Members Blog: How to collect your cinema awards!

Hurst Village Cinema wins Cinema for All Award

Hurst Village Cinema wins a Cinema for All Award

“I have used the expression “gobsmacked” over the years, but now I actually know how it feels!”

David Saitch from Hurst Village Cinema attended this year’s annual Community Cinema National Conference in Sheffield, which hosts the Cinema for All Awards. A surprise was in store…

As part of the conference, Cinema for All hosts the annual Film Society of the Year awards and we were very pleased to be awarded a Distinction in the Best Marketing and Publicity category.

That may not sound the most exciting award going, but I am always very pleased to get recognition for the quality of the work we do to market the Village Cinema, as that takes up more time and effort than actually showing films!

Then they got to the two most prestigious Awards, the first being the Roebuck Cup, a personal award given to someone who has made a significant contribution to the Community Cinema movement as a whole. Listening idly to the citation they were reading and wondering who the winner was, my jaw suddenly fell to the floor and I felt Mike pat me on the shoulder, as the penny dropped that they were talking about me. I have used the expression “gobsmacked” over the years, but now I actually know how it feels.

David Saitch collects his Roebuck Award

David Saitch collects his Roebuck Cup Award

The awards announcement

“The Roebuck Cup is awarded to those remarkable individuals who are involved in the starting of many film societies, keeping the ideal of Cinema For All going, and supporting the movement in all sorts of ways, often over many years. It was donated by Charles Roebuck, a life-long cinema enthusiast and national officer of the British Federation of Film Societies.

Names have been engraved upon the Roebuck Cup since 1979 – men and women who have given that extra something to the film society sector.

This year’s award goes to someone who is deeply involved in today’s film society and community cinema community – known to many for his attendance at this event, year after year, his continual support of groups all over the country is and his willingness to intervene directly to give another community cinema a much needed hand, whenever it is needed. He has been running his own group for many years, bringing great cinema to his community in West Sussex. Several years ago he set up the UK Film Societies Facebook page to bring you all together to share your successes, challenges and knowledge.”


Katie Brandwood of Stanley’s Film Club said:

“We are indebted to David for enabling us to get back on our feet after losing access to our equipment, along with our long-term venue. In a response to a plea for help on the UK Film Societies group in May 2017, David arranged for the spare projector at his own film society, the Hurst Village Cinema, to be given to us on extended loan, going out of his way to handover the projector in a matter of hours.

Paired with a screen lent by Brad Scott at Forest Row Film Society, this high spec equipment package made it possible for us to continue our screenings, minimising disruption to the momentum of our activities. It saved us precious time and resources in sourcing alternative equipment, meaning we were able to focus on rebuilding the club into its former sustainable self.”

Cinema For All’s Jaq Chell said:

“This year’s Roebuck Cup winner truly upholds the values of Cinema For All. His love and support of the movement goes beyond the limits of his own community, and his passion for being part of the bigger picture has impacted more individuals than I think he knows. I am utterly delighted that Cinema For All can recognise his commitment today, as he inspires us all to stay connected.”

I was utterly shocked, but obviously delighted and honoured, to be included among those who have contributed in some way to the growth and success of the Community Cinema movement.

I’m so pleased that my peers think that my efforts to bring community cinemas and film societies closer together have succeeded, but if I am perfectly honest, they wouldn’t have succeeded without the generosity of spirit in the community cinema movement as a whole, who have bought into what I was trying to do and have picked it up and run with it.

About the conference

The Community Cinema National Conference is very valuable in that it offers us the chance to meet fellow community cinemas to network and share experiences. It also gives us the chance to meet industry professionals and academics to hear about changes and trends and to get insight into potential screening options we may not have been aware of. There is a excellent range of masterclasses, panel sessions and film screenings to choose from.

Members Blog: Best practice in youth arts project management

Clare Hankinson photo

Clare Hankinson

Supported by the FHSE Travel and Training Bursary, this autumn Clare Hankinson from Fabrica attended a six-day course run by Artswork on Youth Arts Project Management and Reflective Practice (YAPMRP).

