Brian Clay’s Suggested Programme

Following on from the Fantasy Film Programmes from Richard and Bryony, we’ve asked community cinema programmers to give their suggestions for a film programme. These programmes will form a regular feature for the blog so if you want to suggest your own please get in contact at rich.bffs@gmail.com

In this post Brian Clay from BFFS South West, and an experienced film society organiser for many years, gives his thoughts. 

Apart from selecting films for Viewing Sessions and advising new societies, I haven’t chaired a Selection Meeting for 20 years but I thought I would try and apply the ground rules I settled on in my days at Dorchester to come up with a programme for a society in a small county town (even if, like Dorchester, they have a cinema!).

I feel that the building blocks for an attractive season of films are:

1) Variety – a wide range of genres – mainstream, independent, foreign language, documentary

2) Hooks – the majority of the titles should have a strong selling point: these could be

  • Short-listing for major awards (Oscars/Baftas) or Festival prize winners – especially Foreign Language Oscars etc
  • Well-known director, actor
  • Good selection of World Cinema
  • Adaptation of well-known book
  • Controversial subject matter
  • Local connections – writer, director, subject matter
  • Successful at the box office – perhaps only a few titles but this brings recognition.
  • Critical acclaim – ditto.

On this basis, I have selected 12 films from DVD titles available at the moment with some selling points that informed my selection:

A Royal Affair

1.      Argo ­– BAFTA winner

2.      Beast of the Southern Wild – Oscar nominee

3.      A Royal Affair – 2013 Oscar nomination for Foreign Language Film

4.      Even the Rain – ideal Film Society fare: well-known leading actor, strong political narrative, involves film-making

5.      Amour – 2013 Oscar nomination for Best and Foreign Language Film

6.      Martha Macy May Marlene – US indie 

7.      The Imposter – acclaimed documentary

8.      I Wish ­ – this years’ “Monsieur Lazhar” 

9.      About Elly –director of ‘A Separation’, alternative view of modern-day Iran

10.   The Sapphires – over-looked at the box office due to the Skyfall effect

11.   Quartet – crowd-pleaser!

12.   Berberian Sound Studio – British indie with Toby Jones

Berberian Sound Studio

If the selection is to be for a season starting in September (as many do), I might substitute a few titles to be released during the summer: so, I might substitute ”No” for “Even the Rain”, for example.  I have included a few box office hits because even if the town has a cinema, many people expect the Film Society to include titles they may have missed.  Hope this is a start leading to an animated discussion!

Brian