Article: Welsh cinemas and film festivals reconnect audiences to the world in 2022  

Film Hub Wales (FHW) has awarded £70,000 in National Lottery funding to 13 independent cinemas and film festivals in Wales through its Film Exhibition Fund.  

Funds will enable Welsh communities to reconnect through film whilst supporting their local venue. With unity in mind, screen stories from Wales and across the globe, plus special events and workshops will explore what it means to be Welsh post-Covid.

Upcoming events include The Windrush Caribbean Festival, which will take place at the Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre in Newport this June, in partnership with Cinema Golau. As cinemas remain in a period of pandemic-related uncertainty, the festival will offer affordable film events, welcoming people back in to the venue to discover the story of Wales’ Windrush generation.

Yvonne Connike explains what audiences can look forward to: “We have an intergenerational, edgy programme that tells the story of the Windrush community in the UK. Children and their families will enjoy animated features and shorts from Caribbean artists. There will also be a wonderful strand of shorts by Caribbean Women, some of whom are from Wales. The festival offers a great opportunity to bridge the conversation on all things Windrush, for past, present and future generations.”

In Riverside Cardiff, Gentle/Radical are planning a doorstep revolution, by re-launching their hyper-local Film Club. They will reach out to local residents directly, enabling them to get involved in both international and Welsh film programming, meet their neighbours and explore how cinema can be a powerful cultural resource within day-to-day life.

Rabab Ghazoul explains:  “We’re incredibly excited to launch community screenings once again in the heart of our local neighbourhood of Riverside. Pre-Covid we had plans to explore street-based screenings in the area but those plans were put on hold. So, we’re looking forward to finally trialling this model, exploring the appetite amongst our residents to meet for street-based screenings, bringing neighbours living in close proximity to enjoy film, food and conversation together.”

From international film festivals, to rural cinema networks, this year’s FHW-funded projects are socially conscious and bold; ambitious in their endeavour to promote an inclusive Welsh identity through the communal space of cinema.

Hana Lewis, Strategic Manager for Film Hub Wales explains: “The world is rapidly changing and this is reflected in the stories we seek out on screen. The projects that we’re supporting in 2022 explore how we see ourselves in the context of these changes. From hyperlocal place-based screenings that bring people together on their streets, to Wales’ relationship with Africa, or the invaluable contributions that the Windrush generation made to life in Wales. Cinemas are helping communities to heal and enjoy again but also to discover who we are as Welsh people in a global context.”

The projects are supported by Film Hub Wales, part of the BFI Film Audience Network using funds from the National Lottery to ensure the greatest choice of cinema is available to everyone across the UK.

The BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund is made possible thanks to National Lottery funding from the BFI (British Film Institute) via its Film Audience Network (FAN). The fund offers reopening support to exhibitors across the whole of the UK, to ensure the greatest choice of cinema is available to all. Funds in Wales are administered by FHW via Chapter as the Film Hub Lead Organisation.

More than £30M is raised each week for good causes across the UK by the National Lottery.

Supported projects

South Wales

Cinema Golau
17th June – 19th June 2022
Cinema Golau, The Windrush Caribbean Festival and community partners are working together to celebrate Windrush Day, educating communities on the contributions made by the Windrush Caribbean community in Wales and UK wide. Over three days at The Riverfront in Newport, the film festival will offer affordable film screenings, workshops and panel discussions, allowing the venue to reconnect with audiences following Covid restrictions and re-establish links within the film industry.

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Birds Eye View
July – December 2022
Building on their initial relationship with Chapter Arts Centre and a number of community screens in the capital, Birds Eye View will develop Reclaim the Frame (RtF) in Wales, with the support of a Cardiff-based Impact Producer, to bring more film events and build a greater community of audiences for films by women and non-binary filmmakers in Cardiff. RtF titles will be screened with live events and conversations from Q&As, to panel discussions and workshops.
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Gentle/Radical – A Re-Gathering: Hyper-local R&D Screenings in Riverside
July – December 2022
After two years of Covid absence from delivering community screenings, Gentle Radical will reconnect with neighbourhood audiences and find out their needs, through a series of Riverside based pop-up screenings which will act as R&D for a new phase of the Gentle/Radical Film Club. They will trial a range of film genres as well as themes/issues with local audiences, marketed via direct local outreach, door-knocking, flyering single individual streets and organising local gatherings.
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Memo Arts Centre (Barry)
September – December 2022
Cine Memo screens diverse British, Welsh, international and independent films alongside blockbuster titles, offering affordable, accessible, and relaxed cinema representative of the wider community. The programme encourages cinema goers to re-engage in the big screen’ cinema experience and participatory events. MAC recognises the importance of its cinema role in helping the community to heal post Covid, to recover and rebuild from the overwhelming impact on their economic, societal, health and well-being. Events range from curriculum themed screenings with schools, to baby friendly, sing-a-longs, weekend family films and activities to support parents, guardians, carers, disabled and neuro-divergent audiences.
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North Wales

Cellb (Blaenau Ffestiniog):
April – December 2022

Community Connection evolved from the idea of Cellb’s Sinema’r Byd project, as a way to show World films in Blaenau Ffestiniog. This has grown to include independent films, Welsh-made films, documentary, and other underrepresented types of film. The aim is to turn the screenings into events with food and drinks, Q&A sessions and discussion groups.

