Cinema For All Conference - Ipswich Film Society
Posted: Tue, 21 Nov 2017 12:19
Terry Cloke, Ipswich Film Society
The Cinema For All annual conference, held annually in November at the Showroom Workstation in Sheffield, is a must for any film society or community cinema. It's always well attended and this year was no exception with 200 people from over 50 film societies and community cinemas travelling to Sheffield from all over the United Kingdom. I've been a regular at this event for a number of years and find that it is a terrific opportunity to find out more about what other people are doing in their local area to encourage an interest in cinema. The highlight of the weekend is the annual "Film Society of the Year" awards ceremony. This recognises outstanding achievements by film societies and community cinemas in categories such as "Best New Society", "Best Marketing and Publicity", "Best Student Cinema" and "Best Film Programme". It's an acknowledgement of all the hard work that volunteers all around the UK put into the promotion of cinema.
Networking is one of the main reasons I attend the weekend event and I'm not ashamed to say that I am happy to pinch any good ideas that I come across. Often this is finding out about a guest speaker who gave an interesting talk or picking up tips on how to advertise to attract new members or finding out which films have proved popular with their audiences. There are ample opportunities to talk to other people, whether this is at the Friday night drinks reception or during the lunch breaks. In fact, getting ideas for films to include in future programmes is another reason I find the weekend event so useful. I always bring along copies of our brochure to hand out so that other people can see the types of film we show. Lots of societies and community cinemas do the same and I collect as many as I can to feed into our programming meetings. Our programme is a season of 16 films running from September to May and this gives us quite a bit of flexibility in choosing a wide cross-section of both English language and foreign language titles.
So, networking is a big part of the weekend, but there is also a selection of films being shown as well. Over the course of the weekend there were seven films ranging from a revival of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", the musical comedy from 1953 starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, to the latest film from Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, "Loveless", the follow up to his 2014 film "Leviathan". Besides a chance to watch films that might appeal to our members there was a brilliant key note speech on New Indian Cinema given by Ashvin Devasundaram, lecturer in World cinema at Queen Mary, University of London. Like many people I had thought of Indian cinema as either the extravagant, colourful Bollywood musical or the more traditional and serious black and white films of such directors as Satyajit Ray. Ashvin's presentation made us aware of the rise of the new wave of independent Indian films that is revolutionising Indian cinema. He showed several extracts from recent new wave films such as "The Lunchbox" 2013 and "Lipstick Under My Burkha" 2016 to challenge our assumptions about traditional Indian cinema.
Finally, the packed weekend programme included a series of panel sessions, workshops and master classes that ran in parallel to the film screenings. Topics varied from a discussion session on "Young audiences and where to find them" to practical classes in marketing, growing your audience and social media. This was another chance to learn from the experiences of other societies and community cinemas as well as here from experts in more technical areas such as social media. It was a very rewarding weekend and is highly recommended for anyone in the film society or community cinema movement.