Having managed Fabrica Film Club since 2013, when it was set up to engage older audiences, over the past few years we’ve also found that film can be a brilliant way to work with several key audiences at Fabrica, a contemporary art gallery based in a former Regency Church in the heart of Brighton.

Including younger voices

In 2016 we began a new project, supported by Film Hub South East, working with young film programmers (18-30) to weave younger voices into our programming and in turn encourage emerging programmers into the film industry. In 2017 this idea became ‘Fresh Perspectives’ – a young peer group for people aged 16-25 to programme a series of monthly film screenings at Fabrica.

Photo: Fresh Perspectives Screening at Fabrica, photographer: Syl Ojalla

Photo: Fresh Perspectives Screening at Fabrica, photographer: Syl Ojalla

The YAPMRP course came up just as Fresh Perspectives was starting, and it seemed too good an opportunity to miss, as I wanted to make sure that not only the current cohort of young programmers were getting the best out of the project, but that I could spend some time on thinking about the future of this project and how it could become bigger, better and more sustainable.

Taking place over three months at Cockpit Arts, London, it was a chance to take time out of the day-to-day duties at Fabrica, and concentrate on this more strategic approach.

Building up a peer network

Over this time, we covered planning and budgeting, marketing, fundraising and evaluation. The course also became an incredibly supportive network of peers who are working across the arts and with a broad range of young audiences. That in itself was brilliant and we have kept in touch – I hope maybe I will partner with some of these new contacts in the future.

Image of young people doing presentation

Clare and her team pitching their film project idea to funders

For me, with more of a background in running projects aimed at older people, the most useful thing to learn from the course was about how to work successfully with young people. Learning about how people engage schools and youth groups will be something I take forward into new film programmes, and how to make sure people are safe, supported and have a true voice in the process of project-making was really helpful. Finding out about funding for this group was also really insightful, and knowing about key areas for development in youth-arts practice was very applicable to developing our film projects here at Fabrica.

I’m still absorbing the mountains of notes that I took during the course, plus all the additional materials and resources that were made available to us, but I’m certain that this will help make a longer-term project with young people and film a reality in the future – and I’m really grateful for that.

Members Blog: What can Screening Days offer your venue?

Michael McDermott and Bill Murray

Michael McDermott was awarded a Training and Travel bursary from us to attend Autumn Screening Days in November 2017 at HOME cinema, Manchester, on behalf of Hove’s The Old Market venue.

Screening Days run by Independent Cinema Office (ICO) offer programmers and exhibitors the opportunity to watch and select new titles to bring to audiences around the time of their release dates. Effectively, the Screening Days are a way to determine the quality of new films in advance and to see if they suit your venue and your audience before you programme them proper. 

Since starting TOM’s Film Club at The Old Market, something we’ve wanted to do much more of is to show newer titles, the sorts of films that are a bit more diverse, obscure and independent, usually the sort of films that will sadly have limited or no release in Brighton. Effectively, to give these films more of a reach or an outlet in the city.

HOME cinema in Manchester

I saw 12 films over three days, but we were forewarned by various ICO reps and film distributors before every screening explicitly to refrain from talking about the films, tweeting, posting anything on social media or generally  giving any personal opinion about the films or spoil anything for future audiences when they eventually go on general release.

So this account bears that disclaimer in mind, without giving up my personal opinions about any films.

HOME itself is a pretty lush venue; like The Old Market it is also known as a theatre but there is a gallery space too, of which there was an exhibition exploring the Russian Revolution in its centenary year. I found this to be almost as exciting as all the films themselves, having studied Russian history at college and travelled to both Moscow and Saint Petersburg as part of those studies – earlier this year at TOM’s Film Club we marked the centenary of the February Revolution with a screening of Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark; shot in the historic Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg, it is a film which covers 300 years of Russian History in one continuous shot!

