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Penarth Pier Pavilion
Snowcat Cinema: A Placement on the Pier by Chloe

South Wales’ Penarth Pier offers home not only to a cone of chips and a seaside view, but also to the world of Snowcat Cinema, where I’ve spent the past six weeks of my BA Film Studies exhibition-based placement.

Snowcat, run by one-man-band Ben, is an independent cinema tucked away on the upper floor of the Pier Pavilion. Screenings run in the evenings from Thursday to Sunday, and include every kind of film: from the occasional blockbuster to, more often, the abstract and whimsical or the classic.

The nature of the cinema, independently developed and run, has allowed me a close insight into each of the behind-the-scenes processes of exhibition: the planning, programming and scheduling which all takes place before the screening of any film. I was one of four students spending time at Snowcat, and the varied interests of each member of our group made for a holistic exploration of the different elements which go into running a cinema.

In one of our first experiences, we were shown the ropes of preparing a ‘playlist’ for a screening. First, transferring the film from its DCP (Digital Cinema Package) into a playable format, and then scheduling the adverts, logos, and ‘no phone’ signals which will precede it. These technical skills in particular were something I had never considered when thinking about exhibition: naturally, I had expected to spend some time in a projection room, but I had never considered the amount of work which takes place before the film is even shown.

Such skills are extensive, and require a developed knowledge of the softwares involved in order to work. The planning which goes into ensuring the correct aspect ratio, the order of adverts, and even the timing of gaps between images, is such an incredibly key part of the film-watching experience which many audience members remain unaware of.

The real beauty of working a placement in somewhere like Snowcat, however, is the diversity of tasks I’ve been able to get involved in and, as such, the range of skills which I’ve been able to develop.

Again (and this is so important to the cinema and to my experience), the cinema is independently run – picked up and put together by Ben alone – and therefore doesn’t have the luxury of a team that can collaborate to put together screenings. All work is done by Ben, which means full involvement in every step of the process when arranging events.

Of course, though, the group nature of this placement – expanding Ben’s team from one to five – meant that a level of communication was necessary to get things done. With every step of putting together a screening came emails with Ben, messages among us students, and updates via the shared DropBox file on which we came to rely for sharing data. The process was inherently collaborative, forcing me to refine and adapt my communicative skills to a group setting that I’d had little experience with previously.

The later weeks of this placement involved looking further into the marketing, ticket-selling, and public engagement aspects of working within the cinema. First, a run-down on the cinema’s audiences – those that Ben is targeting with his choices of film – and the ways in which he engages with them to encourage their attendance at screenings. Whilst the cinema’s primary audience is the older population of Penarth, usually retirees who come week-on-week to reminisce on films seen in their earlier years, the cinema is currently in the process of expanding and diversifying its audience to include the younger communities of Cardiff.

A large part of Snowcat’s engagement, therefore, takes place via social media: events are created on Facebook, and Twitter is used to announce upcoming films and interact with other local film communities, cinephiles and organisations such as Cardiff’s Chapter Arts. Here, the cinema has the opportunity not only to engage with existing filmgoers, but to reach those who are likely unaware that Snowcat even exists.

Distinct to the world of independent cinema, though, is the personal touch which comes with this online engagement. Besides a focus on upcoming films and events, Ben often tweets images relating to life in Penarth – a rainbow over the pier or his own dogs on a walk – to engage with the local audiences attending the cinema as a way of supporting their community.

Clearly, the concept of community is central to the running of Snowcat: with an audience consisting largely of returning viewers, it’s no secret that the Penarth locals are at the heart of everything the cinema does.

The screen itself has a screening suggestion box outside, and many audience members stay behind after each showing to take part in discussion around the films they’ve just watched.

When it does come to promoting films, though, Snowcat collects a list of specific information and images which can be used to market individual screenings. First, the film’s basic details – the director, release date, running time, colour, language and rating – and then a brief description of the film’s narrative with details of its popular actors or any awards it may have won.

 Images of various shapes (a ‘quad’, ‘portrait’, and ‘banner’ photo) are also collected to be used in various locations, from social media promotions to the TicketSource pages where seats will be sold. Here, we were given the opportunity to work independently in gathering the promotional materials for specific films. With some help from Ben, I collected materials for the Jojo Rabbit (2019) screening and then, alone, for the epic seven-hour Sátántangó (1994) showing.

The next step, and the one which took place in my final session at Snowcat, was a scheduling task. Independently, we were tasked with searching for events and anniversaries taking place across the remainder of the year from which a weekend of relevant screenings could be put together.

This is, so far, possibly the task I’ve found most intriguing: it’s rare that I, as an audience member, ever see or have the opportunity to understand the processes by which cinemas select and plan the films that they’re going to show. Snowcat’s independent management, furthermore, makes for a high degree of freedom over the screenings that can take place: so long as Ben can get permission, the film can be shown.

Pride Cymru, taking place from the 28th-30th August, provides opportunities for a weekend of LGBTQ+ themed cinema. On December 3rd, Jean-Luc Godard will celebrate his 90th birthday. Hitchcock’s Psycho turns 60 years old in September, and Jaws will be 45 in June.

It quickly becomes clear how central research skills are to the exhibition industry, particularly in the case of independently-run organisations. And, beyond that, the need for critical thinking skills when picking what can be shown to a cinema’s specific audience. Do Penarth’s pensioner’s want to watch Get Out for black history month? Possibly not. But The Color Purple, or 12 Years a Slave? Much more likely.

