Independent Cinema Office Blog

News and views on the world of independent film

Posts from September 2012

News round-up... 26/09/2012

Posted Wednesday 26 September 2012 by Sarah Rutterford in News Round-up

The Fisher King (1991) location from Philmfotos
A still from The Fisher King is matched to its location by Philmfotos.

News and opportunities

  • Following its consultation earlier this year, the BFI is set to launch its Future Plan for the UK film industry at the beginning of October. A series of workshops across the UK to present the plan in more detail will follow, including an event on 12th Oct during the BFI London Film Festival. Read Watershed's Mark Cosgrove's Guardian piece on his hope that the announcement will include a UK-wide network to support film activity in the regions.
  • If you're a cinema operator struggling to raise funds for converting to digital, a new scheme for digital cinema equipment has just launched that may be able to help. A crowdfunding platform called CineFund, it's free to join and aims to raise the money you need in 60 days. Intrigued? Find out more.
  • Lighthouse & the BFI have announced the 16 new projects which will be funded as part of the BFI Shorts 2012 production scheme. Recipients include award-winning documentarian Eva Weber and critic Jonathan Romney.  
  • The deadline for Creative Skillset's online census is fast approaching. Fill it out to help Skillset decide where film industry funding and training are needed the most. Deadline: this Sunday 30th Sept.
  • Applications are now open for Arts Council England, Nesta and the Arts & Humanities Council's £7 million Digital Research & Development fund for the arts. The fund is available for the next three years (2012/13 - 2014/15) to support R&D projects that use digital technology to enhance audience reach and/or explore new business models.
  • Curzon Community Cinema in Clevedon, Somerset has reached the finals of the Heritage category of the Lottery Awards for the UK's Favourite Lottery Project. Click here to register your vote and support this historic cinema!

Training

  • The Clore Leadership Programme is looking for new participants for their Short Courses (for those with over 5 years' experience of leading in the cultural sector) and their Emerging Leaders Course (for those with 2-5 years' experience who want to develop their leadership potential). Deadline: Fri 2nd Nov 2012.
  • And, if you're interested in the above or in other training opportunities for enhancing your managerial or leadership skills, check if you're eligible for Management & Leadership funding from Creative Skillset. This scheme offers bursaries of up to £1,000 to experienced professionals working, or close to working, in a management/leadership position in any sector of the UK film industry, to spend on continuous professional development (CPD) training.
  • Sheffield Doc/Fest and Crossover Labs have announced the return of Devise to Deliver (D2D), a 7-month training scheme for filmmakers and mediamakers which is open to anyone working on any platform and in any genre. Deadline for applications: Mon 5th Nov 2012.
  • The Venice Biennale has announced Biennale College – Cinema, a higher education training workshop for the development and production of micro-budget audio-visual works, open to emerging film-makers and producers worldwide. Deadline for applications: 22nd October 2012.
  • Guiding Lights is a mentoring programme aimed at writers, directors and producers already actively developing a career in features and offering support through high-level mentoring, training and networking. Past mentors include Danny Boyle, Sam Mendes, Paul Greengrass and Abi Morgan. Lighthouse needs 12 emerging talents to match with top industry names. Deadline: 5pm on Thurs 18th Oct 2012.

Calls for submissions

  • Electric December is Watershed's annual countdown calendar showcasing the best of young creative filmmaking talent. If you're under 21, submit your short film(s) and get your work seen. Deadline: 5pm this Fri 28th Sept 2012.
  • The Swedenborg International Short Film Festival 2012 is open for entries. Submissions are invited on a number of themes, with priority is given to these themes found in the work of Swedenborg himself. Deadline: 19th Oct 2012.
  • Entries have opened for the Short Film and Animation categories for BAFTA 2012/13, which calls for innovative, experimental short fiction films and animation under 40 minutes long. Deadline: noon on Weds 31st Oct 2012.
  • The Cross-Channel Film Lab (CCFL) is calling for four low to medium budget film projects featuring brave, original and imaginative usage of special effects and/or Stereo 3D, for the Lab's workshop programme in 2013. Deadline for applications: Tues 6th Nov 2012.
  • Bring Your Own Beamer (BYOB) is calling for artist filmmakers to supply work for this event in London during the opening night of Moving Image: Contemporary Video Art Fair on Thurs 11th Oct. Your work will be shown in the Bargehouse of the iconic OXO Tower Wharf building on the Southbank.
  • Berwick Visual Arts has announced the first of two residencies for visual artists working in moving image. The successful applicant will have the chance to show the resulting work at Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2013. Deadline: 5pm on Mon 22nd Oct 2012.
  • And: are you looking for funding to create your first studio production? Camberwell Studios runs a monthly prize draw for the chance to win a day in their studios worth up to £1,000. The next is on Thurs 4th Oct 2012.