35mm Projector

On the second floor you’ll find five cinema screens, with DCP, 35mm and 4K projection, comfortable seating and most importantly cup-holders for much-needed coffee – I found that watching four films a day in accession with limited breaks in between meant that coffee was a necessary and vital component of the day (I was recently advised by my dentist that I shouldn’t have been drinking all that coffee since I chipped my front tooth last month and haven’t yet had it capped. Sometimes, sacrifices must be made for the greater good, even if some of the films aren’t particularly that great or good).

Along the walls there are photos, drawings and information detailing the making-of stop-motion animation films like Wes Anderson’s FANTASTIC MR. FOX and Tim Burton’s FRANKENWEENIE and CORPSE BRIDE (part of another exhibition HOME were having at the time about the work of Mackinnon and Saunders, which was commissioned by the Manchester Animation Festival), and before you enter the screening space, they have a huge 35mm projector on display from another cinema that had since closed down, reminding movie goers of film’s former, rarer and better format.

My main drive for wanting to attend ICO Screening Days was to watch THE PRINCE OF NOTHINGWOOD, which is the current New Release Strategy title selected by BFI’s Film Audience Network (FAN), and I’m happy and very grateful to report that Film Hub South East is funding The Old Market screening on 7 February 2018.

Seeing it as an early preview definitely built up my enthusiasm for the film, and confidence to include it in TOM’s Film Club, and although it’s an obvious afterthought, seeing these films before programming them really does make a world of difference, because not only can you think about the film, but you can think about ways of marketing the film, who to market the film for, and any cinema+ activities that could work to accompany the screening. The film was previewed as part of Brighton’s CINECITY Film Festival on 12th November, but as my brochure deadline for getting TOM’S Film Club together in spring was for 6th November I figured it better to actually watch this documentary before trying to write about it.

I’ve already booked myself a place for the ICO Archive Screening Day in December, which I hope will equally inspire and give me the means and resources to programme archive film at the Old Market; having recently watched IN SEARCH OF COLOUR: KINEMACOLOR at CINECITY, I want to try and bring to focus in our programme the cinematic history of Hove and the early primitive but technologically innovative films that were created here by George Albert Smith and the Brighton School of pioneers in the early 20th century.

In all, I thought being a part of the ICO Screening Days was very beneficial, and I would recommend anyone who runs film clubs or cinema communities to get involved as it is a very useful resource for selecting new titles for your programme, as well as a great way to preview films before their general release to see if they’ll work for your audiences. It’s also a great opportunity to network with other programmers, as well as a chance to meet the distributors responsible for the getting these films screened in this country in the first place.

Also, in case you’re wondering, here is a list of all the films I saw in the order I saw them in. I’ll be able to let you know next year what I thought:

  • LADY BIRD (Dir: Greta Gerwig, Universal)
  • THE DISASTER ARTIST (Dir: James Franco, Warner Bros)
  • THE PRINCE OF NOTHINGNESS (Dir: Sonia Kronlund, Vertigo Releasing)
  • BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL (Dir: Takashi Miike, Arrow Films)
  • HUMAN FLOW (Dir: Ai Weiwei, Altitude Film Entertainment)
  • LOVER FOR A DAY (Dir: Philippe Garrel, MUBI)
  • THE NILE HILTON INCIDENT (Dir: Tarik Saleh, New Wave Films)
  • SWEET COUNTRY (Dir: Warwick Thornton, Thunderbird Releasing)
  • DOWNSIZING (Dir: Alexander Payne, Paramount)
  • CUSTODY (Dir: Xavier Legrand, Picturehouse Entertainment)
  • ON CHESIL BEACH (Dir: Dominic Cooke, Lionsgate)
  • LEAN ON PETE (Dir: Andrew Haigh, Curzon Artificial Eye)

Members Blog: Amrit Maghera-Johal attends ICO Screening Days

Amrit Maghera-Johal of Reading Film Theatre

Screening Days from the Independent Cinema Office (ICO) provide cinema exhibitors with the chance to see upcoming releases to help programme new films for their cinemas. Amrit Maghera-Johal attended Autumn Screening Days in November 2017 at HOME cinema, Manchester, on behalf of Reading Film Theatre

If it could be possible, the Autumn Screening Days this year were even more impressive this time than usual. The selection of films were very strong with many of us finding it difficult to decide which ones to watch and which to miss out.

