All posts by bffs


As 2016 is now well and truly underway, it seems only appropriate to announce a new batch of Booking Scheme film titles for you to consider.

The new selection highlights Cinema For All’s commitment to showcasing wide-ranging and diverse cinema and includes many award-winning and nominated titles such as The Revenant, The Martian, Bridge of Spies, Joy and Cartel Land.

Critically acclaimed ballet theatre documentary Bolshoi Babylon is available now on early window and in March members will have early access to homelessness drama Time Out of Mind and modern warfare ethics film Hyena Road.

As well as the aforementioned Cartel Land and Bolshoi Babylon, we have several more critically acclaimed documentary titles available to book, including Cinema For All Community Cinema Conference favourite My Nazi Legacy, Manakamana, Best of Enemies, Drew: the Man Behind the Poster and, from new Booking Scheme partners Scottish Documentary Institute, the deeply emotional and affecting I Am Breathing and Seven Songs for a Long Life.

We have a trio of documentaries coming your way from the end of January – 3 1⁄2 Minutes, Ten Bullets; The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution; Student Cinema Conference favourite Fresh Dressed – all looking at different aspects of black culture in the United States.

As well as the many new and recent titles, several classic titles find their way onto the Scheme in 2016, including Japanese legend Takeshi Kitano’s classic Dolls, Kikujiro and Hana-bi.

We are very pleased to welcome Eros International, the leading UK distributor of Bollywood film titles, to the Booking Scheme. Titles such as Bol, English Vinglish, Love Aaj Kal, Provoked, and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela offer sights, sounds and voices not previously seen or heard on the Booking Scheme.

We are currently updating the Booking Scheme database to include all new titles, but in the meantime members can download the updated Booking Scheme catalogue PDF here.

The Booking Scheme is open to all Members and Associates with titles available for a flat rate £85. Any Affiliates or Non-Members wishing to take advantage of the titles available can upgrade their Cinema For All membership or join here.


Do you want to push the boat out when it comes to programming, but don’t have money in the kitty to justify the risk? Are you itching to create exciting cinematic experiences, but need some backing to get you there?

Cinema For All is always here to help you put on the screenings you want to do, but in order to give you an extra little push Cinema For All is looking to award one lucky organisation the following:

  • 1 free Cinema For All membership (12 months)
  • 3 free film screenings*
  • 2 Community Cinema Conference full weekend passes (3-4 October)

As with our services to all our members, you’ll also be able to call us for equipment and licensing advice, marketing and social media tips, and programming support. We’ll follow your progress throughout the year with stories and case studies on our website and social media, and help you build your profile both within your community and nationally.

This prize is worth over £750 in screenings, freebies and member benefits. To enter, send your response to the following question to by 30th June:

If there were no restrictions, no funding issues and venue location was of no issue, what would your ideal film night look like? (no more than 500 words)

We’re looking for a group that wants to diversify their programme by introducing more specialised film, so tell us about what British films, world cinemas, documentaries, archive screenings or animations you’d love to screen and how you’d make a night your audience will remember. The more imaginative, the better so get creative! The winner will be announced in early July. Good luck!

Competition entrants must be aged 18 or older and must reside within the United Kingdom
Only one entrant per community venue
The entrant must have authorisation to hold film screenings in their chosen venue
The prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative
The winner will be chosen by the Cinema For All team 2 of your film choices must be from the Cinema For All Booking Scheme, screenings must have taken place by 31st March 2016
For full standard terms and conditions, please contact Cinema For All on

Mania Akbari


We are delighted to announce that the Film Society of the Year Awards will be co-hosted by Iranian filmmaker and actor Mania Akbari (Ten), who will also be screening her ground-breaking and award-winning new film Life May Be at the Community Cinema Conference.

Mania is a brilliant and bold filmmaker and we are delighted to have her with us in Sheffield.

Tickets will be available soon. We’ll see you at the ceremony on 3 October.

New equipment discount for Members!

Save 10% on all purchases on from Soundsmith Audio Visual

As we move into February, Cinema For All has secured a brand new equipment discount for Members and Associates –  save 10% on all purchases from Soundsmith Audio Visual.

