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Screenshot 2020 06 24 At 20.23.19
Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival to celebrate their 10th anniversary online

On July 25, at 11am/6pm, a special edition of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival will be held in honour of its 10th anniversary on YouTube. The festival will present a free online screening of shorts from an all-female line-up of directors ranging from university students to the current crop of animators working today and an animation industry legend who we are celebrating with a centrepiece presentation featuring an interview we have recorded with her.

The Animators

Fusako Yusaki (湯崎夫沙子)

Fusako Yusaki (湯崎夫沙子)

Yusaki is an award-winning claymation pioneer who emerged in the 1960s after moving to Milan and establishing her own independent studio, Studio Yusaki. Her works consist of commercials, films, and children’s television programmes which were made for public broadcasters such as RAI and NHK. Yusaki’s famous works include clay animation advertisements for the liqueur Fernet-Branca, and popular TV character Peo the blue dog. We have programmed four of her works and have an interview with her where she talks about her career.

Miho Yata (やたみほ)

The King of Amechau Country

Tokyo-based Miho Yata is a graduate of Shirayuri Women’s University, and is currently a part-time lecturer there. Since 1999, he has produced many animations and content, producing for TV commercials, teaching materials, picture books and illustrations, as well as holding workshops on animation, and visual toys. Her works are based on the art of knitting and her most famous work is Knit & Wool, which airs on NHK E-TV for kids early in the morning. We have programmed Amechu to show what she can do.

Arisa Wakami (若見ありさ)
The story of Toto-chan in Mom’s belly, followed by little Takuta being born.

Birth-the dance of life.

Arisa Wakami is a professor at Tokyo Zokei University and a lecturer at Joshibi University of Art and Design. More importantly, she is an animator and works with both hand-drawn and stop motion animation who has utilised a range of “materials” from people to sand on glass boards. Her works cover films, TV programmes and workshops and they feature poetic imagery and have been screened at famous festivals around the world. We have programmed, three films including “Blessing,” which is a stop motion animation of a baby and its birthday presents.

Mone Kurita (栗田 百嶺)

A day when became a Asparagus man

Kurita represents the next generation of animation talent. A recent graduate of Tokyo Polytechnic University, she combines colourful hand-drawn images with computer manipulation. Her work, A day when became a Asparagus man, has been selected for the Tokyo Anime Award Festival. We have selected her film Brassiere Cat as the title we will screen.

We will also have a selection of graduate works from some of the students at the Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts (film titles will be confirmed shortly).

This screening is free to watch. This has been made possible with supported from Film Feels Connected and is supported by Film Hub Wales as part of the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN), made possible by the National Lottery.

The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival relies on sponsors and donors to help us deliver screenings. If you would like to show your support, you can do so with a voluntary contribution at the festival’s Patreon page. Alternatively you can support the festival without paying extra money by signing up to Easyfundrasing and choosing to support Kotatsu. When you shop via Easyfundrasing website, a percentage of your purchase will be automatically donated to the festival. If you are shy, you can choose a setting that allows you to be an anonymous supporter.

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Savoy Theatre, Monmouth
Into Film’s ‘Cinemas That Made Me’: Chris Ryde From Monmouth’s Savoy Theatre
With cinemas closed due to COVID-19, Into Film are celebrating venues and cinema operators across the UK in a new series, Cinemas that Made Me. Here they pay tribute to a Film Hub Wales member, The Savoy Theatre in Monmouth, Wales, and its Director and General Manager Chris Ryde.

The Savoy has a long and fascinating history. It is one of the oldest working theatres in Wales, and is located on the oldest known theatre site in the country. Today it’s a mixed-arts venue, programming films and event cinema alongside live music, comedy and more. Director and General Manager Chris Ryde has been working at the Savoy Theatre in various roles since 2009, and brings a wealth of industry experience with him. Here, he offers some insight into the venue’s significance to South Wales as both a nostalgic link to the past and a much-loved present-day destination that has adapted to many challenges in order to survive. Long may it continue!

What does the Savoy Theatre mean to its local community?

