When we heard that Cafe au Cinéma, a relaxed eatery-filmhouse fusion, was opening on Osborne Road, we had to pop in to chat with the ingenious venture’s lovely founder, Genevieve.
Inspired by the pop-up beanbag cinemas in London, and Genevieve’s passion for film, baking, and coffee, Cafe au Cinéma is the perfect combination of ideas, taking its place proudly on Osborne Road in Southsea.
We talked to Genevieve over one of Cafe au Cinéma’s signature unicorn lattes — coloured coffees which are so much more eye-catching on your Instagram stream than a regular flat white! — while one of our favourite films, 10 Things I Hate About You, played in the background.
Tell us about the concept behind Cafe au Cinéma
“Throughout the day, people can come in, sit, and relax. I play a whole range of movies throughout the day on the big TV, from old iconic Hollywood movies to musicals. I’ve had some little old ladies in here singing along to Calamity Jane! We show newer films as well, suitable for all ages. People can drop in, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy a movie!
“On Saturdays and Sundays, we have two evening showings at 5:00pm and 8:00pm. We pull down a big projector screen, clear away the tables and chairs, and replace them with giant beanbags.
“It’s a completely different movie experience. People can watch the films we show while enjoying handmade cookies, meringues, and cakes, and teas, coffees, bubble teas, milkshakes, and so on.”
Where did you get the idea to set up Cafe au Cinéma?
“We wanted to go for a French Riviera/Cannes Film Festival theme. Our name basically translates to “cinema at the coffee shop’. I went to a beanbag cinema in London, where there are quite a few pop-up cinemas where you can sit on big beanbags on rooftops and watch films. I have always wanted to open up a coffee shop anyway — it was on the backburner for me, and it was what I was always progressing towards!
“I’m one of those people who, even when I’m at home, I always have movies on in the background rather than listening to the radio or putting music on. Even if I’m not watching, I love just having it on in the background whilst I’m washing up or cooking dinner. I wanted to combine the two together, my two passions. I love cooking and baking — pretty much everything in here I make by hand.”
We noticed that for October you’ve gone full Hallowe’en — how do you usually decide what films to show?
“Some months lend themselves perfectly to us for theme ideas. For October, it was easy to do a Hallowe’en theme. A lot of people like horror films. We have some more family-oriented films, and then the next-level movies like The Craft and Beetlejuice. Then you have what people want horror films to be: the classics like The Exorcist. We offer a mix for everybody.
“We get a lot of suggestions online as well. In November we’re doing a crime-themed month, with Pulp Fiction, The Godfather, that type of thing. Obviously, December will be Christmassy! You’ve got to do It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, and Elf.
“I also run private showings. We do children’s parties where we have cupcakes and kids’ movies, and parties for teenagers, too, when they’re too young to go out properly but the parents don’t want a house full of teenagers! Any night that’s not scheduled for one of our regular screenings is available for private showings.
“We have a group of people coming down from the language school, as well as people who are involved with local film festivals in Portsmouth. They want us to be one of the points on their festival trail, which I’m so happy with! We want people to know about us, and that we’re open and flexible!”
How did you come about choosing this location on Osborne Road?
“I had been looking for a long while for a good location, and I’m very lucky to have found this excellent venue on the corner. This building used to be a tax office and accountancy, making it quite difficult, as you’d probably never have been in here or even noticed it.
“We’re trying to get the message out there that it’s been transformed. It’s a really good location and we’re proud of what we’ve done with what we’ve got — we worked hard to make it look nice in here. The walls, for example, were a distractingly bright red, so that had to be changed!
“We try to keep the costs pretty reasonable. For a single beanbag it’s £6, and for two people sharing one of the larger beanbags it’s £10. It’s cheaper than the average cinema, or a couple of pints at the pub!
“We can’t show anything that’s in the cinema at the moment, but I think we fulfil a different demand. People in Portsmouth obviously love film, as you can see by the popularity of places like No. 6 Cinema in the dockyard.
“I want people to know that it’s a local cinema. If you want a week of foreign films, or absolutely anything else, then just let me know!”