Curated streaming service and theatrical distributor MUBI has created a UK Cinema Fund to help support the exhibition sector across the UK impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The fund has been started with a £10,000 donation from MUBI, and the campaign aims to raise £100,000. The total raised will be donated to the BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund, which was set up this month by the BFI and its UK-wide BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) to offer critical relief and business continuity to exhibitors across the UK.
Donations will be used to support independent cinemas, film festivals and other organisations whose mission to bring fantastic cinema to audiences across the UK is now impossible due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these small and medium sized businesses are now facing permanent closure. These organisations will range in scale and type but they all share a passion for the best and broadest in UK and world cinema.
To raise awareness of the initiative and drive further support, MUBI has collaborated with cinemas across London to hire their marquees to display a defiant message of solidarity. Cinema partners include the Phoenix Cinema, which was built in 1910, the family-run Genesis Cinema,which has been central to the arts community since the mid-nineteenth century, the Grade II listed Rio Cinema and Catford Mews, which only opened seven months ago and quickly established itself as a key community cinema.
Efe Cakarel, Founder and CEO of MUBI said:
Cinemas and their staff are our partners, friends and colleagues. We have been working closely with UK festivals and cinemas for years and have been deeply saddened seeing the impact of the closures. We want to support them in any way we can during this incredibly difficult time, because we can’t imagine a world without them. We hope this fund gives them some of the support they need to reopen as soon as it’s possible.
Ian Wild, CEO of Showroom Workstationsaid:
In these unprecedented circumstances it is heartening to see MUBI support the independent exhibition sector with this initiative. We hope that the fund reaches its target to help us provide more vital support through the BFI FAN Resilience Fund.
The fundraising campaign runs until Monday 25 May 2020 and the webpage for the fund is now open to donations from anyone that wants to contribute here: gofundme.com/dearvirus
My placement at Riverfront started on the first week of February. As excited as I was from what I knew about the venue and their initiative, I also did not know what to expect. The exhibition environment was something completely new to me, having only worked in distribution and production before. I was looking forward to understanding how and why films are classified and programming works but was also slightly intimidated by Riverfront. A well-established arts centre at the heart of Newport known for the grand scale of its events and of its venue itself seemed like too much of a challenge for someone with academic ambitions to start off in the exhibition sector. But to my delight, it turned out to be a great experience.
Not having a specific role allowed me to work on a variety of things but my only ‘permanent’ task was ushering. A relatively simple duty that involves mainly checking tickets and showing people to their seats when necessary, ushering is not only an opportunity to watch great films but also a way to get know the kind of audience that Riverfront attracts firsthand. It’s also an amazing job if you’re into people watching – you get to see the full range of human emotions. I’ve seen a couple of the films I was ushering for before, so being able to rewatch them and pay more attention to the audiences’ reactions is an amazing reminder of the emotional power films have on us. Another perk of ushering is getting to interact with the audience and indulge in conversation afterwards, hearing their fresh thoughts on the film. Since all cinemas have a unique audience profile, getting their feedback and opinions on the films is key to creating a buzz and ensuring the high-quality experience they are looking for.
Getting to know the customers is also crucial when diversifying and developing audiences through experimental cinema and alternative content, something that Riverfront is proud to do through screenings of foreign language, independent and arthouse films.
Besides ushering for the screenings of So Long, My Son (2019), Cats (2019) and 1917 (2019), I also worked on the baby-friendly screenings – For Crying Out Loud – of Little Women (2019) and Jojo Rabbit (2019). While the suspicious looks I got for not having a baby with me were probably the most amusing part of that experience, it was still an interesting environment to be in. It’s a completely different kind of event, where the films work only as an excuse for parents to go out and have a day off. For those screenings, there’s a soft level of lighting in the cinema, the volume is lower and there’s soft matting for the babies, even if one of them mistook Taika Waititi’s Hitler for the real man and tried to crawl out of the cinema in fear. At the baby-friendly screenings, I quickly realised that the film is not the focal event and so the main job when ushering for those is catering to the special needs of the audience. That means providing care and support from arrival to departure, as well as maintaining good audience experience through screen alignment, correct sound and light levels appropriate to keep the babies comfortable without sacrificing the parents’ cinematic experience.
