Spicing up the schedule with Great British Comedy
Variety is the spice of life, they say. It's something that we at Film Society believe in when choosing our programme each season.
We want to provide audiences with the best of world and independent cinema, but we don't want to find ourselves showing too many films of the same type.
That can be a turn-off, as audience reaction to our recent Latin American films clearly shows. We thought these were exceptional films that offered a glimpse into the cinema of another culture and showing them over the same weekend would provide an interesting and provocative contrast with one another that would get the membership talking.
Well, we were partly right. Yes, the films were exceptional; but they didn't interest members enough, especially the Saturday film, to make them feel they would be missing something special if they didn't turn up. So, we've learned something there – and will consider the implications when we think about next season's programme.
Of course, like the commercial cinema, we can only choose from what's being made. That tends to force your hand a bit. For example, among the 17 films the local multiplex had listed last week, two were available in both 2D and 3D versions, 10 warned of strong language, sexual scenes and violence and those aimed at a children's audience contained potentially upsetting content. Not much variety there. At least we have the choice of being able to take our time and be selective.
This leads me nicely to our next film, which is in complete contrast to gritty thrillers. It's not typical of the kind of film we usually show but we hope it will have wide appeal.
It's a low budget, British comedy that hasn't had a general release. We discovered it at the Keswick Film festival last year where it attracted enough interest to have been picked up by the British Federation of Film Societies.
It's also been well received at the Bradford, Dinard and London Independent Film Festivals. It's got a top cast – and a bit of local interest too.
It's called In Love with Alma Cogan and it stars Roger Lloyd Pack, Niamh Cusack and Keith Barron. It's set, and was filmed, in Cromer in Norfolk and is the sort of film that we seem to make quite often in this country – and rather well too (think of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or Quartet and you won't be far off the mark).
But "what's it about?", I hear you ask.
Well, to describe the plot in detail would give the game away. It centres on Norman (Roger Lloyd Pack) the manager of an end of the pier theatre that is facing an uncertain future.
Norman is good at his job and the theatre is a popular and valued local amenity but he has been there a long time and, as the theatre is not making any money, the local council has decided that it should be given a 'makeover' in order to boost its commercial appeal.
Their choice to lead this regeneration is someone from Norman's past. There is no love lost between them and he is also someone with some extremely strange ideas about what will appeal as entertainment to the community.
When he proposes an Alma Cogan tribute act for the theatre, this triggers painful memories for Norman which he finds difficult to deal with and brings recognition that things do need to change.
In Love with Alma Cogan might not be a typical Film Society film, but we are delighted to bring it exclusively to Lincoln because we think it will find an appreciative audience.
The film has been written and is directed by Tony Britten. It's unlikely that his name will ring a bell for most people, but Tony has an impressive CV, having worked in the theatre for many years.
He's been involved with stage performances and opera and, if you watch Champions' League football on TV, then you'll perhaps be interested to know that he composed the anthem for UEFA, which is heard at the top and bottom of each transmission.
Alma Cogan is Tony's first feature.
When we first found out about it last year and decided to include it in our programme, we did so for two reasons: firstly, because of its merits as a film which we thought would appeal to our members; and secondly, because John Hurt has a part.
Little did we think at the time that we'd be involved in inviting John to the city. However, as you will know, he appeared recently at the university where he talked briefly about the film.
As a result of our being able to meet him, we decided to ask Tony to the Society to introduce the film and stay for a Q&A session afterwards. It's the first time the society has been able to organise such an event and, we hope, not the last.
There are two screenings:
Friday March 15th at 7.30pm (members only)
Sunday March 24th at 3pm (members, their guests and the general public)
The Venue is being used for other events next week. Films resume on March 22.