BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund awards over £750,000 to UK exhibitors

National Lottery funding aims to re-engage audiences with collective, big screen film experiences

Over 140 film exhibitors around the UK have received a share of £759,159 to boost cultural programming and activities to engage diverse audiences as lockdown restrictions ease. The BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund supports activity to re-engage audiences with collective, big screen film experiences at film festivals, mixed arts venues, and both community and traditional cinemas around the UK. This particular strand of support has been made available via BFI‘s National Lottery funding to the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN).

BFI FAN is a unique collaboration of eight Film Hubs managed by leading film organisations across the UK, who each distribute the funding in their region or nation. The BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund will enable FAN Members to deliver a broad range of programming once they restart, ensuring excellent British and international independent cinema is available to audiences all over the UK. Other priorities of the fund are incentivising exhibitors to embed inclusion and environmental sustainability into their approach to reopening, post closure during the pandemic restrictions.

The BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund was also supported by a donation from global streaming platform MUBI. The total figure awarded to Film Hub Scotland members of £220,000 includes additional funding from Screen Scotland as announced in early November. Film Hub Wales announced Film Exhibition Fund awards totalling £52,000, also in November.

The BFI is also working closely with DCMS to administer the £30m allotted towards independent cinemas in England from the Culture Recovery Fund. Further awards are expected to be announced this month.

Ben Luxford, Head of UK Audiences at the BFI, said: “We’re committed to the big screen experience. Thanks to support from the National Lottery and our industry partners, we’re really happy to be able to support so many of the UK’s independent venues and community cinemas to bring a broad range of programming to their audiences. These cultural spaces across the UK are at the centre of their communities, so with this fund we hope that these film exhibitors will be in a stronger position to restart activity and programme films, seasons and deliver festivals that everyone is able to enjoy.”

Federica Pugliese, Programme and Marketing Manager at Catford Mews in London, said: “This [funding] will allow us to keep serving the Catford community by delivering a varied and diverse programme throughout the year, and it will enable us to continue collaborating with local film collectives and individuals to make our programme as local and accessible as possible. As challenging as the last few months have been for both businesses and individuals, it means a lot to have the support to keep our venue running and to continue to champion local culture as well as delivering entertainment to the wider community.”

Jade Turner, Cinema and Festival Programmer and Curator at Northampton Filmhouse, said: “Everyone at the Northampton Filmhouse is so excited about Shockwaves [a dynamic season of films and events celebrating the best in emerging filmmaking talent from around the world] and bringing the best new British and international debut films to our audiences. We are really grateful to the BFI and the Film Audience Network for providing such vital support during these difficult times so that we can continue to showcase innovative filmmaking, which is at the heart of our programme.”

Claire Hills, Festival Manager & Producer, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, said: “Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival is continually inspired by and committed to engaging with the communities in Berwick-upon-Tweed. The generous support from the Film Exhibition Fund will allow us to develop this work in a more sustainable way, giving us more space and time to work with local young people through a series of screenings, talks and workshops.”

Jillian Thompson, Programme Manager of NI Science Festival, said: “Live cinema is a central part of Northern Ireland Science Festival so this year we were absolutely delighted to receive funding from the Film Exhibition Fund. Thanks to their generous support we hope to extend our outreach, work with priority groups and curate an exciting and diverse programme of STEM on film.”

Alice Black, Head of Cinema at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA), said: “DCA is grateful to have been awarded funding from the BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund, which will allow us to continue to programme challenging and engaging cinema for our Dundee audiences. At this difficult time with so much uncertainty, we are more aware than ever of the transformative power of the cinema experience to connect and inspire us.”

Isabelle McNeill, Chair of the Cambridge Film Trust, which runs the Cambridge Film Festival, said: “We are very grateful for the continued support of Film Hub South East and the BFI, especially at this time when film festivals are having to adapt and explore new models. This fund will allow us to present “Cambridge Film Festival At Home”, enabling us to continue engaging with audiences while we discover innovative solutions to meet current needs and prepare to return to cinemas as soon as it is possible”.

Jessica Brewster, Director at The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury, said: “Receiving FAN Exhibition Fund money is a gamechanger for us at The Roses. It will support us to transform our cinema programme and experience of the venue for children and young people, and help us engage and develop a new generation of audiences for British and independent film.”

Rhiannon Hughes, Festival Director at Wicked Wales Film, said: “This funding will help us to continue to work and train our young volunteers who run our cinema and our film festival, it will help us to provide screening opportunities to some of the most vulnerable and deprived communities in Wales and at the same time to celebrate and raise the profile of emerging young filmmakers in Wales and films under the Made in Wales brand.”

The National Lottery raises £30 million each week for good causes across the UK.

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