Good reads & nice things

  • FACT's Mike Stubbs answers questions about their upcoming programme, mixing artists' moving image and feature film, management style and the differences between UK and Australian arts policy and practice.
  • Warwick Art Centre's Matt Burman pens a thoughtful piece on how to posit the argument for arts funding.
  • I liked this nostalgic post by artist Andrew Bracey on how working as a 35mm projectionist informed his artworks.
  • This is awesome, and will make anyone who's tried to watch a film whilst raging internally at the noisy texter/talker/popcorn consumer nearby (everyone on the planet then, and certainly me last weekend during a pivotal scene in Killing Them Softly) joyful. Yes!
  • To finish, some filmic things: enjoy this brilliant Tumblr showing film stills matched to their original location... Cine-Tourist's blog post investigating the settings for WWII thrilller Cloak and Dagger ... and GAPNA, a wonderful gallery of vintage Polish film posters published by their National Film Archive, including this rather lovely one for Spellbound.

Box of Delights & tips on programming for kids

Posted Wednesday 19 September 2012 by Sarah Rutterford in Film Releases

What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks / Sarah Wickens / UK 2009 / 4’30 min
A still from What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks by Sarah Wickens from Box of Delights: Programme 2

We've just released Box of Delights, two programmes of eclectic, artistic, award-winning animation shorts intended for children aged 4-7 and 8-12, and it got us thinking about useful ideas, tips and resources for exhibitors hoping to create film programmes that will engage younger audiences, and find new ways of getting more kids into their venues. Here are some things to think about.

Assess what you're doing at the moment. Do you offer any screenings specifically designed to appeal to younger audiences? If not, what need is there locally? What schools are nearby?

Think about your marketing. Are kids' films highlighted on your website and in your brochure? Will your film copy appeal to children and/or their parents? Are the certificates clearly marked?

Look at what other venues are doing and learn from their kids' film strands, workshops and events. Here are some examples: Watershed's Cinékids, Showroom's Saturday Club, National Media Museum's Family Film Fundays, Curzon Community Cinema's Curzon Kids.

Check out the programmes of recent children's film festivals, or those with children's film strands, such as Framed Film Festival, Showcomotion, Leeds Young People's Film Festival, Glasgow Youth Film Festival, Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, Discovery Film Festival, Bradford Animation Festival, or make plans to attend their next editions.

Think about other ways to engage with kids. Perhaps you could encourage budding critics by inviting them to review films for your website like QUAD's Youth Review, or run filmmaking workshops like mac's First Fright event this autumn, or get children involved in choosing the films they want to see like MediaFish, a cooperative of young people based in Leeds who programme their own season of film screenings. Consider bringing groups of children into your venue for a tour, to introduce them to the space and get them interested in what goes on behind the scenes in box office, projection, publicity.

And, get them young! Get children into the habit of coming to the cinema (and parents into the habit of bringing them) from as early as possible by putting on regular mum and baby screenings, like Broadway's bi-monthly Bringing Up Baby events (reviewed here). Make your venue as family-friendly and welcoming as possible - ensure your publicity materials clearly state that at mum and baby screenings, the lights will be dimmed but not off, and that it's expected that babies will cry and small children will be noisy and run around. Institute safeguarding procedures for children's events so adults aren't allowed in without a child, and get CRB checks for all relevant staff. Think about access for prams and buggies, about your baby changing facilities, and ensure your box office staff like kids!