Tom Elleray, director of Soundsmith, said ‘We help our customers with expert advice on the implementation of any digital cinema based project; large or small. The project could be to specify and supply a complete portable community cinema system, a fixed installation of projection equipment in a venue, a hire enquiry, or indeed a bespoke cinema system for a film club, or film society. We have many years experience of working within the community cinema field and would be glad to discuss any requirements you may have.’

For more info, call Soundsmith directly on 01539 737728 or visit Remember to quote your current Cinema For All membership number to access the discount!

Joining Cinema For All is fast and simple – visit our Join Us pages for more information and to apply online.


Oxen Park Cinema Club recently saved £1000 using the Cinema For All 10% discount for Members and Associates at Soundsmith Audio Visual Services:

“Oxen Park Cinema Club were so pleased to make a successful autumn bid for a BFI equipment award – a new projector. Now we have just completed our fitting out of equipment into our purpose built rural cinema and have an awesome set up thanks to a further grant from Awards for All. Having the Cinema for All discount has made a huge difference allowing us to get some extra kit within our Lottery Awards for All grant. So with around £10,000 worth of film showing equipment and 10% discount we are really chuffed with the result.  Soundsmith have been excellent; they came and discussed then recommended exactly what we should have and adapted pieces to suit our space. After fitting everything, including the projector, they have been back a couple of times to check the equipment and will come to give the committee a training session.”
Carol McNeil, Oxen Park Cinema Club

Filmbank Waives Deposits for New Members

Cinema For All is delighted to announce a huge new offer for our Membership. Major non-theatrical distributors Filmbank will support new members of Cinema For All by waiving the deposit requirement when opening a new Filmbank account. This means that any new group that wishes to start screening films in their community will not have to pay £150 to open their Filmbank account, as long as they have joined Cinema For All as a Member or Associate. With first year membership of Cinema For All costing just £47.50, new groups will save over £100, in addition to be able to access the full range of our member benefits.

Majella Griffin, General Manager of Filmbank Distribution comments: “We are committed to ensuring the widest selection of movies reach the widest audience possible. It is with this in mind that we have introduced this initiative. It is now very simple to open an account and book your films.” 

“We operate an easy-to-use 24/7 online booking service to appeal to Cinema For All members and our bookings team are delighted to help and offer advice during office hours.” (Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm)

Deborah Parker, Managing Director of Cinema For All said: “Cinema For All is delighted to have worked with Filmbank on this fantastic offer for our members. We thank Filmbank for their on-going commitment to supporting the film society and community cinema movement in the UK.”

Filmbank represent many major Hollywood studios and UK based independent ­distributors including Kaleidoscope, Metrodome, High Fliers, Trinity Films, Verve Pictures, Lionsgate, StudioCanal, Pathé, Entertainment Film, Eros International and many more.

With an extensive catalogue of over 15,000 movies dating back to the 1920s and spanning all genres – from classic to contemporary independent, Hollywood and Bollywood ­films – there is something for everyone.

To take advantage of this new initiative and set up your new account, please contact Filmbank on 020 7984 5957/8 or, quoting your Cinema For All membership number.

Joining Cinema For All is fast and simple – visit our Join Us pages for more information and to apply online.



Like Father Like Son

New on the booking scheme

A slew off new releases from Peccadillo Pictures kicks off February and in the next few months we have a selection of new (And some familiar) titles from Arrow Films.

A Magnificent Haunting | Ferzan Ozpetek | 2012 | Italy | 105 mins
Available now

After the hugely popular Loose Cannons Ferzan Ozpetek returns with another spectacular comedy. A young aspiring actor, Pietro, moves to Rome in the hope of landing a starring role. He takes a job in a bakery to support himself while he tries for auditions and when he hears of a slightly run-down apartment going for cheap he snaps it up to escape his overprotective cousin. When he arrives he finds the previous tenant too scared to come inside to collect her things – and it quickly transpires that the flat is haunted. To Pietro’s delight however, the ghost are the members of a 1940s theatrical troupe who offer to help him coach him for a forthcoming audition if he will track down their missing member.

