Ipswich Film Theatre announces exciting new programme for reopening

Daniel Champion and Neil McGlone outside the IFT inside Ipswich Corn Exchange Photo: Daniel Champion

Daniel Champion and Neil McGlone outside the IFT inside Ipswich Corn Exchange Photo: Daniel Champion - Credit: Archant

The doors may still be closed, the projector switched off, but the Ipswich Film Theatre is busily preparing the two-screen cinema for reopening later this year and the work includes the appointment of new trustees and management team.

Ipswich Film Theatre is located in the basement of the Corn Exchange. The new management team plan t

Ipswich Film Theatre is located in the basement of the Corn Exchange. The new management team plan to reopen the cinema in the autumn Photo: Gregg Brown - Credit: Gregg Brown

The independent cinema, located in the basement of the Ipswich Corn Exchange in King Street, is marking its tenth anniversary as a trust and is hoping to stage celebrations when it reopens in the autumn.

The new team are Dan Champion, who started at the Ipswich Film Theatre as a projectionist before moving to Aldeburgh Cinema working as a programmer and being part of the team that made the Aldeburgh Documentary Festival happen each year, and Neil McGlone, a freelance film researcher as well as project manager for the Riverside Cinema in Woodbridge. He will continue to split his time between the two sites.

Dan said: “Over the last few years the Ipswich Film Theatre has faced adversity and success in equal measure. Now, with the advent of an unprecedented challenge to our way of life they, as well as most small to medium businesses, are faced with innumerable concerns unimaginable just six short months ago.

“Dennis Miller resigned as a director earlier this year and at that time informal discussions began regarding the future of the Board of Directors for the Ipswich Film Theatre. With the, not insignificant, milestone of ten years in management of the IFT in May of this year, the remaining directors decided that a decade of service represented an opportune moment to hand over to a new team.”

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Neil, who has vast experience researching extras and booklet information for the collectors DVD label The Criterion Collection as well as being an advisory to a variety of international film festivals, said that he is looking forward to both the Ipswich Film Theatre and Woodbridge Riverside embrace a new film landscape once lockdown is truly over.

He said: “I first remember attending the Ipswich Film Theatre back in around 1986, I was only 15 at the time but it was my first experience of seeing a foreign film on the big screen. It happened by accident as I had actually gone to see something else but it was sold out, so I thought whilst I was there I would see what was on in Screen 2 – it was Luchino Visconti’s Rocco And His Brothers – a three hour black and white Italian neo-realist film from 1960. That was quite an introduction to World Cinema and I have remained hooked ever since. I would attend most weeks from 1986 onwards seeing all manner of both new and old foreign films, repertory classics, film seasons, late night screenings and some great double-bills – the Film Theatre literally shaped my film-life and played a huge role in many of the roles that I have today. I feel honoured to be joining Dan in taking over the custodianship of the Ipswich Film Theatre and guiding it on its next journey.”

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Dan and Neil have drawn some exciting plans for reopening, which is currently scheduled for October, but this may change depending on government advice. Their plan is to bring back a number of strands that the Film Theatre was once renowned for, retain those that are already working and to introduce a few new ones along the way: these will include screening new foreign, British and independent films and documentaries, Friday late night screenings, double-bills on a Saturday evening, curated film seasons around the work of a director, theme or actor and the creation of a Young Programmers Group – a facilitated group of 16-30 year olds who will meet on a regular basis to increase their knowledge of independent film and to programme, plan, market and present regular screenings, sharing their voice with a wider audience.

There will also be a monthly music night, screening a music documentary or concert film. Work on this is already at an advanced stage with Marcus Neal (Hex Records / The Smokehouse / Ipswich Sound City), Chris Mortimer (Out of Time Records), Amanda Caswell-Robinson (Whizzy Wallop Vinyl), Stephen “Foz” Foster (BBC Radio Suffolk) and Jesse Quin (Old Jet and Keane) all looking to be involved.

Dan and Neil said: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing directors: Jane Riley, Steve Mann, Andrew Clarke, Dennis Miller and Dave Gregory for ten years of selfless dedication, ensuring the doors to the Film Theatre remained open. That Ipswich still has a cinema of such fabled stature is to their credit.”

In order to ensure that the Film Theatre is heading in the right direction, Neil and Dan are also setting up an advisory committee which will be formed of a group of people, with predominantly film backgrounds, who will meet monthly to discuss the film programme and the previous month’s performance.

Early appointments to the committee include BBC film critic, broadcaster and author, James King, and Head of Online Heritage at the British Film Institute, James Rocarols.

James King said, “I grew up watching the greatest films at the IFT. It introduced me to Pedro Almodóvar, Spike Lee, David Lynch and Jane Campion to name just a few. I can’t wait to get back and help the amazing team turn it into a destination for inspiring movies.”

James Rocarols said, “I’m delighted to contribute to a new era for Ipswich Film Theatre, a place where I learnt so much about great cinema while growing up, and which I’m honoured to help inspire new audiences afresh. While all cinemas face immediate challenges, I’m convinced the future is bright for IFT under the new team and can’t wait to get started.”

Final confirmation about reopening will be made closer to the time. Keep an eye on their website and their social media @ipswichfilmtheatre on Instagram, @ipswichftt on Twitter and IpswichFilmTheatre on Facebook.

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