Many of the films in the Saturday selection were only being shown the once over the weekend. Luckily there were three of us from Reading Film theatre, so we managed to watch a fair few.

One of the screenings, HUMAN FLOW, was particularly useful to see as I hope to programme it alongside one of our events with the Reading Refugee Support Group next year.

Screening Days in Manchester

Screening Days in Manchester

The ICO team ran a PROGRAMMING AND MARKETING SPOTLIGHT session on the Sunday evening, which I attended. We were split into groups and asked to select a film that one of our venues would have difficulty marketing to their audiences. The group I was in chose HUMAN FLOW. It was great to hear how other people work and we brainstormed some ideas. As well as being informative and helpful the session was a lot of fun; and not just because of the free wine and beer on offer.

The final day of the weekend is useful to catch up with films that you may have missed but had good reviews from your fellow attendees. The feedback forms we are asked to complete after every films is useful for the distributors but also helpful to the exhibitors. 

Reflecting on the event, I think it was one of the strongest ones for films that I have attended. I left excited to continue programming the RFT Spring Season and have managed to book two of the films from the weekend already. I’m hoping the audience enjoy them as much as I did.

Many thanks to the ICO for organising, HOME for hosting, all the distributors for sharing their gems with us and FHSE for making it possible for me to attend.

Members Blog – Women Over 50 Film Festival heads to Hull

Nuala O'Sullivan and friend at This Way Up 2017

Nuala O’Sullivan and Marc David Jacobs from SQIFF at This Way Up 2017

This Way Up is an annual conference for exhibition professionals in the UK. This year it took place in Hull, and we helped support Nuala O’Sullivan from the Women Over Fifty Film Festival (WOFFF) to attend.

Attending THIS WAY UP via a Training and Travel bursary from Film Hub South East meant I could learn ways to improve my practice and pick up tips on how to improve what Women Over 50 Film Festival can be.

I connected with and learned from more experienced film festival organisers and film programmers like, David, from the best acronymed film festival out there – SQIFF (Scottish Queer International Film Festival), Ollie from the beautiful Hyde Park Picturehouse and Jen, the most northerly screener I met there, from Tiree.

Hull Truck

Hull Truck the venue for This Way Up 2017

Actively participating in sessions and Q&As meant that people approached me afterwards to follow up on what I had said and/or to find out more about WOFFF. Going to THIS WAY UP has helped put WOFFF much more firmly on the film festival map.

I was fully funded by Film Hub South East via the Training and Travel Bursary scheme to attend the 2017 conference and I’d really recommend THIS WAY UP to other film exhibitors.

Members Blog- Michael McDermott on attending ICO course- REACH

Michael McDermott (and Bill Murray)

Michael McDermott from The Old Market was awarded a Training and Travel Bursary to attend the ICO course- REACH

“What is your mission statement?”

This was one of the first questions posed to us during our time in Bristol, and it was a question that I never really bared much thought on, even though it’s quite an essential and integral part of establishing any start-up, organisation, or in this case, a monthly film club. I do know what our mission is and why Steve McNicholas (co-owner of The Old Market) and I started TOM’s Film Club, because we felt Hove needed a more regular film programme, as there hasn’t been a cinema in the area since the 1970s. Film screenings and pop-up events mainly seem to happen in Brighton where all the cinemas and arts venues are situated, which is a shame given that Hove played a big part in the history of film in the late 19th/ early 20th centuries with pioneers such as George Albert Smith and his Kinemacolor process or James Williamson’s innovative way of editing and creating a narrative through the logic of the shots.

With all that said, we wanted to bring something cinematic back to the Hove community, which is why we started showing films at the Old Market, but nowhere in our marketing do we mention this connection with wanting to show films in Hove (we don’t even have the address on the flyer, one of many oversights I found out about our branding during my time on the course), and it really ought to be, as it’s perhaps the key factor as to why the film club exists in the first place.

