Reading Film Theatre bids for digital upgradeBy Alan Bunce
February 13, 2013
Reading's only independent cinema faces a crucial £55,000 fundraising drive so that it can continue to function in the digital world.
Reading Film Theatre (RFT), a not-for-profit group which puts on many independent, art house and foreign language films, has used mostly 35mm films on traditional reels. However, distributors are switching to digital distribution where films are simply downloaded.
That means cinemas like RFT, based at Reading University, must have the right equipment and with the likely end to the supply of 35mmm films this year, RFT has to raise £55,000 to fund the upgrade.
So far the cinema, a registered charity, has raised just over £7,000 for the campaign it calls Keep Our Image Moving.
RFT has got by with decreasing budgets over many years. Initially it drew funds from the university, the BFI and Southern Arts, but these sources have dried up and now it relies on admission money, fees from its membership of just under 200 and occasional blockbuster films.
The group employs a part-time projectionist and administrator and has a team of volunteers.
Volunteer fundraiser Tony Tucker said: “We have got a straight 12-month window and we have decided to fundraise, while at the same time putting in applications to charities.”
RFT has also gone in search of grants from funding organisations and letters are going out to businesses with an appeal from the cinema’s president Kenneth Brannagh.
He urges people to make donations to RFT that will “ensure the future of the film theatre and safeguard the large contribution it makes to the cultural life of Reading.”
Chair Juliet Hanfling said without digital, RFT would have to use films on DVD or Blu-ray which would mean having to wait for them to be on general release.
The Earley Charity, RFT members and some small grants have helped out but volunteers face a nervous 2013.
RFT failed to get a grant from the National Lottery.
Digital equipment offers sharper images and, with around £5,000 of further investment, a satellite dish could be installed, allowing live events from all over the world to be beamed direct to RFT at its home at the lecture theatre in the university’s Palmer building.
If you would like to help, contact Juliet Hanfling or co-ordinator Amrit Maghera-Johal on (0118) 378 7151 or email@example.com.