We are delighted to announce that Watershed is extending its partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI) in a new four year plan to extend choice for experiencing films and to create opportunities for talent across the South West, including Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The BFI Film Audience Network is a unique collaboration of eight Film Hubs managed by strategically placed leading film organisations across the UK including Watershed. The Film Audience Network is at the heart of the BFI’s latest strategy BFI2022 which seeks to ensure the greatest choice of film is available for everyone.
Watershed will continue to lead Film Hub South West, a growing network of over 140 cinemas and film exhibition organisations from its base in Bristol which was recently named UNESCO Creative City of Film. As Film Hub Lead Organisation (FHLO), Watershed will build on its own passion for presenting the past, present and future of cinema and track record in talent development to share expertise and support existing and new partner organisations across the South West.
Mark Cosgrove, Watershed Cinema Curator and Film Hub South West Chair, commented:
“Watershed is delighted to continue our partnership with BFI as Film Hub Lead Organisation for the South West, reaching out to audiences, communities and talent across the region. Over the past five years we have developed a rich and engaged network of partner venues and organisations who care passionately about film culture and are working in local communities to enrich audiences engagement with the cinema experience. We very much look forward to building on this and putting film firmly at the centre of the region’s cultural and creative life.”
In a new move, National Lottery funding will see six BFI Network talent executives appointed in the English Hubs to give greater support to new and emerging talent where they live. This recognises the strength of the Hubs as spaces for filmmakers and audiences to meet. The ambition is to ensure all aspiring talent across the UK can access support, as well as benefit from signposting to the full scope of funding and training opportunities available to develop careers across the screen industries
Over £4 million of National Lottery funding per year until 2022 will enable BFI FAN to continue its broad range of activity to encourage greater engagement with independent and British film across the UK. With increased decision-making responsibility, Hubs will now invest in local film festivals as well as continue to back innovative audience development activity across the region. Hubs will deliver greater choice and access to a diversity of content to audiences everywhere, with a focus on reaching 16-30 year olds.
Changes to FAN’s geography in England see the Hubs now aligned with Arts Council England’s boundaries, creating improved potential for cultural partnerships and collaborations. With over 1,500 partners nationwide, and a greater focus on local and national collaboration, Hubs will work more closely with organisations such as Into Film and the BFI Film Academy to bring together existing regional and local expertise and engage and involve more people from every background, regardless of where they live.
Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said:
“It is fantastic that BFI's Film Audience Network is expanding. A boost in its National Lottery funding will mean it can build on its success and bring diverse, independent British films to even more communities across the UK and inspire the country's next generation of filmmakers.”
Ben Roberts, Director of the BFI Film Fund, said:
“Central to BFI2022 is the cultivation of a richer diversity of those who are watching and making films in the UK. In BFI FAN we have a thriving network of audiences, curators and filmmakers, reaching across the whole of the UK and through all types of cultural spaces – from multiplexes through to film clubs – so by embedding a mission to develop film talent within it, we can offer an inspiring and inclusive environment where creativity can thrive. Thanks to all our partners who have worked tirelessly with us to build BFI FAN over the past five years, and welcome to our new partners; we are excited by the opportunity to connect more people across the UK with the infinite joy of film.”
Delphine Lievens, Theatrical Sales Executive, Altitude Film Distribution said:
“The BFI Film Audience Network has become an essential partner for us on our releases in over the last year across a number of titles and most noticeably on our release of Daphne. The FAN team and Film Hubs across the UK have provided vital insights, support and unbridled enthusiasm to the projects we have worked together on. They have not only maximised press and marketing opportunities in key areas outside of London that otherwise may not have been covered but most importantly drawn in new audiences to cinemas across the UK.”
Film exhibition organisations can find out more about Film Hub South West here.