For many, it represents a link to their past and recalls either their movie-going heritage or a link to places they were brought up. It’s a place where films were meant to be seen. It is not a box or a multiplex; it is a purpose-built venue in which films are meant to be enjoyed. Our Art Deco design motif brings back the feel of movie-going in its heyday and gives a holistic experience to customers, as they can read all about the building and put their visit into context. It is a constant joy to see the look on people’s faces as they enter the auditorium from the street and realise they have walked into a piece of history.

Where did your own history with cinema begin? 

I am delighted to say that the cinema that shaped my life is still going. The Ritz in Belper, Derbyshire, which I visited for the first time in 1957, and is still in operation thanks to a husband-and-wife team (the Mundins) who bought it, restored it, and made it operational. I visited them two years ago and it was a magical experience to go back.

What was your first job working with film?

My first job in the film industry was as a trainee producer in the 1970s. I worked with Nic Roeg, Adrian Lyne, and Ridley and Tony Scott. From 1977-2012 I worked for Equity, the union for performers and creative practitioners, which brought me into contact with plenty of filmmakers, and I spent many an hour on film sets.

What initiatives are you most proud of having worked on at the Savoy Theatre?

The most successful by far was re-introducing live entertainment, because it has been a massive success, and is what people most celebrate. Second to that was getting the funds secured for digital exhibition back in 2013. We had no money and there was a real prospect that we would not be able to survive as a first-run cinema, but we got there.

While cinemas are closed due to the COVID-19 lockdown, have you begun any new initiatives to reach audiences at home?

The lockdown has had a big impact on our team, with almost all of our staff furloughed. Sadly this means we do not have the capacity to start any new projects right now, but we are keeping in touch with our audiences through newsletters and social media. We’re running a fundraiser to help the Savoy Theatre through this difficult time, and still welcoming supporters to our Friends of the Savoy scheme.

Once cinemas can reopen which film would be your first choice to see on the big screen?

The film that most exemplifies the spirit of the Savoy: The Smallest Show on Earth with Peter Sellers and Margaret Rutherford, made in 1957. I’d love to play it here.

If you’re a fan of the Savoy Theatre and would like to support them at this difficult time, you can donate to Chris’s fundraiser, Savoy Survival. If you’d like to support other independent cinemas in the UK, consider donating to the UK Cinema Fund. These donations will be added to the BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund and used to offer critical relief and business continuity to exhibitors across the UK.

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Bfi Film Forever
COVID-19: an update from the BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force

BFI Chief Executive Ben Roberts sets out how the task force is working to secure screen sector recovery.

There is a huge amount of work being done across the sector in response to the COVID-19 crisis and it’s been brilliant to see the way everyone has come together. I just wanted to express my own thanks for the support I have had and also to give you an update on the progress of the Screen Sector Task Force and our work with Government as we turn attention to the recovery phase. The Task Force is convened by the BFI and brings together organisations from across the full breadth of the UK”s screen industries, to develop a co-ordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis and shape how to get the sector back up and running quickly and safely.

The Task Force has been split into five sub groups (inward investmentindependent film productionTV production and broadcastingdistribution and exhibition and video games) where immediate priority has been given to the following three cross-cutting issues – health and safety codes of practiceinsurance; and the knock on impact on the cost of production. The drafting and evidence gathering work on each of these strands is being led by a specialist group and then shared with the other Task Force groups and beyond. We are working to ensure that recommendations from the Task Force to Government are well evidenced and scalable to meet the needs of different parts of the screen eco-system, and also work together to ensure that no part of the sector or its workforce is left behind and that all specificities are considered.

1. Codes of Practice

With a focus on health and safety, the sub groups have been developing codes of best practice that are endorsed by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to ensure that film and TV productions of all sizes and cinemas can get back up and running as quickly and as safely as possible.

The inward investment group led by the British Film Commission (BFC) has drafted a set of codes of practice for film and high-end television drama production. These have been out to consultation and shared with Government and the hope is to have them completed and rolled out for productions by the end of May and provide detailed and comprehensive guidance for returning to work and resuming production as safely as possible. They have been developed to meet the needs of both studio and independent production, although productions will still need to make sure they satisfy any requirements put in place by insurers, financiers or completion bonders. The codes of practice are designed to act as a resource for productions based in each nation of the UK as lockdown is eased in each of them respectively. They will also read across to the guidelines developed for television produced and published by the broadcasters and Pact today and which you can read here.

