All posts by Richard Clesham


This year’s BFI Major Season is Love, and follows on from Sci-fi last year and Gothic the year before. We are thrilled to once again be able to offer funding support to community cinemas and film societies who want to take part in the season, and this time the offer is available throughout the UK!
The season takes place from October through to the end of December and will be a national event including hundreds of screenings and special events up and down the country. Cinema For All is able to offer 90 venues funding towards putting on a special event as part of the season. Places are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis so don’t miss out!

Out in the Dark

To take part choose one film from the curated list, including many titles exclusive to Cinema For All such as the deeply moving Cherry Blossoms and Love is Strange  (full list available to download here). Your screening will need to be a bit special offering extra value to the audience beyond the film screening. What this will be is up to you and imaginative ideas are encouraged! It could range from a themed screening with a decorated venue, to a drinks reception; a talk/Q&A to introducing your audience to the type of film they’d never normally see. You’ll need to tell us your ideas when you register.
Email with any queries or expressions of interest.

Film Audience Network
Film Audience Network
Dear White People


A satirical, hip and pointedly funny film, Dear White People follows four black people at a predominantly white Ivy League University and the culture war that breaks out between the host of a controversial radio show “Dear White People” and the university’s humour magazine when they organise a black-face Halloween party. The debut feature film by writer/director Justin Simien, Dear White People premiered to substantial acclaim at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Award. Simien has been described as a Spike Lee for the new generation and his film serves as both a vital and illuminating commentary on race relations and casually upends the stereotypical portrayal of black people on screen we are usually faced with.

Dear White People

Dear White People’s release woes have bought into focus the struggle to get stories about and by black people into cinemas – the journey to UK exhibition has been a long and arduous one, until the New Black Film Collective jumped in to take on the role of distributor for the first time. Though its theatrical release is limited, Dear White People is a film that deserves to be more widely seen and is likely to be embraced by the community cinema sector, which has a long history of supporting diverse titles and important stories.

Cinema For All is proud to be able to offer Dear White People for DVD bookings now.

With thanks to the New Black Film Collective.

Book the film!


It’s just a few weeks till Sheffield Doc/Fest and so we’re celebrating all things documentary! We have a huge variety of documentaries available on the Booking Scheme, whether its amazing true stories, riveting exposes or triumphant tales of human endeavour documentaries offer an essential look at the human experience and a valuable addition to any community cinema programme.

Don’t forget! Cinema For All members are eligible for a discount on the Doc Lovers pass – just £40 for access to all the documentary screenings at Doc/Fest. Find out more here.

Here’s a quick look at some highlights of our catalogue but you can find many more here.

The Possibilities are Endless –  Using a uniquely cinematic technique this film about the slow recovery of Edwyn Collins, the Scottish singer who suffered a massive stroke, is an immersive, startling and beautiful piece of work. The first half of the film depicts Edwyn’s faltering progress – the images and sounds are otherworldly, broken and confusing. But as the film goes on things become clearer, more purposeful; Edwyn’s recovery allows him to start playing music again and works his way up to gigging again.

Benda Bilili! – An audience favourite and one of the most exciting and uplifting documentaries in recent memory. Telling the story of the meteoric rise of Staff Benda Bilili – a band made up of impoverished paraplegics who ride custom wheelchairs and a teenager – who became a global sensation. Filmed over 5 years the filmmakers themselves become personally involved in supporting the band as they prepare for their first international gigs. A tremendously inspiring film.

20 Feet From Stardom

20 Feet From Stardom – The Oscar winner in 2014, 20 Feet From Stardom tells the story of the back-up singers and performers, who while crucial to many an artist’s show, are always in the background, rarely championed or properly appreciated. Who are these performers and what are their lives really like?

A Man Vanishes – A groundbreaking, genre breaking mystery – Shohei Imamura’s landmark documentary starts out as a investigation into why so many Japanese men disappear without trace. The filmmakers are soon derailed when they meet Yoshi who implores them to help her track down her fiancee, Tadashi, who disappeared two years ago. While Yoshi’s motivations become increasingly suspect, Imamura throws things further off kilter by focusing on the act of filmmaking itself, causing the viewer to question how much of what they are seeing is real, and what is constructed.

