Start your own local
Cinema Politica was started in 2003 as one single campus film series in Montreal, QC, and has grown into a pan-Canadian and now international network of interconnected exhibition sites. The network’s virtual hub is the Cinema Politica website and each local runs as an individual initiative where organizers choose their own films from the Cinema Politica Screening Pool. The rest - venue, governance, schedule, promotion techniques, etc - are all up to you! (although we do offer advice and some minor support with promotions).
In 2007 we began asking locals in the network to pay an annual membership fee to help us with our growing costs. Currently we receive much needed support from the Canada Council for the Arts and Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec amongst others, but the annual membership fees are a way for us to build sustainability into the network.
Support we Offer to our Locals
If you are interested in being part of the Cinema Politica Network, and you’re ready to start up a series or festival on your campus (or in your community), here’s what kind of support you can expect:
1. Web support – a section for your local will be created and maintained on the Cinema Politica website. As of Winter 2010 www.cinemapolitica.org was experiencing around 60,000 unique visitors per month and growing steadily.
2. DVD loans from the Cinema Politica Screening Pool – we have hundreds of independent political documentaries in our main catalogue, and postage is covered one way by us.
3. Public Performance Licensing (or copyright screening costs) for you to publicly show films from our catalogue mentioned above – we can help you avoid the headache of getting clearance to screen oodles of amazing documentaries and know that you are supporting independent filmmakers. The list of available cleared titles is more limited for our international locals, but there are still many to choose from, don't worry!
4. Operational and organizational advice and support – we help our locals with everything from designing posters and programs to programming decisions to event logistics.
5. Mad Mimi rich-media newsletter. We love Mad Mimi, and once you join the CP Network and begin using MM to promote your screenings, you'll understand why.
6. Limited financial support – thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts and some fundraising efforts we do have a small budget to assist our Canadian-based locals throughout the Network. This financial support is earmarked for bringing independent Canadian works and artists to our many locals.
Interested? Here’s what YOU need to do to get started, before contacting us:
1. Assemble a team of volunteers. Do not try this alone! Cinema Politica teams range from 4 (Ottawa) to 12 (UQAM), but all have many volunteers working together. Four is probably a good solid base number you would want on a CP team, leaving one person for event logistics, one for PR and promotions, one for finance and one for programming.
2. Secure a suitable venue. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is often the biggest stumbling block to getting a CP local started. A good venue should be easy to access for both students and the public and should have projection equipment and decent sound. (Films and videos in our library are all in DVD format, but you may want to screen in DVCam, BetaSP, MiniDV, Digi-Beta or even 35mm). If possible your venue should be on campus, keeping rental costs significantly down.
3. Find a local sponsor or three. Whether it’s a student association/club or a locally-owned business (no big corporate sponsors please!), sponsors provide all kinds of support from volunteers to finances to promotion. Many Cinema Politica locals are organized and/or sponsored by different campus clubs and associations. We especially love PIRGs (Public Interest Research Groups) and Student Unions - you can try starting with them.
4. Raise some cash. The Cinema Politica Network is sustained through The Canada Council for the Arts funding and through our membership fees paid annually by our locals. International locals must pay at least half the annual fee before we begin with services. Canadian locals may begin, but we ask that a minimum be raised upon joining or within a timeframe set by our Executive Director. All this to say - we've grown huge, we're now the largest campus-based documentary network in the world, and we can't keep going without support from our locals. So do some fundraising, or secure future funding, then move to the next steps.
5. Make a schedule and decide on a launch date. After the logistics of money, venue and volunteers are sorted out, the next CP local meeting is usually about scheduling and programming. In the beginning, you may want to stick to one film per month or every two weeks at the most. Monday nights have been successful at many Canadian Cinema Politica locals, and 7 PM or 7:30 PM have proven to be good screening times. These details are up to you, however, and will depend on location and other factors. The main thing is to set up a realistic schedule – one you can maintain based on your number of volunteers, available time to promote between screenings, exam and term paper schedules, conflicting events (like other film series or festivals), and other factors.
6. Choose your films. Finally, the best part – watching and selecting amazing political cinema to include in your series. The general idea in building an audience is to show “crowd pleasers” in the beginning of the series, then slowly integrate more radical political texts (if you are so inclined, and we hope you are!) as you go. “Crowd pleasers” doesn’t mean mainstream, or films that have had commercial exposure, but works that are still examples of decent political cinema, films that have generated some buzz and maybe even won some awards (like The Corporation and Darwin’s Nightmare). While smashing the state may be a great cinematic topic, it is not usually good starter material to build an audience with. But again, this is entirely up to you and will depend on location, audience and other factors.
Cinema Politica isn’t just about showing excellent political cinema – it is about providing an accessible and democratic space for discussion and debate. To this end, CP screenings throughout the network are accompanied by presentations, panels and special guest speakers. When possible, it is great to have a Q & A with the filmmaker or people involved with the film. It also makes for great discussion to have people who are working in areas/issues that the film touches who can lead a discussion following the screening. (If you screened The End of Suburbia for example, you could have activists present that are working in the area of alternative fuels and/or sustainable development.
If you've done these steps, and are ready to go, drop us a line. Please contact Cinema Politica's Executive Director and Network Coordinator svetla [at] cinemapolitica [dot] org (Svetla Turnin) if you are interested in starting up a Cinema Politica Local and joining our ever-expanding network.