This part of the placement – the chance to develop skills around researching and putting together events appropriate for a particular audience – is one I feel I particularly engaged with. The opportunity to start from scratch, researching and developing potential ideas and events, is an experience I hadn’t expected to have on my placement but one which I definitely found exciting.

In putting together anniversary or celebration-based weekends of screenings, it becomes possible to create a wholly unique film experience, far different to the realm of multiplex chain cinemas.

Whilst Snowcat has now, unfortunately, had to close in the wake of the UK lockdown, we had initially made plans to work on a ‘pop-up’ cinema in the Summer. Working out the logistics of an inflatable screen at the end of the pier and what would overall be a less conventional cinema experience is something which I had particularly been looking forward to, and which I hope will still take place in the future.

For the same reasons, the cinema also had to cancel its Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) on the 28th March – a screening that I had been planning to come along to in order to engage more directly with the cinema’s community and with a more front-of-house role and the customer service skills involved in this.

So far, though, Snowcat has provided me with the chance to explore almost every step in the independent exhibition process, from brainstorming an outline of vague ideas for the year’s screenings to marketing an event and creating the film playlist which audiences will eventually see. Going forward, I’m eager to get back in contact with Snowcat and Ben when possible to help reach new audiences and further broaden my understanding of the exhibition process.

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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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Carys Haf Evans: This Way Up 2019 Blog

Here I am from a small town in Wales walking through the streets of Nottingham to discover lovely venue Broadway Cinema for the This Way Up 2019 conferenceEntering the venue take a seat and notice that I’m sat next to a lady who is also from Wales – I felt at home straight away, cup of tea in hand and excited for the next two days of sessions.

I always find it hard to decide what to go and see when it comes to an event like this as I just want to see and discover everything. I decided to try and go to talks that would be beneficial for Yr Egin and that could help us as a venue to develop and also for me as an employee to gain knowledge and confidence when it comes to my work as I’m fairly new to the role as Customer Experience Assistant (Marketing) and Yr Egin has only been open for just over a year.

I enjoyed hearing views, opinions and tips from individuals from other venues during the sessions as a lot of us can relate to the same topics such as for example programming and also how to capture, develop and engage audiences which is something I would like to broaden my understanding further as part of my role with assisting with marketing.

Over the two days it was brilliant to hear so many inspirational speakers talk about their work and to guide us forward. I was fortunate to learn a lot about understanding how to capture wider audiences and to build relationships with other venues and platforms.

I think it’s so important that we introduce so many people to film. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Yasmin Begum’s session on intersectionality – she was so passionate and enthusiastic sharing her ideas on how to make us more inclusive and telling us that price shouldn’t be a barrier for entry and that we should think outside the box when it came to engagement.

The session about More Than a Cinema related to our venue a lot as Yr Egin as the session title states is more than just a cinema – we also work with the community. It was great listening to how others work with a wider community offering them a space to be creative and collaborative and everyone sharing ideas thinking outside the box.

I think the Show and Share session was brilliant as it was great to see what different festivals and projects individuals and groups are working on across the UK giving us a taster on what they do.

I have benefited a lot from attending This Way Up 2019 and look forward to sharing and putting these ideas into practice back at Yr Egin.

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Yasmin Begum: Sea Change Blog, 2019

Women in Film development lab is organised by Screen Argyll, and located on the picturesque remote Inner Hebridean island of Tiree in Scotland. This year, the theme of the lab was “Finding Your Voice, Making Yourself Heard and Engaging New Audiences” around bringing change for women in film. I had the pleasure of attending in a capacity as a volunteer worker for Cinema Golau, meaning “Cinema of Light” in Welsh.

This lab brought together grassroots film practitioners, programmers and organisations for an absolutely enchanting series of days. There were sessions on engagement and meaningful inclusion, punctuated by long walks on white-sand beaches and around beautiful lochs.

Sessions offered at the lab were wide ranging and broad on things such as engagement, equality and diversity with a focus on increasing capacity of women working in film. For so long, it has felt as if we have “swam against the tide”: against the tide of predominantly white funder as BAME organisations, as BAME communities resisting exploitation, as women in a male dominated industry, as working class people in an industry predicated on the “middle class”.

For the first time in so long, it was a breath of a sweet breeze to be in a room full of like-minded people who are all thinking and feeling the same things about film and the organic audience development.

As a Welsh practitioner, it was especially good to be in Scotland owing to our shared similarities in some instances- of the devolved landscape in Wales and Scotland compared to England. I learned a tremendous amount about the similarities between Wales and Scotland around programming, devolution and funding.

A number of different speakers were present, including Toki Allison of Inclusive Cinema talking about engagement, and I particularly enjoyed hearing from Holly Tarquini of F-Rated and Rachel Hayward. This event and these discussions and sessions have enabled me to broaden my capacity and my knowledge base around areas relating to inclusivity and film.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to apply, attend and receive financial support from Film Hub Wales. There are more similarities between us and difference audiences and cinemas than we may think. I will be implementing the knowledge I have learned and the skills I have gained to make film and audience access and development more accessible for everybody- regardless of background- and I would not have been able to do this without the Women in Film development lab. More broadly speaking, it allowed me to consolidate my knowledge in a nurturing atmosphere and environment and allowed me to learn about broadening my capacity to best serve the communities around me.

