EXCLUSIVE: The first initiative to come out of Film Hub North is a partnership between Sheffield Doc/Fest and Cineworld aimed at bringing documentaries to multiplex audiences.

The BFI has officially added Film Hub North to its Film Audience Network, an £8.7m lottery funded scheme made up of nine Film Hubs tasked with boosting film audiences across the UK.

Film Hub North, which will cover Yorkshire, Cumbria and the North East of England, will be headed up by Sheffield’s Showroom Workstation (under the management of umbrella company Sheffield Media & Exhibtion Centre).

Previously, the BFI had unveiled eight Film Hubs, together with their Film Hub Lead Organisations, that would comprise the Film Audience Network. However the addition of Film Hub North, according to Ben Roberts, director of the BFI Film Fund, “puts the final, significant piece into place”.

As part of its remit to work with key organisations in the region, the first initiative to come out of Film Hub North is a new partnership between Sheffield Doc/Fest and Cineworld, which will see a programme of documentaries about extraordinary people and subjects – entitled The Unbelievable Truth - being screened at selected Cineworld Cinemas across the region in the autumn.

If the programme is successful there is potential to roll the programme out across more Cineworld venues.

“What’s particular to Film Hub North is that we brought a lot of strategic partners onboard from the beginning to work together on what has the most impact and potential,” said Film Hub North manager Anna Kime, who took up her post in April, having previously worked for Film London. 

“We are capitalising on Doc/Fest’s reputation, it is such a strong partner for Film Hub North,” added Kime, who will work alongside former Doc/Fest marketplace manager Chris Black in his new role as administrator of Film Hub North.

“We have a strategy to broaden and find new audiences and increase our year round presence, so when it was announced that that was what the Film Hub’s aims were as well, that was a perfect fit for us,” Sheffield Doc/Fest’s director Heather Croall told Screen.

“We do stuff with independent cinemas, with outdoor screens, with town halls, so we said how about we take some really great documentaries that wouldn’t normally get a distributor and offer something really unusual in a multiplex,” added Croall.

“It’s exciting to be working with Sheffield Doc/Fest and it is great that we are able to offer film-goers across the North East and Yorkshire the chance to see some of the excellent documentaries from The Unbelievable Truth programme,” added Roy Gower, head of film at Cineworld.

Meanwhile the BFI’s Roberts, said it was a “timely moment to launch an exciting and ambitious partnership with Sheffield Doc/Fest and Cineworld. Doc/Fest draws a large UK and international audience to the North of England and the region is renowned for its world class film production services and thriving filmmaking community. Film Hub North is all set to build a proud and vibrant film audience across Yorkshire, Cumbria and the North East through a wide range of creative and commercial partnerships.”

The Film Audience Network’s 8 other Film Hub Lead Organisations are:

  • Broadway Nottingham and Cambridge Film Trust
  • Chapter, Cardiff
  • Cornerhouse, Manchester
  • Film London
  • QFT (Queen’s Film Theatre), Belfast
  • Regional Screen Scotland
  • the University of Brighton
  • Watershed, Bristol