Christina Newland and London Film Festival
Posted: Wed, 28 Oct 2015 12:25
As a representative of Nottingham-based film society Watergate Cinematek, I received a bursary in order to attend this year's London Film Festival and November's ICO Screening Days based at Broadway Cinema. Since we received seed funding to programme and organise a pilot showcase, attending both events allowed me access to screenings that, as a programmer, it was enormously helpful to see. Our planned event - 'Gypsies, Roma, and Travellers on Film' - didn't always have a direct correlation onscreen, but the networking element of both events proved very important. Our organization is young, grassroots, and regional, and we're taking the step into our first funded programming event. At this stage, learning as much as we can from groups like ICO and Cinema for All is important — as is making contact with writers, distributors, and other programmers.
ICO Screening Days was a wonderfully organised and curated weekend event, with a genuinely excellent selection of film screenings. The ICO and Film Hub representatives were helpful and friendly throughout, and the provided list of delegates also helped in terms of getting to know people. Highlights from the weekend included Todd Haynes' Carol and Thomas McCarthy's Spotlight. I highly recommend it for programmers and film societies of all kinds and sizes.
London Film Festival, of course, is a sprawling event attracting most of those involved in the UK film industry, so was an excellent place to start to spread the word about the event, share ideas, and make contacts. I specifically pursued any films regarding Roma subjects and found only one - a quirky and poignant Swedish debut feature called The Garbage Helicopter. Borrowing from Jim Jarmusch and Roy Andersson in equal measure, it's helped to expand our awareness, as programmers, of foreign-language cinema featuring Romany Gypsy characters.
As mentioned, a really vital element with both events was the ability to meet with like-minded programmers and make contacts ahead of the showcase. At ICO Screening Days, specifically, I met with the head programmers of Borderlines Film Festival, who have also received some funding for a traveller-related strand of screenings at next year's fest. We're collaborating on multiple parts of our events, from putting our heads together on research and development to sharing special guests and making programming selections. At London Film Festival, I was able to get the word out more generally to fellow film critics and colleagues, and was able to reach out to Film4 and others in regard to marketing the event and sharing on social media once it's publicly announced. I can only recommend that any other ambitious film programmers seek out these types of bursaries — it can expand your horizons and teach you a lot to attend industry events like these. They both really helped Watergate Cinematek to get the ball rolling on our pilot event.