I worked closely with Andrew who, as the box office manager, is responsible for booking screenings. Riverfront only screens films six weeks after their original release as their licence is considerably cheaper, so much of our time when researching films to book was spent making sure that six weeks have passed before the date of its proposed screening. As Riverfront only has one cinema screen that is also used for other purposes, the rest of the process was one long and arduous task of booking the room, contacting the distributors of the film and agreeing on a split of profits, and notifying the financial department to authorise the transaction. Once that was done, we’d finally update the website with the confirmed dates/times, synopsis and photos of the film. Booking was probably my favourite job to do, as it gave me the opportunity to learn more about and engage with distributors, suppliers and the financial department, allowing me to handle and resolve issues through nothing but effective communication skills.
Despite the considerable amount of time and work it takes the book the films, Andrew and I managed to get quite a lot done, having updated the cinema programme until the end of April. Some of the films we booked were Parasite (2019), Oklahoma! (1955), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), The Lighthouse (2019), Harriet (2019), Mr. Jones (2019), A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (2019), Sonic the Hedgehog (2019), The Call of the Wild (2020) and Onward (2020). The most challenging part of booking for me was updating the website. I have to admit I was quite uncomfortable with the idea of doing that at first as I’m not the most tech-savvy person – ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you how many times a day I struggle with my phone. And even though it took me a while to get the hang of managing the website, I’m still glad I did. It taught me to be more patient and attentive since it’s all about double-checking your work – one small mistake can undo a lot of progress. I learnt that the hard way and I can assure you I’ll always triple-check everything from now.
The biggest project I was involved in during my time at Riverfront was the Wales One World (WOW) Film Festival. The festival started in 2001 and has been taking place every year since, having as its main aim celebrating the riches of world cinema by bringing a selection of films from all over the world to cinemas across Wales. As WOW’s programme includes several different films that are screened in several different venues on different dates, we were very fortunate to have been able to host it from March 7th to 11th at Riverfront before the festival was eventually suspended due to the coronavirus. The festival was launched on Saturday with Made in Bangladesh (2019), a story of female empowerment in a textile factory in Dhaka. The screening was part of Riverfront’s celebration of International Women’s Day, alongside with several other events such as workshops, performances a
nd activities that marked the occasion. And although I couldn’t personally be there, I was told that the screening, as well as the entire event, was a success.
The festival continued with screenings of five other films – Arab Blues (2019) from France, Talking About Trees (2019) from Sudan, Running to the Sky (2019) from Kyrgyzstan, Sister (2019) from Bulgaria and Le Grand Voyage (2004) from Morocco. I could only attend and usher the screening of Le Grand Voyage which, unknown to me at the time, would mark my last day at Riverfront, so it’s a day – and film – I remember fondly. Thanks to my involvement with USW’s Film Reviewers Society, I also got a couple of members to come watch some of the films. I saw it as a great opportunity not only to get the society to work together but to also spark debate about the festival and the kind of films it aims to show. The plan was to write about them at our next meeting, which would spread the word about the festival and get our group up and running but those plans never materialised. It was still interesting to hear what my peers thought of the films and of Riverfront as a whole, especially since we’re the kind of audience their programme aims to attract.
Having been mainly working with and for Andrew, it was interesting to get involved in different projects with the rest of the team in my last few weeks at Riverfront. I worked a lot with Sally, the community arts development officer, who was also deeply involved in organising the WOW Festival. We discussed a lot about Riverfront’s website and social media platforms, and about finding a way to get audiences to share and post their opinions and reviews on the films. With that in mind, we’ve made plans to set up a Cinema Critics Club for support groups of recovering patients. The initiative was going to be a partnership with local support groups but unfortunately my placement was terminated before we had a chance to go ahead with that.
Nonetheless, the research I did into other local cinema clubs with a similar initiative was incredibly eye-opening. Even though I’ve been a film lover my entire life, I’ve never really considered the therapeutic – and even healing – aspect of films.
