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A bursary from Film Hub Scotland helped Corin Christopher, Assistant General Manager at the Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh, attend the ART CINEMA = ACTION + MANAGEMENT residential course in Venice this summer. Here she fills us in on an inspiring and enjoyable week...

Having heard wonderful things from colleagues who had attended in the past, and having been lucky enough to visit Venice on holiday in the past, I was thrilled to be accepted on to the ART CINEMA= ACTION +MANAGEMENT residential course run by CICAE in August/September 2017.

Taking place on the Shutter Island style resort of San Servolo, an asylum in years gone by, the course brings cinema and exhibition professionals together for a week of lectures and workshopping.

On the first evening, we got to know one another with the help of ‘bring a bottle from your country’ which led to a smorgasbord of international alcohols, some more frightening than others. With attendees from as far away as Chile, Nigeria and Egypt, as well as colleagues from home, the most positive part of this whole experience was the opportunity to meet peers in the industry and feel part of a global community.

The week consisted of lectures in the morning and afternoons from a variety of guest speakers, covering topics such as programming classics, working with young audiences, cinema for disabled audiences and fundraising and crowdfunding opportunities. The discussion on green cinema from a panel including Javier Pachon from CineCiutat in Spain and Carmen Slijpen from Lewes Depot Cinema was particularly inspiring. Upon my return to work I have implemented a food recycling bin, researched what waste in the cinema we can dispose of better and passing my new knowledge onto my team who are interested and engaged on this matter. Cinema is not the greenest of industries, so it is important that we all do our small part.
The most positive part of this whole experience was the opportunity to meet peers in the industry and feel part of a global community. 
The workshop on engaging with young audiences was a welcome break from the standard presentation and Petra Rockenfeller of the Lichtberg Film Palast woke us all up from our midweek sleepiness with rousing example of how inspiring and engaging environmental enrichments around a film venue can be easy and free to create if you think hard enough. To demonstrate this point, she had us work in teams around the building, to quickly create a journey to the screening room for a presentation of the classic Pippi Longstocking. After some initial confusion on everyone’s faces, what followed was a mad, creative explosion involving a tower of chairs, pillow fights, a mimed house with a mimed horse and as a finale, a game of ‘the floor is lava’ with some fairly treacherous chair gymnastics. The point was loudly and enjoyably made and I think we all left the training with ideas of how we can enhance the film experience for our younger visitors. As a cinema that does not currently have a young peoples offer above the age of 3 years, it has inspired me to explore this audience and how we can best program for them.

Alongside the lectures and workshops, we were formed into small teams of six to work on a presentation to be made at the end of the week. The brief was to ‘re-start’ a cinema, or create one entirely afresh, in a town from which one of our team heralded, and present the concept, marketing, programming and financials to a fictional funding body, played by a board of our tutors.

Whilst it was difficult to fit the preparation time for this task in with the main program of the course and the important business of seeing films at the Venice Film Festival over on the Lido, we gathered together at lunch times and after class to discuss and create our fictional site. We decided on restarting a one screen cinema, run until recently by one woman since 1945 in the Austian resort of Zell Am See. With its mixed demographic of locals and holiday makers, keen for an apres-ski activity after dinner, it was an enjoyable project to consider and our team joke to this day about our ski holiday reunion at that very venue.

The week concluded with our presentations, and a stressful few hours leading up to them, and it was great to see what the other teams had been working on. A Chilean art cinema and community centre was victorious, but it was said that this years selection of ideas were some of the strongest yet.

After standing in the pass queue for the Sala Grande, the big cheese of the Venice cinema venues, three times in the attempt to get up close and personal with the stars at a proper premier, we finally succeeded to gain entry to Victoria and Abdul. Dame Judy Dench was in attendance and Stephen Frears was presented with a lifetime achievement award. Overall a wonderfully sparkly way to end an educational, challenging, inspiring and enjoyable week.

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