The UKCA and FDA have led a working group for Distribution and Exhibition to develop plans for the reopening of cinemas. The Government’s recovery strategy states that cinemas in England will potentially be able to open on 4 July at the earliest and the Task Force is working with the DCMS to ensure this change to lockdown rules is introduced at the best possible time for all venues. At the same time it is gathering evidence to propose what additional support might be needed specifically for the exhibition sector.

2. Insurance

Cover for COVID-19 is an issue for both film and TV productions and could be a barrier to the Government’s return to work plans. A specialist insurance sub-group is looking at potential solutions to this problem (led by Pact as part of the TV and broadcasting group). The Task Force is working hard to ensure that the scale of the problem is evidenced for Government and that the sector is represented on any wider insurance conversations across Whitehall. Insurance is also an issue to be considered with regard to Distribution and Exhibition.

3. Cost of Production

The working groups are calculating how much it could cost to implement codes of practice for returning to work in their respective areas. Different budget production levels are being costed out and in the case of exhibition, the anticipated reduced audience capacity as well as unknown levels of audience anxiety are being factored in. This will allow us to understand the financial viability of a return to work for productions and exhibitors of all sizes and will inform Task Force discussions with Government regarding support for this process.

The BFI are updating information regularly on our website about working in the industry during COVID-19, support packages and further sources of information can be found here.

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Cineworld Cardiff
Cineworld: Event Working and Social Media Scheduling by Emily

As well as continuing to learn all about the programming at Cineworld, and even creating the schedule for a film myself, I was also given the opportunity to encounter other aspects of the exhibition sector. Something I was especially looking forward to discovering more about was social media scheduling/marketing as this is an area I could picture myself working in in the future.Screenshot 2020-03-26 at 11.28.51.png

After meeting the member of staff who runs the social media, I was briefed about his role each week which involves scheduling the Facebook posts for the following week and putting up posters throughout the building. As this doesn’t tend to take him more than a day to complete, and similarly to the staff working on programming, he also works on front of house on the other days serving customers at the tills and checking tickets before customers enter the screening room.

I never quite realised how much thought had to go into the planning process of the social media. Because of the Facebook algorithm, for example, they aim to only post 3 statuses at peak times (between 10:00am and 2:00pm) throughout the week to ensure as many people as possible are seeing the posts.

If any events are coming up or a new film release, he tries to make sure these feature on their social media. And sometimes head office make specific requests about what should be promoted that week. Together we undertook the careful research task to discover which film poster was the most appropriate to use, being an official poster instead of a fan-made one, for example. Precision and an eye for detail were required when ensuring that we attached the correct link to take customers straight onto Cardiff Cineworld when booking tickets.

The layout of the post tends to include: the film/event title, a brief synopsis of the film/event, the link to book tickets and the film/event poster. 

Learning about the attention to detail and thought that has to go into each and every Facebook post as well as how to use Facebook as a marketing tool was interesting. Although I did get to help with this role and learnt a new side of marketing, I believe I already had some pre-existing knowledge on the subject.

What I really developed from this experience on social media was my professionalism in terms of language skills when marketing online to customers and attempting to entice them into booking tickets and why Cineworld should be the place they choose to go to.

Once the social media posts had all been scheduled, myself and the social media programmer went for a walk around the building to see what posters needed to be taken down and if any new ones had arrived to be put up. He explained how Cineworld’s policy was to take down the posters as soon as the film has been released so a new poster promoting an upcoming film could go in that space. The staff are then allowed to take posters that are no longer in use. I even got to take a Little Women (Gerwig, 2019) poster home for my flat..

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MUBI launches fundraising campaign to support cinemas in the UK through BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund

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.

A united front: London’s Genesis Cinema joins MUBI and other cinemas in raising awareness of the new UK Cinema Fund.

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 Workstation said:

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

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The Riverfront
A Day in the Life at Riverfront by Malu

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.

