The Cinema For All Community Cinema Conference opened with a screening of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ and a Masterclass with Rebecca Ellis on cult musicals and their lasting charm. The talk was engaging and provided the perfect context for us to enjoy the screening to the fullest. We then headed over to the Fusion Organic Cafe for a drinks reception. This was our first opportunity to network with other community cinema organisers from around the country as well as the team at Cinema For All.
The first workshop ‘Making our screenings welcoming and accessible’ setting the tone for the conference. We were inspired by the different ways other organisations developed new ways to support their communities. The panel of programming provided an insight into the approach of other groups to programming and tips on diversifying our programme and the workshops on engaging young volunteers and fundraising provided practical advice and gave us food for thought as we develop into the future. At Screen B14 we look to provide accessible cinema that includes both mainstream and independent selections so in ‘The Big Debate: CINEMA for all v Cinema For ALL, it was hard to pick a side!
The conference also delivered on film: In ‘The Third Wife’ and ‘ We The Animals’ we were able to glance into other cultures and lives different from our own. Our experience of documentary ‘Seahorse’ was made richer by the Q&A session at the end with Director Jeanie Finlay and Sheffield Doc/Fest Film Programme Coordinator Mita Suri. Our favourite film of the weekend was ‘For Sama,’ so moving that we’ll be sharing it with our own audiences in March.
The most memorable part of the weekend was attending The Film Society of the Year Awards. We were mesmerised by the incredible work done by groups across our sector. The highlight of a wonderful weekend was winning the Dr Shaw Award for Best New Society, recognising the hard work of our volunteers and what we created together.
For volunteers who have not been involved in community cinema before, it was a great insight into what community cinema can achieve and how more established groups operate. It was also a chance to learn more about the key challenges that community cinemas face, such as engaging young audiences, and understand how different organisations tackle these. The weekend gave us confidence as young programmers and inspired us to continue to diversify programme - we’ve scheduled three of our upcoming screenings with titles from the Booking Scheme. We discovered the importance of collaboration and inspired to build on the events we programme with other events, planning our own masterclass as part of the BFI Musicals! Season, an opportunity we discovered at the conference.
Sukayna received a bursary from Film Hub Midlands to attend the Cinema For All conference.