Making good use of a Film Hub Scotland bursary, Laura Dolan, Lifelong Learning Assistant at Glasgow Women’s Library, attended Cinema For All's National Conference for Community Cinemas in September 2014. She tells us what she thought…
Throughout the weekend it was great to hear what other groups are doing – what works and what doesn’t. It instilled a feeling of confidence in me, we are doing a lot of things right at GWL and there is scope for so much more.
Glasgow Women’s Library is in an exciting development stage with various renovations planned. One of these is a new events space that will have a screening area. We have often put on films in partnership with other groups and organisations and want to continue to develop this further and really engage our audiences in a wider programme of film. Having worked with groups such as Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival and GFT’s Pop Up Programmers in the past we are no strangers to collaboration and working in partnership. So when I saw that the theme for the Cinema for All conference was 'Working Together' I felt that this could be the perfect opportunity to learn from others’ experiences, make some good contacts and have a trip to a great film venue, the Showroom Workstation in Sheffield.
The conference included two days of workshops, film screenings and the Film Society of the Year Awards. Each workshop was scheduled at the same time as a film, which presented me with a bit of a dilemma: I love film and would have quite happily watched all that were being shown, but the workshops covered areas that I wanted to hear more about – so I that’s where I went, starting with a session on Programming.
Here I heard from Carmen Slijpen of Lewes Junior Film Club, Joan Parsons of Showroom and Ryan Finnigan of The Five and Dime Picture Show. All the speakers were really interesting and I was extremely taken with Joan Parsons, her fearless approach to programming and advice on how to gain the trust of your audiences before challenging them with different titles was really useful. Her experience and confidence was clear so it was great to hear from someone so skilled in the field.
Other sessions I took part in over the two days were ‘Marketing and Publicity’ and ‘Building a Network’. I found all the speakers engaging in different ways. Being able to hear so many different perspectives was really inspiring and helped me to reflect on the work we have done and are planning at GWL. I found elements of Woody from Minicine’s talk in the Building a Network session particularly relevant to us, such as working collaboratively with artists, and thinking creatively when hosting on screening by linking with other things like book readings or themed food events.
I did get to see some films too. Polish film Crows was a good choice – it was by a female writer/director and focuses on the relationship between a mother and daughter, albeit in a rather bleak way. Then on Day 2, while the Cinema for All AGM was taking place, I watched some short films, a great mix of genres and titles that really showcased short film from different eras.
Throughout the weekend it was great to hear what other groups are doing – what works and what doesn’t. It instilled a feeling of confidence in me, we are doing a lot of things right at GWL and there is scope for so much more. I learnt to be brave, work collaboratively and let your programming inspire your audiences.