Community Run Cinema Events Reconnect Welsh Neighbourhoods Post Covid

10th November 2021

In village halls, libraries, rural arts centres and urban community spaces across Wales, community and volunteer run cinema events are reuniting local people safely through big screen experiences.

The 120 plus community run cinema groups in Wales are often lifelines for audiences who have to travel over half an hour by car, or far greater distances by public transport, to reach their local multiplex or arts centre.  

To support these crucial community services, Film Hub Wales (FHW) is working with venues to offer programme and marketing support. They have also awarded a series of small grants through the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) Film Exhibition Fund, awarding National Lottery funding, to Welsh community led cinemas and film societies as they reopen post COVID-19. 

Funds will be used to help bring the best UK and international films back to local people, in the neighbourhood cinemas they know and love, including a host of films from Wales. Exhibitors will support wellbeing and reduce isolation created by the pandemic, particularly for older community members who have felt less confident in returning to public events. Community cinemas, who will also be affected by the new COVID pass regulations in Wales, will equally rely on the support and patience of audiences in coming months as they rebuild.

In the village of Brynamman, on the south side of the Black Mountain, The Public Hall Cinema are running a season of Welsh film, enabling their audiences to relate to stories on screen.

General Manager Tom Smith explains:

“Our cinema is in a rural, low income, area and for the majority of our customers, it’s the only venue they’re able to regularly access for entertainment. We planning to show films that were filmed or set in Wales, with relevant stories that are close to home and relatable for our audience, particularly our loyal over 60s group who visit for Silver Screen Presentations. We’re excited at the prospect of introducing independent film to all of our customers, who may not have had the opportunity to ever watch an independent film at the cinema before.” 

In Llansadwrn, Carmarthenshire, Sinema Sadwrn are showing British independent and international films every month.

Sinema Sadwrn Volunteer Mair Craig adds:

“We’re looking forward to reopening, with Covid restrictions in place, so that people can come together after all this time to enjoy a shared experience. We’re based in a rural village in Carmarthenshire, and we’ve really missed our community get-togethers over the past year and a half. Our venue is a cosy village Reading Room and our screenings are a way to safely ease the community back into regular social events. We’re really grateful to have Film Hub Wales’ support.”

Supported events will run across Wales from now until March 2022, as the cinemas work closely with their audiences to gather feedback and adapt to local needs.  
 

Hana Lewis, Strategic Manager of Film Hub Wales adds:

Non-theatrical venues who are screening from DVD or Blu-Ray, smaller venues in rural areas and independent cinemas in urban locations have remained closed for long periods of time during Covid. Many are run by dedicated volunteers and have been unable to access funds or staff to remain open. They’ve been greatly missed and we wanted to support and celebrate their return. They’re not only offering an eclectic range of films that local audiences would otherwise be unable to see but they’re often home to a range of additional, vital, community services.”

 The BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund is made possible thanks to National Lottery funding from the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN). The fund offers reopening support to exhibitors across the whole of the UK, to boost cultural programming and engage diverse audiences as restrictions ease. Funds in Wales are administered by FHW via Chapter as the Film Hub Lead Organisation. 

More than £30M is raised each week for good causes across the UK by the National Lottery.

Download the full Press Release here.

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Region: North East Wales

New Dot Cinema

A welcoming community cinema in the heart of Llangollen aims to entertain and inspire audiences across the rural Dee Valley with a selection of the best of British, independent, archive, documentary, arthouse and world cinema. They’re rebuilding following the pandemic, with crucial social opportunities for their older groups and a more accessible website to support online ticket purchases for their more vulnerable audience members. Films look set to include Korean America family drama Minari (2020) and Welsh independent film La Cha Cha (2021).
Website

Region: North West Wales

Occasional Cinema
Occasional Cinema is a film society run by volunteers from the Mill Bistro, Seiont, Caernarfon and a new venue coming soon. Films are generally shown monthly from September to March with some special events. They’re planning to re-launch the cinema in November with films such as Honeyland (2019), Looking for Oum Kulthum (2019) and The Heiresses (2018).
Website

Region: Mid Wales

Presteigne Screen
An independent community cinema run by volunteers with a passion for film. They have been screening contemporary global cinema for over 40 years and are based at the Presteigne’s Assembly Rooms in Powys. Their autumn season is online now and includes the multi award winning Rocks (2020) and acclaimed debut feature from English-Pakistani film-maker Aleem Khan, After Love (2020).
Website  

Brecon Film Society
The Society shows 10 films a year on the first Monday of the month from September to June at the Brecon Coliseum. As Covid interrupted their 2020 film season, they’re offering three free films to society members this autumn. Upcoming films include The Toll (2021), Ida (2013) and Tove (2020), to coincide with Brecon’s Women’s Festival (TBC). They also hope to show Welsh classic Coming Up Roses/ Rhosyn a Rhith in spring, with a pre-film interview with the lead actor Dafydd Hywel.
Website

Flicks in the Sticks
As the touring cinema branch of Arts Alive, Flicks take big screen films to rural communities where access to the cinema is severely limited. Flicks offers communities access to great films on their doorstep, at affordable prices and in a friendly and familiar atmosphere. Welsh venues launching their film programmes this autumn include Knighton Community Cinema, Welshpool Assembly Room and Pavillion Mid Wales in Llandrindod.