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Off Y Grid
(Neuadd Dwyfor in Pwllheli, Pontio in Bangor, Cellb in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Neuadd Ogwen in Bethesda, Galeri in Caernarfon, Dragon Theatre in Barmouth and TAPE in Colwyn):
April – December 22
Off Y Grid is a network of 7 venues across North Wales that collaborates on affordable, year round, activities designed to promote independent films and global culture to rural audiences at their local independent cinema. In 2022, they will continue to support Welsh made films including special events around Gwledd and The Welshman, a series of films by award winning female filmmakers such as Jane Campion and Kelly Reichardt, Pride celebration and a programme of films to promote World Mental Health Day.
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Dragon Theatre (Barmouth):
June – December 2022
Barmouth is a small sea side town which welcomes tourists year-round, particularly during the summer. Through a programme of Welsh film, residents and visitors alike will discover different perspectives of Wales on screen. Shorts, features and special events with talent will introduce audiences to the creative process of filmmaking, Welsh culture and enable the community to reconnect following Covid 19. Activities also include Young at Heart and a Saturday Film Club for young audiences.
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Magic Lantern (Tywyn):
June – December 2022
Magic Lantern will ‘pick up the threads’ of positivity emerging post-covid. Through audience research, they will engage with younger audiences and consolidate programming via young crew, inviting more young people to attend their Made in Wales film screenings, monthly FILM CLUB films plus monthly ‘Mor a Mynnedd’ films around outdoor activities and a special archive horror screening with live music.
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Sinema Sadwrn (Llansadwrn)
April – December 2022

Sinema Sadwrn in Llansadwrn will programme nine films, including five screenings of independent British (including Welsh) and international films. They will screen Welsh-made short films before all nine main features, to showcase new Welsh talent and stories that reflect life in Wales, resonating with the experiences of audience members. After a pause due to Covid, this small, rural cinema is still finding its feet after reopening and their programme will offer an opportunity for filmgoers to reconnect safely with the community by sharing a cinematic experience.


Across Wales

Hijinx Unity Film Festival (Cardiff, Bangor and Llanelli)
20th June – 1st July

Hijinx Unity Festival is an international inclusive arts festival, running every 2 years since  2008. This year, for the first time, a film festival will run alongside, at Chapter Cardiff (20th and 21st), Pontio in Bangor (28th June) and Ffwrnes in Llanelli (1st July). Showcasing inclusive work made by and with learning disabled and/or autistic people, it will be made up of features and shorts of all types, panel discussions and Q&As both in person and over Zoom.

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Watch-Africa CIC – Watch-Africa film festival (Cardiff, Swansea, Bangor, Tywyn)
1st April – 1st September 2022
The 9th edition of the Watch-Africa Film Festival will look at what connects the rest of the World to the African continent, how to create awareness and understanding of different ways of living and connecting with others.

The festival will explore worldwide themes of diversity and inclusion across language, identity and belonging through a programme of films and activities. Specifically, Watch-Africa will explore Ujamaa, a Swahili word meaning collectiveness and consider what inclusion looks like for rural African communities – how they connect to the global movements such as Black Lives Matter and SARS.

They will also work with Docubox, the East African documentary film fund supporting filmmakers across East Africa, on film exchanges and masterclasses where 4 Welsh films will be screened in Kenya/East Africa and Wales, exploring language and identity, migration and future vision.

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WOW Film Festival (Wales Wide inc Newport and Swansea)
24th February – 12th March 2022
A Wales-wide tour of 15 screenings with a focus on indigenous people, their languages and wider cultures, including how the protection of their natural environments offers us a vital lesson for the future. The tour includes films from India, Asia, South America, Africa and will take place around International Womens’ Day. In Newport and Swansea, the WOW Film Club will reach out to BIPOC women, offering daytime screenings and offers for the wider tour. The tour will also be offered to film societies for special event screenings.
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Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival (Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Bangor)
1st September – 31st October
The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival will screen a selection of films at Chapter Cardiff, Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Pontio Bangor, along with online Zoom workshops and Q&A sessions. This year, they are introducing a Manga Comic Café (a free Japanese comic reading area) at each venue and in local cafés – to promote Japanese culture alongside the festival.
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+ Film Hub Wales

Impact Areas

Focus Areas