Screening Days

Virtual Screening Days – March 2021

15/03/2021 - 18/03/2021

Join us for our first Screening Days of 2021 over 15–18 March. 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 giving cinema professionals a chance to come together to watch upcoming films and work towards building a better independent cinema scene. Like our December 2020 event, this Screening Days is online only and will offer the best new cinema from around the world, plus sessions to support cinemas in the new reality we find ourselves in.

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, please email

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

Screening Days delegate


All sessions will take place on Zoom and you will need to register separately for them. We’ll send you details of how to do so once you’ve completed your main Virtual Screening Days registration. 

Reopening Right

Cinema doors have opened and closed frequently over the last year; destroying schedules, disrupting financial projections and testing staff patience. As we look forward to screening films in person again, how can we ensure we reopen in a way that’s both safe and successful? In this session, we’ll look at audience behaviour and sentiment, planning for the new release calendar with changing release windows and managing communications with your visitors.

Virtual Screenings for Non-Theatrical Exhibitors

How can community cinemas take their work online? Are there ways to recreate the best parts of gathering together for a film in the virtual world? And how can this work extend beyond the pandemic? In this session, presented in partnership with Filmbankmedia, we hear from non-theatrical exhibitors who are welcoming existing and new audiences to virtual events. We’ll also take a look at Filmbankmedia’s new Virtual Screening Room, a solution for screening the most acclaimed independent cinema and building a sense of togetherness.

Online Audience Development

So your cinema has started online screenings or a VOD offer and the results are… less than stellar? How do you convert your in-person audience to a home viewing one (and even get people outside your local area to find you online)? In this session, we’ll show you how to find strategies for online audience engagement, making it more likely that audiences will discover your online programming and spend time online with you. With benefits that’ll extend long after your doors reopen, you’ll hear from experts inside and outside film on how they’ve made the switch online successfully, retaining existing audiences and finding new ones.

How does Virtual Screening Days work?

Virtual Screening Days is a series of virtual screenings running across 15-18 March alongside sessions exploring key issues facing the sector.

When you’ve booked your pass, you’ll receive an automated email confirming your booking; if we’ve got any queries about your eligibility, we’ll drop you a line. Before the event, we’ll send you full event details including the final schedule and instructions on how to access our online platform.

Please note:

  • 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.

Am I eligible?

Screening Days is for anyone who works or volunteers in a space whose primary purpose is showing films – such as cinemas, film festivals, mixed arts venues, film societies and community cinemas – 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.

If you’re 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 do you run Screening Days?

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 programme, so audiences can see the best titles from around the world. That’s hard if you haven’t actually been able to watch 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.

What do we want to achieve?

  • 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?

No, the event is only open to those working or volunteering in film exhibition organisations such as cinemas, film festivals, mixed arts venues, film societies and community cinemas. If you are in any doubt about your eligibility, please email us – we are happy to advise.

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 accessible is the event?

As with our last virtual Screening Days, we aim to offer optional caption subtitles on all films (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. We’re really proud that, following our last virtual event, several films will now be available to cinemas on release with caption subtitles that wouldn’t otherwise have had them.

In addition, we will also offer captioning in sessions as required.

If you have any other queries about event accessibility, please contact us.

Will you be returning to physical Screening Days? 

Yes, when cinemas are open again and it’s safe to return. We hope running online events makes Screening Days more accessible to more people across the UK, and aim to continue providing an online element in our ongoing offer. However, we also look forward to returning to and supporting independent cinemas in person.

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

There’ll be plenty of chances to discuss films with 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), even if your comments are positive and even if the film has already screened elsewhere. If you’d like to talk about the event in general on social media, though, please do! You can find us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with the event hashtag #ScreeningDays.


We take piracy very seriously. Please do not record, copy, share or stream films on our platform, which are provided only for film 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 large marketing budgets and so need the advance exposure that Screening Days can provide; we also highlight work made by underrepresented voices in the sector. Occasionally, we also include higher profile titles that delegates are keen to see 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. Timings for this event will be similar to that of our December 2020 event – see the Dec 2020 schedule here.

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

Whether on or offline, 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.

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