ICO REACH 2017 took place at Watershed in Bristol

This was just the start of the many obvious and intriguing things I learnt from my time in the ICO Reach: Audience Development Strategy course, which was attended by seventeen other programmers and exhibitors from many different parts of the country, some from major cinema chains and others like myself running a community film club. For three days in mid-September, we all congregated in the W2 Room of the Watershed in Bristol, my new favourite cinema and city.

On the first day we got to know each other by getting into groups and being constructive / critical of each other’s print materials; what we liked, what stood out and what could be improved, and it was amazing all the small but key details we missed on our own flyer. The most constructive advice was to make it double-sided with all the info and directions on the back so that we could make the images on the front much bigger and bolder (to appeal more to the eye of a potential filmgoer), but even little things like the doors opening before the film we forgot to include also. I couldn’t believe in hindsight all the small but important things we missed in our advertising and how it would speak volumes to our audience had it been included in the print.

Discussing audience data at ICO REACH course

From then on in, we were taught about film and cinema statistics and box office numbers, and I was surprised to learn that the average person in the UK visits the cinema only 2.6 times a year, and even more surprising was that this is increasing from previous years and that we were not that far off from the French cinema attendance which is currently at 3.1 films a year (but way off the heyday of 33 films a year in 1946!). We also learnt about Public Relations and how to get the press on your side and write the perfect press release with Clare Wilford, as well as how to use social media more effectively and not to spend too much time constructing a Tweet or Facebook post, to just keep it snappy and send it quick as it will soon get lost in the social media whirlpool.

Among all the speakers we had, I felt that Sarah Boiling’s presentation at the end of the second day was of the most benefit to me, as she discussed in detail with the group the importance of an efficient and effective audience plan and how to go about putting one in place, and how it starts with your mission and how that communicates to a potential audience. Firstly, start by handing out questionnaires after all screenings (something I have neglected to do for the last half a year) and decide if you want a qualitative or quantitative sample, and to make these surveys as short and as accessible as possible. We also learnt about segmenting your audience so that you’re directly reaching your target market i.e. people in a certain area with certain tastes, and how our venue would cater for those tastes, which was summarised with the “four Ps: Product/Programme, Place, Price, Promotion.” With this information in mind, I plan on creating a quantitative questionnaire tailored to our visitors and to create a mailing list to send out for those that leave their email addresses, as well finding out more ways we can improve our film screenings while at the same time showing the films our audiences continue to request.

Sarah Boiling presenting on creating an audience strategy

I’ve now since finished my audience development plan and awaiting a tutor to guide me along the next few months to ensure it is successful so that we can start hitting our target market; we’re hoping to attract a younger audience in the 16-30 age-range (as also specified in the aims of the BFI FAN  – we plan to show The Prince of Nothingwood as part of their New Release Strategy sometime in the new year, so keep your eyes open), particularly students who rarely venture into Hove. How I plan to attract such an audience is through cinema+ activities and making the film screenings more of an event themselves, be it through collaboration, special guest speakers live music or a party after the screening. Essentially, for our audience we are striving to turn our film events into experiences, experiences they simply won’t get from watching the same film at home via online streaming sites.

And since leaving Bristol I have already started to implement much of what I have learnt into action regarding our most recent screening of Ex_Machina, in which we collaborated with the British Science Association to put artificial intelligence at the forefront of our screening. This included installing a couple of virtual reality experiences that gave the user an idea of how a robot would hallucinate (it was trippy to say the least) and a lecture from Dr. Ron Chrisley of the University of Sussex about how we could go about making the Turing Test more difficult for androids. From this, there was a definite increase in ticket sales once we added all these cinema+ activities, which I think was mainly down to targeting students at the University of Sussex with flyers and posters, as well as tapping into the BSA’s already established audience. In the end, it nearly sold out, whereas the weeks before we had only sold like six tickets.

