Film Hub South West provides bursaries for Film Hub members to attend relevant events and festivals that will strengthen the programming offer and the professional development of exhibitors in the region. This year we supported Gareth Negus to attend the ICO Screening Days to assist with programming at Wotton Under Edge.
I’m not completely sure when I started going to the ICO Screening Days. I do remember an early highlight being Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset, which had me leaving the cinema with that brilliant feeling you get when you’ve just seen a great film and can’t wait to share it with everyone, so it’s been at least 15 years. I had that same buzz once or twice this year, but as there’s an embargo on all the films, I can’t actually tell you which ones they were.
Which is a shame, because the line-up this time was really strong. Pickings can be slim as we head into summer; those of us for whom Judi Dench is a bigger draw than The Rock sometimes have to tighten our belts and count the days until awards season rolls around again. So the spring screening days are arguably the most important, because if there is a potential hit (that doesn’t involve Abba songs), you want to see it coming as early as possible.
The Spring screening days seem to get bigger every year – this time there were over 350 delegates listed in the brochure. One positive thing is how young many of those unfamiliar faces were – and a look down the delegate list, with quite a few titles like Young Programmers scattered around the list, goes some way to explaining that. When I first went to screening days, as a bushy-tailed young man making my first steps into programming, I was bemused by the sheer number of grey beards in the audience. Now that I have joined that particular club, it’s good to see a new generation coming up. There also seemed to be more distributors around than in years past, including at the drinks reception (and if they happen to be reading, should remember that any promises I made were under the influence of alcohol and cannot be relied upon).
What can we conclude? Maybe not much, other than my venue stands a chance of staying solvent for another year. Of the dozen films I saw, I expect to be booking seven. There’s at least one more that I would like to show but which I don’t think will find an audience, and a couple that I’m relieved to have seen because I now know to avoid them. That’s three days well spent.