Kuma | Umat Dag | 2012 | Austria | 93 mins
Available now

Umat Dag, a Turkish-Austrian filmmaker, presents his debut feature – a precise and illuminating depiction of an unusual marriage. Ayse a 19 year old Turkish woman is chosen to be married to Hasan, the son of Fatma and Mustafa. However when Ayse arrives in Austria where Hasan’s family live it quickly becomes apparent that she is destined to be the second wife of Mustafa, given Fatma’s ailing health. Though manipulative, Fatma, is from a villain, dedicated as she is to ensuring her husband will be cared for after her passing, and Dag takes care to ensure the audience can understand each character’s motivations.

In the Name Of… | Malgorzata Szumowska | 2013 | Poland | 102 mins
Available now

A Catholic priest, Adam, is sent to help run a halfway house in rural Poland. He turned to religion fairly late, at 21, and it seems that he, like the boys in the retreat, is running away from something. The enforced isolation, though unexplained it is clear Adam does not wish to be here, causes him to harbour thoughts of temptation. Though Adam claims that his religion has been liberating for him, it is apparent that he is also refusing to acknowledge his desires. Winner of two awards at Berlinale 2013.

Any Day Now | Travis Fine | 2012 | USA | 98 mins
Available now

A dramatisation of the landmark 1970s court case in which a homosexual couple fought for adoption rights. Alan Cumming is Rudy Donatello, a musician and drag performer who is dating Paul Feiger (Garret Dillahunt), an assistant district attorney who has only come out to Rudy. Rudy’s neighbour, Marianne a drug addict with a disabled son, is busted for possession and her son, Marco is left uncared for. Distraught that Marco is being left to fend for himself Rudy takes him in and applies for custody of the child. However when his relationship with Paul becomes known the authorities take Marco away and Rudy convinces Paul to fight for the right for gay couples to adopt children for their neighbour’s disabled son after his mother was imprisoned. Both Dillahunt and Cumming give astounding performances in Fine’s impassioned drama.

I Wish | Hirokazu Koreeda | 2011 | Japan | 128 mins
Available now

Returning to the Booking Scheme this month I Wish has already proven a hit with community cinemas. A sweet family drama, I Wish focuses on two brothers who’ve parents have split up, Koichi lives with his mother while Ryu lives with his father. The arrangement is supposed to show that the split is temporary but as months go by it begins to seen more and more permanent. Joichi and Ryu dream of getting their family back together and over the phone they hatch a plan inspired by the rumour that if you make a wish at the precise point where two of Japan’s new bullet trains pass each other at top speed the incredible energy at that point will make it come true. The only problem is getting there…

A Hijacking | Tobias Lindholm | 2013 | Denmark | 103 mins
Screen from 1 May 2014

Another familiar film – A Hijacking will be rejoining the BFFS Booking Scheme this May! Tobias Lindholm’s masterful thriller has been justly praised for its spectacular direction, strong performances and unnerving tension. Lindholm, who wrote the Oscar nominated The Hunt, meticulously researched this dramatisation of the hijacking of a Dutch cargo ship off the coast of Somalia. The attention to detail heightens our immersion and the film is riveting and suspenseful. Split between the crew held hostage on the boat and the negotiations taking place from the shipping company headquarters, A Hijacking shows the extraordinary pressures on both sides of the crisis. Pilou Asbæek and Søren Malling, stars of Borgen and frequent collaborators with Lindholm, are exceptional as the ship’s cook and the company CEO who takes on the negotiations personally respectively.

Love Is All You Need | Susanne Bier | 2012 | Denmark, France, Italy, Sweden, Germany | 116 mins
Screen from 20 April 2014

Susanne Bier’s bittersweet romantic comedy makes the most of a catalogue of problems for her leads which makes their eventual meeting all the more rewarding. Ida (Trine Dyrholm), a hairdresser who’s undergoing chemotherapy (the original Danish title was a ‘The Bald Hairdresser’) finds her husband cheating on her shortly before they are due to fly out to their daughter’s wedding. Philip (Pierce Brosnan, expertly cast) a widower and a lemon seller is similarly frustrated by life and evidently Ida and Philip are fated to meet. What makes Love Is All You Need such a joy is the rich characters, the bitter humour and terrific chemistry. 