The Moo Man

The Moo Man – Superbly charming, lo-fo, and eye-opening, The Moo Man follows Stephen Hook, an organic raw milk father. Hook is passionate about traditional farming methods and delivering healthy product but he struggles against the economic pressures of subsisdised mass produced milk. Hook’s determination and principles are inspiring but the film’s true triumph is in showing us the remarkable relationship between Stephen and his herd – particularly Ida, his favourite heffer.

The Missing Picture – This Oscar nominated documentary explores the director’s experiences of life under the Khmer Rouge. Mixing archive footage with hand-made clay figures to recreate scenes never filmed or where footage has since been lost, this is a deeply personal and affecting portrait of life under dictatorship.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop – The infamous and elusive Banksy turns documentary on its head in this twisty, unusual tale that leaves the viewer baffled, suspicious but undeniably entertained. A french amateur graffiti artist Thierry Guetta- inept and rather uninspiring, is determined to meet his idol: Banksy. He sets out with camera in tow to do just that, but when he finds him Banksy turns the camera on Guetta instead. Eventually Guetta becomes a celebrated artist of his: Mr Brainwash, but the possibility that Guetta’s career is in fact a project of Banksy’s is unshakable. As Mr Brainwash’s star rises, so to does the impression that he is a fraud, a non-artist who has only got where he because of Banksy’s manipulation.

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden – A thrilling stranger than fiction story of an island paradise that ended in murder, deceit and disappearances. Dr Ritter and his lover Dore Strauch arrived on an uninhabited island in the Galapagos in the 1930s; their desire, to escape civilised life. At first their lives were satisfied but their solitude was interrupted by the arrival of new islanders. The irony for the doctor and Dore is that it was their own writings, sold to newspapers around the world, that attracted the visitors who were to destroy the utopia. The first arrivals were the Wittmers, a stoic but civil family who lived in uneasy truce with the Ritters. But it was the arrival of the self-declared “Baroness”, a larger than life femme-fatale that would lead to the astonishing and disastrous fate of the island.


Meanwhile  there’s plenty of great documentaries to look forward to at Doc/Fest including Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence, a follow-up to The Act of Killing; Orion,: The Man Who Would Be King, a British doc about Jimmy Ellis, a man with the voice of Elvis who found fame once he hid behind an alter ego: Orion; and The Russian Woodpecker a blend of Soviet history, the Chernobyl disaster an eccentric artist and a terrifying, yet plausible conspiracy theory.



Want unlimited film access at Sheffield Doc/Fest in June? The Doc/Lovers Wristband is back for 2015 and Cinema For All members are entitled to a discount!

The Doc/Lovers Wristband gives you access to all the films you can fit into the festival’s packed programme along with free access to post-screening Q&As with filmmakers and stars: one wristband to travel the world of documentary.

As a member of Cinema For All, you have access to a discounted pass rate of £40 (normally £60). If you’d like to take up this offer, please email and quote your Cinema For All membership number.

Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015 will take place June 5-10 with the full programme now live at

Cinema For All South West


Great news for community venues in England and Wales! As of April 2015 you will no longer need a Premises Licence to screen films, provided it is a not-for-profit screening between the hours of 8.30am and 11.00pm.

This change to the law comes after strong lobbying from Cinema For All and the voices of many community venues who responded to the government’s consultation.

Cinema For All Managing Director Deborah Parker welcomed the news: “We are delighted that the licensing changes, which we campaigned for during the consultation last year, have now been implemented. This now means that community venues will no longer have to apply for a premises licence to screen films to their community.
Not only will this save them money, but it will also remove one of the hurdles faced when starting up a community cinema.”

The new guidelines can be found here on page 99, section 15.6. Community venues in Scotland and Northern Ireland still require a premises licence which can be arranged through your local authority.

Please note that you will still need single title screening licences for each individual film that you screen. The exemption refers to your venue only. 


Cinema For All Board Member Gemma Bird was recently invited to take part in the IFFS Jury at the Fribourgh Film Festival. Gemma sent us this report about her time there.

At the end of March I had the privilege to represent Cinema For All on the International Federation of Film Societies jury at the Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland. As a part of this fantastic experience not only did I get to see an excellent range of films, some of which will be coming to the Booking Scheme, I also had the opportunity to meet some lovely people and to find out a little more about the global film societies movement.