TOMTech VR event connected to screening of Ex Machina run on 3 Oct 2017

I couldn’t recommend this course more highly enough – it’s for anyone who is looking to increase cinema attendance in their venues, diversify their audience or reach out to members of the community who aren’t as represented in their current numbers. It also made for a great opportunity to meet and network with fellow film programmers, many of whom I’m regularly in touch with, as well as the industry experts that were brought in from the ICO, who had so much great advice for us all that I ended up writing sixty-four pages of notes over the three; I don’t think I’ve spent so many hours in a cinema without seeing a single film, but nevertheless I feel enriched by what I’ve learnt so far and can’t wait to see the results in March when course officially concludes, but after that I’ll be using all these skills to take TOM’s Film Club further. My main hope is that people will once again watch films on the big screen in Hove like times’ past, and if we do tap into that elusive younger crowd, it would be wonderful for them to learn that much of what we know of film started in Hove.

Members Blog – Worthing Theatres visits London Film Festival 2017

James Tully from Worthing Theatres was awarded a Training and Travel Bursary to attend the London Film Festival 2017.

I was very privileged to be able to visit the London Film Festival under the South East Film Hubs Travel and Training Bursary. I am a film programmer working in the 2 screen Connaught Theatre in Worthing. We are a multi-arts venue with dance, theatre, comedy, music and of course film. Film has become increasingly important to the venue over the last couple of years as we have curated a different audience within the town and have slowly been playing more and more art-house fare as time has gone on.

I was eager to attend the festival to get advance word on the films playing through the awards season and judge their suitability for my venue. The awards corridor is hugely important and we make more revenue in this period than we would do during summer blockbuster season. I really went hell for leather and watched at least 4 movies a day, often 5.

As part of the LFF delegate pass you gain access to an on-line hub where you can watch a lot of the smaller releases that struggle to get noticed during the festival. I saw the particularly excellent documentary A MOTHER BRINGS HER SON TO BE SHOT on there. This has already provided me with some great insight into the next few months calendar and I have made some bookings off the back of screenings already.

Subsequently some films that are highly regarded didn’t quite connect with me and I have decided to wait until release to see if they take off.  We have already been posting images and sneak peeks to our customers of things that I saw.

Waiting for the curtains to part at the London FIlm Festival

The festival itself is a well oiled machine with so much going on, it could be daunting but the communication is very clear as to available screenings. I also attended many networking events where I got to talk to distributors about their release plans for certain films including print counts and marketing, which was very useful. I made a lot of contacts while I was there and always enjoyed chatting to people at events – a multitude of bookers, journalists, reviewers, exhibitors and distributors.

I am extremely grateful to the South East Film Hub for enabling this to happen. It will benefit my venue greatly.

Members Blog – How London Film Festival helps Haslemere Hall

Katherine Higham

Katherine Higham from Haslemere Hall was awarded a Training and Travel Bursary to attend the London Film Festival 2017. 

I attended the Film Hub London Exhibitors Breakfast during the London Film Festival. Every speaker delivered a distinct, relevant and inspiring case study, one that I could implement within our screening space and put into place. I was particularly interested in the statistics regarding under 25 year-olds via Broadway Cinema and that giving them a subsidised ticket would in the long run encourage the younger audience members to attend the cinema. Their marketing campaign was extremely successful. It did give me a push to brainstorm new ideas regarding programming for our venue and to relay that passion to other staff.

Katherine’s red carpet snap-star of A Fantastic Woman, Daniela Vega at LFF

The organisations Cinema For All and Into Film addressed the seminar and are completely relevant to our venue and I will be contacting them soon.

I also attended the networking drinks in the evening where I was able to discuss issues both sides of the screen. I was also lucky enough to attend screenings during this time and saw A Fantastic Woman amongst others…a film which hopefully we will be showing at our venue in the future.

Tim Brown’s Cannes lowdown

Brighton CineCity Festival’s director takes you through his picks from Cannes 2017.

