Investing in the Future of Collective Cinema: LUMI Film Club and Curating Film Feels Hopeful

Lydia Rostant & Michael McConway //

We asked Lydia and Michael, two of Queens Film Theatre's LUMI Film Programmers, to reflect on their experience of curating screenings for Film Feels Hopeful. LUMI is a new era for Queen's Film Theatre, made for an entirely new, young generation of people at QFT.

Emily Dickinson famously wrote, ‘hope is a thing with feathers.’ Cinema has taught us over and over again, that hope is also the thing with red velvet chairs, popcorn kernels, whirring projectors and dimmed lights. Film offers hope to the weary, the disgruntled and the bored in the most direct and pleasurable of ways. Over the last few months, Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast has offered hope in various forms; unlikely connection in I’m Your Man, adventure in Zola, solidarity in the Docs Ireland Series and pure absurdism in Annette. As Dickinson suggested, hope can be a fragile thing, and must be handled with care. In a year that has challenged everyone, it’s no easy task to curate a programme that feels both reflective and optimistic, and a great portion of that success lies with the work of Film Clubs.

LUMI, as part of QFT, plays an integral role in facilitating and uplifting the voices of young people in the film industry, asking not only WHAT we want to see, but HOW we should make it happen. The future of film lies in the hands of young people and the key to harnessing it, is in understanding and listening to the desires of young people, and in trusting them to define and shape programmes. From time immemorial, cinema has been obsessed with youth, celebrating it in classics such as Stand By Me, Superbad and Girlhood. Surely it’s not a stretch then, to imagine that these same young people might hold the key to a new way of film programming, one that celebrates diversity, uplifts voices, and most importantly, inspires hope in the next generation of film buffs.

(Lydia Rostant, LUMI Programmer)

Film clubs have offered me the opportunity to join a community, sharing my love of vintage folk horror in British cinema. Film Clubs are an essential open and inclusive forum where we laugh about our favourite flops and cry about the sequels that never got made. As our lives become more rigidly isolated and socially stratified the opportunity for young people to collectively experience and interpret film is one we must champion, promote and safeguard. At the LUMI network we are committed to adapting the medium of the film club, sharing ideas about our favourite genres via collaborative platforms such as Miro Boards and Padlets, where our club members can explore their lived experiences and identify with characters who inspire hope by embarking on a relatable emotional journey. The Film Club offers opportunities as a networking ground, a chance for writers to meet like-minded scribblers and for aspiring directors and producers to pitch their fledgling projects.

Curating the Playback Film Festival and the Film Feels Hopeful season developed my analytical and communication skills, offering the opportunity to communicate within a close knit team, share my programming ideas, learn about film distribution rights and deliver a panel discussion to the public. Curating film empowers young people to engage with and cross-promote film among community partners, specialist groups and rural audiences who may not have experienced independent cinema due to infrastructural barriers and inspire their love of cinema. As a young person with autism, I hope that one of our screenings, Life Animated, can convey the powerful catalyst that cinema can become in inspiring hope and changing lives, empowering young people to overcome communication barriers.

(Michael McConway, LUMI Programmer)

Find out more about Queen Film Theatre's Film Feels Hopeful activity here.