08th Mar2018

Culture Dump #27: The Rise of Regional Cinemas

by Simon Bland


Being a film fan in the English regions can often feel frustrating. Unlike the music industry or even the literary world the talent you so admire rarely visits. That’s not to say national and international faces aren’t up for discussing their work with keen audiences – they are – however the industry itself can sometimes feel cursed by an inequality divide regarding opportunity and location. A quick Google search regarding film events in the UK tells you all you need to know: those involved in bringing movies to audiences seem to think that they stop existing altogether once you leave London. Hell, some have even gone so far as to moan about the abundance of events that happen right on their doorstep. Heaven forbid they move out of the capitol…

This has gone on for so long that change felt all but impossible, until recently. Thanks to a handful of determined and innovative film programmers, the UK’s regional cinema scene is currently thriving. In fact, just last week independent picture house HOME in Manchester celebrated its most successful week on record and topped off this jam-packed week by hosting a post-film Q&A with You Were Never Really Here Director Lynne Ramsay, one of her only audiences events outside of the Glasgow Film Festival. More impressive still is that this type of film add-on activity isn’t rare for the venue; with Directors, Actors, Producers and Musicians regularly visiting for similar events, from big name stars to tomorrow’s ones-to-watch.

They’re not the only ones doing this either. Frustrated fans have even taken on the role of event programmers to help bridge this equality gap and provide an eager audience with something they’re sorely missing. On the cusp of celebrating its third year (or season as they like to call it), Pilot Light TV Festival invites a handful of established and emerging stars to venues across Manchester to celebrate the continued success of small screen entertainment. The same team also host regular (and regularly sold out) Retro And Dangerous Film Screenings of cult classics, each with a celebratory and raucous vibe typically reserved for airings of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room - and before you ask, yes, they’ve hosted that one too and audiences loved it.

What do these examples of regional success tell us? Well, they quantify something that people who live here already know: that audiences for this type of content not only exist but they’re actively passionate about it and bored of waiting for it to arrive. Proof that there’s endless scope for events of a similar ilk and if distributors don’t take notice soon, fans aren’t afraid to take matters into their own hands and do it themselves.

Full Disclosure: I also work for HOME in Manchester but that doesn’t mean I’ve sugar-coated the work do or made it seem more relevant than it is. They do lots for regional film fans and its all good, regardless of perspective.

Do you think we need more film events in the regions? Let me know in the comment section below!

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