Community Cinema Conference – NCC

Geraldine from Newcastle Community Cinema reports back about attending the Community Cinema Conference and Film Society of the Year Awards. 

We attended this year’s Community Cinema Conference following a very tough year that saw Newcastle Community Cinema establish a permanent cinema venue in Newcastle and increase our programming schedule 4 fold. Working as volunteers and more recently as Trustees of the charity, our work load has expanded, putting many extra demands on us, both in terms of our community cinema and our personal lives. Our responsibilities have increased with the new venue and the plans to build new audiences. It has been a learning curve trying to strike a balance financially and in terms of our capacity as a group to deliver a diverse programme of film exhibition. We have continued to build audiences and develop new ones, whilst striving to remain sustainable. We are grateful to Film Hub Northern Ireland for the opportunities that their funding has afforded us.

In spite of the challenges we have faced we are still going strong. As a group of individuals who have full time occupations we have learned many ways to keep ourselves motivated, not burn ourselves out and maintain our interest and passion for what we do. It has become very important to us to participate in the annual UK-wide Community Cinema Conference and Film Society of the Year Awards. This year we were the only group representing community cinema in Northern Ireland. We have made many partnerships and take the opportunity to network and exchange ideas or learn of new developments in the collective movement of community cinema. We receive a very warm welcome and we hope that we contribute to the event. We are very proactive in the workshops and networking events.

The Community Cinema Conference is a rare opportunity for us to get together and indulge in our love of film as a group. We can see first-hand how Cinema For All is developing and how their strategy to increase and sustain the industry can be applied to our own organisation. We are learning all the time and we believe that NCC can provide feedback to them in terms of their strategic development and planning. This year we were nominated in two categories and were delighted to win Best Marketing and Publicity across the UK and receive a distinction in Best Programming. The awards provide an opportunity for us to take a look at what we continue to achieve and this is very motivating.

We have learned to take care of ourselves and NCC by working hard but knowing when we need to give ourselves a boost and remind ourselves that we are all good friends, have a lot in common and share interests. We ensure that we use the Community Cinema Conference to keep our interest fresh and reconnect with our counterparts from across the UK and beyond. We would like to see more representation from Northern Ireland film societies and community cinemas at this event. It is a celebration of the voluntary work that we all do as film exhibitors. It is motivational and energising. It is great fun and vital to us. We fly the flag for Northern Ireland and are proud to do so.