When programming for toddlers, think about keeping it brief, as small children may not have the patience for feature length film! Look for short film programmes - animation is good, and dialogue can be minimal. The BFI catalogue is a good place to start, for animation in particular; also, look at short film festivals (like Encounters) for ideas. Explore the possibility of screening popular TV programmes: for example, cinemas successfully screened In The Night Garden episodes in 2009.

Generally, plan to keep kids coming back from infancy to teenagerdom, like Filmhouse

Partner with local organisations to increase audiences, such as your local NCT, single parent organisations like Gingerbread, local youth clubs or activity groups like Girl Guides or Scouts.

Think of ways to pitch subtitles - for example, you could pitch subtitled screenings to parents as an innovative way of helping their kids learn to read, or you could work with foreign language teachers to create educational screenings for their students in specific languages, like Cornerhouse's sessions on Last Train Home (Mandarin) and Barbara (German).

Start or foster relationships with local schools. Keep in mind that teachers are busy, so make it easy for them: pitch screenings, activities and takeaway materials that will tick off key curriculum requirements.

Visit our film education page, which offers advice on starting an education programme and working with schools, as well as videos of film education experts discussing their work at a recent ICO course.

Explore the work of Filmclub, the education charity that works with schools nationwide to encourage young people's involvement in film. Their excellent website is full of resources including this list of films grouped by suitability for particular ages, as well as a full catalogue that you can filter by suitability, length, style, decade, language, location and more.

Similarly Film Education, another charity that promotes and supports the use of film within the curriculum, and has a website full of resources such as film clips, study guides, Teacher's Notes and activity ideas for specific stages in primary, secondary and further education; as well as a complete film library. They also run National Schools Film Week, the world's largest free film festival for cinemas and schools - encourage local schools to get involved.

Get involved with MovIES, the network for moving image education specialists working in UK film exhibition, which shares good practice, launches initiatives and connects you with national and local peers.

Film Street aims to help introduce young people to the world of film, using filmmaking as a tool. Their website includes downloadable resources for teachers, including templates for workshops and activities.

And for more insight into current thinking and policy, look at Film: 21st Century Literacy and the Findings section of their website, which includes documents setting out the case for using film in education as well as specific case studies.

A couple of other resources: The 8 1/2 Foundation, founded by Tilda Swinton and Mark Cousins, which is dedicated to introducing children to world cinema, has a lovely list of films - old and new - they recommend for children. For an insight on classic film titles that appeal to kids, have a look at this page on the BAFTA Kids' Vote website. In 2005 the BFI issued a list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14, find it here. To learn more about the classification of children's films, listen to this podcast by the BBFC - and, have a look at the Coming Soon and Just Out sections of Parents BBFC, highlighting new releases with U, PG, 12 or 12A certs.

Most importantly, whatever films and acitivites you put on, make them fun, and always retain a sense of humour... to misappropriate a Roald Dahl quote:

"What a child wants and deserves is a cinema that is SPARKY."

News round-up... 17/09/2012

Posted Monday 17 September 2012 by Sarah Rutterford in News Round-up

The Master by Paul Thomas Anderson
Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's masterful The Master

Toronto 2012 is over, casting a distinctly autumnal feel over the office (as is the recent launch of the BFI London Film Festival programme). Don't forget to check out Simon’s excellent posts from TIFF offering potted reviews of all the films he saw, including Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, Terrence Malick's To The Wonder, Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell, Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond The Pines, and Lana & Andy Wachowski and Tom Twyker's Cloud Atlas. For more, check out the festival coverage on MUBI's Notebook, Indiewire and Keyframe, Little White Lies' daily round-ups and Catherine Shoard's Guardian review.

The Master looks set to become a cultural juggernaut after enjoying a rapturous reception at Venice and Toronto, and breaking the US screen average record on its opening weekend - taking a staggering $730,000 overall from just 5 cinemas. Don't feel equipped? Read Zach Baron's engaging, laconic review on Grantland.com.

