With over £3 million in funding generated for Welsh cinemas, festivals and community screens since 2013, Film Hub Wales (FHW) take a look back at the last 10 years.
Working with a vast network of over 300 exhibitors in Wales, offering dedicated advice, training and funding, the Hub, which is part of the UK-wide BFI Film Audience Network (FAN), has brought nearly 6000 of the best UK independent and international films to communities Wales-wide since the project’s launch. All made possible thanks to BFI National Lottery funding.
Highlights range from the large scale ‘Roald Dahl on Film’ centenary and a celebration of UK animation: ‘Anim18’, both of which reached 150 cinema screens UK wide, through to the Wales Youth Festival Network and Off Y Grid, which established regional collaborations between clusters of cinemas and festivals for the benefit of hyper-local audiences. The Hub has also set up instrumental schemes like Made in Wales, which addresses a gap in the Welsh film chain by working to promote films with Welsh connections and Inclusive Cinema, which was designed to support fair representation and access within UK cinema environments.
Looking back to the Hub’s launch, Welsh cinemas went dark as part of a UK wide season called ‘BFI Gothic’ in 2013. In Aberystwyth, audiences got aboard the Abertoir Horror Express, the first of many off-site events the renowned international festival would go on to host.
Abertoir’s Directors Gareth Bailey and Nia Edwards Behi explain why the Hub’s support has been so important for them:
“We've been really proud to work with Film Hub Wales for all this time, for many, many, years! The support has been incredible. Some of the best films that we've shown have been down to Film Hub Wales' encouragement and contacts, such as Gwledd. It’s apt for us that it all started with BFI Gothic - 10 years ago. Film Hub Wales funding at that time enabled us to take a risk and pilot our first off site event, the ‘Abertoir Horror Express.’ We’ve been experimenting with off-site screenings ever since! We also believe Abertoir should be accessible and their support has enabled us to provide captioning for the virtual elements of the festival. We’re so pleased that Film Hub Wales exists to support film culture in Wales.”
This was just the beginning. The Hub has since funded and / or directly developed 347 projects across Wales, from ‘Picturing our Past’ – an enhanced e-book on the history of Wales from the Screen and Sound Archive at the National Library of Wales, to the support of six venues in their efforts to embed d/Deaf led cinema schemes with the Wales Council for Deaf People.
FHW’s Strategic Manager Hana Lewis explains:
“With so many current challenges for cinemas, it’s important to reflect on the many highs we’ve had over the last 10 years. I’m grateful for the relationships we’ve built with partners like Cellb, Pontio and the Magic Lantern, where we’ve been working together from the start of our respective cinema journeys. Also for strategic partnerships with Wicked and the Screen and Sound Archive where we took risks together to create something new. Whether we’re advocating for policy changes that affect Welsh exhibition, or helping young programmers, our job is essentially to build a project that supports cinemas and festivals to do what they do best – entertain and connect audiences. The Hub is only a success because of them and we hope to continue offering our support to for years to come.”
The Hub’s activities also extend to skills development. With the aim of supporting a confident and thriving exhibition sector, the Hub has awarded 193 training bursaries for members to attend important courses or meetings outside of their local authorities. They have also created 26 courses and 23 online resources in house and offered hundreds of opportunities for exhibitors to network and access one-to-one advice from the Hub team.
Reg Noyes, Programme Manager at Taliesin Create explains how Film Hub Wales supports organisations to develop their skills and partnerships:
“Film Hub Wales is a very proactive and supportive project that has managed to bring all the Welsh exhibitors together to form a familiar and close network. Through periodical online meetings and Welsh Screening Days, Welsh exhibitors have formed links and shared experience/information, making us a close-knit professional group. Their newsletters and Preview Room on their website are a fantastic resource for programmers, and their curated seasons bring much welcomed variety. Film Hub Wales is a huge asset to Welsh cinemas and programmers.”
Partners can learn more about the Hub’s work in their 10 Year Highlights, which covers a selection of projects, which they will be sharing on their socials in the coming weeks. You can also hear from Hub members themselves who explain what the project has meant to them in a series of short videos. The Hub has also funded 17 new projects in 2023 which means there are many exciting things still to come for Welsh audiences.
Ben Luxford Director of UK Wide Audiences adds:
“The BFI is proud to have supported Film Hub Wales over the past 10 years to strengthen and develop the exhibition sector for the benefit of audiences. Part of long-term investment of National Lottery funding as part of the UK-wide BFI Film Audience Network, which sees us working with great partners whose work benefits the nation with activities taking place in the hearts of communities. Congratulations to Hana and the team on offering such vital continuing support.”
Film Hub Wales is part of the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) using funds from the National Lottery to ensure the greatest choice of cinema is available to everyone across the UK. 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.