New Digital Platform means anywhere can be a Cinema

Since 2009, the social enterprise Open Cinema has been enabling low-income and excluded communities in the UK and Ireland to programme and manager their own cinemas and filmmaking programmes. Since inception, 34 film clubs have welcomed 14k admissions with 200 special guests, and participants have produced 56 short films of their own. The company has won numerous awards and recognition for its work, including being selected to present film made my homeless people from all over the world at the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Open Cinema today (Thursday 1st October) launches its new service, enabling workplaces, leisure or community centres to screen films to audiences across the UK. It has also received over 600 enquiries from 70 countries, from communities that want to use and adapt their model themselves and return communal storytelling to its ancient role in society.

The platform is operated by a new company, Open Cinema International Ltd, 10% owned by the Open Cinema Foundation. The Foundation continues to work on the special projects with frontline support organisations including St. Mungo’s Broadway and Homeless Link, publish impact research, and provides filmmaking programmes for both service uses and communications teams within social sector organisations. Open Cinema are currently in discussion with dozens of organisations across a wide range of sectors, including community centres, hotels, care homes and offices, and expect to capitalise on the success of over 6 years of community cinema delivery through the foundation.

10% of profits from the new company will be used to support the Foundation’s work in support environments

Founder and CEO Christopher Warrack says:

“Open Cinema was founded to bring excluded communities together through cinema, and to bring the film industry closer to the poor. A digital platform has always offered the prospect of reducing costs and prices, and making the model much more widely available to low-income communities.

But there shouldn’t really be such a distinction, so any community can now register a space as a cinema and start presenting thrilling or in any way significant film events – libraries and law firms, corporates and community centres, church halls and pubs – and these can be findable and accessible by anyone with the app, bring all walks of life together to engage in events that stir the passions and mobilize collaborations, or simply delight or bemuse.

We have a huge range of amazing features to add in the coming months, according to what people find valuable or useful. I hope that this begins to realise a little more of the potential in the much-loved medium of cinema, at a time when communities could do with better ways to express themselves and find solutions to the challenges we face.”

Film actor and former Open Cinema guest Natascha McElhone says:

“In these days of trying to watch great creative works on little gadgets on the bus, Open Cinema put the community and big screen first. They hand the gift of cinema to people far from the spotlight of the high street, wealth and celebrity.

I introduced The Truman Show to an audience of young people at a homeless shelter in the West End… I saw people’s moods change, lift, conversations start, interaction where there had been a heavy sad silence in the room before.

The transformational effect of movies is what makes them so necessary and everyone should have access to that experience – even if it’s just for two hours – being transported away from their real life woes can sometimes make things just bearable. With their new digital platform, many more communities will be able to watch great films in local settings and get closer to all the stories the world of cinema as to offer”

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