Continuing personal development doesn’t always have to be imbued with the same 10-4 events, stagnant, stale and lacking lustre followed by reams and reams of paperwork. The Tiree lab was a life changing experience to be in a room full of passionate people all with the same aim: positive change for the industry regardless of your class, your race for a better and more accessible industry for everybody.

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Ethel and Ernest
50 Welsh Films to Watch at Home this Weekend

How many of these Welsh gems have you seen?

When we think about Welsh films, some classics come to mind (The Proud Valley, Tiger Bay, Twin Town) but where can we watch them while we can’t get to our nearest cinema?  

We’ve put together a list of 50 features and short films with Welsh connections to keep you entertained this weekend and during the weeks to come. 

Whether you’re pressing play on an old favourite, or discovering something new, join us in celebrating everything that’s great about Wales on screen. 

*Not all of our favourites are available on VOD just yet but keep an eye on our Made in Wales catalogue where we’ll be updating our film listings.

There are many more films to be found as well!


1. American Interior: Welsh cult musician Gruff Rhys documents his latest musical road trip, retracing the fantastical American journey of his 18th century ancestor, the explorer Don Juan Evans.

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent HD £3.49, Buy HD £7.99), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99)

 

 


2. A Way of Life: Directoral debut of Amma Asante set and filmed in Wales. At 17 LeighAnne Williams has a six month old baby to look after, with only the help of three teenage squatters who flog stolen gear to make ends meet. A Turkish neighbour across the street becomes a target to her growing paranoia that Social Services are going to take her daughter, Rebecca, away from her. Her behavior becoming increasingly desperate as her delusions over her neighbour grow.

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent HD £1.99, Buy HD £3.99), iTunes (Rent £1.99, Buy £3.99)


3. Bastards: Documentary about illegitimate children in Morocco, the fathers who abandon them and the single mothers fighting for justice.

Available on: iTunes (Rent £3.49 / Buy £4.99)

 

 


4. Being Frank: The Chris Seivey Story: It’s a documentary about the life of eccentric comedian Frank Sidebottom who wore a huge papier-mache’ head and whose true identity was a closely guarded secret until after he died.

Available on: NowTV (Start 7 day free trial Entertainment Pass), Amazon Prime (Buy £9.99 HD), BFI Player (Rent £3.50), Youtube (Buy £7.99 HD), iTunes (Buy £7.99)

 


5. Blue Scar: Miner’s daughter Olwen Williams leaves her small Welsh village and her sweetheart, Tom, to take up a singing scholarship, and eventually marries a collar-and-tie man. Tom has ambitions of his own and becomes manager of the colliery.

Available on: BFI Player (Rent £3.50)

 

 


6. Britannia: Joanna’ Quinn’s satirical swipe at the British character showing how, in the pursuit of wealth and power, they robbed other nations of 

their pride and national wealth. A biting and savage indictment of the development and demise of British Imperialism.

Available on: Vimeo (Free)

 


7. Britain on Film: Choose from 1,000s of beautifully preserved films, capturing 120 years of Britain on Film. Whether you want take a trip to North Wales in 1902 or join a carnival in the 1960’s Dulais Valley, there’s something for you. 

Available on: BFI Player (Free or a rental fee may apply)

 

 


8. David: This drama-documentary about the everyday life of a Welsh caretaker and ex-miner was the first film produced by the BFI, in 1951.

Available on: BFI Player (Free)

 

 


9. Delight: Starring Jeanne Balibar (Grace of Monaco, Va Savoir, The Duchess of Langeais) in her first leading role in a British film, Tim Dutton (The Rendezvous, The Bourne Identity, Tom and Viv) and Gavin Fowler (2014 Ian Charleson Theatre Awards Nominee), as well as an all-star Welsh cast including Eiry Thomas, Iestyn Jones, Naomi Everson and Sue Jones-Davies, Delight tells the story of a female war photographer who comes to terms with her buried trauma through a relationship with the son of a former lover and comrade-in-arms.

Available on DVD: A DVD Box Set of Gareth Jones’ three feature films ‘Desire’, ‘Delight’ and ‘Delirium’ collectively known as ‘The D-Trilogy’, are now available.


10. Dark Horse: Set in a former mining village in Wales, against the backdrop of the current recession, Dark Horse is the inspirational true story of a group of friends from a working men’s club who decide to take on the elite ‘sport of kings’ and breed themselves a racehorse.  

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent £4.49, Buy £5.99), BFI Player (£3.50), iTunes (Rent £5.49, Buy £5.99)

 


Ethel and Ernest Image: © Lupus Films

11. Ethel & Ernest: Based on Raymond Briggs’ award-winning book, this hand-drawn animated feature is an intimate and engaging depiction of the life and times of two ordinary people living through extraordinary events and immense social change.

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent HD £3.49, Buy HD £7.99), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99), Sky Store (Buy £7.99)

 

 


Image: Dial A Ride

12. Dial a Ride: Journeying through rural South Wales, passengers on a Dial-a-Ride bus reveal all the joys, challenges and quirks of growing older. Dial-a-Ride is a funny, uplifting documentary about a bus – a Welsh community bus to be precise – which provides door-to-door transport for elderly and disabled people living in remote areas of the Brecon Beacons. The film follows the passengers and their stories through the changing seasons, and is a touching, heartwarming look at what it means to grow old in rural Britain.

