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The UK’s Independent Cinema Office launches The Cinema of Ideas


- The new collaborative film platform will give independent cinemas the opportunity to enrich their programme offer through an extra virtual screen

The UK’s Independent Cinema Office launches The Cinema of Ideas

On 5 August, the UK’s Independent Cinema Office (ICO) announced the launch of a new project initiative, called The Cinema of Ideas. Developed in response to the challenges posed by the pandemic and through the support of the BFI’s National Lottery, The Cinema of Ideas is set to become a collaborative film platform, designed to offer independent cinemas the opportunity to enrich their programme offer through an extra virtual screen, without financial risk.

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In detail, this innovative revenue-sharing platform will allow independent cinemas to benefit from the ICO’s programming expertise, wider cultural connections and public funding. The digital resource’s main mission is “to help bridge the gap faced by independent cinemas to connect with the widest possible audience, with a culturally relevant programme, exploring issues around race, disability, gender, sexuality and class.”

The Cinema of Ideas will collaborate with filmmakers, artists, archivists, historians, critics, freelance film collectives and emerging curators to showcase the work they do to explore the full scope of contemporary film culture and film heritage. Between launch and March 2022, there will be funded opportunities for at least two exciting curatorial voices from underrepresented groups, identified through an open call, to lend their expertise and take over film curation and discussion events on the platform.

The first event, “Archival Resistance: Rastafari Women in Britain,” will take place on 26 August and will be hosted by Museum of London’s researcher and curator Aleema Gray. It will include a live discussion panel with pioneering curator of African and African-diaspora cinema June Givanni and writer and journalist Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm. Alongside the discussion, D Elmina Davis’ documentary Omega Rising Women of Rastafari will stream from 19 August-2 September.

The Cinema of Ideas’ current partner cinemas include Chapter Cardiff (Cardiff), Saffron Screen (Saffron Walden), Northampton Filmhouse (Northampton), Wellington Orbit (Telford), Barn Dartington (Totnes), with others expected to come on board.

Commenting on their new effort, ICO’s director, Catharine Des Forges, said: “We know that if we are to survive these current challenges, we must innovate, we must be agile and be responsive to audiences. […] The Cultural Recovery Fund has allowed cinemas some breathing space and time to reinforce their business models, The Cinema of Ideas will allow those that need it the space to experiment and innovate without taking undue financial risks. As always, it’s thanks to National Lottery players that public funding is available through the BFI which allows us to experiment and take risks; those relatively small amounts of money are still phenomenally influential when we try out new ways of delivering cultural work to audiences. Across the exhibition sector, whether it be commercial circuits or small independents, there will be an impact from streaming platforms, changing windows and new partnerships and we do not know yet the full extent of that impact. The Cinema of Ideas takes all that we love about cinema, and gives it a platform to speak.”

You can find out more about The Cinema of Ideas here.

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