Deptford Cinema finds online ways to serve its community

Pic: Needpix

Film-lovers in Deptford can watch a variety of independent films – some made by local film makers – free of charge and take weekly film quizzes thanks to Deptford Cinema’s free online initiatives. 

The volunteer-led non-profit cinema – closed for lockdown – moved content online in a bid to keep its community engaged.

Annika, who volunteers at the cinema, said: “As we had to close the physical cinema, we have needed to rethink how to remain present for and engaged with our followers and audience. 

“Part of the appeal of Deptford Cinema is its uniqueness as community arts/cinema space, both for public and volunteers. This aspect is currently not available which means that there is some disengagement from public as well as volunteers.

“We have set up, Deptford Cinema On Demand streaming service, where public can watch films which are selected and curated by our volunteers. This service is free of charge, people can choose to donate to the cinema if they would like to support our work.”

Their online streaming service features content from local artists, creators and filmmakers, as well as international content. The film available this week – Babymother – is written and directed by Julian Henriques, a professor at Goldsmiths who lives in Harlesden where the film is set.

Even though a variety of cinemas are similarly hosting online screenings, Annika said: “We are not seeking to compete with other cinemas with our online streaming service, this is in place solely with the purpose of remaining present and in contact with the public and any followers of the cinema. Hence we have decided that watching the films is free of charge.”

The cinema is also hosting quiz nights on its Instagram page, Lockdown Film Quiz, every week from Monday to Friday.

Annika said: “A number of people have been watching the films available on DCOD and quiz nights have also been popular. The main benefit for us currently is to be able to continue engaging with the public.”

The community spirit has also played a part in supporting their local business. Annika said: “We have received support from council under the scheme of support for small businesses and community interest companies. We have also received small donations from individuals.”

With the uncertainty of knowing how long lockdown will last, the volunteers have already arranged to release, the Deptford Cinema Podcast – involving the volunteer body discussing cinema – and The Journal – a volunteer written journal educating audiences on how Deptford cinema functions behind the scenes. 

As Deptford Cinema awaits its doors to reopen, Annika said: “We hope to be able to continue with all the plans we had before the lockdown, including continuing our award-winning programming, outreach work, improve our venue and many other exiting projects.”

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