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Hub Member Caitlin Smith reports from her time at the BFI London Film Festival

Date posted: 23.10.2014

We worked with BFI to offer all Members of Film Hub London discounted passes to its recent London Film Festival. Caitlin Smith of Free Film Festivals, one of the many exhibitors who took up the offer, explains how it helped with her work getting films out to Londoners across the capital.

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I work with the Free Film Festivals collective to programme and organise community film festivals in neighbourhoods of London. The structure of the festivals I have worked on is similar to a traditional film festival but is planned, programmed and run by volunteers and all events are free. A typical festival will include outdoor screenings, Q&As, filmmaking workshops, 48hour film competitions and autism friendly screenings.

The opportunity to apply for a subsidised and discounted industry pass for the BFI London Film Festival was hugely beneficial as a programmer and festival organiser as well as a cinema lover. The accreditation gave me access to over 100 industry screenings, the festival's online viewing library, which was very handy as, like most volunteers, I have a day job and struggled to get to all the industry screenings – and the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with other programmers and industry professionals.

Documentaries are particularly popular at my local Free Film Festival so I tried to see as many as possible at the Festival. I particularly enjoyed The Immortalists, and Ne Me Quitte Pas was the highlight for me.

In 2015 my local Free Film Festival is hoping to programme a 'Sound' themed strand to the festival so the 'Sonic' programme was particularly useful. Biophilia Live was fantastic and I also particularly enjoyed Eden. I'm a big fan of the Experimenta strand and this year was very good, The Film That Buys Cinema was the highlight, and reflects the community ethos of Free Film Festivals.

Film Hub London's support of Free Film Festivals, both in funding opportunities for the festivals and for individuals has been hugely beneficial. The Hub's ethos is very similar to Free Film Festival's goal to bring high quality cinema to all members of the community for free. Film Hub London's provision of subsidised accreditation and access to industry benefits has provided me with a unique opportunity that will benefit our festival.

Personally it has given me the opportunity to see films that may not receive a wide release and has put me in touch with a network of programmers, journalists and industry professionals that will no doubt benefit my career in the cinema exhibition industry, as well as the Free Film Festivals as a whole.

I have already begun planning events with people I met for future Free Film Festivals. The whole experience has been hugely beneficial to me as an individual and to Free Film Festivals in general and I am very grateful to Film Hub London for facilitating it.

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