Friday Comment: Offering something different to West Yorkshire cinephiles

The Friday Comment is a new section on BGL which gives people the space to talk about their lives in Leeds, posted at 2pm on Fridays; if you would like to have your say then please get in touch by emailing us on beyondgdnleeds@gmail.com.

Minicine: Offering something different to West Yorkshire cinephiles

Minicine is a non-profit, volunteer-led community film society that screens in Leeds and Bradford. We believe that cinema of all kinds should be appreciated. It is no secret that Leeds and Bradford are well served with respect to cinema, with a handful of tremendous festivals, art-house cinemas offering plenty of variety, plus many multiplexes offering not only all the blockbusting action you can take, but also a large amount of the high end art-house fare. This is why, as another option for film lovers of the region, we offer two things in particular. One is to try and catch some of the films that have fallen through the cracks; those really interesting films that have something to say, but haven’t had the opportunity we think they deserve. Second, and most importantly, we try to do this in an intimate community setting that can knit our audience together, bringing like-minded film fans to the same space.

With respect to our film offerings, we really separate this into two categories. We have Minicine’s most treasured finds: films that sneaked through the highly competitive theatrical release minefield, but deserve a more direct spotlight shone on them. Further still, securing films that aren’t even in distribution in this country, often imported directly from the filmmakers, we try to find the cinematic gems that our audience won’t otherwise have chance to access. We are currently packaging up six films into a neat little programme to play one every fourth Thursday of the month from June to November, at our lovely usual screening venue of the Palace Picture House in Armley Mills. The six month programme will be announced at our screening of the independent record store based documentary Sound it Out on the 24th May. Unfortunately, this screening is already sold out, but you will be able to find out all the information about the programme on our website, www.miniminicine.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/miniminicine, on Twitter at @MinicineYorks, or you can e-mail minicine@live.co.uk with the subject MAILING LIST to receive the most up to date information straight to your inbox.

These feature film presentations are often preceded by a number of short films, sometimes curated thematically to tie in with the feature at hand, sometimes put together for eclectic variation, but always intended to contribute to our ongoing aim of showcasing all the beautiful varieties that the moving image has to offer. We also endeavour to dedicate a portion of our short film exhibition to films that are produced locally on miniscule or non-existent budgets. In doing so, we can proudly say that we have presented some of the freshest talent West Yorkshire has to offer. We also offer these local filmmakers a real – and often relentless – audience from which to receive genuine feedback. If you are a local filmmaker, please get in touch and submit your work.

One of the most notorious features of these screenings are the baked goods on offer, supplied by wonderful volunteer bakers and coming in many forms; from brownies, cookies and buns to thematically decorated cakes, they are one of the features that embody the DIY, community ethos of the screenings.

A different offering that we like to get ourselves involved in we call ‘Minicine on Location’. Not quite as concerned with uncovering the freshest cinema from the fringes, we like to celebrate that side of cinema that brings people together; to take cinema into spaces that aren’t always associated with film exhibition. From bars to youth centres to community clubs, we are popping up with screenings in places where we can bring iconic moments of cinema to audiences that can kick back, relax, grab a few drinks and enjoy cinema with groups of like-minded people, yet outside of the constraints and costs of the theatrical experience. You can currently find this in action at our FREE screenings at Dock Street Market on every second Thursday of the month. This ‘Films From the Bakery’ series is comprised of six films charting every important phase of life. We had One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest dealing with childhood and we had a 1980s nostalgia-fest with Sixteen Candles highlighting the heightened drama of teenagehood. Pop into Dock Street to ask what features are coming up as we enter a double helping of young adulthood over the next couple of months.

All this cinematic goodness would be nothing without our burgeoning membership base. We will always be a society open to the public, never locking our screenings behind an impenetrable and insular wall of the ‘members only’ clique, yet the Minicine experience is vastly improved by our membership offering. With only twenty six seats at our Armely Mills venue, and with the reputation we have built over the last year or so, screenings do sell out pretty sharpish after they’re announced. It is for this reason that the major draw of membership, other than the discounted ticket price (£4 rather than £6), monthly meet-ups, discounts and deals at local film festivals and influence over the programme, is the fact that members can purchase tickets at least a week before they go on sale to the general public. For more on this see our membership page at www.miniminicine.com/membership

To reiterate, we have no particular qualms with the multiplex doing their thing, and we certainly don’t have any qualms with the likes of the wonderful Hyde Park Picture House or the film offering at the National Media Museum, but we reckon we offer something a little different, a little more intimate and something that can really bring people together over a brew, a slice of cake, a film and some cinephilic company.

Mike McKenny (@DestroyApathy)
Minicine Co-Director
miniminicine.com
twitter.com/minicineyorks
facebook.com/miniminicine

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