Jafar Panahi’s Taxi

What struck me about the festival was how unashamedly political it was, and how happy it was to play that role. Each of the films being screened loosely related to the topic of freedom; freedom in its broadest sense, from political to sexual, from a child’s freedom to the fight against oppression. Each of the 21 films I sat down to watch that week (12 of which were in competition) told a story about the multifaceted concept, and the value it holds to human life. Be that the financial freedom to make decisions relating to your own body in Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere, the opportunity to escape an abusive parent in Girl at My Door or even having the freedom to make films at all, and to comment on the political situation in which you live: Taxi. Each of the competition films brought something new and interesting to the festival, and getting to know the actors and directors highlighted just what a labour of love they really were. Baring that in mind, choosing to award just one film from the 12 was a difficult decision and as we deliberated on the Friday it became clear just how powerful some of these films were.
The IFFS jury consisted of two other representatives, one from the Swiss federation and the other from the Indian federation; each with really interesting stories to tell about film festivals they had planned and programming experiences, and as such we came to the deliberations with broad perspectives on what we were looking for in a film. However, after an hour of deliberation it became clear to us that the film we should be awarding is one that may not receive a broad cinematic release but that is the perfect film for film societies and community cinemas to support. A film that we felt all of our members would find interesting both for its content and cinematically. The film we selected was Life May Be: a powerful dialogue between Mark Cousins and Mania Akbari. It is a poignant and poetic exploration focussing not only on dialogue between culture and experience, but also between friends. The intimacy between the two enabled the film to consider a diverse range of issues from body image to iconology and culture and to do so in an engaging and original manner. The form of storytelling in the film lends itself to complex debates and discussions and much of the narrative has remained with me since the viewing. It was for these reasons, and many more, that we chose to honour this wonderful film, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

A Girl At My Door

Besides the excellent films on display, what really struck me about Fribourg was the atmosphere and the people. It was fantastic to get to know such a passionate group of people who genuinely care about the value of cinema, not only as an art form but also as a lifeline, as a method for sharing the myriad of silenced stories in the world. A group of people that very much represent the views of Cinema For All. I had a fantastic time getting to know everyone and would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at Fribourg who contributed to that experience.



The next installment of the ICO National Screening Days takes place next month at BFI Southbank, 18-20 April. Several upcoming Booking Scheme titles will be playing over the weekend and so here is a quick preview of what you have to look forward to.

The Connection (Cinema For All Pick)
Will be available on an early window!

The Connection

The Gallic cousin to Friedkin’s The French Connection, Cédric Jimenez’s epic police drama focuses in on the desperate attempt to capture “la French” the head of the smuggling operation out of Marseilles.
The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin stars as Michel, a newly promoted magistrate whose prior connections to low level dealers may offer the opportunity to finally pin a charge on “la French”. But the slow progress of the investigation, as well as corrupt officials blocking his advance cause Michel to act outside of the law.


A neo-noir set in Spain’s deep south, Marshland is something of a Spanish True Detective albeit with its own distinctive character and themes. Set 5 years after the death of Franco while political tensions run high, two detectives are sent to a backwater town to investigate a swathe of murders. Pedro is a young detective of the new generation, full of hope for Spain’s future and he rails against the old school methods of his older partner, Juan. Juan is a product of the France regime and the conflict between the two threatens to derail their investigation.
Marshland swept the Goya awards winning 9 including Best Film, Best Actor, Best Cinematography and Best Original Screenplay.

Listen Up Philip

Listen Up Philip

Philip (Jason Schwartzman) is a novelist awaiting the publication of his second novel. He feels pushed out of his adopted home city by the constant crowds and noise, a deteriorating relationship with his photographer girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss), and his own indifference to promoting the novel. When Philip’s idol Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce) offers his isolated summer home as a refuge, he finally gets the peace and quiet to focus on his favourite subject-himself. Philip faces mistakes and miseries affecting those around him, including his girlfriend, her sister, his idol, his idol’s daughter, and all the ex-girlfriends and enemies that lie in wait on the open streets of New York. A caustically funny, savagely honest depiction of the delusions of grandeur artists hold.


