Swindon Film Society scooped a clutch of prizes at the National Conference of the British Federation of Film Societies – including the prestigious Engholm Prize for ‘Film Society of the Year’.
The prize is awarded annually by BFFS to ‘the most vigorous and dynamic film society demonstrating all qualities required of individual categories’.
Swindon Film Society was singled out for the top honours in recognition of the way that it has extended and diversified its activity the past few years, reaching out to new audiences and working with new partners across the community, while at the same time increasing membership and audience numbers for its core programme at Swindon Arts Centre – and, most recently, delivering an exciting and successful ‘Swindon Film Festival’.
The BFFS National Conference, which was held at the Ciné Lumière in London’s Institut Français on Saturday 18 September, was addressed by Culture Minister Ed Vaisey, who paid tribute to volunteer-led organisations like film societies and their role in delivering important cultural services to local communities. (Right, the award winning film Restrepo, a film society feature on 26 October at Swindon Arts Centre)
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Swindon Film Society Chair Barbara Hoffbauer said: “The last few years have seen a transformation in the way that we deliver our programme, and how we think about what we do. The turning point was when, in 2006, we got a grant from UK Film Council to buy some portable film projection equipment, so that we could take films out to wherever people wanted to see them. What we’ve done since then is to look for all sorts of opportunities to do just that – mostly successfully, and always with a lot of fun.”
As well as being voted ‘Film Society of the Year’, Swindon Film Society shared (with Portsmouth Film Society) the top prize in the ‘Community Award’ category, and received a distinction for its Film Education Programme, and a commendation for its Film Programming.
During its 2010/11 season, Swindon Film Society screened 51 different films at twelve venues, with a total audience of over 4,000. Audience reaction to the films was overwhelmingly “good” or "excellent”.
The Society’s new season starts on Wednesday 21 September at Swindon Arts Centre with the screening of ‘MARY AND MAX’, and at St Michael’s Hall in Highworth on Friday 23 September with ‘MADE IN DAGENHAM’.
On Tuesday 20 September the Society is working with Swindon Libraries to show the 1960’s classic ‘BLOW-UP’ at the Central Library, as part of the ‘Swindon: The Teenage Years’ event.
For more information about the new season, visit the website www.swindonfilm.org.uk, or phone 01793 330639.