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12 July 2012
Olympia at Broadway — a rare treat for cinema-goers

Nottingham’s Broadway cinema is giving film fans the rare opportunity to see Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia, commissioned by Hitler to document the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Widely recognised as one of the greatest films of all-time, Olympia is controversial due to its political context.

The film set a precedent for both future Olympic films and televised sport and Riefenstahl’s groundbreaking filmmaking techniques — including unusual camera angles and close-ups — went on to become industry standard.

The screening takes place on Tuesday 17 July, when an academic from The University of Nottingham will put Olympia in context in what’s believed to be a UK first — taking philosophy into the cinema. 

Getting philosophical

Professor Stephen Mumford, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, will explore key philosophical questions about whether the film can still be considered beautiful, despite its association with Nazi propaganda.

“It still deserves our attention, even though at times it may be an uncomfortable watch,” he said.

“I can understand why it is rare for Olympia to be screened — it was a Nazi film — and some elements could be considered to be glorifying Nazism,” said Professor Mumford. “But it was mainly a film in praise of athletic beauty and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl was afforded a high degree of independence.

“It raises the question in philosophical aesthetics of whether an ethical flaw becomes an aesthetic defect as well. Is the imagery beautiful but wrong, or does its wrongness stop it being beautiful?”

Regular event

Café Philosophique will be a regular event in Broadway’s calendar, combining both contemporary and classic films with the expertise of philosophy academics from the University. Future themes will include philosophy of the body, justice and fairness, and literature and the mind.

Professor Mumford said: “I have high hopes for Café Philosophique. It’s a wonderful opportunity to take philosophical ideas outside the University. Many people are interested in these things and realise the value of philosophy.

“We have a duty as academics to satisfy the desire people have to learn. It’s not just fee-paying students — everyone sees the appeal of enlightened thinking and wrestles with difficult ideas. Philosophers can help disentangle the complex issues.”

Key partners

Caroline Hennigan, Programme Director at Broadway, is equally excited about the collaboration and further diversifying what the cinema offers.

She said: “We view The University of Nottingham as one of our key partners in the city. Being given rare permission to show Olympia really thrilled me as a film programmer. There aren’t many occasions when cinema has something truly unique to offer — and this is one of those occasions.”

But Olympia is just the beginning and Caroline hopes that cinema goers will be excited by the combination of cinema and philosophy.

She said: “It’s an innovative and potent mix of film and academia. I’m not aware of anything quite like it in any other cinema in the country and I look forward to further collaborations with the University.”

Time, date and price

The first Café Philosophique evening is on Tuesday 17 July. Professor Mumford’s 30-minute talk begins at 6pm followed by Olympia Part 1: Festival of Nations. After the screening audience members will be invited to chat about the film in Broadway’s Mezz bar.

Olympia Part 2: Festival of Beauty will be shown on Wednesday 18 July at 6pm and cinema-goers can retain their ticket for Part 1 for entry to Part 2.

Full details and ticket information can be found at

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