Open Call for Guest Curation – The Cinema of Ideas

Independent Cinema Office

Remote working

Salary: £3000 fee

The Independent Cinema Office (ICO) is looking for two paid curators and/or curatorial collectives to create screenings for our Cinema of Ideas virtual platform. The deadline to apply is 12 September at 10am.


If you’d like to view an Easy Read version of the Open Call you can find this here:

We are hosting two info sessions where we outline what we are looking for and you can ask questions direct to us. Register below to attend or to receive the recording shortly after the event.

2:30pm, Wednesday 17 August: Register here
7pm, Tuesday 30 August: Register here

These information sessions have now taken place. If you missed them and would like to receive a recording, please email us.

What is The Cinema of Ideas?

The Cinema of Ideas is an innovative new platform for amplifying different stories through collaboration, discussion and film.

What sort of ideas are you looking for from curators?

We want to see ideas that have a clear sense of who the audience is and give them a compelling reason to engage with the programme you’ve created for them. We are looking for ideas that sit outside of the mainstream of streaming experiences you might get on Netflix or one of the other major streaming sites. We are looking to provide our partner cinemas and audiences with something that they can’t get from other VOD services. We also want to give audiences a reason to watch and engage with film more deeply than the film itself. If you’re looking for a sense of the possibilities, take a look at our past programmes, but don’t feel confined by what’s come before.

We are open to different event structures, but your proposal should feature more than one event. Here are a few indicative concepts, but we would be delighted to be surprised with new takes on how to reach online audiences:

  • Screening(s) plus live-streamed discussion
  • Live-streamed discussion focusing on an aspect of film culture
  • Film screening plus live-streamed performance
  • Themed shorts programme(s)

The final deadline for applications is 10am, Monday 12 September 2022.

Who is this opportunity for?

We are looking to give an opportunity to people who would not otherwise have it. It might be that you have worked with a festival or venue but have yet to programme an event (or yet to programme very many events); that you are an academic or student with limited film programming experience; that you have never been paid for your curatorial ideas; or that you have compelling ideas but struggle to connect with a platform to deliver them. If so, then we want to hear from you!

If you have good ideas, but worry about your level of experience: this is a learning opportunity. You will have advice and guidance from ICO staff on any topic you are struggling with or inexperienced in, while also being given freedom to work on areas that you are comfortable and experienced in.

The reason we are seeking outside curators for the platform is to share the opportunity beyond the ICO team and access a much wider breadth of lived experience and curatorial interests. We are keen to give a platform to people who have limited experience programming in-venue or online. We welcome applications from groups currently underrepresented on ICO staff, specifically disabled people; and Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people (or anyone at the intersection of these two groups).

Due to our funding, we are only able to accept applications from UK-based curators.

Who is the audience for the events?

Anyone in the UK can access the events on our virtual platform (and we can sometimes strike deals with rights holders for international screenings). We are looking to expand beyond the traditional audience arthouse audience and to reach younger audiences (people aged 18–30), LGBT+ audiences, disabled audiences and Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people in the regions and nations of the UK, as well as expand the type of material their current audience watches. We also want to expand what is available in commercial distribution and the types of material venues are otherwise able to select from.

How much does it pay?

We have two curatorial fees of £3000 each to cover you and/or your group’s time working on the project, plus a budget for the events of up to £2000 each, to cover costs such as film hire, marketing, speaker fees and access costs. The curatorial fee is in line with our estimations of how much time an emerging curator would spend on this programme, and you should have enough spare time from other projects to deliver the project to a high standard.

What are the deliverables?

Each curator must deliver one short season, which can include a number of events/screenings, but a minimum of at least two. The budget is fixed at £3000 curation fee and up to £2000 budget to cover delivery costs. The curator manages the budget of the event (though payment and fees are handled by the ICO). We can offer assistance in budget management, as with all other areas of this project. Within the budget of the event, we have flexibility around where funds are allocated, as long as collaborators are paid fairly for their time and any costs are in service of producing a high-quality event that will attract an audience.

All events and films must be accompanied by access materials (at a minimum, live captions and caption subtitles). This is something the ICO can help source.

What have other previous Emerging Curators produced for the platform?

In the first edition of The Cinema of Ideas, we were delighted to support three Emerging Curators:

  • Feast from the East, Kateryna Pavlyuk​’s programme celebrating Eastern European cinema and its connection to food, via three film screenings, a roundtable discussion and a cookery lesson
  • Visibly Animated, Louise Milsom’s programme highlighting animations about disability, featuring a short film programme, an illustrated history of disability in animation and a lecture on the importance of audio description for animation
  • Stitched Up!, Jo Reid’s programme focusing on workers’ rights in the garment industry, featuring two film screenings, a darning workshop and a panel discussion on how to support garment workers.