Available on: Vimeo (Free)


13. Gwen: In the stark beauty of 19th century Snowdonia, a young girl tries desperately to hold her home together. Struggling with her mother’s mysterious illness and her father’s absence, a growing darkness begins to take grip of her home, and the suspicious local community turns on Gwen and her family.

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent £2.99, Buy (£4.99), BFI Player (Rent £4.50), YouTube (Rent £4.39, Buy £9.99), Sky Store (Buy £7.99), iTunes (Rent £4.99, Buy £9.99), Google Play (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99), Talk Talk TV Store (Rent £4.95, Buy £9.95), Virgin Movies (Watch through app/set-top box)


14. Hedd Wyn: A young poet in North Wales competes under his bardic name of Hedd Wyn for the Chair, the most coveted prize of all in the National Eisteddfod, but before the winner is announced he is sent to fight with the English in the trenches of the First World War. The wonderful cinematography that starkly contrasts the beauty of his home in Meirionnydd with the horrors of Passchendaele demonstrates the futility of war in this, the first film from Wales to be nominated as Best Foreign Language film at the American Academy Awards.

Available on: BFI Player (Free) 


15. How Green was My Valley: At the turn of the century in a Welsh mining village, the Morgans, he stern, she gentle, raise coal-mining sons and hope their youngest will find a better life.

Available on: Google Play (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99), Amazon (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99)

 

 


16. Human Traffic: Five friends spend one lost weekend in a mix of music, love and club culture. The Cardiff club scene in the 90’s: five best friends deal with their relationships and their personal demons during a weekend. Jip calls himself a sexual paranoid, afraid he’s impotent. Lulu, Jip’s mate, doesn’t find much to fancy in men. Nina hates her job at a fast food joint, and her man, Koop, who dreams of being a great hip-hop d.j., is prone to fits of un-provoked jealousy. The fifth is Moff, whose family is down on his behavior.

Available on DVD: World of Books (£4.99) or various eBay sellers


17. Hunky Dory: Set in a Welsh comprehensive school during the long hot summer of 1976, keen drama teacher Vivienne fights sweltering heat and general teenage apathy to put on a glam rock musical version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest of which David Bowie might be proud.

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent £3.49 HD, Buy £6.99 HD), YouTube (Rent £3.49 HD, Buy £6.99 HD), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £5.99), Google Play (Rent £2.49 HD, Buy £5.99 HD)

 


Film Hub Wales18. I am not a Witch: After a minor incident in her village, nine-year-old Shula is exiled to a travelling witch camp where she is told that if she tries to escape she will be transformed into a white goat. As she navigates through her new life, she must decide whether to accept her fate or risk the consequences of seeking freedom.

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent £2.49, Buy £4.49), BFI Player (Rent £3.50), YouTube (Rent £3.49, Buy £5.99), Sky Store (Buy £5.99), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £4.99), Google Play (Rent £2.49 HD, Buy £4.99 HD)

 


19. MR. JONES: A Welsh journalist breaks the news in the western media of the famine in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s. 

Available on: Google Play (Rent £1.99, Buy £7.99), Youtube (Rent £1.99, Buy £9.99 HD), Curzon Home Cinema (£4.99), BFI Player (Rent £4.50), Amazon (Rent £1.99, Buy £3.99), Sky Store (Rent £5.49, Buy £3.99)

 

 



20. Obey: The clashing of two very different worlds results in a tragic love story in the heady days leading up to dramatic social unrest.

Available on: NOWTV (7 day free trial, then Sky Cinema Pass auto-renews at £11.99 a month), iTunes (£5.99)

 


21. Orion, the Man who would be King: The Rollercoaster rise and tragic fall of the mystery masked man with the voice of a legend. A film by Jeanie Finlay tells the story of Jimmy Ellis – an unknown singer plucked from obscurity and thrust into the spotlight as part of a crazy scheme that had him masquerade as Elvis back from the grave.

Available on: Itunes (Rent £3.49 / Buy £9.99)

 


22. Patagonia: Marc Evans’ visually stunning and inspirational film about the journey of two women, one looking for her past and the other for her future. Patagonia stars, Matthew Rhys and Grammy Award winning singer Duffy, in her acting debut. A truly original film with dialogue spoken in both Spanish and Welsh, the impressive international cast also includes Nia Roberts, Nahaul Perez Biscayart and Marta Lubos.

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent £1.99, Buy £2.99), iTunes (Rent £1.99, Buy £2.99)

 


23. The Personal History of David Copperfield: A modern take on Charles Dickens’s classic tale of a young orphan who is able to triumph over many obstacles.

Available on: YouTube (Pre-order £13.99), Amazon (Pre-order £11.99), iTunes (Pre-order £13.99), Sky Store (Pre-order £11.99)

 


24. Pin Cushion: Together, Iona (played with startling screen presence from newcomer Lily Newmark) and her eccentric single mum Lyn (Joanna Scanlan on top form) move to a new town in the Midlands. Iona is determined to reinvent herself at school and quickly jumps through hoops to befriend the popular girls. Meanwhile, Lyn, used to being her daughter’s best friend, feels left out and attempts to woo their neighbour Belinda by lending her a ladder. But Belinda really isn’t interested in making new friends. As the fragile veneer of forced friendship slips, both Lyn and Iona find themselves seeking fantastical and fabricated alternative realities.