News and opportunities

  • In the wake of the national conversation about unpaid internships, Arts Council England has launched an employment scheme which aims to help paid opportunities for unemployed graduates and non-graduates (aged 16 to 24) gain access to on-the-job training, skills and experience in the arts and cultural sector. It’s designed to support up to 6,500 new apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and paid internships across the sector. ACE is currently calling for a national provider to deliver the programme which, when it is eventually launched, will run until March 2015.
  • Our friends at the mac (Midland Arts Centre) in Birmingham are looking for a group of young people to help steer its arts programme. You must be aged 16 to 24, based in the West Midlands, enthused by the idea of coming up with new ideas and passionate about making your mark. A brilliant opportunity for young people to gain experience in arts programming, access mac's events and artists, and improve project management skills. Deadline: 5pm this Friday 21 Sept.
  • Do you have a short film you'd like re-scored by a live band?! Whirlygig Cinema are offering you the opportunity with Making Tracks. Films should be less than 12 minutes long and, crucially be silent, subtitled or make sense with the audio off. Deadline this Friday 21 Sept.
  • IdeasTap is also calling for submissions from 16 to 25 year olds who have a creative project that could use a £1,000 cash injection. Not long to apply though! Deadline: 5pm this Friday 21 Sept.
  • Not long to go either until the deadline for UnderWire Festival 2012, which will run from 20 to 24 November. Founded in 2010 to give women working in the UK film industry a bigger platform for their work, they are calling for short films (under 20 mins) by male or female directors, but which have interesting female characters at their core. Deadline this Friday 21 Sept.
  • Think-Shoot-Distribute, the BFI London Film Festival's talent and project development scheme, is looking for 25 talented and experienced participants keen to develop their feature film career. Successful applicants will attend a 5-day training programme during LFF, meeting leading filmmakers and execs in a series of workshops, discussions and masterclasses exploring all areas of feature production and the international film industry. Deadline: 5pm on Monday 24 Sept.
  • The BFI are offering a free and fascinating-sounding seminar next Monday 24 Sept - Diasporic Film in Communities - which will explore the relationship between screen culture and communities, in particular the opportunities and challenges presented by engaging specifiic communities in film. Participants in the collaborative Diaspora programme at BFI will give an overview of their work as part of the day. Download the programme; to reserve a place email Dominika Widlak-Manka.
  • Are you a wannabe film reviewer? IdeasTap is offering one film buff the chance to become its BFI London Film Festival reporter, attending three LFF events for free, and getting their 500-word review published in IdeasMag. Ooh! Deadline: 5pm on Weds 26 Sept.
  • WorldView, a project aiming to improve UK public understanding and awareness of the developing world, is calling for applications of documentary pitches from established programme makers / media producers / production companies for Project Development Funding. Films they've supported in the past include the upcoming release My Brother the Devil and a former ICO release, Out of the Ashes. Deadline: Weds 26 Sept.
  • Salisbury Arts Centre has issued a call to emerging curators to propose an engaging, original film-related exhibition to be realised - with their support, including a budget of £1,000 - in early 2013. The provocation your arresting exhibition plan should respond to is 'the heroic in the everyday'. Deadline: Friday 28 Sept.
  • I love the sound of From Screen to Page - Creative Writing from Film, an 8-week course running at the Broadway in Nottingham. Forget adapting books for the screen, how about using great films to inspire your own writing? Steal tricks for suspense from Hitchcock's North by Northwest or tips on gothic terror from The Orphanage. Book now - the course starts on 4 Oct.
  • Would you like advice on your documentary idea from seasoned industry execs? Submit your doc proposal to the Documentary Film Guild and Sheffield Doc/Fest's Mini-Meetmarket, held during the UK Jewish Film Festival. Up to 15 projects will be selected to take part in the event. Deadline: 5pm on 22 Oct.
  • Another opp for budding film critics, this time young ones: Film Education's Young Film Critic 2012/2013 competition. The age categories cover 4 to 19, so tell any film-obsessed child or teen you know to get writing or indeed filming, as you can submit video entries too. The deadline is a way off, so it shouldn't interfere with homework: 3 June 2013.
    That's all for now!