Looking for Hortense | Pascal Bonitzer | 2012 | France | 100 mins
Screen from 10 August 2014

A droll French comedy starring Kirsten Scott Thomas and Jean-Pierre Bacri. Damien and Iva, a well-to-do Parisian couple who are nevertheless bored with each other and both considering affairs. Iva however needs to keep Damien on side at least so she can use him to acquire work papers for her relative who’s being threatened with deportation. As ever Thomas gives a fantastic performance.

Like Father, Like Son | Hirokazu Koreeda | 2013 | Japan | 121 mins
Screen from 20 October 2014

Koreeda latest film concerns two Japanese families who learn that their 6 year old sons were accidentally swapped at birth after the hospital uncovers evidence of its mistake. The two families are encouraged to spend a  period of 12 months getting to know each other before swapping their sons back. The film focuses on one of the fathers, Ryota Nonomiya, a busy architect who has raised Keita to be a hardworking, disciplined and successful child. His biological son, Ryusei has been brought up in a larger, more laid back family; poorer but happier. Ryota and the other parents worry: which child has had the better upbringing? Which child should live where? Meanwhile the boys delight in exploring new homes and new surroundings. It’s a playful and delightful film,that toys with the ‘Nature vs. Nurture’ debate and explores how the familial bond is developed.

Looking further ahead; South Korean thriller The Taste of Money is available from 1 November 2014 and daring Danish comedy Klown is available from 7 December 2014.

100 Years of ‘The Tramp’

2014 marks 100 years since the first appearance of one of cinema’s most iconic characters: Charlie Chaplin’s the Tramp (also known as Little Tramp) and retrospective screenings are taking place across the world all year. The comic creation was responsible for making Chaplin a global star and has been credited as sparking the widespread popularity of slapstick comedy that also gave us Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and others. If you want to take part in the global celebration of this star of silent cinema we have five feature films available on the BFFS Booking Scheme.

Continue reading

A Man Vanishes

Just in: A Man Vanishes

New to the scheme from Eureka! Entertainment is one of the most remarkable documentaries ever made. Preceding films such as F For Fake and Close Up A Man Vanishes is an extraordinary attempt at undermining the very concept of documentary filmmaking. Starting out as a search for a missing man Imamura’s classic film quickly becomes something far more mysterious. Continue reading

Epic of Everest exclusive interview!

You don’t have to be an expert on mountaineering to know that Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary were the first men to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain sixty years ago; it’s one of those amazing human achievements, like the moon landing, that everyone remembers. Since 1953 many others have succeeded in climbing the peak, including both Norgay’s and Hillary’s sons (Peter Hillary climbed Everest in 1990, Jamling Tenzing Norgay followed in his father’s footsteps in 1996). However the 1953 expedition certainly wasn’t the first time mountaineers had attempted to reach the summit, British mountaineers had been attempting the climb for 40 years before Hillary and Norgay’s success. In 1922 the very first British Mount Everest expedition attempted the ascent following a reconnaissance mission the preceding year (when British mountaineer George Mallory became the first European to set foot on Mount Everest’s slopes). Two years later a second British expedition was launched to attempt the first complete ascent, with tragic consequences.

The first two summit attempts in 1924, though unsuccessful, resulted in a world altitude record of 8,570 metres for British army officer Edward Norton. On a third attempt to reach the summit, mountaineers George Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine disappeared on the North-East ridge and the expedition was subsequently abandoned. Mallory and Irvine were last seen about 800 vertical feet (245m) from the summit, giving rise to the question: did they ever reach it? Mallory’s body was found in 1999, Irvine’s body, along with their camera, remains undiscovered.What is quite extraordinary is that this expedition was filmed, shot by mountaineer and filmmaker John Noel, who had fallen in love with mountains during his childhood in Switzerland. The original footage of this incredible, tragic story, one of the first ever films showing life in Tibet, has now been given a complete restoration by the BFI and features a specially commissioned score by Simon Fisher Turner, who also composed the distinctive soundtrack for The Great White Silence (1924).

