ICO Screening Days at the Phoenix Leicester Vicky, Cine North Co-ordinator, reports back on her venture to the midlands for the ICO Screening Days July

Victoria Lockley (Cine North Co-ordinator, National Science and Media Museum) attended the ICO Screening Days – July 2017, supported by the Film Hub North Bursary Scheme.

Despite living so close to Leicester in my youth I rarely visited so I was very excited to reconnect with the midlands and the rejuvenation in arts and heritage activity in recent years. It’s always great to have the chance to visit different independent cinemas to experience what they have to offer, and the Phoenix certainly did not disappoint. My journey from the central hotel led me through an area that felt rather like no-mans-land and the feeling that I was going the wrong way before turning the corner to come across the striking building that is the Phoenix. This only emphasised how injecting culture into an area can really transform the surroundings.

The prospect of seeing four films a day for three days seemed like a daunting prospect but the variety of films made it more than manageable, even if some films left me feeling rather devastated. But only a really good film has the power to do that, right? The choice of films and schedule led me to see some films which I wouldn’t normally have considered adding to our programming menu but am now able to advocate for these films and in turn encourage venues to programme more bravely.

Being at an event with so many fellow exhibitors with different audiences allowed for a great opportunity to debate a wide range of thoughts and opinions on the films. Given the variety of venues and wide demographic of the programmers I was able to discuss issues about the films which probably would not have been picked up by the people I normally debate with. This also proved to be a great opportunity to compare the new releases to previously successful films alongside ways to market them to our audiences, and ways not to!

A focus of the weekend was on the latest BFI FAN Strategy focused on targeting the 16-30 age group. While the Cine North network of predominantly rural community venues struggles to attract this demographic, it was really valuable to hear the proposed ways of reaching this audience. An addition to the score card for this event was whether we felt each film would appeal to the 16-30 age group which I found useful just to think about as I would not have necessarily considered it when programming for our venues.