In the late 1970s Nelly decides to escape the confines of the German Democratic Republic for a better life in the west. Her boyfriend, Wassilij, died in a car crash a few years ago and Nelly is ready to take her son and start anew. She finds a West German citizen who agrees to pretend to marry her allowing Nelly to cross the order. But once there she is left isolated in a refugee centre in West Berlin and is not far enough from the troubles of her past.



A period adventure film set during the days of the Ottoman Empire, Theeb, a young Bedoiun boy, joins his brother on a mission to accompany a British Army Officer across the desert. Though recently orphaned the brothers are bound by Bedouin hospitality to help the officer and his Arab guide when they wander into the camp. The war that is simmering is of little concern to the boys but they are soon dragged unwillingly into the conflict.  Theeb must learn to use his survival skills to stay out of danger. A worthy recipient of the Best Director prize at the Venice Film Festival Horizons section, Theeb is a classic adventure film and the arrival of several thrilling new talents.

52 Tuesdays

Taking a rare perspective on the issue of gender transition 52 Tuesdays is about Billie – a teenager who enjoys a close relationship with her mother but who is nevertheless surprised by her mother’s desire to transition to a man. Billie’s mother Jane decides it will be best if Billie lives with her father during the year of transition and so Billie will only see her mother once a week, on Tuesday afternoon for a year. Finding herself without the stable relationship she had relied upon Billie seeks connection elsewhere, particularly with two older kids who might help Billie understand the one thing she is baffled by: sex.

The Look of Silence

The Look of Silence

The follow up to Joshua Oppenheimer’s outstanding documentary The Act of Killing, Look of Silence returns to the topic of the Indonesian genocide.  By the end of filming for The Act of Killing Oppenheimer was trusted enough by the Indonesian regime that he was able to make the film he had always intended to make, one that told the story of the survivors rather than the perpetrators. The Look of Silence is that film. It follows Adi, an optometrist whose brother was murdered during the genocide and who, after Oppenheimer identifies the culprits, decides to break the cycle of fear and submission and confront, directly, the murderers.

Other interesting titles to look forward to over the weekend include Timbuktu, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night and We Are Many.
Book your place at the ICO Screening Days here.


The films of Xavier Dolan

In a celebration of the young Quebocois auteur, whose fifth film Mommy arrives in cinemas this week, we take a look at Xavier Dolan’s intriguing back catalogue, all of which are available from the Cinema For All Booking Scheme.

Tom at the Farm

Dolan, who turns 26 this week, is already at work on his sixth feature, continuing an extraordinarily prolific streak of work in the last few years. Dolan rarely solely directs his films, often starring in, producing, writing, editing and even designing the costumes. Dolan’s films are transgressive, unique and bold works of cinema that offer much for the film society audience to discover.

I Killed My Mother

Dolan’s debut (which premiered to an 8 minute standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival) centres on a mother-son relationship – though of a very different sort than that in Mommy. Made when Dolan was just 19, I Killed My Mother is partly autobiographical and explores the deteriorating relationship between Hubert and his mother Chantale. Dolan has said he felt the need to make the film before he was 20 to keep alive the adolescent angst that inspired the film. Hubert is 16 – a young gay man on the cusp of breaking away from his mother, though doing so remains a painful experience. The film is suffused with the miseries of teenage angst – Hubert makes a confessional series of video diaries about his withering relationship, the self-indulgent, self-important nature of them captures the preciousness of youth. Dolan’s closeness to the film’s subject gives the film a raw and honest validity.


Dolan is unafraid to wear his influences on his sleeve. Heartbeats owes more than a little to the Nouvelle Vague, as well as the romances of Wong Kar Wai.

Heartbeats presents an unconsummated love triangle: best friends Francis (Dolan) and Marie both fall for the same man, Nicolas, whom they meet at a party. Nicolas becomes friends with them both and over the course of a summer Francis and Marie vie for the affections of Nicolas until things reach a head on a holiday to Nicolas’s family’s estate. Nicolas himself is either oblivious to the effects he is having, or enjoys it, and by giving in to neither of their advances, or even by making his sexual orientation clear, he allows the battle to continue.
Heartbeats is a  stylised update of Jules et Jim complete with surreal fantasy secrets and a bag of cinematic tricks that show Dolan experimenting with filmmaking in a new way.