Tim Brown

Tim Brown of CineCity Festival

As ever many of the gems and real pleasures of the festival were to be found outside of the main competition, in the Un Certain Regard, Directors’ Fortnight and Out of Competition strands.

Faces Places

An excellent and engaging documentary – screening out of the main Cannes competition streams – is Faces Places (Visages Villages), which follows legendary Agnès Varda, now 89, and French photographer JR as they travel through rural France pasting up JR’s massive photographs on buildings.

As the pair form an unlikely friendship, their interactions with each other and the ordinary working people they encounter are immensely uplifting. Varda – awarded an honorary Palme d’Or in 2015, the same year she came to Brighton to present her films in person – is now suffering from failing eyesight and unable to make films on her own, but this was an absolute delight.

The Prince of Nothingwood
(Directors’ Fortnight).

Nothingwood is Afghanistan’s version of Nollywood, Bollywood or Hollywood. Sonia Kronlund makes her feature debut with this documentary profile of Salim Shaheen, the most prolific and popular actor-director-producer in Afghanistan who has made more than 100 films in the past 30 years in his war-torn country.

This is a highly entertaining celebration of cinema and a fascinating character study of a one-man industry. Vertigo is planning to release in the UK in late 2017.

I Am Not A Witch

(Directors’ Fortnight). This highly original feature debut from Zambian born, Wales- based filmmaker Rungano Nyoni and set in a world of contemporary witchcraft, is an intriguing mix of satire and fairytale.

Nine year old Shula (a wonderful central performance from Margaret Mulubwa) is banished from her village and sent to a travelling witch-camp where she is told that if she tries to escape she will be transformed into a goat. Cut through with moments of humour and surrealism, I Am Not a Witch is wonderfully shot and also features a striking soundtrack. Curzon Artificial Eye has picked it up for UK distribution.

The Rider

(Winner of Art Cinema award, Directors’ Fortnight). Two years after her debut feature, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, which Cinecity was delighted to screen in 2015, Chloé Zhao’s follow-up focuses on a former rodeo star, played by real-life cowboy Brady Jandreau, who must rebuild his life after his skull is crushed in a riding accident.

Brady Jandreau in The Rider, with horse

Brady Jandreau in The Rider

The film is not at all what one might surmise from a brief synopsis. The ‘masculinity in crisis’ tale is subtle and nuanced and expertly handled throughout with a balancing tenderness, especially in Brady’s relationship with his sister who has learning disabilities. Sumptuous cinematography from Joshua James Richards (he also shot God’s Own Country coming out in September, and which screens at our Hub member event on 18th July) superbly captures the vistas of South Dakota. Chloé Zhao’s first feature Songs did not get a UK release but Altitude has thankfully bought The Rider for UK distribution.

April’s Daughter

Mexican director Michel Franco (Daniel and Ana, After Lucia, Chronic) has produced another assured and unsettling drama, which won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize. 17 year-old Valeria (Ana Valeria Becceril) is pregnant by her teenage boyfriend but doesn’t want her absent mother, April (Emma Suárez, last seen as Almodovar’s Julieta) to know. When her sister Clara (Joanna Larequi) goes behind her back and calls April, their mother arrives all ready to help. However, once the baby is born, it soon becomes all too clear why Valeria wanted to keep April as far away as possible.

A number of reviews refer to Franco’s cool, detached style as sometimes reminiscent of Michael Haneke but somehow at odds with a melodramatic storyline that pushes believability. But Franco is powerfully adept at skewering family dysfunction and April, brilliantly portrayed by Suárez, is a fascinating case study.

Tim’s personal highlights

As for the main competition, extensively covered elsewhere, my personal highlights were:

Loveless, directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev (Leviathan, The Return), winner of the Jury prize. It is a masterful examination of the emptiness at the heart of contemporary Russia as a divorcing couple, in the process of selling their apartment and preparing to move on with their new lives, neglect their 12-year-old son Alyosha and barely notice when he disappears. Somehow combining elements of a police procedural with a state of the nation dissection, it confirms Zvyagintsev as one of contemporary cinema’s most accomplished film-makers. It is due for release by Altitude on Nov 10.