Available on: Amazon (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99), BFI Player (Rent £4.50), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99)


Film Hub Wales25. Pink Suede Shoes: Jasun Watkins brings his pink, brash and very camp Elvis impersonation act to the biggest Elvis tribute festival in Europe. We join him in the days leading up to the competition, as he recalls how his troubled family life and childhood suffering fed his desire for fame. Will Pink Elvis win over the residents of this small Welsh seaside town?

Available on: Vimeo (Free)

 


26. PINK WALL: Six scenes. Six years. Six moments that shaped the relationship of Jenna and Leon. Pink Wall examines what defines us, the pressures of gender expectations, and our perpetual struggle between life and ambition.

Available on: Curzon Home Cinema (£4.99), Amazon (Rent £4.49, Buy £9.99), Google Play (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99), BFI Player (Rent £4.50), iTunes (Rent £4.49, Buy £9.99), Sky Store (Rent £5.49, Buy £9.99)

 

 


27. Pride: Realising that they share common foes in Margaret Thatcher, the police and the conservative press, London-based gay and lesbian activists lend their support to striking miners in 1984 Wales.

Available on: Youtube (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99), Google Play (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99), BFI Player (Rent £3.50), Amazon (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99), Sky Store (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99)

 


28. Queerama: Created from the treasure trove of the BFI archive, the story traverses a century of gay experiences, encompassing persecution and prosecution, injustice, love and desire, identity, secrets, forbidden encounters, sexual liberation and pride. The soundtrack weaves the lyrics and music of John Grant, Goldfrapp and Hercules & Love Affair with images, guiding us intimately into the relationships, desires, fears and expressions of gay men and women in the 20th century – a century of incredible change.

Available on: Amazon Prime (Included with Prime or Rent £1.99, Buy £6.99), YouTube (Rent £4.49, Buy £6.99), iTunes (Rent £1.99, Buy £6.99), Google Play (Rent £1.99, Buy £4.99)


29. Ray & Liz: Turner Prize-nominated and Deutsche Börse Prize-winning artist, Richard Billingham, returns to the striking photographs of his family during Thatcher-era Britain. The film is based on Billingham’s memories, focussing on his parents Ray and Liz, their relationship, and its impact on Richard and his younger brother Jason.

Available on: Curzon Home Cinema (£3.99), Amazon Prime (Buy £5.99), BFI Player (Rent £3.50), YouTube (Buy £5.99), Sky Store (Buy £5,99), iTunes (Buy £7.99), NOWTV (7 day free trial, then Sky Cinema Pass auto-renews at £11.99 a month), Google Play (Buy £5.99)


30. Resistance: After all the women in a remote valley on the Welsh border awaken to find their husbands have left to serve in the covert British Resistance, German occupiers arrive in this alternate-reality thriller set in 1944 where D-Day has failed and the United Kingdom has been invaded by Nazi Germany. Facing a harsh winter, the women and soldiers find they must cooperate with one another to survive.

Available on: iTunes (Rent £2.49, Buy £4.99)

 


31. Salam: Salam follows a female Lyft driver, who has to navigate the night shift in NYC while waiting to hear life or death news from Syria.

Available on: Vimeo (Free)

 

 


32. Separado!: In 1880, following a controversial horse race and an unresolved death, Gruff Rhys’ family split as Dafydd Jones took his young family to join the burgeoning Welsh community in Patagonia, South America. Director Dylan Goch follows Gruff Rhys on a tour that takes in the theatres, nightclubs and desert tea houses of Wales, Brazil and the Argentine Andes as he discovers what became of his family, the Welsh Diaspora and its legacy.

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent £2.49, Buy £5.99), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £6.99)

 


33. Set Fire to the Stars: An academic tries to rein in the wild man of Welsh poetry during a hell-raising tour of America. Celyn Jones stars as legendary Welsh writer Dylan Thomas alongside Elijah Wood in this playful, humorous and moving snapshot of the literary force of nature. 

Available on: BFI Player (Rent £3.50), Sky Store (Buy £5.99), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £5.99)

 


34. Sleep Furiously: A poignant portrait of a rural Welsh community undergoing irrevocable change. Gideon Koppel’s award-winning feature documentary boasts a score from maverick electronic musician Aphex Twin.

Available on: BFI Player (Rent £2.50), Amazon (Rent £3.49, Buy £6.99), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £6.99)

 

 


35. Submarine: 15-year-old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) has two objectives: To lose his virginity before his next birthday, and to extinguish the flame between his mother and an ex-lover who has resurfaced in her life. 

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent £3.49 HD, Buy £5.99 HD), BFI Player (Rent £3.50), YouTube (Rent £3.49 HD, Buy £7.99 HD), Sky Store (Rent £3.49, Buy £5.99), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £5.99), Google Play (Rent £2.49, Buy £5.99)

 


36. Solomon & Gaernor: A young Orthodox Jew (Ioan Gruffudd) in 1911 South Wales tries to make his living by peddling fabrics door to door in the South Wales Valleys, but to do so he decides he must hide his ethnicity.

