Case Study: CineQ Queer Film Festival

Identifying a programming gap within the region in 2017 FEDS trainee Rico Johnson-Sinclair set up a queer film night in Birmingham, sharing stories focusing on LGBTQIA+ people of colour. Forging a partnership with Centrala in Digbeth CineQ found a regular home and started a bi-monthly screening programme of shorts, docs and features, such as Closet Monster, Check It and Harding and His Camera. After a successful first year CineQ moved to a festival model and in spring 2019 took over spaces across Birmingham for the inaugural CineQ Queer Film Festival.


Starting as a community cinema operating in Birmingham, CineQ seeks to grow appetites and audiences for Queer and LGBTQIA+ films whilst championing New Queer Cinema in the region - with a focus on the perspectives of Queer Trans and Intersex People of Colour (QTIPOC)
CineQ has now grown into a two day festival supported by BFI FAN Film Hub Midlands.

Project aims

  • Deliver a city-wide film festival with a focus on queer cinema and, in particular, queer people of colour.

  • Allow new and emerging filmmakers, and the film curious, to meet members of the industry in the Midlands in order to make connections not otherwise accessible to underrepresented communities.


  • Two sell out screenings, Rafiki and Sauvage, which attracted a combined audience of 283.

  • Generating an online audience of 328 through ‘watch parties’ widening access to events, Q&As and speakers for people who couldn’t attend in person.

  • Sold out networking events and talks for film programmers and industry professionals looking to add queer film to their programme.

  • Filmmakers Brunch with award-winning filmmaker Campbell X offering advice and support for queer filmmakers hosted in association with BFI NETWORK.


Rafiki with Q&A
Shakedown with Q&A

A Deal with the Universe with Q&A
Body Electric + CineQ After Hours
Femxle Gaze
Then and Now

Watch Parties
BFI NETWORK X CINEQ: Filmmaker’s Brunch with Campbell X
Second Self: The Movies

Key partnerships

Mockingbird Cinema
MAC Birmingham
Punch Records
SHOUT Festival
The Village

Budget in brief

Budget £4,500
Box office £1,115
Cos per head £6.30

What worked

  • Having partners on board early and utilising their networks to spread the word, as word of mouth was an important PR tool for the festival. Having a strong marketing campaign and brand identity worked to raise the profile of the festival and get people interested and talking about the festival both on and offline.

What has been difficult

  • Often the biggest challenges for festivals is not having a permanent home and working with a range of different spaces (both theatrical and non-theatrical) is very labour intensive in regards to technical requirements, presentation, messaging etc. A lot of things are out of control of the festival organisers so communication really is key.

What you would do differently if you did it again

  • Watch parties worked really well to engage new audiences that couldn't physically attend the festival and we would look to expand this element of the programme in future to include features as well as shorts.

  • Having analysed festival data, we now have a better understanding of how to utilise some of our partner venues in future by taking a more strategic approach based on where the audiences are, how far they're willing to travel and which venues can cater to larger audiences etc.

  • No matter how much lead in time you have, it's never enough! In future we will definitely start announcements earlier with a longer campaign to introduce newcomers to CineQ.

  • I think we could have made the programme more political, especially considering the issues with LGBTQ education in the city.

Awareness / Attitudes

An unexpected larger percentage of the audience were LGBTQ+, whereas the bi-monthly events had mostly audiences who identified as heterosexual. This indicated that the festival format better engaged with people from the LGBT+ community as perhaps it is easier to commit to an annual festival, whereas the they bi monthly events had a wider appeal.
A lot of our feedback said that the programme tackled a lot of issues they were familiar with, and as such, allowed ample learning opportunity within and outside of the LGBT community.


Both the programme and audiences were in line with CineQ’s aims and projections with 54% of audiences identifying as non-white and 80% of audiences identifying as LGBTQIA+.

Knowledge & Experience

The festival has been pivotal in upskilling the workforce with 3 paid roles (2 x programmers and 1 Marketing Assistant) as well as delivering training for a pool of volunteers.

Social Cohesion

The festival has helped foster a sense of community for LGBTQIA+ people of colour and film fans of queer film. It has brought people together in safe spaces to watch, discuss and share specialised film and gave people an opportunity to explore new spaces in their city and surrounding areas through the medium of film. CineQ presented a diverse range of films in inclusive settings, giving audiences the chance to see things they wouldn’t otherwise get to engage with.


Cinema attendance can have independent and robust effects on mental wellbeing, film brings people together, starts conversations and breaks down barriers. Visual stimulation can queue a range of emotions and the collective experience of these emotions through the cinema experience provides a safe environment in which to experience roles and emotions we might not otherwise be free to experience. The festival provided an opportunity for the community to come together, particularly those in isolation, to participate in a communal experience in safe spaces in their local area.


The festival generated box office income of £1,115 as well as bar and cafe takings at each of the participating venues. 3 artists, performers and facilitators were engaged to deliver workshops or performances during the festival and local talent was contracted where possible.

What audiences said

  • 'The programme was so thoughtful, just the right amount of light and dark, I'll definitely be back!'

  • 'AMAZING!!! How did I not know about this before now'

What professionals, press and partners said

  • 'Great to see that a space for LGBTQ cinema has been established for people in the second city'

  • ‘The CineQ Filmmakers Brunch with Campbell X was a very special event for BFI NETWORK in the region, it brought a diverse group of filmmakers together to learn from the experience of Campbell X, a prominent black, non binary filmmaker who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Campbell anchored the event around what inspires them and gave insight to the practicalities of filmmaking but also the emotional journey which can be experienced being an LGBTQ+ filmmaker, constantly expected to explore one's own sexuality through film. The event was held at a wheelchair accessible venue and was free and catered meaning it reduced access and economic barriers for participants. The expectations of a safe, inclusive place to share and learn were set out at the very beginning of the event by CineQ Director Rico Johnson-Sinclair which led to a very supportive and engaged group of participants. Verbal feedback was excellent and we would happily support continued activity with this festival.’

Press coverage

  • 6 pieces of coverage

  • 328 online ‘watch party’ engagements

  • 5612 estimated coverage views

  • 102 social shares