By Suzy Lee, SCREEN-IT programmer and Office Manager
This year’s Independent Cinema Office Screening Days were back at my favourite cinema, the BFI, London in March, previewing the best of independent cinema due for release in April to June. Having not attended one of these screening days before, I was super excited about the prospect of sitting in a cinema from nine to five, three days straight and it did not disappoint.
At 9.00 am, on day one, I registered, picked up my pass and programme and headed to NFT 2 to see my first film: Daughters of the Dust, directed by Julie Dash, originally made in 1991, re-released by the BFI in a new digital restoration by Cohen Film Collection at Modern Videofilm in LA. It is the first film by an African-American woman to be released theatrically in the United States.
I stayed in NFT2 to watch the third programme from Britain on Film on Tour. This one, Black Britain, explores the vital history of black Britain throughout the twentieth century. Both films were extraordinary and so incredibly relevant today as much as they were when they were made. Black Britain, a showreel of archive footage from as early as 1901 to 1985 and Julie Dash’ stunning film remind us that there is still a lot to learn about racial equality.
Through the weekend, there were three lunchtime sessions; Meet the Critic, Selling Your Cinema Experience, DepicT Award-winning shorts and one evening session Programming Spotlight, along with a networking session on the first night. I attended all sessions with salad box in one hand, coffee in another. Tim Robey, Film Critic from the Telegraph gave us an insight into what films get covered and how the star rating works and doesn’t work. Martin Carr, an independent brand strategist hosted Selling Your Cinema Experience made us write down what was unique about our offering, giving great examples from The Storyhouse in Chester. I’m now armed with new ways to promote our own film programme SCREEN-IT. DepicT shorts was hosted by Marcus Cosgrove, film programmer at Watershed, who run the ultra short film competition annually. All four films were very different, and surprisingly you can do a lot with 90 seconds, the duration limit for this competition. On to Programming Spotlight, which was a bit like a bigger version of our SCREEN-IT discussion groups so I felt instantly comfortable. Hosted by Michael Hayden, who comes with 20 years experience in film programming including being the programmer at BFI London Film Festival, the conversation focused on primarily two films; I Am Not Your Negro and The Other Side of Hope. Both films I loved and this was a fantastic experience to hear from film clubs, societies and independent cinemas from all over Britain.
On the final day, I ended my time watching My Life As A Courgette directed by feature first-timer Claude Barras. An animation that tells the tale of a young boy, affectionally named ‘Courgette’, who ends up in a children’s’ home after the death of his mother. The detail tells the story, and it’s a sad one. The animation captures the feelings of the children in the home remarkably well as I sat there both sad my time at the ICO screening days had come to an end and how well this film captured the lives of such children.
By Monday evening, after eleven films, four sessions, four short films, and networking, I was pretty exhausted but it was an absolute delight especially being back at the BFI, getting to see the summers’ best independent films.
Supported by Film Hub Scotland.
Published on 13 March 2017
SCREEN-IT is ATLAS’ film and moving image programme, showcasing the best in artist moving image from across the globe. The programme aims to foster a critical forum, encouraging engaged discourse around the themes explored at each event. SCREEN-IT is a regular monthly event during the winter season, which has expanded to encompass large-scale screening events in partnership with Lisson Gallery, Lux Scotland, Dunvegan Castle, Skye Live and Transit Arts.