It’s that time of the year when we all look back at the highs and lows and it’s fair to say, 2023 has been quite the rollercoaster for us at PAC!
Small independent cinemas are always going to struggle against the bigger players and this year has been no different as we all try to work out what kind of fall-out we are still experiencing from the pandemic. Audiences are definitely returning to cinemas but we are still a way off pre-Covid attendance figures even in the year that delivered Barbie and Oppenheimer slap bang in the middle of summer.
There have been difficult times. Our Open Air Cinema season was an almost total wash-out, quite literally, as we struggled against high winds and rain and had to cancel most of the screenings. In the 12 years we have been running OAC, we’ve never experienced a summer like it. The disappointment for audiences and the PAC team is only one part of the story too. When events are cancelled, holes start to appear in budgets and when you are a small Indy cinema, that can start to look very frightening.
Given all of the above, there have also, happily, been far more highs than lows. The Crowdfunder that we launched in November has shown us just how much people care what we do and how the PAC audience is officially The Best. We have been astounded by the response, it means so much. The campaign is running until the 10th January and we have set a stretch target of £12,500. We support the National Living Wage and want to give our wonderful and dedicated front of house staff the recommended increase from April 2024. Any pledges towards our stretch target will go towards funding this pay increase. You can make a donation by clicking below, and we still have lots of lovely rewards, including tours of Plymouth Gin Distillery, and PAC mugs!
In October we had the absolute privilege of being invited to Brest (Plymouth’s twin European city) to present Ken Loach’s film The Old Oak as part of the British Film Festival there. The trip was such a lot of fun and we were looked after incredibly well by the Brest Twinning group. We made some wonderful friends and can’t wait to invite them back to see us at PAC next year.
We have worked with some wonderful partner organisations around the city on a huge range of different projects. From Arts University Plymouth’s Fashion department to University of Plymouth marketing students, from Fotonow and Plymouth Youth Justice Team to Hidden Figures of Plymouth. We worked with The Box and The Arts Institute, UoP on a series of films and talks for the Joshua Reynolds exhibition, with the Urban Tree Festival, Cornwall Climate Care. We hosted festival films with the Japan Foundation, Safar Arabic Film Festival, the French Film Festival and Cinesisters SW. The Ocean Conservation Trust came in to introduce all of this year’s Into Film schools screenings and the children loved hearing about some of the badly behaved animals living on our doorstep at the National Marine Aquarium. The year is ending on a major high with screenings of some gems as part of the national BFI funded season, Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell and Pressburger where we have rediscovered the beauty and power of their films.
This year, we hosted 552 screenings, with an attendance of over 12,750 and no end-of-year review would be complete without picking film favourites. Just for fun, you can tell us your top 3 films at PAC of the year by clicking below:
The PAC team of staff and volunteers voted for their top 3 films. Many of the votes were tied, so there wasn’t a clear winner, but our top films of the year are:
1. Past Lives, Killers of the Flower Moon
2. Barbie, The Fabelmans and Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
On a personal note, when I tried to pick my top 5 films, I found it almost impossible to narrow it down from an initial list of 22 but, if absolutely pushed, here are my top 5:
2. Rye Lane
3. Anatomy of a Fall
4. Brainwashed: Sex Camera Power
5. Smoke Sauna Sisterhood
6. Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
7. Enys Men (with Mark Jenkins introducing it – pictured)
I know that’s 7, I cheated!
Finally, the most important thing. Without our small team of staff and trustees, and our huge team of volunteers who give their time for free, we wouldn’t be able to keep showing all of these wonderful films and events. They all deserve a big thank you.
Thank you to the organisations who have affirmed the place of independent cinema in Plymouth by funding Plymouth Arts Cinema this year: The British Film Institute, Plymouth City Council, The Garfield Weston Trust and the Foyle Foundation. Chris Kallis Solicitors for their sponsorship and The Art Side for sponsoring our printed brochure.
Thank you to our Open Air Cinema sponsors who stuck with us through a very soggy summer: Arts University Plymouth, Plymouth Gin, Chris Kallis, Summerskills, Sandford Orchards, 24/7 Event Crew, Plymouth Citybus, Navas Drinks, Service Design Solutions, Plymouth Marjon University.
Thank you to our brilliant suppliers and cultural partners across Plymouth who donated rewards to our Crowdfunder: Salcombe Dairy, Summerskills Brewery, Canton Tea, wine from Tolchards, Ocean Studios, Plymouth Gin Distillery.
But the biggest thank you of all, this year in particular, goes out to the PAC audience who continue to support, surprise and encourage us to keep going and to look forward to all of the cinematic treats in store for 2024.
See you in the New Year!
Anna Navas and the Team at PAC