Laurence Anyways

Laurence Anyways

Set over ten years this is an exploration of love on a  grand scale. Laurence Anyways starts with Laurence telling Frederique, Laurence’s girlfriend of many years, that he wants to transition from a man to a woman. Frederique’s initial reaction is of sadness and she does not believe she can still love Laurence as a woman. Over the course of the following decade their relationship fluctuates, they initially get back together, drift apart, lose touch and reconnect. Throughout all of this Laurence finds her way as a woman seeking acceptance and the chance to live as she has always wanted to.

Tom at the Farm

Tom at the Farm is a wild and unnerving Hitchcockian thriller, complete with a Bernard Hermann-esque score and a very unusual family. Dolan plays the eponymous Tom, whose boyfriend Guillaume has recently died. Tom heads to Guillaume’s family farm for the funeral but discovers that the family don’t know who he is, and Guillaume’s mother is furious that his (non-existent) girlfriend has not arrived for the funeral. Only Francis, the intimidating older brother, has any notion of who Tom really is and over the course of, first days, then weeks, brings Tom under his control.

Although Tom’s presence is both unexpected and unexplained, Guillaume’s mother welcomes him wholeheartedly and insists he stays. Whether out of a feeling of obligation, or out of loneliness Tom finds himself unable to leave the farm even as life on the farm becomes increasingly dangerous and sinister.
Tom at the Farm is a superb thriller, mysterious, uncomfortable and deeply strange, and proves Dolan’s talents can break into new genres.


Launching in March and running throughout 2015, Cinema For All and Bradford City of Film are launching the Made in Yorkshire project to encourage exhibitors to screen films filmed and produced in Yorkshire.
The project will be launched at the Bradford International Film Summit with a screening of X & Y, a new film starring Asa Butterfield and Sally Hawkins about a teenage maths prodigy, which was filmed in Sheffield.
Yorkshire has been home to hundreds of film productions from The Full Monty to Kes by way of Four Lions so there are plenty of options of films to screen.
If you would like to be part of Made in Yorkshire, contact the Bradford UNESCO City of Film Office on 01274 437697 or email with the title ‘MADE IN YORKSHIRE’ and they’ll promote the event for you.


Birdman swoops in to join the MPLC Collection

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman is the latest film to join our MPLC Collection, joining other recent additions; David Fincher’s much talked about Gone Girl and James Gandolfini’s final film, the noir crime drama The Drop.

Birdman stars Micheal Keaton in a role that draws amusing comparisons with his own career. Keaton is Riggan Thomson, a washed up actor who’s career has largely been in freefall ever since he hung up the cape and went serious: leaving his super hero alter ego, Birdman, languishing in the past while Riggan attempts to mount a production of an Raymond Carver play. In the run up to opening night, Riggan encounters problem after problem – from the injury of one his leading men to battles with the actor’s replacement (a fiery Edward Norton) his daughter (Emma Stone), ex-wife (Amy Ryan) and his manager (Zach Galifianakis). As Riggan starts to break down, Birdman tries to take over.


A bravura piece of filmmaking, Birdman takes place within a single carefully staged take, ramping up the pace and drama. Keaton’s performance has drawn many plaudits, and Birdman has been nominated for 9 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Birdman will be available to screen from the date of its DVD/Blu-ray release, currently TBC.

Also joining the MPLC Collection this month is Gone Girl, David Fincher’s adaptation of the best selling book by Gillian Glynn. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike star as Nick and Amy Dunne – a couple who should be celebrating their five-year anniversary –  but on the eve of the anniversary Amy disappears. Nick informs the police and soon a large scale investigation is underway, with a media circus building around the case. Though Nick initially portrays his relationship with Amy as blissful, his claims are soon torn apart, leading to speculation that he may have played some part in the disappearance.
A dark and intelligent thriller Gone Girl ranks as one of Fincher’s finest films.

The final addition to the MPLC Collection this spring is The Drop, a slow burn crime drama adapted from a Dennis Lehane (Gone, Baby, Gone; Shutter Island) short story. Bob, a lonely, quiet man tends the bar owned by his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) a semi-retired gangster who finds himself in debt to old associates. He agrees to let them use his bar for money drops, a situation that implicates Bob in the eyes of the police.

The Drop2

The Drop is available to screen from 23 March.