The Other Cinema

Scope and Content

Press and publicity materials for all films distributed by TOC, correspondence with directors and producers; receipts and invoices indicating the distribution history of these films, and details of subtitling and contractual relations; photographs; financial records;administrative correspondence and related papers including papers of Artificial Eye Film Company ; British Film Institute papers; fundraising papers; general printed material; Save the Other Cinema campaign papers

Administrative / Biographical History

The Other Cinema was set up in 1970 as a non-profit-making, independent film distribution company in London. Its initial management council, which helped see it through its first difficult year, consisted of respected members of the film industry including Albert Finney, Harold Pinter, Irving Teitlebaum, Tony Garnett and Otto Plaschkes. In March 1971, TOC took up residence in a former Odeon cinema in King's Cross (now the Scala), where it opened Gillo Pontecorvo's magnificent Battle of Algiers (1965). The film was a huge success, putting TOC on the map, but the cinema's owners saw the building's potential, and by July TOC had lost its home.

With nowhere to exhibit its films, TOC decided to concentrate on distribution. Jean-Luc Godard had provided the initial motivation for TOC by giving it the rights to his film Le Gai Savoir (1968). This was a link that would continue for several years - TOC was the main UK distributor of Godard's films throughout the 1970s. During this period, TOC also took into distribution The Fall by Peter Whitehead - the first of many independent British films on its books..

In 1973, TOC merged with the radical group Politkino, inheriting the films of the German filmmaker Jean-Marie Straub, who had provided the rights on all his films to help start it up.
TOC has always sought close personal contact with filmmakers, and this has resulted in many films being brought into distribution that might otherwise never have been seen in the UK. It has built up an impressive catalogue of films, including works by Werner Herzog, Pedro Almodovar, Chantal Akerman, Ousmane Sembene, Glauber Rocha and Steve Dwoskin. As well as playing in cinemas, these films have been widely seen by film societies, schools, universities, community groups and trade unions.In the late 1970s, TOC made another attempt to open a cinema in London, but insufficient funding meant that it only lasted for about a year.

In 1985, TOC opened the Metro Cinema in London's West End. The project flourished, the cinema screening independent and alternative films, amidst more conventional fare. Each year it hosted the Latin American Film Festival, as well as various other festivals, events and seasons. Early in 2003 the Metro Cinema paid tribute to its roots and renamed itself The Other Cinema, but in 2005, with rent increases imminent, the cinema was forced to close its doors.


Generally chronological within series, though Film Files series is arranged alphabetically, reflecting creator;s own arrangement

Access Information


Appraisal Information

Some personal papers unconnected to the collection removed


None expected

Location of Originals

The material is original