Flicks and FHW will work together to curate a menu of Welsh films available to participating venues including Dream Horse (2021).
Website

Region: South East Wales

Llancarfan Community Cinema
A non-profit, volunteer-run film club serving the village of Llancarfan and surrounding area. Monthly film screenings run by the community, for the community; a chance for local people (and anyone else who’s passing) to gather together and take pleasure in the very best that cinema has to offer. They will be running a screening bi-monthly with films from Moviola.
Website

Cinema & Co Swansea
A unique indie film house with 56 seat cinema and gallery space based on Swansea high street. They’re all about watching great films in good company, often showcasing work from young, local filmmakers alongside various creative outreach schemes. They’re planning a series of Welsh language films in partnership with Menter Iaith Abertawe, designed to welcome audiences back through a celebration of Welsh culture, with Q&A’s, live music and vox pops.
Website

Region: South West Wales

Sinema Sadwrn
Sinema Sadwrn is a volunteer run community cinema showing quality films each month at Llansadwrn Reading Room in Carmarthenshire and occasionally The Sexton Arms, Llansadwrn. Between now and 31st March 2022 they have 4 British independent or international films on offer including Oscar winning Nomadland (2020).
Website

Fishguard Film Society
Established over twenty-five years ago, the society aims to offer international and arthouse films in a relaxed environment. They are based at Theatr Gwaun, a community owned and run cinema located in the heart of rural Pembrokeshire. Coming up this season, they have Oscar winning Minari (2020), La Vérité (2019) and a special night of short films celebrating iconic British Directors.
Website

Region: South Wales

Brynamman Public Hall
With its origins in the 1920s, bringing tip up seats upholstered in old gold corduroy, the Hall is run by a passionate team and committee of volunteers. With their over 60’s silver screen groups in mind, they are presenting a series of Welsh films designed to make their audience feel at home as they return. Films are set to include The Toll (2021) and Men Who Sing (2021) TBC.
Website 

 

Silvia Sheehan, Communications Officer, on 02920 311 057 / silvia@filmhubwales.org (part time Tues-Thurs),
Lisa Nesbitt, Development Officer, on 02920 311 067 / lisa@filmhubwales.org
Hana Lewis, Strategic Manager, on 02920 353 740 hana@filmhubwales.org 

To view a full list of community cinemas and film societies in Wales, visit the FHW Member map here.

About Film Hub Wales 

Film Hub Wales (FHW) celebrates cinema. We support organisations that screen film, from film festivals, to societies and mixed arts centres. Working with over 315 Welsh exhibitors, we aim to bring the best British and international film to all audiences across Wales and the UK. Since Film Hub Wales set up in 2013, we’ve supported over 250 exciting cinema projects, reaching over 480,000 audience members. 

We’re part of a UK wide network of eight hubs funded by the British Film Institute (BFI) which form the Film Audience Network (FAN), with Chapter appointed as the ‘Film Hub Lead Organisation’ (FHLO) in Wales. 

We are also proud to lead on the UK inclusive cinema strategy on behalf of BFI FAN. 

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About the BFI Film Audience Network  

Supported by National Lottery funding, the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN), is central to the BFI’s aim to ensure the greatest choice of film is available for everyone. Established in 2012 to build wider and more diverse UK cinema audiences for British and international film, FAN is a unique, UK-wide collaboration made up of eight Hubs managed by leading film organisations and venues strategically placed around the country. FAN also supports talent development with BFI NETWORK Talent Executives in each of the English Hubs, with a mission to discover and support talented writers, directors and producers at the start of their careers.  

BFI FAN Film Hubs are:  

  • Film Hub Midlands is led by Broadway, Nottingham working in partnership with the Birmingham-based Flatpack 
  • Film Hub North is led collectively by Showroom Workstation, Sheffield and HOME Manchester  
  • Film Hub South East is led by the Independent Cinema Office  
  • Film Hub South West is led by Watershed in Bristol 
  • Film Hub Scotland is led by Glasgow Film Theatre  
  • Film Hub Northern Ireland is led by Queen’s University Belfast  
  • Film Hub Wales is led by Chapter in Cardiff 
  • Film Hub London is led by Film London 

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About the BFI  

We are a cultural charity, a National Lottery distributor, and the UK’s lead organisation for film and the moving image. Our mission is: 

  • To support creativity and actively seek out the next generation of UK storytellers 
  • To grow and care for the BFI National Archive, the world’s largest film and television archive 
  • To offer the widest range of UK and international moving image culture through our programmes and festivals – delivered online and in venue 
  • To use our knowledge to educate and deepen public appreciation and understanding 
  • To work with Government and industry to ensure the continued growth of the UK’s screen industries 

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter.  

The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Tim Richards.

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About Chapter 

Chapter is one of Europe’s largest and most dynamic arts centres with cinemas, theatres, exhibition spaces, studios, a café, award-winning bars, over 60 cultural workspaces and more. 

Chapter has an international reputation for excellence, innovation and collaboration. It offers an ever-changing programme of the best performance, films and exhibitions from Wales and from around the world. 

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