Art & Design


Underground Cinema

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A few years ago Tamasein Holyman was working at A-list events in New York when she started asking herself some questions. Why she was so uninspired? Why do people around me look bored? Do people go to events because they want something extraordinary? These thoughts stuck with Tamasein, and when she returned to Melbourne in 2009 she decided to launch Underground Cinema.

The Underground Cinema is secret film screening held in surprise locations throughout inner Melbourne. Guests walk into a fully immersive world recreated from the artistic direction of the film they are about to see. The film itself remains secret till it goes up on the screen. To Tamasein, Underground Cinema is a combination of theme, film and location. Each are as creatively important as the other, each have their own voice in the experience.

And an experience it is. I got a text message from UGC three days before last years screening, informing me that the secret prohibition party would be held at Red Bennies, Chapel St and to ask for ‘The Big Boss‘. So with the expectation that I would be watching a classic gangster film with some like-minded people I went along. It wasn’t until I arrived that I realised what I was in for.

The street was full of guys and dolls in 1920’s garb, with wing tip shoes and fedoras, flapper dresses and Cloche Hats (I was even harassed by a couple of wise guys for not being dressed up). The line to get in was huge and stepping inside the speak-easy was like stepping back in time. Everything had been transformed down to the finest detail. It was New Years Eve in Chicago, circa 1929 and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in the place who would tell you otherwise. With lavish costume and decoration, entertainment by ten piece band The Cairo Club and dancing by Swing Patrol the place was drenched in authenticity. The film, Little Caesar, was kept secret until just before the credits rolled when a group of gangsters led by Mickey ‘The Rope’ stormed the venue.

‘When it all comes together, when the audience arrives in costume, when they’re walking around the themed decor and the film starts, I have this magic moment that says this is where and how this film should be seen. It’s almost like finding it’s spiritual home.’

The Underground Cinema season is back for 2011, with the first event happening 8.30pm Friday 18th March & 8.00pm Sat 19th at a secret location only revealed the day before the event.

The theme is ‘Future’ and the dress code is Time Traveler. Don’t forget to bring proof of your time travels. For more information, tickets or to sign up be part of the Underground Cinema experience go to

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