The most interesting project I’ve looked into is the concept of Cinema Therapy, which relies on using the cinematic aspects of film as a way to reflect on our own lives and experiences. Following the basis of many support groups in which sharing and discussion are the key aspects of its effectiveness, Cinema Therapy uses a set of questions to make its members reflect on how the film affects them personally and, therefore, encouraging emotional release and, hopefully, growth.
My last task at my placement involved working with Danielle, who’s the education and participation officer. She had plans to set up an educational initiative using film as a tool to bring communities together. However, much like the Cinema Critics Club project, we didn’t go ahead with it due to the coronavirus situation and the consequent termination of my placement. I still managed to do some research into local initiatives using film as an educational tool around UK and the results were fascinating. From getting students to produce animation storyboards in literacy lessons or using films to introduce a lesson topic, the advantages of implementing film as an instructional medium are endless. Doing that research helped me realise the cognitive benefits of film editing and how the post-production process explores the rhetorical and logical functioning of the human mind.
Having grown up watching films and having them deeply affect my character and personality throughout my formative years, it was moving to read about children and young people who are being encouraged to grow up with the same passion for cinema thanks to initiatives like the one Danielle wanted to set up.
Looking back on it, doing my placement at Riverfront was a very rewarding experience, and even though I’m upset that it had to be cut short due to unavoidable circumstances, I like to think that I’ve made the most of my time there and learnt a lot about the exhibition sector. It was even more rewarding having earned such level of trust and responsibility after a considerably short period of time with the staff. I could feel myself growing by really throwing myself into every task I could get my hands on. I felt genuinely valued as part of the team, and not just someone given a few trivial tasks to keep them busy. The entire team was incredibly welcoming and nice, giving me the freedom to express my ideas and suggestions without putting too much pressure on me. As for the social side of it, they never failed to indulge me in small talk, sweet treats and tea breaks, even after I confessed being a coffee person because, in the words of Frank Sinatra, “way down among Brazilians coffee beans grow by the billions”. The big tea versus coffee debate aside, I miss the staff dearly, especially since I didn’t get a chance to properly say goodbye and express my gratitude to them.
When my placement was eventually terminated, I emailed the team to thank them for everything they have done for me and I was overwhelmed with their response. Amid several of the sweetest ‘good luck’ and ‘wish you all the best’ emails, I was asked if I could write weekly reviews for Riverfront’s website and Facebook page. As it’s right up my alley, I couldn’t turn that opportunity down – as a self-proclaimed writer, it’s always a pleasure to have my work read by as a varied audience as possible. We’re still in the process of organising that as well as setting up a column for audiences to share their own reviews. Besides informally continuing our working relationship, we’ve also been frequently exchanging film recommendations, which led us to discover a shared love for Charade (1963) – we all agreed that no one can make lockdown more entertaining than Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.
All in all, I’m thankful for the placement I’ve been given, for the lessons it has taught me and, most importantly, for the people I’ve met through it – they’re as good human beings as they’re good professionals, and I wish them nothing but all the best. Finishing this journey with a better understanding of the various aspects of cinema exhibition and being able to move from one section of the business to the other, I’m happy to report that my enthusiasm and love for film has only increased upon learning the secrets of this part of the industry.
My biggest takeaway from my time at Riverfront has been the realisation of how important cinema exhibition actually is. In the age of streaming services where it’s easy to just watch the latest release on your phone, working at a venue where every team member puts so much effort into creating a social experience out of a film has sparked in me a desire to promote the power and value of the cinema-going experience.
National Lottery funding through the BFI Film Audience Network available to members of the UK-wide network in critical need due to the COVID-19 crisis.
London, Wednesday 15 April 2020: The BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) today opens the BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund, making £1.3m of National Lottery funding available to the exhibition sector across the UK, which is in critical financial need as a result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. BFI FAN – a unique collaboration of eight Film Hubs managed by leading film organisations across the UK – is offering emergency relief for small and medium sized audience facing organisations with a particular focus on venue based exhibitors. The Fund is being administered through each of Film Hubs, working with the BFI, and the deadline for applications is Wednesday 6 May 2020.
