Article: Culture, Community, Accountability, Resilience are Key Themes of This Way Up 2020

This Way Up, the UK’s annual film exhibition conference, will focus on themes of Community, Culture, Accountability and Resilience for its first digital edition, taking place 1-3 December. A new online platform will host the event, offering delegates a space to network, re-watch sessions and tune in to the live conference. After a tumultuous year for the sector and the impact of COVID-19 on cinema across the world, the programme’s focus is structured around supportive, constructive sessions assessing how delegates can work together and collaborate as the industry reflects and rebuilds.

BFI Chief Executive Ben Roberts will deliver an opening talk on the state of play in the cinema exhibition industry; addressing the challenges of this year but also celebrating the achievements and progress made across the sector as we look towards 2021.

Gower Street Box Office Analyst Delphine Lievens will chair a panel made up of representatives from production, distribution and exhibition, discussing Black-led films that are produced and released theatrically in the UK and the barriers that prevent them from achieving box office success. Programmer Reba Martin will chair Reframing Recruitment, a discussion of new and inclusive approaches to entry points and recruitment practice in the exhibition sector. 

Representatives from We Shall Not Be Removed will present their Seven Principles for Inclusive Recovery, focused on making the arts truly accessible to all audiences and workers. A session on streaming services and their relationship with cinemas will see Anna Germanidi from Modern Films speaking with Nia Edwards-Behi (Abertoir Horror Festival) and chair Claire Vaughan (Chapter, Cardiff) about Modern’s Virtual Cinema model and the pivot to online film festivals.

We’ll take a look back at the history of Pandemic and Cinema with BFI Curator Bryony Dixon, who will deliver an illustrated talk documenting the reactions to pandemic during the 1918-19 Spanish Flu pandemic, on-screen and off – with clips from the BFI Archive. There’ll be a conversation about freelancing in film exhibition with representatives from Dial F for Freelancer, Excluded UK and Museum Freelance, and further sessions covering Governance, workers’ rights and safeguarding in the industry.  

BFI Head of UK Audience Ben Luxford chairs a panel looking at the ecosystem of the industry from production to programming with Caroline Hennigan (Programme Director, Broadway Nottingham), Ashanti McIntosh (Head of Acquisitions, Studiocanal UK) and Bennett McGhee (Producer/Co-Founder, Home Team).

Ben Luxford said, “This Way Up provides a much needed opportunity for our industry to reflect on recent experiences and devise strategies to take us forward with renewed vigour. Through sharing insights and creative collaboration, we strengthen our ability to engage and serve a wide audience, recruit and retain a diverse workforce, and consider changing models of exhibition.”

Film Hub North Manager Sally Folkard said, “After such a challenging year we’re proud to be able to offer This Way Up as a digital space for colleagues to gather and share, and to have vital conversations. We hope that the programme offers something for everybody, at every level in our sector.” 

Film Hub Scotland Manager Nicola Kettlewood said, “We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for This Way Up this year, which demonstrates the need for the industry to come together and find shared solutions to current challenges, and be inspired for the future of film exhibition. We look forward to exploring the themes of Resilience, Culture and Accountability over the three days of the conference.”

This Way Up is produced by Film Hub North and Film Hub Scotland, with support from Film Hub Midlands, part of the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN), supported by National Lottery funding, established in 2012 to build wider and more diverse UK cinema audiences for British and international film. This year’s sponsors are INDY Cinema, Comscore and The Film Distribution Association.

Registration is FREE for this year’s event, open to anyone in the UK film exhibition sector.

The full This Way Up 2020 Programme can be found here.

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