Screening Days

Virtual Screening Days 2020

07/12/2020 - 10/12/2020

Screening Days is evolving. Join us for our first virtual event over 7–10 December. It’s digital, but our aim remains the same: to help cinemas find the best films to serve all their audiences.

What is Screening Days and how does it work?

Screening Days is an event that gives cinema professionals a chance to come together to watch upcoming films and have discussions that help build a better independent cinema scene. In December 2020 we’re taking the event online for the first time ever, with a greater focus on discussions that will help cinemas in the new reality we find ourselves in.

View the schedule

New to Screening Days? Here’s what you need to know.


Registration for this event is now closed.  If you have any queries about your pass or the event, please email

A full refund is available for cancellations up to 4 December.

ICO Screening Days are the highlight of the film programming calendar.

Screening Days delegate

Sessions & discussions

Please note the ‘No release schedule, no problem’, ‘Seven principles’ and ‘Building a virtual screen’ sessions are now at capacity. If you would to go on the waiting list for any of them, please email us with details or indicate your preferences when completing your online registration for an event pass.

No release schedule, no problem?

With many major releases and large independent releases disappearing from the calendar or reducing their windows, cinemas have had to change their approach to programming overnight. Yet many independent cinemas have shown resilience through diversifying their programme in difficult times. How can we rely less on large audiences for a smaller slate of titles and make a broad-minded programme the heart of what we do? In this session, we’ll have frank conversations about different approaches to survival and success (including day and date releasing, repertory programming and maximising indie titles) that will even have benefits when social distancing becomes a distant memory.

Seven principles for an inclusive recovery in your cinema

The pandemic has pushed independent cinemas to reconsider how we care for our audiences. These times should encourage us to ask deeper questions about our commitment to disabled audience members and staff. To answer practical questions, we are offering space to the partners behind the Seven Inclusive Principles for Arts & Cultural Organisations working safely through COVID-19 for a practical workshop to discuss the principles and how you can make them count in your venue. This workshop will show you how to go beyond compliance and towards championing Deaf, neurodiverse and disabled people’s experience in cinema. Led by Andrew Miller, UK Government Disability Champion for Arts & Culture, Michèle Taylor (Director for Change, Ramps on the Moon) and Midnight Memphis, Exhibition Officer, Beacon Films. To add context to the issues discussed in this session, watch Verisimilitude, a short film that will be available on our platform throughout the event.

Building a virtual screen: distributors & exhibitors unite

2020 has forced indie cinemas and distributors to rapidly adapt, with decades-long certainties shifting overnight. Indie cinemas have a passionate following of engaged and curious film watchers, but how can we translate that to a digital space? If digital screenings are going to become a healthy part of indie cinemas business and cultural ambitions post-COVID, collaboration is needed between exhibitors and distributors. In this session, we bring together both groups to talk openly about what’s working, what needs improving and how we can collaborate for great results both in cinemas and online.

Audience development discussions

This year has pressed us to think more deeply about who our audiences are and how we can connect them to the films that set independent cinemas apart. In this series of structured, post-screening discussions, we’ll be looking closely at the films showing at Virtual Screening Days and thinking expansively about how to maximise the impact of the type of films your cinema shows regularly and grow audiences for those outside your comfort zone.

How does Virtual Screening Days work?

Virtual Screening Days is a series of virtual timed screenings across three days and three evenings. We’ll also be hosting audience development discussions around the titles and some additional sessions. Films played during the day will be repeats from the evening prior, giving you the chance to see them all.

See the schedule

Access to sessions is included in all pass types, but some discussions will be limited capacity, so please indicate which you are interested in attending during your online registration and we will contact you to confirm your place. You’ll receive an automated email confirming your booking; if we’ve got any queries about your eligibility, we’ll drop you a line. When the final schedule is confirmed, we’ll email it to you along with details of how to access our online platform. You’ll be able to select one film in each slot with a 30 minute window to start watching.

Passes are not transferable and the virtual platform restricts concurrent streams, so every viewer must have their own pass. Streaming is only available within the UK. There are no restrictions on number of attendees per organisation, but all attendees must be eligible for the event. Even though the event is virtual, there is limited capacity due to rights restrictions, so booking early is a good idea.

Am I eligible?

Screening Days is for anyone who works or volunteers in a space that shows films and makes a direct contribution to selecting films and attracting audiences for them. We welcome programmers, audience development and marketing staff and others; we also welcome freelancers working in film exhibition.

In order to keep our agreements with distributors and funders, we can only screen preview films to people working or volunteering in film exhibition. However, we want to welcome the widest group of people possible to the event, so are trialling a £5 ‘sessions-only’ pass for people who may not yet work in film exhibition but would still like to attend. Per our event funding, all attendees must be based within the UK.

If you are in any doubt about your eligibility, just email us.


If you need financial assistance to attend Screening Days, your regional Film Hub may be able to help in the form of bursaries towards pass fees for members (see links below). If your organisation is not yet a Hub member, it is usually easy to register quickly and it’s free.

If you are unable to get support from your Hub or need further/other support to attend, please email us.

Why does Screening Days exist?

