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.

How Gregory’s Girl taught kids about science

Cinelive and BFI Education, with support from Wellcome Trust, joined forces to deliver a project exploring the science of human attraction, all inspired by the cult British classic, Gregory’s Girl.

What’s the Grey Matter with Gregory? incorporated the much-loved 1980s film Gregory’s Girl into screenings and workshops at nine locations across the UK, from Inverness to Canterbury.

Film Hub Scotland, Film Hub Wales and Film Hub South East helped to contact and engage school groups to attend, and the workshops combined the expertise of directors, science researchers, producers, venue managers, teachers, arts professionals, and educators.

“The lesson learnt by the pupils in terms of human behaviour and relationships will hopefully be reflected on by pupils and staff throughout their lives.” – Teacher, Swansea

See more about the project in the short video below, and if you’d like to develop a similar film-based initiative, do get in contact with us to discuss your idea.

What BFI2022 means for you

The British Film Institute (BFI) has announced its new five-year strategy, which responds to the comments of the national consultation carried out earlier this year.

BFI2022 will operate between 2017-2022 and is based on three key priorities:

  • Talent – Developing more creative filmmaking across different platforms, and financing emerging talent from outside of London.
  • Learning – A 10-year skills strategy with Creative Skillset, a manifesto for film in the classroom and a commitment to diversity.
  • Audiences – Grow engagement for young audiences, digitise archive British TV content, and launch a public searchable database of British film.
Amanda Nevill

Amanda Nevill, BFI’s CEO launches the strategy at This Way Up conference

How does BFI2022 affect Film Hubs?

  • The different Film Hubs around around the country will each take a lead role in targeting particular audiences, or running particular strands.
  • Talent executives will be posted to various locations in England to help filmmakers develop ideas and assist with distribution support.
  • A simple, more accessible Audience Fund, able to support distributors, exhibitors, festivals, multi-year projects and strategic partners has been created.
  • Greater devolution of decision-making and funding.

We’ll update you on the finer details of these changes and what it means for Film Hub South East members when more information is available.

Improvements in diversity representation

The BFI’s CEO Amanda Nevill attended This Way Up conference in Glasgow on 30 November to present the strategy. In a summary of Nevill’s talk on The Bigger Picture website, Tara Judah noted: “Perhaps the most significant thing of all is that everyone – across the entire country – cited diversity as the biggest problem in the survey and, looking around the room, this is visibly evident. And so, what I think we can look forward to most is positive change in visible diversity onscreen, in the classroom, in cinemas and next year.”

Get in touch with questions

Thank you from all of us at Film Hub South East for your energy and engagement with all your projects we’ve been involved with so far.  We’re looking forward to continuing working with you over the coming year.

If you have any questions about the strategy, please email us.

You can read the full BFI2022 strategy on the BFI website.

Photograph of Amanda Nevill by Eoin Carey.

Welcome Beth Wilson

Meet our new Film Hub South East Administrator, Beth Wilson

Image of Beth Wilson

Beth Wilson is our new Hub administrator

I’m delighted to have joined the Film Hub South East team. As a British/Australian/New Zealander I love Andrea Arnold, Cate Shortland and Jane Campion equally.

I’ve been living in Sydney, Australia, for the past nine years and have been embedded in the Arts scene over there working for The Sydney Film Festival, The Sydney Theatre Company and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. I’ve always had a love of film, but my passion for engaging audiences in non-mainstream cinema grew out of volunteering and working at film festivals and a period as a film reviewer.

Now I’m back in the UK, and when I’m not working you’ll often find me in a cinema, watching the most depressing film available. But if I’m not there, I might be taking a nice countryside walk or investigating where to find the best Japanese food in Brighton.

I’m looking forward to finding out more about your organisations, societies and clubs and the great projects you are working on. Feel free to get in touch.

Meet our new Film Hub South East Co-ordinator: Annie Mannion

Annie Mannion headshot

Annie Mannion, Film Hub South East Co-ordinator

Hi! I’m really excited to be joining the Film Hub South East team to look after its digital channels, communicate with cinemas across the region, and help run events. My background is in journalism and since 2000 I’ve edited a broad range of both print and web titles, including a stint working in Chicago.

I come to this role directly from Macmillan Cancer Support charity, where I’ve worked in the Digital team for the past seven years. Most recently, I’ve also been working part time as marketing manager and events organiser for the Electric Palace – a boutique, 50-seater cinema in Hastings. Its annual Summer Music Season, hosted by David Quantick, is one of my ‘babies’, and I was also very proud to persuade the brilliant US musician and acclaimed author, Willy Vlautin, to join us for a guest appearance alongside the screen adaptation of his novel, The Motel Life.

Outside of work, my happy places are either in an old man’s pub nursing an ale and a cryptic crossword, or at the swimming pool – perhaps that’s one of the reasons The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is probably my all-time favourite film (though it’s a tough choice between that and Almost Famous, or A Mighty Wind…).

I look forward to meeting you all.

Feel free to email me about Film Hub South East.

Guiding Lights participants announced

Lighthouse, Creative Skillset, and Film Hub South East announce candidates selected for Guiding Lights 2014

Guiding Lights, the UK film industry’s leading mentoring scheme, has announced the names of the 15 directors, writers, producers and exhibitors selected for the 2014 scheme.

This year Film Hub South East has partnered with the programme to support the participation of three exhibition professionals from the South East. We are delighted to announce that the succesful exhibition applicants for this year are:
Jonathan Hyde, Eyes Wide Open Cinema
David Parker, Oska Bright
Rebecca Marshall, The Electric Palace Cinema Continue reading

Film Hub South East Advisory Group finalised


Film Hub South East has now appointed all 12 members of its new Advisory Group. The members were selected as the result of an open application call, and chosen to ensure they represented the diversity of the region and the exhibition landscape in the South East. The position of Chair will be shared by Professor Anne Boddington (the Dean of the University of Brighton’s Faculty of Arts) and Dr Frank Gray (lead member of FHSE’s Management Board and Director of Screen Archive South East).

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‘The Cinema of Childhood’ season announced


A curated touring season of films has been announced to tie in with the upcoming Mark Cousins documentary A Story of Children and Film (Dogwoof, released 4 April 2014).

For booking information please contact MarjoleinDen Bakker at FilmHouse:

The Cinema of Childhood – a season curated by Mark Cousins is a touring season of great films with child protagonists from all around the world, curated by the filmmaker Mark Cousins. It’s inspired by his documentary A Story of Children and Film, which explores the depiction of childhood in the movies through 53 films from 25 countries. The season and the documentary will be released alongside each other, in April 2014.

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