Article: This Way Up 2022 programme focuses on celebrating the value of UK cinema whilst exploring future challenges

BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) are pleased to announce programme highlights from the ninth edition of This Way Up, the UK’s only annual independent film exhibition conference.

It’s here! The full This Way Up 2022 programme is now live!

From anime to AI, two days of inspiring sessions and speakers will help us to reflect on where we are, and energise us for what’s ahead.

Join us 30 Nov – 1 Dec at DCA Dundee, where you can: explore how to create a cinema of the future as moving image formats evolve; hear from those breaking barriers in their communities, and marvel at game-changing audience research technologies.

Browse the full programme of events

Passes are limited! Get yours today, from £50+ VAT

2022 has seen crises rock many UK institutions. The UK film world, for its part, was shocked by the abrupt closure of Edinburgh’s Centre for the Moving Image. While cultural institutions face rising operational costs, and audiences struggle with the cost-of-living and energy crises, how do we champion and bolster the cultural value of cinema?

This Way Up 2022 will celebrate the cultural value of cinema across the UK and spotlight Scotland’s role in this ecosystem, while asking big questions which impact the sector at large. More than 20 sessions through the two-day conference will foreground the most pressing concerns and opportunities we face, from our current climate emergency to the future of BFI strategy. Panel discussions and some interactive workshops have been programmed within four key strands, grounded in the current context of our sector while looking towards a tenable future. These are: The Business of Culture, The Joy of Film, Fresh Thinking, and Community Building.

The Business of Culture will focus on our sector’s sustainability, looking at BFI strategy, governance, audience development, and more.

On November 30th, Ben Luxford (BFI’s Head of UK Audiences) will join Allison Gardner (CEO, Glasgow Film) in Screen Culture 2033 to present BFI’s upcoming funding priorities, with open space for delegate feedback. This session comes hot on the heels of the publication of the BFI’s new 10-year strategy, Screen Culture 2033.

The Joy of Film strand will be a celebration; a reminder of the purest pleasures inherent to the shared experience of cinema.

This will begin the night before the conference (8pm, 29 Nov), with a closed delegates’ preview screening of Scotland-based director Hassan Nazer’s Winners  (Barandeha) (2022, Winner of Edinburgh International Film Festival’s Audience Award). Supported by Creative Scotland, this Persian-language feature is a tribute to the films of Nazer’s native Iran, and grants an outward-looking perspective to Scottish cinema. It has been selected by the British Academy as the UK’s submission to the international feature award at the 2023 Oscars.

The Joy of Film strand will push the boundaries of programming in Genre: Defying and (re)Defining: how genre programming is claiming its spot in the limelight. As genres like Anime continue to rank highly in box office reports, titles often dismissed as ‘niche’ prove to be viable commercial options with dedicated (often young) audiences. In this session, a panel of genre experts will explore how cinemas can collaborate with specialists to broaden the appeal of year-round programming.

The Joy of Film will also feature the return of BFI NETWORK Shorts, which showcases some of the UK’s best emerging filmmaking talent.

Next, the Fresh Thinking strand presents new ideas and projects from the UK and beyond, from technological innovations to shifts in audience engagement strategies.

In Calling All Members: towards a cooperative, knowledge-sharing network, we look to fresh thinking from the Netherlands. There, the Cineville membership scheme has supported 40+ arthouse cinemas to broaden their programmes, develop young audiences, and improve admissions. Thomas Hosman (CEO, Cineville) will join us as we consider how the learnings of such data-sharing membership initiatives could be applied in the UK.

AI-powered Audience Modelling also looks to the continent. In Denmark, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands, Publikum works with production companies and national film institutes at the development stage, using a combination of AI technology and anthropology to position films with their target audiences. Could this model revolutionise distribution strategies in the UK? This session welcomes Niels Alberg (CEO and co-founder of Publikum), in conversation with Delphine Lievens (Freelance Distribution Consultant).

Mirroring Screen Culture 2033’s foregrounding of games and expanded realities (XR), the programme will explore the extension of cinema realities, and pay respect to Dundee’s leadership in this field. Thanks to support from StoryFutures, we are also thrilled to invite delegates to participate in several StoryTrails VR experiences, as well as the Dundee Augmented Reality StoryTrails walking tour, presented in collaboration with Dundee Library.

Finally, the Community Building strand will explore the myriad ways in which cinemas connect with their local communities, and with each other.

Opening Up the Archive will highlight a movement which sees new and young audiences discovering archive material in a new light. Over the last ten years, digital resources have radically transformed public engagement with moving image archive, and BFI’s upcoming National Lottery Screen Heritage Fund aims to broaden this access further still. As artists across the regions reimagine and repurpose archive material to create new works, this panel discussion examines how collaborative approaches may lead to further audience cross-pollination for a range of exhibitors.

Two This Way Up favourites will return in this strand; Cinema Stories will showcase short videos from cinemas around the UK, about their connection to their communities. Show and Share will bring us closer to Film Audience Network members from across the UK, as they share short in-person presentation about their proudest projects, ideas and provocations.

Get your passes now

This Way Up is delivered by Film Hub Scotland and Film Hub North, with support from Film Hub Midlands, Film Hub Northern Ireland, Film Hub South West, and Film Hub Wales as part of the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN), which is supported by funding from The National Lottery.

+ This Way Up 2022

Impact Areas

Focus Areas