Loveless: Unforgettable

120 Beats Per Minute
Winner of the Grand Prix, Franco-Moroccan director Robin Campillo’s third feature follows  gay activists in 1990s Paris amid the rise of the AIDS epidemic and their battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies. With a tender love story set against a detailed backdrop of ACT UP Paris weekly meetings, 120 Beats Per Minute brilliantly links the personal and political and features an excellent ensemble cast. It is due to be released by Curzon Artificial Eye on Oct 20.

You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay’s first feature since 2011’s We Need to Talk About Kevin won joint best screenplay award and a best actor for Joaquin Phoenix’s contract killer (Joe) trying to rescue a politician’s kidnapped daughter from the sex trade. Joe has the physical, and – revealed through flashbacks – mental scars of time spent in the FBI and Marines but partly what makes the film so utterly compelling is the way familiar tropes are thoroughly re-invigorated and elevated by a director at the very top of her game.

There are scenes of graphic violence (the film has been described elsewhere as a 21st century Taxi Driver) but everything revealed is so finely judged and precise. The film also features a great score from Radiohead‘s Jonny Greenwood.


Film Hub staff swim the Serpentine for MediCinema

Still from the film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Film Hub staff gracefully accept Bill Murray onto Team SwimFAN


A collection of colleagues from across the BFI Film Audience Network are busy donning their wetsuits and swimming caps, in training for this year’s Swim Serpentine event in London’s Hyde Park.

On Saturday 16 September, five members of staff from various Film Hubs around the UK have joined forces to help raise funds for a charity close to their hearts, MediCinema. It runs permanent cinemas in hospitals to help patients and their carers escape the isolation of their wards and illness, and enjoy a few hours of normality.

Why we’re taking on the challenge

Image of Lis Spencer

Lis is feeling brave

“Cinema gives us a sense of wonder and an opportunity to escape our normal lives, which is especially important when your normal life is spent in a hospital bed. I hope we can raise as much money as possible to enable MediCinema bring the wonder of film to loads more people. Just got to get to brave the cold water now!”
– Lis Spencer, Strategic Development Manager, Film Hub South East.

“I completed Swim Serpentine last year, raising more than £500 for MediCinema. I hope our collective Team SwimFAN efforts this year can push us over the £2000 mark. Research has shown that the distraction of watching a film in a dedicated cinema setting can significantly reduce people’s perception of pain, so we want to help MediCinema expand its cinemas into more hospitals across the country to reach more people, and provide them with memorable cinema experiences.”

Annie Mannion swimhat

Annie at last year’s event

– Annie Mannion, Coordinator, Film Hub South East.

Film Hub staff in Team SwimFAN:

  • Paul Bowman, Film London
  • Annabel Grundy, Film Hub North
  • Tiffany Holmes, Film Hub South West / West Midlands
  • Annie Mannion, Film Hub South East
  • Lis Spencer, Film Hub South East

Please sponsor us!

See what Team SwimFAN will take on:


“MediCinema enables patients and their families to feel better with film. We do this by building, installing and running cinemas in hospitals and other healthcare facilities throughout the UK. These cinemas are custom-built using the latest technology so they look and feel just like a mainstream cinema. The only difference is they’re specially designed for a healthcare setting so whether a patient is in a wheelchair, attached to a drip or even unable to leave their bed, there is a place for them.”

– Statement from MediCinema

MediCinema’s star supporters

Celebrities who support MediCinema charity include Kate Winslet, Ewan McGregor, Thandie Newton, Damien Lewis, Mike Leigh OBE, Daniel Day-Lewis, Nick Frost and many more stars of the screen, including Kevin Spacey:

“As a Patron of MediCinema, I know how important it is for patients in hospital to be able to change the way they look at their world – and what better way to do this, than through the magic of film.”

For further information and images, please email:
Annie Mannion, Coordinator, Film Hub South East