On one of his sales he meets and falls in love with a demure young Gentile woman (Nia Roberts) with a strong-willed father (William Thomas) and a violently anti-Semitic brother (Mark Lewis Jones). The two fall in love and she becomes pregnant, but only then does she learn he is Jewish.

Available on: BFI Player (Rent £3.50), Amazon Prime (Included with Prime, or Rent £3.49), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £3.99)


37. The Lighthouse (2016): Based on real events which saw two lighthouse keepers stranded for months at sea in a freak storm, the film tells a tale of death, madness and isolation; a desolate trip into the heart of human darkness.

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent £4.49 HD, Buy £7.99), BFI Player (£3.50), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99), Sky Store (Buy £5.99)

 


38. The Machine: Set in an impoverished world plunged into a cold war with a new enemy, Britain’s Ministry of Defence is on the brink of developing a game-changing weapon. Lead scientist Vincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens) provides the answer with his creation. ‘The Machine’ – An android with unrivaled physical and processing skills, a mechanised soldier and thinking robot that would not only have the ability to fight, but to negotiate and keep peace too.

Available on: YouTube (Buy £7.99 HD), Google Play (Buy £5.99), iTunes (Rent £.99, Buy £4.99), Amazon Prime (Included with Prime, or Rent £0.99, Buy £4.99)


39. Third Star: A touching and disarmingly charming tale of brotherhood and friendship in the face of tragedy. Benedict Cumberbatch stars in Western Edge Pictures’ comedy drama shot in Pembrokeshire’s beautiful Barafundle Bay, which has attracted dedicated fans from across the globe.

Available on: iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £6.99), YouTube (Buy £5.99), Google Play (Buy £5.99)

 


40. Misbehaviour: A group of women hatch a plan to disrupt the 1970 Miss World beauty competition in London.

Available on: Google Play (Buy £9.99), YouTube (Buy £9.99 HD), Amazon (Buy £9.99), Sky Store (Buy £9.99)

 

 

 


41. The Proud Valley: David Goliath, a Black American, arrives in Wales and wins the respect of the very musically oriented Welsh people through his singing. He shares the hardships of their lives, and becomes a working-class hero as he helps to better their working conditions and ultimately, during a mining accident, sacrifices his life to save fellow miners.

Available on: BFI Player (Rent £3.50), Amazon Prime (Rent £3.49, Buy £5.99), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £5.99)

 


42. The Tell Tale Heart: Stanley Baker enacts the classic Edgar Allan Poe story in this chilling short film, only recently rediscovered after being lost for 50 years.

Available on: BFI Player (Rent £1)

 

 


43. The Quarryman / Y Chwarelwr: Y Chwarelwr’ (‘The Quarryman’) was the first ever talkie in Welsh made by Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards and John Ellis Williams.

Slate is the lifeblood of Blaenau Ffestiniog, but its dust can be deadly, with a painful legacy for family and society. This drama portrays aspects of the quarryman’s life in Blaenau Ffestiniog – work, home, chapel, courtship – and indicates the importance of education to the younger generation. The story highlights the hardships and tough choices that were part and parcel of life in such a society, alongside its cultural vibrancy and community spirit.

Available on: BFI Player (Free)


44. Three Identical Strangers: Three Identical Strangers tells the astonishing story of three men who make the chance discovery, at the age of 19, that they are identical triplets, separated at birth and adopted to different parents. The trio’s joyous reunion in 1980 catapults them to fame but it also sets in motion a chain of events that unearths an extraordinary and disturbing secret that goes far beyond their own lives – a secret that might one day answer key questions at the heart of all human behaviour.

Available on: ALL4 (Free), Netflix, Google Play (Rent £2.99, Buy £7.99), YouTube (Rent £3.49, Buy £9.99), Amazon Prime (Rent £3.49, Buy £4.99), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £4.99)


45. Tiger Bay: Gille Jenkins, a 12 year old tomboy and compulsive liar, living in a sordid tenement with her single parent mother, witnesses the murder of an immigrant Polish woman living in an nearby apartment by her former boyfriend, Bronislaus Korchinski. The young merchant marine becomes distraught when he discovers that she has become the mistress of a married British sports announcer and shoots her with her own gun. Gillie lies about the circumstances in order to keep the gun which she discovers where Korchinsky hid it. She ultimately bonds with him and misleads the police in their investigation.

Available on: YouTube (free)


46. Twin Town: The Lewis brothers live with their parents and sister in a caravan on a mobile home site and spend most of their time joking around, taking drugs and stealing cars. Their father falls from a ladder while doing roofing work for Bryn Cartwright, a wealthy, prominent local businessman and small-time gangster. The brothers go to Bryn demanding compensation, when he refuses they seek revenge. The film stars Rhys Ifans, his brother Llŷr Ifans and Dougray Scott.

Available on: DVD from Amazon (£11.38), HMV (Buy £5.99)

 


Image: Under Milk Wood/Dan Y Wenallt

47. Under Milk Wood / Dan y Wenallt (2015): Adapted into Welsh by T. James Jones, and with a screenplay by Murray Lachlan Young, Michael Breen and director Kevin Allen, Dan Y Wenallt explores the rich imagery of Thomas’ dreamlike verse. Allen notes of his visceral and visual interpretation “I was determined to craft a cinematic rendition that challenged the common perception; that poetry should remain in the domain of the reader.”

