cinema Year One, will bridge that gap. Each of the 12 essays contained here, each written by a past contributor, focuses on a film from a year ending in ‘1’, taking us swiftly, broadly, through the history of the medium. 


1901: The Devil and the Statue

Joseph Owen explores the camera apparatus in three early silent shorts.

1911: A Roman Orgy

Tom Atkinson muses on the philosophy of silent film viewing on YouTube.

1921: Hamlet

Cathy Brennan discusses the feminine undertones to Shakespeare’s most iconic protagonist.

1931: Á Nous la Liberté

Ben Flanagan gives the lowdown on 1931.

1941: The Strawberry Blonde

Patrick Preziosi on the deceptively varied career of Raoul Walsh.

1951: Olivia

Anna Devereux on Jacqueline Audry’s landmark lesbian film.

1961: Il Posto

Alonso Aguilar on one of the last works of Italian Neorealism.

1971: Plastic Jesus

Fedor Tot breaks down Lazar Stojanović’s scathing attack on Yugoslav government.

1981: Possession

Kirsty Asher connects Cold War paranoia to psychogeography via Andrej Żuławski’s classic horror film.

1991: Yumeji

Ren Scateni on the last part of Seijun Suzuki’s Roman Trilogy.

2001: Don’s Plum

Orla Smith on the disastrous indie film that Tobey Maguire convinced Leonardo DiCaprio to disown.

2011: Celebrity Big Brother 2011

Catriona Mahmoud explains why Celebrity Big Brother has earned its place in the BFI archives

2021: Srećan Put 

Maximilien Luc Proctor turns the camera on himself to talk about his latest feature film. Plus, an exclusive trailer premiere for Srećan Put (Happy Trails) AKA Fragments of a Memory of Another Film!

Cinema Year Zero is volunteer run. Our goal is to pay writers a fair fee for their work. So if you like what you find at Cinema Year Zero, please consider subscribing to our Patreon!