Community cinema is awesome. AWESOME!! Running a community cinema, or film society, is awesome too. It can also be tough. Testing at times. Most people running film clubs do so outside of a demanding 9-to-5. Many have families. Add to that the fact that they are planning and delivering events with little to no funding, little to no previous experience and you begin to realise the commitment required to keep a club going. You learn pretty quick that small wins are a big deal – The projector didn’t cut out. Win! The cake didn’t poison anyone. Win! We broke even on ticket sales this month and can afford to pay the license fee. Win! We still get a buzz any time someone buys a ticket, “people actually want to come to our thing!”
Today marks the fifth anniversary of film exhibition under the Minicine banner and while ours may only be a short history it’s one we’re very proud of. A short history, a big deal.
On April 1st 2010, Edel Doherty and Daniel Guest held the very first Minicine film night at The Palace Picturehouse in Armley Mills Industrial Museum. Being April Fool’s Day, their first feature film choice was Joel and Ethan Coen’s zany kidnapping caper Raising Arizona (and we live in hope that one day Nicolas Cage will return our phone calls and agree to become our patron). Their initial programme set the standard and tone of what a ‘Mincine film’ should be – independent, engaging, thought-provoking, under appreciated and overlooked but worthy of being shown on any screen.
Raising Arizona was preceded by the short film Boyclops by Jay Dahl, the tale of an athletic one-eyed teenager. Shorts have played an important part in Minicine film nights over the last five years and when Edel and Daniel relocated to Cork and Mike McKenny took over day-to-day running, he soon brought Woody into the fold to assist in elevating the profile of shorts films within our programming. Woody would also become head programmer for the Films form the Bakery residency at the now-defunct Dock Street Market. Fellow newbie Jamie McHale helped expand our showcasing of independent North American comedy including Bobcat Goldtwaite’s World’s Greatest Dad and French Canadian coming-of-age story C.R.A.Z.Y. and Adam Ryan contributed to the delivery of Cine-Polskie – a day devoted to classic Polish cinema and food. With a focus on niche, leftfield cinema and a strong championing of the short form, 2012 would be topped off with Minicine winning the British Federation of Film Societies’ (now Cinema For All) award for Best Film Programming at that year’s National Conference at Institut Francais in London.
New opportunities beckoned for many of the team at this time, with Jamie relocating to London, Adam to Birmingham and while Mike stayed closer to home – he was busy co-ordinating the resurrection of the Plaza Cinema in Bradford – Woody was tasked with keeping things ticking over on the Minicine front.
2013 would ultimately be a year of trial and error as the programme was refocused to include more personal and intimate films that showcased characters many audience members had not previously had the pleasure of meeting via a cinema screen, including Kenny the Australian port-a-loo technician, Billy the kid with his no-holds-barred views of society and Jenna the put-upon waitress with a knack for baking the most-inspired pies in town. More consideration too was given to the pairing of short and feature films resulting in a more cohesive film selection at each event.
Following a series of guest bakers, including Tasha McKenny, Kelly McKenny and Cheery Little Thing’s Kay Brown, Abi Standish joined the team to provide her own baking skills but was soon assisting Woody with programming and marketing, and in January 2014 Minicine delivered its first Minicine at The Mills film season. Modern Monochrome Season, African Cinema Season and Animates Season offered us the opportunity to investigate and present examples of cinema that had until then been underserved. A new working relationship with award-winning cake-makers Noisette Bakehouse gave new scope to our film nights, as did the introduction of Video Playlists which showcased the the music video genre, expanding our short film output. and we were able to deliver our most succinct programme yet. In September we travelled to Sheffield for the Cinema For All National Conference and we awarded with distinctions in Best Film Programming and Best Publicity & Marketing and, amazingly, the Special Mention for the Engholm Award for Film Society of the Year.
We’d like to thank everyone, past and present, who has contributed to Minicine in some way over the last five years, but specifically Barry Yates, who has since gone on to set up KinoFólk in The Basement at York’s City Screen, was instrumental in the programming of our recent Nordic Season at Armley Mills; Sally Chadderton, who is busy designing season passes for our upcoming There’s No ‘I’ In Team Season as we speak; Mike McKenny, currently writing a book on Superhero mythology; and congratulations to Edel and Daniel who just last week welcomed baby Fia to the world.
We’d also like to thank you Sarah and Hannah at Noisette Bakehouse for all the baked goods this last year and making the chocolate hotdog a staple of our diets; Lesley and Louise at Armley Mills Industrial Museum, Ellie and Matt at The Gallery at Munro House, Fiona at The Arch Café, Emma at The Orangery – thanks for all your help and letting us screen in your lovely venues.
After all this reminiscing it would probably be appropriate to round things off with a short statement about what the next five years may hold but we’ve already taken up enough of your time, so we’ll just say something cool.
Join us this evening from 7PM upstairs in The Adelphi on Leeds Bridge, the birthplace of moving image, for cake, drinks and Dough Boys pizza. Let us know you’re coming and don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes.