Open Call for Guest Curation at Archive Screening Days

Independent Cinema Office


Salary: £500

The ICO is looking for paid guest curator contributions to Archive Screening Days. The event is scheduled for the week of 6 December at BFI Southbank and online. We want to hear from people inside and outside the film exhibition sector who want to develop contextualised film programmes and/or curated sessions (presentations, film programmes for national touring, panels, case studies, provocations, discussions, workshops, debates, Q&As and more). These should be aimed at increasing audiences access to the UK’s screen heritage and international repertory cinema. 

An Easy Read version of this call out is also available.

What is Archive Screening Days?

‘Archive’ in this context means literally the material held in national, regional and international archives; but also historical films (such as re-releases but also contextual programming of older films); and screen heritage (any way of looking at history that is communicated via filmed material). Archive Screening Days offers screenings of new restorations, archive material and films from the past that deserve to meet a wider audience, as well as capacity building sessions to help build strategies to reach that wider audience. We are seeking contributions to both parts of the programme to reach out beyond the networks and areas of expertise within the ICO.

What kind of ideas are we looking for?

If your idea will help bring a wider audience to film heritage – wherever the context – we want to hear it. We would like session ideas to be ambitious, inspiring and engaging, as useful as possible for cinemas to apply, and to focus on specific topics rather than general concepts. Your idea should be something other cinemas and exhibition spaces can learn from and apply in their own contexts, or a proposal that they can show in their own screens (with context as to how to grow audiences). Possible formats are panel discussions, case studies, provocations, discussion groups, workshops, debates and more. We also are keen to have ideas for film programmes that are an opportunity to speak about the film itself, and the context of how you screened it if that helped diversify the audience. These films could represent or be drawn from excluded or marginalised histories. 

A few areas your session could cover:

  • Programming: screening a film and then speaking about the way you programmed it as an example of how it went beyond the established cinema audience. This could also serve as an opportunity to find partners for more screenings or give people inspiration for how to share archive material in a public context.
  • Marketing (e.g. how to get audiences excited about the experience of watching older films, non-digital formats etc)
  • Increasing access to regional and national archives
  • Outreach and engagement programmes (e.g. using archive film to engage people with local history) 
  • Online audience development (e.g. new ways of sharing film heritage)
  • Expanding the canon of cinema history 

Is there a fee available?

If your idea is taken forward we can pay a fee of £500 for organising/administering the session and a pass to attend the event. There will also be an additional budget to cover speaker fees, including if you plan to lead the session yourself. Your contribution will be acknowledged in the Screening Days info pack and on social media (if you would appreciate that). You may like to work with a partner or a group in which case the available fee will be split accordingly.

Who can make a proposal?

You do not need to work in film or in an archive to propose a session. If you have practical experience of working with archive film or with film history, then we want to hear from you. You do not need to deliver the session yourself; as long as you are able to develop it and have the direct connections for it to take place we want to hear from you. You are also welcome to deliver it yourself (for which additional payment is applicable). 

What are we trying to achieve?

We want to influence people who work in cinemas and other exhibition spaces to be more ambitious around film heritage and repertory programmes. We are looking for innovative topics and speaker suggestions to make these events as impactful and inspiring as possible.

Who are the sessions aimed at? Who attends Screening Days?

Screening Days are attended by people who work for cinemas, mixed-art venues, film societies, film festivals and community cinemas as well as staff of public funders and other agencies working to support film culture in the UK. They will probably work in film programming, marketing and audience development roles. They will likely have small budgets and limited staff time so it’s important that the events give them both inspiration and practical takeaways.

What support is available?

The ICO team are happy to work with you on organising and developing sessions if you’d like, or we can try and pair you with other curators who might like to partner with you. We are also able to provide accommodations for access that you – or anyone who you might engage for the session – might need.

How and when should ideas be submitted?

The closing date for submissions is Thursday 4 November at 10AM. If you’re interested in taking part please send your session idea(s) to Duncan Carson, Projects and Business Manager at the ICO:

Your session idea should be no longer than one page and should include:

  • Session title
  • Session description (no more than 500 words)
  • Why you think this idea will help audiences access film culture or cinemas to be more adventurous with their repertory programmes
  • Suggested speakers (if applicable)

All ideas are reviewed by the ICO internal team and the Screening Days Advisory Group. Once successful ideas have been selected to be taken forward, you will be given more guidance about session design and inviting speakers. We are happy to receive more than one suggestion if you have it.

We will let you know if your idea has been accepted or not by 9 November, offering you around four weeks to prepare the programme if successful. We are happy to offer feedback on all submissions if desired.

The closing date for this position is 04/11/2021 at 10:00

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