Film Feels has launched a UK-wide film programme to celebrate films’ unique ability to connect us, as independent cinemas across the country begin to welcome audiences back following Covid-19 closures. 

The programme combines in-venue, online and hybrid activities that showcase films imbued with hope, dreams of the future and ways of reimagining film itself, with a particular emphasis on creating space for voices that don’t get heard in mainstream programming. 

Upcoming highlights include:

  • Sheba Soul Ensemble - A series of online screenings and creative writing workshops celebrating hopeful works by Maori director Merata Mita, Canada First Nation directors Doreen Manuel and Loretta Todd, as well as Cameroonian filmmaker Florence Ayisi.
  • Screen Argyll - a collaboration between artists’ collective SO:AR and Screen Argyll featuring a programme of films and activities that will build on ideas explored by the collective, to reflect on shifting paradigms, knowledge acquired from the past and what we can take into the future.
  • The Batty Mama - a screening of feature film ‘James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket’, followed by a long-table discussion, performance and short film screenings, to discuss the themes of hope, joy, aspiration, connection and growth raised by the life, work and legacy of Black activist and agitator James Baldwin.
  • Aya Films - the Imagined Futures project will look at what has been and reimagine what is to come by giving people from marginalised communities the opportunity to curate film screenings and supporting live events. ‘Vai’, a 2019 feature film made by nine South Pacific female directors, will open the festival and act as the starting point for the curated programme to follow.  

Film Feels Hopeful invites audiences to join in with over 50 online film events, ranging from watch-along screenings to director Q&As, poetry readings and performances plus plenty of opportunities to discuss the variety of themes raised by these inspirational films and filmmakers. 

The season follows last year’s Film Feels Connected programme, which was launched in response to national cinema closures and the need to continue to provide film fans with engaging, inspiring and challenging content. 

Film Feels organisers said: “The aim of Film Feels Hopeful is to offer the viewer something extra - whether that is critical engagement, entertaining special events or rediscovered works presented in new ways - that foreground the power of cinema as a collective, bigger-than-life experience. 

“During lockdown, we have felt yearning for the big screen experience and the simple pleasures of being alone together in the dark. At the same time, there have been seismic shifts in the film industry and cinema and we need to respond to these. Film Feels Hopeful reflects that sense of apprehension and hope - we can imagine new ways to amplify new stories, better serve all audiences and enjoy the communal experience of film once again.”

Although cinemas were given the green light to open in England on 17 May, many smaller independent cinemas in the UK, unable to open at reduced capacity, are making plans to reopen later in summer or early autumn.

Ben Luxford, Head of UK Audiences at the BFI, said: “We’re delighted that the Film Feels UK-wide film programme provides a welcome opportunity for audiences to experience something different with exciting new voices and a showcase of in-venue screenings and activities, as well as online events, with the support of the BFI Film Audience Network. Film Feels Hopeful will allow a diverse mix of organisations across the country to express their creativity and programming ambitions. This will enable venues and programmers to amplify new stories and reconnect with audiences following the challenges of Covid-19 for the exhibition sector, all supported thanks to National Lottery players.”

Jen Skinner, Director of Screen Argyll, said: We are delighted to have the opportunity to develop a programme as part of Film Feels, expanding on the work that SO:AR has been exploring on the Isle of Jura through its ‘Take Flight’ project. We will be asking the audience to reflect on the last 18 months, opening up the conversation across Argyll and the Isles as well as online. Enabling communities and individuals to reflect and discuss, exploring thoughts and ideas which radiate out from communities through the shared experience of film. We can’t wait to get screening films again and this programme is a wonderful way to start.”

Film Feels is a National Lottery-funded project designed to bring new, old, independent and off-the-beaten-track films to those who have spent lockdown searching every corner of streaming services for something a bit different. 

Film Feels is managed by Film Hub Midlands on behalf of the BFI Film Audience Network, supported by National Lottery funding. Visit for the full Film Feels Hopeful programme.