UK support organisation the Independent Cinema Office (ICO) has launched a new revenue-sharing virtual platform for independent cinemas. The platform, named The Cinema of Ideas, provides curated events, talks and screenings, which can be provided virtually to the audiences of independent venues. It was developed in response to the challenges independent venues have faced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The majority of the project is funded through a part of ICO’s organisational award from the British Film Institute, which was £578,016 for the year from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. The ICO states that only “a small percentage” of the award has gone towards the project. Further funding will come from income generated through ticket sales. The revenue split between the platform and participating independent cinemas will vary on a project-by-project basis, but terms are more in favour of the cinemas than on other distributor platforms, according to the ICO.

The platform aims to offer “a culturally relevant programme, exploring issues around race, disability, gender, sexuality and class,” the organisation also states. It will collaborate with filmmakers, artists, archivists, film historians, film critics, freelance film collectives and emerging curators to showcase their work. Partner cinemas confirmed for the platform include Chapter Cardiff, Saffron Screen, Northampton Filmhouse, Wellington Orbit and Barn Dartington, with discussions ongoing with further venues.

Curatorial voices

The platform’s launch event will be ‘Archival Resistance: Rastafari Women in Britain’, hosted by Aleema Gray, researcher and community history curator at the Museum of London. It will include a live discussion panel, with D. Elmina Davis’ 1988 documentary Omega Rising Women of Rastafari available to stream on the platform from August 19 to September 2.

Further events include a new essay film on cinema memory by Sarah Wood; a collaborative project exploring the Black Film Bulletin archive; and a series of talks focusing on directors, writers, artists, curators and collectives who have previously worked with the ICO.

Between today’s launch and March 2022 there will be funded opportunities for at least two curatorial voices from underrepresented groups, who will be identified through an open call, to take over film curation and discussion events on the platform.

“Providing curated events, talks and screenings on a virtual platform that can be offered virtually to audiences on terms that are far more advantageous than the industry-standard means that cinemas can diversify their offer and innovate at a time when the economic climate makes it difficult for them to do so alone,” said Catharine Des Forges, director of the ICO. “We know that if we are to survive these current challenges, we must innovate, we must be agile and be responsive to audiences, and that means delivering the broadest range of content that addresses all audiences that exist across the UK. The Cultural Recovery Fund has allowed cinemas some breathing space and time to reinforce their business models, the Cinema of Ideas will allow those that need it the space to experiment and innovate without taking undue financial risks.”

 

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