Programming is all about starting a conversation within an audience. It is the job of the programmer to communicate their passion, knowledge, enthusiasm and ideas to an audience by the careful juxtaposition of films in a programme. That programme can be commercial or cultural but it needs at all times to be thoughtful and intelligent.
Themes can be used to articulate complex ideas beyond the scope of a single film and are an effective way of using a high profile or popular work to draw attention (and admissions!) to other perhaps less well known films which are of equal importance or enjoyment which a casual filmgoer may otherwise simply not be aware of. Thematic programming encourages a cinemagoer to stumble across an unexpected gem and to tease out complex issues across a range of films. Theme is generally considered a different guiding principle to say geography or chronology although these can be included (say the theme of Partition in South Asian cinema of the late 40s and 50s).
Black and Minority Ethnic (BME)
One of the strengths of programming Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) cinema is that it gives a history, identity and voice to cultures which otherwise may be buried under the slew of American and British commercial cinema which chooses not to reflect the experiences of BME audiences.
Documentary film has enjoyed an explosion in popularity over the last decade. Fuelled by a renewed interest in feature documentaries shown on television in strands such as Storyville, Cutting Edge and Imagine..., the quality and breadth of material available to the public has never been higher.
Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT)
20 years ago, programming LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender) cinema might have been considered too niche unless a venue or cinema had a dedicated LGBT metro-audience (i.e. London, Manchester, Glasgow). Jump to the new millennium and a range of LGBT films have been made and box office successfully released at the cinema.
Screening films from the past can capture the imagination, whisking people back to a bygone era and tapping into the appeal of reconnecting with the norms, fashions and quirks of the past. It also equally importantly is a very powerful artefact of social history often allowing ordinary people to see themselves and their histories represented on screen in a very accessible way.