A weekend in Sheffield

A weekend in Sheffield: Cinema for All Conference 2015

Angels on a screen. We started the Conference weekend with the viewing of “The Wings of Desire” by Wim Wenders, a profound reflection on human life, seen through the eyes of two angels flying across a walled Berlin. The film was presented by Dani Leigh, who after the credits started rolling opened a brief discussion about the film.

Leaving Wenders behind we headed to a reception at the Organic Café , where we were received with a delightful selection of nibbles, wines and beers. A perfect kick-off for a weekend of informal chats and animated conversations about all things film, with people of all ages and from various regions. It was especially refreshing to see a good percentage of young people involved in community cinemas.

The first full day of activities was Saturday . Our morning began with registration and coffee and the panel session “How to build a programme of diverse films”. The panel was led by Deborah Parker, managing director of Cinema for All, and Deborah Williams, who presented an insight into the true meaning of diversity, going beyond stereotypes to explore the reality of everyday life for minorities.

Following after, another panel session about diversity focused on the discrimination faced by women, LBGT and ethnic minorities. The lack of women in the film Industry was also mentioned as part of a presentation by Reel Equality.

A light but delicious lunch waited for us at the first floor of the Work Station. Another great opportunity to meet more people, exchange experiences and to talk about films.

The afternoon screening was “The Club”, a Chilean film directed by Pablo Larrain.  A surprisingly powerful experience. At times dark and controversial, it tells the story of a group of Catholic priests who, to do penance for their sins, have been sent to live in a house isolated from society.

Perhaps the most eagerly awaited event of the Conference was the 46th Film Society of the year Awards, presented by Deborah Parker and co-hosted by Iranian filmmaker Mania Akbari.

Later that evening we were invited to celebrate the winners and participants in another well stocked party, with music, cakes and the launch of Cinema Beer – a perfect accompaniment to another night of celebration!

Sunday 4th and last day of the Conference opened with the panel session “Diversity of Operation”, where we had the opportunity to hear about the experiences of pop up cinemas and outdoor cinemas in unexpected places like train stations, parks and castles. A great selection of photos made this panel a very inspiring session, full of surprise and enchantment. After another lunch provided by Cinema for All, we attended the Cinema for All AGM, and the last film of the Conference, “The Grump”, a Finnish comedy about ageing and loneliness.

As a founder member of LA Cinema, a new community cinema based in Long Ashton (a small village a few minutes away from Bristol City Centre), attending the Cinema for All conference was a unique opportunity to learn and exchange ideas with other likeminded groups. More important still, it helped me feel part of a growing movement of community cinemas, clubs and film societies. In excess of 250 people were there, working voluntarily towards the same goal: to bring good films to a variety of audiences.

We are extremely proud of being part of this new wave of local cinema.  And we are equally grateful to Film Hub South West for making it possible for LA Cinema to attend this Conference.

Karin Rudolph Pereira

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