Cinema for All Community Cinema Conference 2019

The Cinema For All conference is the UK’s biggest gathering of film societies, community cinemas, village screens and film clubs and this September took place in Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema , offering a weekend-long celebration of volunteer-led cinema.

With bursary support from Film Hub South West, Daron and Rose from Topsham Film Society were able to attend this year and here they tell us about their experience.

We arrived in Sheffield early on Friday so that we could explore the city, as the schedule for the conference was jam packed full of workshops, film screenings and catching up with other film societies.

Friday night started with an excellent masterclass from Rebecca Ellis, I am not generally a fan of musicals but her talk on cult musicals made me look at them in a totally different way, I thoroughly enjoyed the Little Shop of Horrors and thought perhaps we should have a look at screening a musical at our film society. After there was then a chance to chat with other delegates which is always so interesting and inspiring.

Saturday we registered and met up with the ever enthusiastic event organisers of CFA. Over the next 36 hours, between the two of us we saw 6 films including an interesting Q&A with director Jeanie Finlay, took part in panel sessions, workshops, masterclass, the awards ceremony and party.

The programme of films was not an easy, relaxing experience but frequently hard hitting, with thought provoking material and we were warned on more than one occasion to have our tissues ready. The films ranged from the exquisitely beautifully filmed The Third Wife to the extraordinary Syrian video documentary For Sama. Another film We the Animals had amazing performances by three boys, who are first time actors, dealing with dysfunctional parents, I loved the use of animated sequences when Jonah who uses writing and drawing in a secret diary to explore his inner thoughts and emotions.

At the 50th film society of the year awards, it was great to see all types of community cinema represented, and to see the young student winners, who are so engaged and dedicated, they are the next generation of film makers and film industry leaders. We might try out for an award next year but it is intimidating as the standard is very high.

One of my highlights was the debate compered by Danny Leigh regarding community cinemas, the development of community, and reducing isolation in the community through film. We came away brimming with ideas we could implement within our own film society, ideas on collaboration with other organisations using local knowledge, signing up to the new site my communitycinema.co.uk and perhaps trying to get some golden oldies or musicals in our program.

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