Connecting film fans with online cinema

22nd July 2020

UK-wide film programme, Film Feels Connected, brings a whole new dimension to lockdown for film fans

Streaming services added 4.6 million subscribers in the first eight weeks of UK lockdown1. As we’ve acclimatised to COVID-19 restrictions, a major season of film from the BFI Film Audience Network has been giving film fans a whole new world of film to explore.

Bringing together more than 50 programmes from UK cinemas, festivals and film societies, the season offers UK film fans new ways to connect with unique, bespoke and diverse film screenings and special events, beyond the tried and tested streaming platforms.

Upcoming highlights include:

  • Africa in Motion: Looking Back, Reaching Forward, August 2020. Screenings of classic and contemporary African films, plus discussion to explore and critique, representations of Blackness on-screen.
  • Doc‘n Roll Film Festival: We Out Here Festival x Doc‘n Roll, 19-22 August 2020. This partnership between Doc n Roll and Gilles Peterson’s We Out here Festival will present Music docs + Q&As exploring Black excellence and anti-racism in British music history
  • Kino Klassika: Klassiki – Cinema on the Hop, May-August 2020. An online weekly curated selection of Soviet, Russian, Caucasian and East European cinema from early silent cinema, to masterpieces of animation, from post-war classics to contemporary Cannes winners. Coming up in August is Tashkent Film Encounters: a season of rare gems from Central Asia. 
  • Matchbox Cineclub: Tales from Winnipeg 28-31 August 2020. Matchbox present a limited season in collaboration with the Winnipeg Film Group, including rare and exclusive work from John Paizs, Guy Maddin, Kevin Nikkel & Dave Barber. The season and all additional content will feature brand-new SDH/captions for D/deaf audiences.
  • Pilot Light TV Fest: Season 5, the Digital Special, 15-16 August 2020. Presenting 23 brand new TV Pilots and web series for audiences to obsess over, as well as meeting the talent behind them with a selection of Q&A’s and video introductions.
  • Slapstick Festival: Laughter Out of Lockdown, April-August 2020. All your classic comedy needs from silent short films to Comedy quizzes and Q&As featuring comedy legends Robin Ince, Lucy Porter and Rob Brydon

Film Feels is a National Lottery funded project designed to bring new, off-the-beaten track, films to those who have spent lockdown completing Netflix, searching every corner of Amazon Prime for something a bit different or have had all the Disney+ they can handle for now!

This summer, Film Feels Connected invites audiences to join in with over 50 online film events; ranging from watch-alongs to live conversations with directors, filmmakers and critics, to film festivals, workshops and at-home creative activities.

“We’re spending almost three hours a day watching TV and films during lockdown2,” said Annabel Grundy, Film Feels Connected project lead, “so Film Feels Connected adds a whole new dimension to the kinds of things readily available. From Russian cinema to Japanese animation, award-winning short films, queer cinema and much needed comedic relief, we’re working with organisations and cinemas all over the UK who are choosing films they love, to share with audiences online.”

Although cinemas were given the green light to open in England on 4 July, many smaller independent cinemas in the UK, unable to open at reduced capacity, are making plans to reopen later in summer or early autumn.

Greg Walker, Festival Director at Pilot Light, one of the Film Feels Connected participating organisations, says "COVID-19 has thrown many organisations a curveball with their physical festival delivery, so we're very excited for the opportunity to connect with new and existing audiences online with our eclectic selection of TV Pilots and Web Series. We hope this format keeps our loyal audiences coming back and, also reaches new people around the country hungry to discover fresh, diverse and talented voices working in and breaking through Indie TV.”

The team behind Film Feels Connected hope that while the cinemas are dark over the summer, curious film fans will visit the Film Feels website and take a risk on some true cinematic gems. All are chosen by respected cinema programmers, film festivals and cinephiles who want to share their passion for cinema.

“Independent venues and festivals really care about their audiences, and so many organisations have quickly pivoted to an online programme, to connect with people and try new ways of working even in the face of challenge and uncertainty. From community film club watch-alongs to experimental programmes of new work from arts collectives, the opportunity for audiences to discover and share new films and experiences is alive and well,” says Annabel, “plus, the chance to get closer to the directors and writers behind the films with online discussions and interviews, is greater than ever before; particularly for those who are isolated or unable to access physical venues at this time. Film still has the power to connect us all.”

Visit filmfeels.co.uk to find out about the all the films and events you can join in with over the summer.