Ben Luxford, Head of UK Audiences, BFI, said:
Our entire industry is feeling the ramifications of COVID-19, but financially the exhibition sector is one of the most immediately hit. These innovative, creative businesses, often run on limited resources by dedicated and passionate people, exist to bring rich and diverse films to audiences across the UK. We hope this Fund will help them survive and retain their staff, so they can continue their vital work.
Exhibitors and festivals have faced immediate closure and cancellations, presenting them with unprecedented challenges. Many businesses are at risk of permanent closure and making staff redundant. The Fund sees the BFI working with the Film Hubs to repurpose BFI FAN National Lottery activity funding to alleviate some of this pressure.
Accessible to all FAN Members across the UK, eligibility is outlined in the Fund Guidelines, and those interested in applying are encouraged to contact their local Film Hub to discuss their position bfi.org.uk/fanresiliencefund.
The Fund is part of a package of support from the BFI for individuals and businesses that have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis. This includes a number of new funds, repurposing £4.6m in National Lottery funding to target specific areas of the sector including freelancers and producers, as well as the exhibition sector.
The BFI is also leading an industry-wide Screen Sector Task Force, and working closely with Government to ensure all of the ramifications and wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19 on the sector are considered, and can help shape measures to address them. The BFI has up-to-date industry advice for the sector at bfi.org.uk/supporting-uk-film/covid-19-answering-questions-screen-sectors.
Organisers of Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival have today (9 April 2020) confirmed they are making three short films from the Iris archive available for free on their YouTube channel. The films are all directed by women who have made short films with the £30,000 Iris Prize, sponsored by the Michael Bishop Foundation.
The focus on successful Iris Prize female filmmakers is presented in anticipation of the world premiere of Lara Zeidan’s A Beautiful Form to See, starring Alicia Agneson (Vikings). The eleventh Iris Production will screen as part of the 2020 Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival in Cardiff on opening night – Tuesday 6 October. Director Lara Zeidan, from Lebanon, will be in Cardiff to introduce her film which is described as a hypnotising celebration of the female gaze.
The focus goes live today (Thursday 9 April 2020) on the Iris Prize YouTube Channel with Dee Rees’ Colonial Gods. In May we’ll be sharing Daisy & D by Arkasha Stevenson, and in June Susan Jacobson’s Wild Geese will be available.
In September we will also be sharing a short film on the making of A Beautiful Form to See, which includes interviews with both Lara Zeidan and Alicia Agneson, in anticipation of the big screen premiere in Cardiff this October.
Berwyn Rowlands, Festival Director, commented:
One of the primary reasons for Iris to exist is to get more people to see LGBT+ stories. I hope that this focus will combine our enthusiasm for October’s film festival in Cardiff with the reality of today, when people have more time on their hands to access content during this period of physical distancing and lockdown.
The mix of films is truly astounding. We have always been proud of the fact that the Iris Prize is a very rare opportunity for filmmakers to do whatever they would like to do. These are the stories they want to bring to the screen, without any interference from a funder or financier.
As we progress during the focus, leading up to the festival in October, we will also have a chance to discuss and contextualise the work by sharing memories of producing these films in Cardiff and the surrounding area.
Colonial Gods, Director / Writer: Dee Rees
The focus starts, appropriately, at the beginning with Dee Rees. It was no surprise for those who remember her award-winning short, Pariah, which won the first Iris Prize in 2007, that Dee Rees was nominated for an Oscar ten years later. Following a meeting with Team Iris at Sundance 2008, Dee returned to Cardiff in October to sit on the Iris Prize International Jury, a tradition that continues to this day, with the winner of the previous Iris Prize taking a seat at the judging table. During her stay in Cardiff, Dee was able to reach out to members of the multicultural community of Cardiff Bay and her story started taking shape. The first Iris Production, Colonial Gods, premiered at the Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival in 2009 and the following year it screened in LA at OUTFEST Fusion and London’s BFI Flare.
Other highlights in the focus include the online premiere in May of Daisy & D, written, directed and edited by Iris Prize winner Arkasha Stevenson. Daisy & D is close to the reality of a night Arkasha witnessed during a photo-journalism assignment. The film explores the complicated love that can exist between two people in the most ugly of circumstances. It’s dark and ugly to watch, if it wasn’t there would be something wrong.