All of these programmes speak to an idea wider than ‘film’ that has an implicit audience, as well as producing interesting additional content to engage audiences beyond the film content.

When do I deliver the screening and what am I responsible for?

The events must be delivered at some point between October 2022–March 2023.

The curator provides: 

  • Screening concept
  • Speakers/performers/panelists (if working with speakers, performers, panelists)
  • Identifying target audiences and providing ideas for ways to reach those audiences
  • Bespoke copy for the films, the programme and any additional activity

We collaborate on: 

  • Film rights research (if required, ICO can help with contacting distributors/sales agents/producers to acquire rights to titles)
  • Copywriting for the event

ICO provides: 

  • The streaming platform
  • The technology to deliver your event (e.g. camera for a live stream if not using laptop/phone)
  • Curatorial support and collaboration (if desired)
  • Marketing and technical support
  • Access to promote the events on ICO social channels, mailing list and website(s)
  • Budget support if desired
  • IT equipment e.g. laptop
  • Desk space in the ICO office at London Bridge if desired
  • Access support
What is the application process?

You should provide:

  • A short overview of your idea, including any film titles or speakers/presenters/performers/panellists and/or why this event is topical now (maximum 150 words)
  • Who the audience for the event is and why they would connect with your idea (maximum 150 words)
  • Why you are the right person to deliver this idea, such as your passion and knowledge for the subject, connections with the expected audience or other work you have done in this area and why this idea is a good fit for an online platform (as opposed to an in cinema screening) (maximum 250 words)

You are also welcome to make a video submission or voice note if you would prefer. Submissions via voice note should be under four minutes in length.

It’s important to understand that you need not have every detail of your programme developed or finalised for the application. There will be a process of collaboration and refinement and we will assess based on the overall idea.

The final deadline for applications is 10am, Monday 12 September 2022. Please send applications to:

The ICO team will then review the applications. We will then hold discussions with a small number of applicants to discuss their idea in more detail.

We will inform you – whether we are progressing your application or not – by 3 October. We are happy to provide feedback on request at that stage if you are not selected.

What are the benefits of taking part?

We are keen to work with new and emerging curators and for our platform to benefit from their skills, experiences and unique perspectives. We can provide support around budget and project management, clearing film rights, streaming platforms, marketing and much more if you need it, but this will be a collaborative process where we imagine learning from each other to create amazing, one-of-a-kind digital events. This can also help grow your platform and credibility with cinemas and film festivals for in-person events.

Who owns the idea?

Any ideas shared in the application process or delivery of this open call remain your intellectual property and we will keep them confidential within the ICO team. We’re happy to return a video recording of your live stream (if this is part of your project) for use in your channels at the end of this edition of the Cinema of Ideas (in March 2023). Full credit will be acknowledged to you as the curator of the event.

Can I suggest an event I’ve worked on before?

If this is a direct replication of past work delivered online, no. An event previously delivered in person that is thoughtfully adapted for the online space is a worthwhile approach. And of course, entirely new curatorial work is welcome.

How will the event be publicised?

The ICO marketing and communications team are available to work with the curator on how to market and will publicise the event. We will market through ICO channels and partner cinemas, but other marketing methods will need to be employed to reach the potential audience. When you deliver the programme, you will need to give some consideration towards marketing – e.g. people to approach to share, potential partners – although the work itself will be a collaboration with the ICO marketing team.

What kind of films can be shown on the platform?

Films able to be shown online, with access limited to UK audiences (if international rights can be acquired, this is a bonus). If you have ideas about how films can be acquired (e.g. knowledge of rights holders or other events/screenings where the films have played recently), please do mention them in your application. ICO can assist with acquiring rights and research, but it is the curator’s responsibility to deliver this key aspect of the event as it is an essential part of the job for programmers and curators.

You are welcome to use some of the event budget for digitisation, but ideally your programme would exist in a digital format already as converting e.g. 35mm film titles to digital is outside of the financial scope of this project.

Will the events be accessible?

Yes, events should have access materials and caption subtitles for D/deaf and Hard of Hearing audiences for films and live streams. The ICO can help to source these access materials for the events.

The closing date for this position is 12/09/2022 at 10:00

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