The Epic of Everest, featuring three special introductions, will be available to BFFS members and associates to book from the BFI on DVD or Blu-ray at the special rate of £65 + VAT from the 1st January. To qualify for the offer bookings will need to be made by the end of March, though the screening can take place after that time! The BFI have also kindly allowed BFFS members and associates access to special marketing and educational resources including poster artwork, a selection of stills and programme notes. For further information on these, as well as your Member Offer code, please email

To book the film, please email or phone 020 7957 8935 with your Member Offer code.

In celebration of the release of The Epic of Everest and our special Member Offer, BFFS Managing Director Deborah Parker spoke to the director of the Kendal Mountain Festival, the UK’s biggest celebration of mountain film, about the significance of both the climb and the film.

Robin, what is it about mountains that fuels this desire to explore and conquer?

The attraction to mountains and mountaineering is, I suspect, quite a personal thing.

For me it’s very much about their stark, clean beauty; a place which in its best light, is beyond the mundane, an environment with an otherworldly feel with an almost spiritual context. And it’s certainly about being able to explore them, to see something new and to gain an understanding of a fascinating topography.

Conquest has no place (for me at least) in mountaineering. Yes, there is a degree of competition, but that is with oneself, trying to stretch yourself, to realise your athletic and intellectual potential. I’ve never felt a sense of conquest on a mountain, rather that I’ve been fortunate to get to a summit and just hope that my luck holds, so I can enjoy a beer at the bottom.

What impact did the 1924 expedition have on mountaineering?

Well it set back mountaineering on Everest for a decade.

I’m afraid some expedition members offended the Tibetan government by removing geological samples and by taking back a troupe of Tibetan dancers to perform in London. As a result no further attempts were allowed till 1933 after ‘political bridges’ were re-built.


The big focus from 1924 was obviously the loss of Mallory and Irvine and the way this was mythologised by Post WW1 Britain – and the ongoing obsession with whether, or not they reached the summit. Their loss cemented the view that Everest was very much a British – and Imperial – project set in a heroic mould. This would have a major effect on events around the mountain in the 1950s and the first ascent.

However, Mallory and Irvine’s demise did greatly detract from Edward Norton’s amazing attempt – when he set a height record which would last until the Swiss attempt on Everest’s South East Ridge in 1952. It’s interesting that none of the arguably better informed and equipped expeditions in the 1930s bettered his record. It’s a shame he isn’t more widely recognised.

The element of national prestige associated with Everest and Britain did accelerate the interest of other nations in the highest Himalayan mountains (what we’d now call the 8000m peaks), most notably the German connection with Nanga Parbat, the French with Annapurna, and the US and Italians with K2. Although this would take a number of years to fully emerge.

In a wider mountaineering context, Everest was often seen as a bit of a distraction – even a nuisance – by other mountaineers. Yes there was the undoubted appeal of climbing the world’s highest summit, but high-altitude mountaineering really doesn’t reflect the sporting joy of simpler climbing on lower peaks. This frustration was undoubtedly felt by Eric Shipton – who while well known for his Everest expeditions in the 1930s preferred low key trips such as his exploration of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary.

All the blame for the fact British alpinists lost the pre-eminence they’d enjoyed before WWI shouldn’t be attributed to our focus on Everest, but it was certainly a major factor.

It is thought that Mallory and Irvine may have reached the summit – what are your thoughts?


Possible, but highly improbable.

It remains a hotly debated topic and there’s a lot nonsense brought into the debate, but for me the key reason why they couldn’t have reached the summit is that they simply wouldn’t have had enough to drink.

The whole science around acclimatisation was only just emerging in 1924. Yes, they thought supplementary oxygen may be needed (it wasn’t as Everest has been climbed without it) and their clothing systems were remarkably efficient, but the key element, which only emerged after WWII (largely due to the research of Griffith Pugh) was the need for proper hydration. In 1953 every climber drank at least 5 litres of fluid a day. A simple statement, but one that belies the massive logistic support in getting stoves and fuel to the upper camps to melt enough snow and ice for water.