The final online premiere in June will be Wild Geese, directed by Susan Jacobson and written by Katie Campbell and Kayleigh Llewellyn. Full of comedy and human vulnerability, this is a story of recovery and the redemptive nature of love. When Amy catches her husband in the act, she falls down a flight of stairs and wakes up with amnesia – believing she is 16 and that the year is 1999.
The main festival sponsors are: The Michael Bishop Foundation, Welsh Government, the BFI awarding funds from the National Lottery, Film4, Ffilm Cymru Wales, Pinewood Studios Group, Cardiff University, BBC Cymru Wales, For Cardiff, Bad Wolf, Gorilla Group, Co-op Respect, University of South Wales, Ministry of Sound and Cineworld.
The festival also works in partnership with BAFTA Cymru, Pride Cymru and Stonewall Cymru.
For those of you looking to keep in touch with your audiences through streaming at this challenging time, MUBI are offering you the opportunity to share a 90 day free MUBI subscription with your members or newsletter subscribers.
MUBI have always been a champion of cinemas, for example, through their existing MUBI GO offer which extends the cinema-going experience to all of its members. With many cinemas now temporarily closing their doors, they are offering this partnership as a way of cinemas keeping contact with their audiences.
They can build a bespoke offer landing page with your logo and a customised URL that you can share with your members or newsletter subscribers. This could be a way to stay connected with your audiences and potentially invite them to join in watch-alongs of specific titles, promote donations or friends of schemes and keep independent cinema watching alive during this challenging period.
If you think this offer can add value to your membership, contact MUBI to find out the next steps.
This page will continue to be updated with information and relevant links.
To all our colleagues and friends across the Film Hub Wales membership. We hope you’re well and keeping safe and healthy.
We want to share the following information, which you might need during coming weeks/months:
Our office In line with current medical advice, Chapter has had to make the difficult decision to temporarily close. During this time, calls will be diverted to us during office hours, so please call as normal.
Hub events The rural cinema event on the 28th March was postponed. We will be in touch in relation to any further planned events.
20/21 funds We launched the repurposed BFI FAN Resilience fund. Recipients of grants can be found here. The Film Exhibition Fund is currently open with a deadline of September 30th.
Existing 19/20 funded projects If you have concerns about a current award with us for an ongoing project, please get in touch.
Talking to each other Members can access the closed Hub Facebook group and Slack group. You will need to fill in an updated membership form (if you haven’t already) in order to access this. If you can’t locate your Slack invitation, just let us know.
Reopening If you did not fill in our reopening survey, please do let us know when you have a date in mind to reopen. This will help with nationwide return to cinema campaigns.
Government Guidance and Funds:
Welsh Government announce cultural recovery fund of £53 million. Check your eligibility to apply here. Applications open from mid September,
Welsh Government guidance for the re-opening of cinemas and guidance for multi-purpose community spaces here,
Arts Council for Wales: The cultural recovery fund is open for applications until September 9th 2020.
Information for those working as artists, freelancers and in publicly funded cultural organisations here.
We will update you as soon as we have any new information and we are on hand to help if we can do anything to support you. Our utmost concern is that you are all well and that we can work together to keep cinemas, festivals and events running in the long term.
To raise the profile of the existing youth ticketing schemes at FAN member venues we’ve developed a new partnership with the Art Fund’s Student Art Pass which aims to give independent cinemas in the UK some additional profile.
If you have a ticket offer of £5 or less for 16-25 year olds (or if your general ticket offer is £5 or less) they’d like to profile your cinema and offer to their student membership. The partnership will run for a year from the 25th February and will continue if successful. All we need to add your cinema to their offer is details about your venue, your ticket prices and a lovely image! Venues will be added on a rolling basis over the year but the more we have on board by the 25th February the better.
Cardiff Animation Festival 2020 will run from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th April at Chapter, an independent arts hub and cinema space in Cardiff. Cardiff Animation Festival passes are on sale now, with a limited number of reduced-price Early Bird passes available at cardiffanimation.com/2020-passes
Cardiff Animation Festival has added further announcements to their April lineup, including masterclasses and Q+As with key talent behind His Dark Materials, Bob’s Burgers, Moominvalley and The Rubbish World of Dave Spud.