Good question! We produce Screening Days for a few key reasons, best summarised as: ‘To help UK cinemas better serve all their possible audiences’. We focus the events on screenings and discussion because:

  • We want cinemas across the UK to be able to make informed decisions about the films they play, so audiences can see the best films from around the world. That’s hard when you haven’t seen the films and can’t afford to rely on expensive festival trips or distributor marketing materials.  
  • We think independent cinemas are best when their programming stands out. Screening Days aims to support ambition in cinema programming and sustainability.  
  • We want to have useful conversations about what it’ll take to build a stronger independent cinema sector. Gathering people in the sector together helps us identify common problems and find ways to solve them.
  • We also want to support independent distributors by helping their films find an audience in independent cinemas.

Here’s a few practical things we’re looking to achieve with the events:

  • Cinemas more regularly choosing films in our programme of independent British and world cinema titles and expanding the types of films they show.
  • Cinemas attracting a wider range of people to those films.
  • Attendees gaining a wider professional network and feeling part of a community. 
  • A wider group of people feeling that they can participate in film exhibition. 
  • Independent distributors feeling they’re able to play their films more widely from having been included in the programme.


I don't work in film exhibition, can I still attend?

You can’t attend the film screenings, but you can attend sessions and discussions with our £5 ‘sessions-only’ pass. Some sessions have limited capacity – please indicate which you are interested in attending during your online registration and we will contact you to confirm your place.

What devices can I watch virtual Screening Days films on?

We’ve selected a technology partner that offers a lot of flexibility on how you can watch the films. You can watch on a laptop, tablet (e.g. iPad), Chromecast and Airplay, HDMI output cable from your device and your phone (but David Lynch will be silently judging you). It’s a good idea to test your set up before streaming the films – we’ll remind you of this in advance.

How long do I have to watch the films?

The window to start watching the film after the start time is thirty minutes and you’ll need to finish watching the film within an hour of the end of its run time.

How accessible is the event?

In a change to Screening Days, we are aiming to screen all films with optional caption subtitles (subject to availability and timelines). We’ve taken this action to highlight the availability of caption subtitles on particular films, to encourage exhibitors to consider screening more films with caption subtitling, and in response to requests in our recent Screening Days survey. In addition, the sessions will also be captioned. If you have any other queries about the accessibility of the event, please contact us.

Will you be returning to physical Screening Days? 

We see being together in the same place as an important part of Screening Days, but only when it is safe and feasible to do so. Screening Days involves people from different parts of the country coming together, something that has bigger implications in a global pandemic. We hope running online events will make Screening Days more accessible to more people across the UK and hope to continue to provide this as part of our offer. We also look forward to returning to and supporting independent cinemas too, when it is safe to do so.

Can I talk about the films I see at Virtual Screening Days?

We’ve opened up Screening Days to focus more on how to programme films given the current circumstances, so there’s plenty of chances to speak to other attendees during the event. However, due to our agreements with distributors, it’s important not to discuss the films you see at the event in online spaces (e.g. social media, blogs and open discussion platforms), even if the film has already screened at other events. If you’d like to talk about the event in general on social media you can find us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with the event hashtag #ScreeningDays.


We take piracy seriously so we can make sure that you have early preview access to the best upcoming films. Please do not record, copy, share or stream films on our platform, which are provided only for exhibition professionals that meet the entry criteria. We have advanced security measures in place including forensic watermarking that will allow us to prevent and track piracy. If you are found to be in breach of these terms, we will take any and all legal measures available.

How do you select films for Screening Days? 

We work closely with distributors to select independent, world and art house cinema slated for release in the following quarter. We focus on films that are unlikely to have a vast marketing budget and so need the advance exposure that Screening Days can provide, and highlight work made by underrepresented voices in the sector. Occasionally, we also include titles with higher profiles that delegates are keen to see in order to assess suitability for their programmes. Our goal is to provide you with the opportunity to see the widest possible range of films so you’re able to broaden your programmes and attract new audiences.

Why can’t you release the schedule earlier? 

We finalise the schedule as quickly as possible so you can plan ahead. Unfortunately, we are limited in how far in advance we can do so. Because distributors offering us their films are often waiting to take delivery of materials, we often receive final confirmations quite close to the event.

Terms and conditions

ICO Screening Days is an industry event for programmers, organisers, audience developers, education officers or marketers from cinemas, mixed arts venues, film societies, film festivals and any other venue whose primary purpose is exhibition of films to the public. Please note passes are strictly non-transferable.

Code of conduct

We want our events to be fun, inclusive spaces for film professionals. We expect people attending and working at them to maintain this code of conduct so that they stay that way. Harassment and bullying have no place at ICO events.

Examples of inappropriate behaviours that contravene our code of conduct include offensive comments, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of events, aggressive behaviour, inappropriate physical contact and unwelcome sexual attention.

If someone behaves inappropriately towards you or you witness something inappropriate, please report it to a member of ICO staff or email us. Your complaint will be treated with discretion. We are happy to help and can help report inappropriate behaviour to the authorities where necessary or address the problem ourselves where more appropriate. We reserve the right to refuse entry to anyone who does not comply with our code of conduct. This code of conduct applies both in person and online.

If you would like to speak to an independent organisation about an issue, the Film and TV Charity have a free and confidential 24-hour helpline available on 0800 054 00 00.

Supported by

Subscribe to our mailing list

What would you like to receive emails about?
* indicates required