In 1924 they neither understood the critical need for full hydration, nor did they have the logistics in place to deliver it.

Throw in the other factors such as the technical difficulty of either the Second Step or the Norton Couloir (and we don’t know which of these approaches on the North East Ridge they opted for), the time of day they were last seen and the inability of their oxygen system to deliver a net physiological benefit and you can only conclude that they didn’t reach the summit.

What were the challenges of shooting at this altitude in 1924?

Considerable – even today.

The principal problem is the weight and bulk of the camera – just carrying it, never mind operating it at high altitude is an incredible challenge. Then there’s the cold, with its effect on film (it becomes brittle at low temperature) on the gearing of the drives, never mind the risk to the cameraman. Filming on Everest was and is a hugely difficult and dangerous thing to do.


John Noel didn’t film that high on Everest – but was filming higher than the summit of Mont Blanc – but he was still working in a very demanding environment. He was a remarkable man, who thought through the challenges involved and was well prepared. He adapted cameras and techniques based on the experience of Herbert Ponting (Scott’s cameraman in the Antarctic) and even brought in a ‘dark tent’ to develop the film rushes in the field.

It is only recently that footage has been secured from high on Everest – and certainly lightweight digital cameras now make it commonplace – and interestingly in 1953 moving footage wasn’t secured above the South Col.

Can you tell us about any other early mountain films?

John Noel had made and released a film of the 1922 expedition. The expeditions from the 1930s did film, but the results were not released to commercial cinemas or even, as far as I know, edited. Tom Stobart’s film of the 1953 expedition – The Conquest of Everest – was a considerable critical and commercial success and in many ways defined the genre of expedition documentary.

The first Mountain Film was made about Mont Blanc in 1905, but the filmmaker who really popularised Mountain – more accurately Berg Film, was the German filmmaker Arnold Fank.

How does John Noel’s film compare to the mountain films of today?

It stands up very well.

The BFI have done a great job with the restoration and it’s a joy to watch. While the film quality obviously can’t compare with modern material, it’s still of a high standard.

Epic_blue_iceBut for me the actual quality of the image is irrelevant, it’s about telling the story of the expedition and its climb – and in this it succeeds.

I’m a mountaineer, so I obviously have an interest in the subject, but in truth I thought the film would drag, so I went along to the premiere as much for the event and the drinks party afterwards. I couldn’t however, have been more engaged and the 80 minutes just flew by. Interestingly the person I’d gone with – she isn’t a mountaineer – thoroughly enjoyed it too!

Why do you think film societies and community cinemas should include Epic of Everest in their programme?

It’s an outstanding piece of filmmaking. It shows the mountain in a stunning way and it tells the story of what is probably the best known climb in history in an extremely watchable way.

It’s also a real piece of social history – which takes you back in a very immediate way.

Who are the mountain filmmakers of today that we should look out for?

Over the past 40 years – Leo Dickinson. Of the current crop in the UK, Alastair Lee and Paul Diffley, and the most outstanding adventure filmmaker worldwide is undoubtedly Anson Fogel.

About Robin

Robin Ashcroft
Robin Ashcroft is an experienced mountaineer; he has climbed extensively in the Alps, the Canadian Rockies, the Caucasus, Greenland and Antarctica. He is also a Director of Kendal Mountain Festival and has played a key role in establishing it as the world’s premier mountain film festival.
His interest in mountain film dates back to the 1980s when he worked with 16mm film and a windup Bolex camera to record an army expedition to Greenland. He is Vice President of the International Alliance of Mountain Film, has written two books and was producer of the BBC Radio Four Archive Hour Programme – Britain’s on Top of The World.
As Director of Britain’s first mountaineering museum he wrote and curated the award winning exhibition, Everest; The Top of the World, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the world’s highest mountain. He sits on the Council of the Royal Geographical Society and is a member of The Alpine Club.