For Crying Out Loud

 

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.

We’ve had our hands full preparing for WOW the weeks before it took place. My main contribution for it was finding articles and reviews on the films to be put in the website and brochures, as well as briefly brainstorming marketing strategies with Andrew, most of which consisted of increasing Riverfront’s social media engagement and the use of digital channels and platforms to reach out to local audience groups. As much as I enjoyed the challenge of organising an event of that scale, I was also looking forward to work on Riverfront’s daily programme and agenda. As Andrew was extra busy during that period, he asked me to do some paperwork and categorise the films screened over the past two years in genres based on attendance. That gives us a better understanding of what the audience wants to see and the kind of films we need to prioritise when booking. It didn’t come as a surprise that the most popular genres were drama and biopic, but it was interesting to see how musicals and documentaries were also extremely popular with Riverfront’s audience. He also gave me the chance to take the lead on looking into and choosing future releases to be screened in the next few months. It was exciting to research and find films that would be suitable to the kind of programme Riverfront has, as well as films that appeal to my personal taste. So if you’re wondering why we’re screening Oklahoma! in 2020, you can blame that on me.

 

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.

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£1.3M BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund for UK Independent Exhibition Sector Now OPEN

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.

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Iris Productions – Available for Free Online!

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. 

Colonial Gods can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/9rHXE9hAg-c

Colonial Gods is also available to buy on Boys on Film 9 – Youth in Trouble, from Peccadillo Pictures. You can purchase your copy here: peccapics.com/product/boyson-film-9-youth-in-trouble/

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.

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Free 90 Day MUBI Offer for Your Audiences

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.

For more information, please contact Irene Musumeci (imusumeci@mubi.com) or Stefana Dragan (sdragan@mubi.com)

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A Message to our Members on Covid-19

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:

Hub Updates:

  • 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
    There is a temporary hold on the launch of any new schemes or decision making on new awards. If this causes any immediate concern to your project plans, please get in touch.
  • Existing 19/20 funded projects
    If you have a current award with us for an ongoing project and are concerned about cancellation, 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.
  • Closures
    If you have a moment to let us know whether you’re remaining open or closed during this time and for how long, this would help us with communications.

Government Guidance and Funds:

  • Welsh Government – A traffic light roadmap setting out how Wales could exit the coronavirus lockdown (May 2020) here,
  • Measures for freelancers and the self-employed here,
  • 2020 budget information here,
  • Advice for employers here,
  • Welsh Government have announced a support package for small businesses, which you can read about here with update on 1.1 billion funding available announced here.

BFI

  • New Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund set up,
  • BFI answer questions on Covid-19 from the screen sector here,
  • The BFI have set up an email address to field general enquiries from across the industry through covid-19.queries@bfi.org.uk,
  • BFI advice and information here,
  • Message from CEO Ben Roberts here.

Partner updates and advice

  • Independent Cinema Office: Drive-in cinemas in post-lockdown UK (May 2020) here,
  • Film Hub NI: Drive-In Cinema – the answer to getting our film fix soon? (May 2020) here,
  • Arts council for Wales 
    Information for those working as artists, freelancers and in publicly funded cultural organisations here.
  • Film and TV Charity
    If you have individuals working with you who are suffering financial loss, or just need someone to talk to, there is a very helpful service from the Film and TV Charity.
  • Cinema For All 
    Covid-19 advice for Community Cinemas can be read here. Results of their volunteer-led cinema focus groups can be read here (June 2020).
  • UKCA
    The UKCA published safeguarding guidelines for the reopening of cinemas and safeguarding guidelines for the re-opening of drive-in cinemas (June, 2020) you can also check for regular updates and UKCA members can access HR advice.
  • Screen Skills 
    Updates and online learning here.
  • CICAE
    Useful advice for cinema operators 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.

The Film Hub Wales team

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Make your independent cinema a destination for Student Art Pass members with tickets for £5 or less!

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.

COLLABORATIVE OPPORTUNITY

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.

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Cardiff Animation Festival announces His Dark Materials, Bob’s Burgers, Moominvalley and more!

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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