The four-day celebration of animation for everyone will showcase some of the best animation from all over the world for adults, families and filmmakers.
Audiences will get a chance to step into the many worlds of His Dark Materials, and learn how the show’s many creatures were animated. Produced in Cardiff, the hit television show produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Productions for BBC One and HBO, based on the novels by Philip Pullman and starring Lin Manuel Miranda launched to 7.2 million viewers in November, making it the most-watched new British show on any channel in five years. Brian Fisher and Eliot Gibbins, the show’s heads of Creature Effects, will take Cardiff Animation Festival audiences behind the scenes, showing how traditional puppetry, cutting-edge VFX and a sprinkling of Dust combined to bring daemons and armoured bears to life.
Cardiff Animation Festival’s 2020 theme is “green”, and as part of an exploration into how to make the festival more green, this year’s programme will feature a virtual guest. Welsh animator Simon Chong will join the festival via video link from LA, where he now lives and works as a Director on Fox’s Bob’s Burgers after his fan-made Bob’s Burgers and Archer crossover animation got him noticed by show creator Loren Bouchard and landed him a job on one of the most-loved animated series on television around the world. Simon will give an insight into his unconventional career, and what it’s really like to work on your favourite show.
On Sunday 5th April, festival-goers will be invited to step into the magical Moominvalley, with a rare chance to see episodes of the animated show starring Matt Berry and Rosamund Pike on the big screen. A Q&A with Episode Director Avgousta Zoureldi will give audiences of all ages a chance to learn more about the making of Gutsy Animations’ beautiful TV adaptation of writer-illustrator Tove Jansson’s classic stories about the Moomins.
Ed Foster, creator of Illuminated Films’ hit animated CITV comedy The Rubbish World of Dave Spud, will tell the story of his 16 year journey from student film to directing his own series, and the origins of underdog, unlikely hero and unwitting creator of chaos Dave Spud and his family. With a voice cast featuring Gina Yashere and Johnny Vegas, and animation by Cardiff’s Cloth Cat Animation, the show’s ratings have been far from rubbish since its launch in September.
Following her recent Skwigly article responding to new statistics on inclusion and diversity in the UK’s VFX and animation sectors, animation art director and illustrator Tanya J Scott will chair a discussion on inclusion in the animation industry, with a panel of animation and VFX creatives discussing how we work towards a fairer and more diverse workplace.
Events in partnership with ScreenSkills will give new and emerging talent a chance to network and learn from established professionals across the animation industry. Young audiences will get to meet and learn from animators and sound designers with a schools programme in partnership with Into Film. Cardiff’s long-running Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival will bring a selection of some of their favourite Iris Prize-nominated animated shorts to Cardiff Animation Festival.
The festival will screen its selection of 118 animated short films in competition across seven themed programmes for adult audiences and two for children. Themed programmes will focus on mental health, neurodiversity, our relationship with our environment, and will feature animated comedy, documentaries and experimental animation, including many of this year’s Oscar- and BAFTA-nominees. Maryam Mohajer, winner of this year’s Animated Short BAFTA with her film Grandad Was A Romantic, which is also screening in competition, will share insight into her work with a talk hosted in collaboration with Creative Mornings Cardiff on Friday 2nd April.
Rounding off a day of short films, education, careers and industry events on Thursday 2nd April, the festival will celebrate its launch with Cardiff Animation Nights. Run by the CAF team since 2014, Cardiff Animation Nights brings some of the best animated short films from around the world to Kongs in Cardiff City Centre for free every two months. This month’s Cardiff Animation Nights event saw record audience numbers, with 230 people coming together to enjoy independent animated short films.
Cardiff Animation Festival 2020 is funded by Ffilm Cymru Wales and Film Hub Wales, as part of the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) and sponsored by Cloth Cat Animation, Picl Animation, the University of South Wales, Cardiff Metropolitan University and by the ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund with contributions from UK animation productions.
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