At a recent Cinema Politica screening at Concordia University, Montreal, filmmaker and professor Liz Miller caught up with Svetla Turnin and yours truly to get our two cents on organizing grassroots political film screenings. She interviewed us at her very packed screening of her new documentary, The Water Front.
For those unfamiliar with the project, Cinema Politica was started five years ago at Concordia and has grown into an alternative network for distributing and exhibiting independent cinema (with a focus on Canadian titles and documentaries). There are currently about 30 locals (chapters) in operation across Canaada, mostly at college and university campuses.
Cinema Politica has also sprung up in Germany, France, and Romania. The first Cinema Politica “festival” will take place this May in Transylvania.
überculture, the non-profit responsible for this here blog, is the organization behind the project. We started Cinema Politica to support independent political cinema as well as to address the lack of diversity on Canada’s movie screens.
In the video above, we explain how we manage to pack 500+ people into the campus theater at Concordia every Monday night and give some key tips to organizing a successful grassroots screening.
In short, these are our five tips towards creating successful grassroots films screenings:
- Engage the audience whenever possible. Q&A sessions following the film are a great way to keep people involved
- Reserve a venue that’s the appropriate for the size of audience that you expect to show up. Relatively few empty seats creates a more intimate atmosphere.
- Test the DVD (or other media) just before the screening. DVDs are notoriously fragile, and a small scratch can make for an embarassing malfunction.
- Promote your screening in a variety of ways. Well designed posters help, but don’t neglect the power of old fashioned handbills, nor social media such as Facebook.
- Always be open minded and willing to share your experiences and resources.