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent £3.49, Buy £9.99)

 


48. Very Annie Mary: When Annie Mary was 16, she was offered a scholarship to sing in Milan, but was never allowed to go because her mother was dying. Now Annie Mary is 33 and no longer sings. She lives under the shadow of her chapel-strict father. When she finally rebels, the whole village becomes involved.

Available on: DVD from World of Books (£4.49) or Amazon (£4.61)

 


49. Y Llyfrgell / The Library Suicides: At a national library in Wales, a dead author and her demons may be behind some mysterious occurrences affecting the library’s staff.

Available on: Amazon Prime (Rent £4.49 HD, Buy £9.99 HD), BFI Player (£3.50), Sky Store (Buy £5.99), iTunes (Rent £3.49, Buy £7.99)

 


50. Yr Ymadawiad / The Passing: When two young lovers crash their car into a ravine in the remote mountains of Wales, they are plunged into a lost world. Dragged from the river by a mysterious figure, they are taken to a ramshackle farm, a place untouched by time. As events unfold we learn the explosive truth about the young couple’s past. More unsettling still, we discover the ghostly truth about Stanley, and the tragedy of the valley he once called home.

Available on: BFI Player (£3.50)

 


 

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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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BFI FAN Announces Covid-19 Resilience Fund

The BFI has announced a programme of support worth £4.6m ($5.7m) to aid the UK film sector, which has been badly affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

The re-purposed National Lottery funding will target specific areas of the sector including exhibitors, freelancers and producers. It comprises:

  • £1.3m BFI FAN Covid-19 resilience fund
    The organisation has repurposed the BFI Film Audience Network’s (FAN) National Lottery activity funding to offer relief to exhibitors across the UK. Opening next week, applications will be via local Film Hubs.
  • £500,000 contribution to the Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund
    In partnership with The Film and TV Charity, this fund (now open for applications) offers support to workers and freelancers working across production, distribution and exhibition, providing one-off grants between £500 and £2,500. Other organisations to contribute include Netflix, the BBC and WarnerMedia.
  • £2m BFI film continuation fund
    Up to £2m ($2.5m) will be made available to independent UK productions interrupted by Covid-19 to help cover unexpected production costs and ensure productions can resume production when practical.
  • £800,000 for BFI-funded features
    This is for current BFI-funded features that were interrupted due to restrictions put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus. As contracts were abruptly cut short, the funds ensured those employed were paid two weeks’ notice.

BFI-funded projects will be given flexibility on the scheduling of payments to support cash flow, and on delivery against activity targets. This applies to the 28 exhibitors, festivals, distributors and archives who received £3.8m ($4.7m) through the Audience Fund Organisational Awards in March.

The BFI has also adjusted its criteria on existing schemes. This includes the annual £2.5m ($3.1m) Development Fund, which now offers greater flexibility in the scheduling of payments and frontloading fees, and can now cash flow funds up to 80% for each step.

A portion of BFI Locked Box funds, previously only accessible for future project development, production or training, will now be made available to support overheads to help protect businesses during the next six months.

All of the BFI’s existing funds for shorts, features and talent development funds – which total £21.9m ($27.2m) in 2020/21 – are still operating, including production funding; the £2m ($2.5m) Vision Awards, set to be announced this month; and the Young Audience Content Fund.

In a statement, BFI chief executive Ben Roberts said:

The impact of the Covid-19 crisis has been devastating and far reaching, and we are working with colleagues across the industry to support those who have been hardest hit, and ensuring that we thrive as we recover.

We remain in close collaboration with government and a wide range of partners through the Screen Sector Task Force, through which we have already helped to shape measures introduced to support our industry. The government has been really supportive throughout this process, and while this vital work continues, we are also focused on developing a strategy for our recovery.

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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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Support Fellow Members across Wales

Exhibitors are running crowdfunders and voucher schemes to raise income:

Please share, or donate what you can spare. If you have a similar scheme that you would like us to promote, please email or tag us on social media (@filmhubwales).
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New Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund set up
The BFI and The Film and TV Charity have partnered to create the new fund, established with a £1m donation from Netflix, to help support the creative community, which has been devastated by the pandemic.

The BFI and The Film and TV Charity have partnered to create a new industry-backed Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund to help support the creative community, which like many industries, has been devastated by the pandemic.

Established with a £1m donation from Netflix, the new Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund will be administered by The Film and TV Charity with support from the BFI, and will provide emergency short-term relief to the many thousands of active workers and freelancers who have been directly affected by the closure of productions across the UK.

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of The Film and TV Charity, said:

The film and TV industry is now facing a huge threat. Many freelancers have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight. We’re entering a period of unprecedented isolation and worry for a workforce that we know from our research already suffers from poor mental health.

“Which is why I’m incredibly pleased that Netflix and the BFI are working with us to kick-start this new Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund to support workers across the UK’s film and TV industry.

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive, said:

Freelance professionals are the backbone of our film and television industries, and we hope that everyone will work together to support those who have been hardest hit at this extraordinary time of need. Netflix’s early commitment to this fund is hugely welcomed and we are asking other commercial industry partners to contribute, if they are able, and play their part in helping those most in need get through this crisis.

Anne Mensah, Vice President, Original Series at Netflix, said:

We’re proud to be working with the BFI and The Film and TV Charity to support the hardest hit workers in TV and film production. From electricians to carpenters, hair and makeup artists to drivers – and many more, UK crews have always been vital to Netflix’s success and now we want to help those freelancers who most need support in these unprecedented times.

