The sunshine was most definitely on Leith last week as we presented two days of activity at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
As part of the festival's industry strand Distribution Rewired, we co-hosted a panel, chaired by Bea Neaumann and focused on film festivals: their value to local venues and audiences, their relationships with distributors and programmers and innovative audience development strategies that can be applied year-round.
Allison Gardner of Glasgow Film, Melanie Iredale of Sheffield Doc/Fest and Damian Spandley of Curzon shared their insight and experience; Melanie spoke about Doc/Fest's engagement with local community groups, low-cost ticket prices for local audiences and their one-tier pass system which means that everyone from volunteers to directors to commissioners meet and network (at legendary parties) together. Glasgow Film Festival's experiential screenings open up the traditional cinema space for sold-out screenings of Die Hard (in an abandoned office block) and a suitably arctic outdoor showing of The Thing, complete with husky (by all accounts, not an alien host). These immersive events become a fixture of the festival and attract young, local audiences who might then take a chance on a regular GFT screening, or dip into something else at the festival - all three panelists agreed that earning trust through programming can convert festival-goers into regular cinema attendees.