Toronto 2012: Simon's reviews part 6

Posted Friday 14 September 2012 by Simon Ward in Festival Reports

Land of Hope
The Land of Hope

The Land of Hope

Sono Siono's latest (Cold Fish, Guilty of Romance) is set in the aftermath of the fictional Nagashima nuclear power station meltdown following a tsunami.  Following three couples, two elderly parents (one of whom suffers from senile dementia), their son and his pregnant wife (who flee the fallout), and a younger couple, the film plays out a heartbreaking scenario as they have to decide whether to stay in the town they have lived in all their lives or flee.  Complicated by the lack of truthful information about the severity of the nuclear plant meltdown, the three couples make their own decisions about how to live their lives in the shadow of the disaster.  While the film is a little over-long, it packs a powerful emotional wallop and makes a powerful argument against living in the shadow of nuclear power - something with an added resonance given Japan’s history in WWII.  Given Sono’s track record for brutal, often hysterical, even sensational, unflinchingly violent work, there is a welcome restrained tone to the film which captures the emotional domestic human trauma the country has been through so recently with Fukushima.  It’s one of the most powerful statements against state hubris for some time and deserves to be seen widely.

Greetings from Tim Buckley

A reasonably well crafted film, with solid performances let down by a thin weak script grafting on redundant and familiar girl meets boy-rockstar cliches to a story which is fascinating if well documented elsewhere.  The film focuses on a tribute concert given in honour of Tim Buckley and his son Jeff’s invitation to perform his father’s work onstage.  Shuttling back and forth between Tim in the past, and Jeff in 1991, the film pretty skillfully dissects Jeff’s struggle to come out of his father’s shadow as an artist in his own right.  Some of the music performances murder the originals (particularly Song to a Siren) while others are sublime.  One for fans of the Buckleys and unlikely to break out to a new audience.

What Richard Did

Lenny Abrahamson's (Garage, Adam & Paul) is a terrific tight moving account of a young Irish middle-class rugby player destined for great things when with one kick he kills a peer in a fight over his girlfriend.  As the pressure mounts to turn himself in, his parents and friends close-ranks to hide him, but guilts eats away at his conscience.  It's beautifully played, handled with an understated, perfectly pitched and always sympathetic hand which doesn't waste a single shot.  Abrahamson is fast shaping up to Ireland's answer to Bruno Dumont and the Dardennes.  An increasingly impressive real talent and in my top films of the festival.

Passion

A sort of compendium of Brian De Palma's long career including his trademark (if you put Argento to one side) leather-gloved slasher, female psycho(s), foot fetishes, dream sequences, split screen action and a whole bag full of Hitchcockian identity/plot twists.  It's equally ravishing and risible but can never be accused of being boring!  Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace play corporate rivals each seeking to humiliate and destroy the other in a game of cat and mouse which quickly escalates from board room one-upmanship to throat slitting gore.  Great incomprehensible fun.  While everyone walked out saying "what a disaster" they also had great big grins plastered across their faces.  De Palma fans will be highly entertained while innocent bystanders will be equally bemused.

Passion
Passion

Disconnect

A multi-stranded exploration of the dangers of the net, this an unimaginative, technically competent multi-stranded narrative which slowly draws its disparate characters into a connected whole a la Magnolia or Nashville but can't hold a candle to any of its inspirations.  A journalist seeks to expose chat-room exploitation of minors, a high school student is humiliated by sending an explicit photo of himself to what he believes is a female admirer but turns out to be two fellow schoolboys, a couple lose their savings to an unknown fraudster and an ex-cop trying to locate the fraudster discovers uncomfortable truths about his sons online antics.  In a predictable finale we're even given a little bullet-time action as all the characters meet a neat resolution.  Andrea Riseborough and a decent score by noted contemporary British composer Max Richter provide the only sparks in an otherwise dull and tediously downbeat drama.

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