The Film and TV Charity has supported people working behind the scenes in the film and TV industry for almost 100 years. Founded in the early days of cinema in 1924 with the generosity of entrepreneurs who understood the value of a well-supported workforce in an industry driven by people, the charity has huge experience in distributing hardship funds to those in need.

The Film and TV Charity is currently working on the precise eligibility criteria and level of individual funding but the fund will be open to those working in production, distribution and exhibition. To be the first to hear when the fund launches, applicants should register for the charity’s mailing lists.

Those in immediate and urgent need should apply for support via The Film and TV Charity’s existing hardship fund, offering grants of up to £500 to provide stop-gap support. This hardship fund will sit alongside the new Film and TV Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund. Click here for details on eligibility and how to apply.

The Film and TV Charity and BFI also recognise the significant mental health pressures arising as a result of Covid-19 and, in line with the charity’s existing Whole Picture Programme for better mental health, are developing new advice specifically tailored for our industry on how to stay mentally well at home and creating a new supportive community forum for freelancers. The Film and TV Charity already provides 24/7 mental health support to the industry, including counselling and legal advice, via the Film and TV Support Line on 0800 054 00 00.

The BFI is leading an industry wide Screen Sector Task Force that is looking at the wide-ranging impacts of Covid-19 on the whole industry and its workforce, as well as working closely with Government to ensure that all of the ramifications and impacts are considered. The BFI has up-to-date industry advice for freelancers and other areas of the sector.

Netflix’s donation is part of a broader announcement last week to set up a $100m fund for creatives whose jobs have been affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Most of the funds will go towards support for the hardest hit workers on Netflix’s own productions around the world and is in addition to the two weeks’ pay they already committed to the crew and cast on productions that have been suspended. Netflix’s donation to the Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund and to other organisations around the world is to provide emergency relief to out-of-work crew and cast across the broader film and television industry in the countries where the entertainment company has a large production base.

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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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Quick Draw Poster
25 new animated shorts created in 48 hours as part of Cardiff QuickDraw animation jam!
Watch the films this Thursday 7pm at the QuickDraw live watch party!

A record 75 teams entered this year’s Cardiff QuickDraw animation jam competition, which took place last weekend, with teams working around the clock to create short animated films on the theme “Green”. 25 new animated short films were created over the course of the 48 hour competition. Audiences and filmmakers from around the world will come together this Thursday at 7pm for an online watch party to see the new films.

Organised by animator Tim Hawkins and Cardiff Animation Festival, the QuickDraw animation jam is part of a programme of online Cardiff Animation Festival activity. Despite having to postpone the festival, scheduled for 2-5 April 2020, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Cardiff Animation Festival team and their partners have been working hard behind the scenes to bring people together remotely through animation. As well as curating online shorts programmes, resources and activities for adults, families and filmmakers to get involved in at home, the team are working to organise online events such as industry talks and watch parties.

Cardiff Animation Festival Director Lauren Orme said:

I’m so pleased we were able to run the QuickDraw animation jam, and the response has been so amazing. During social distancing I think it’s so important to find ways to bring people together, and QuickDraw did that. Tim Hawkins who organised the competition did an amazing job. The quality of the work created is astonishing, but more importantly I think QuickDraw gave the teams a platform to spend the weekend remotely working together with like-minded people on something positive.

Tim Hawkins, who organised QuickDraw, said:

The response to the competition has really blown me away. Seeing teams coming together from all over the world, at a time when we’re all physically isolated, was pretty incredible. I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend in quarantine!

As well as animators, composers and sound designers got involved to help create soundtracks for the brand new films. Those taking part in the competition kept in touch throughout the weekend using the platform Slack to help encourage each other and share their progress. One participant turned their room into a stop motion set, using sugar and cling film to make an ocean scene, while another team created foley sound from utensils they had in their kitchen. Even those that didn’t complete a film had some brand new animation to show for their efforts.

The winning film will be chosen by the Cardiff Animation Festival jury which includes Daisy Gould, Head of Marketing at Cardiff’s Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival as well as a trained animator, Yvonne Connike, a programmer, curator and founder of Cinema Golau and the Black Film Festival Wales, and Beth Hughes, an animator and director, currently working as Series Director of children’s television show Luo Bao Bei at Cloth Cat Animation.

There will be a watch party at 7pm on Thursday 26th of March via YouTube. Everyone is welcome to join as we stream the films live and celebrate what each team has created. Follow @cardiffdraw on Twitter for updates and where you can watch all the films.

Cardiff Animation Festival 2020 is funded by Arts Council Wales, Ffilm Cymru Wales, Film Hub Wales as part of the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN), BFI NETWORK Wales, and Ymddiried through the Owen Edwards Scholarship Fund, and sponsored by Cloth Cat Animation, Picl Animation, Creative Europe Desk UK – Wales, the University of South Wales, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Jammy Custard Animation, the British Animation Awards, S4C and by the ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund with contributions from UK animation productions.

More online Cardiff Animation Festival events will be announced soon. To keep up to date, and hear how to join this Thursday’s QuickDraw watch party, follow Cardiff Animation Festival on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and sign up to our mailing list for more updates and announcements as they are released.

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