Ipswich Film Theatre raises curtain on new management

From Saturday 1st August 2020 the Ipswich Film Theatre will be under the new leadership of Dan Champion and Neil McGlone.

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.

Dan Champion joined the board of directors at Ipswich Film Theatre in September 2019 and will be the sole-survivor from the original board with Neil McGlone joining as co-director from August 1st 2020.

Dan said, “I must have been six or seven years old when my dad took me to see my first film in a cinema. It was Richard Donner’s SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE and I had never seen anything like it. I didn’t realise it at the time but my life’s journey had been laid out before me with this film. A few years later and the first film I watched in a cinema on my own was also at the Film Theatre: Ridley Scott’s LEGEND. I was raised on the regular diet of children’s matinées at the Film Theatre before I graduated to the likes of COFFEE AND CIGARETTES and TALK TO HER, and this gave me an extraordinarily diverse experience of all kinds of cinema from around the world. The depth of programming that the Film Theatre has offered audiences over its 45 years is staggering, from supporting the work of little-known directors in the 1970s to educational outreach in the 1990s, its place in the independent exhibition sector cannot be understated, and it is a unique honour to join Neil in piloting this ship for its next voyage.”

Neil 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.”

Dan and Neil are extremely excited about the future of the Film Theatre and embarking on cultivating new, and they hope, fruitful relationships with funding partners, distributors, local businesses and community groups. 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:

  • 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
  • Monthly Music Night – screening of 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
  • Young Programmers Group (a facilitated group of 16-30 year olds who 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)
  • More TBC

In order to ensure that the Film Theatre is heading in the right direction, Neil and Dan are 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. They are delighted to announce that BBC film critic, broadcaster and author, James King, and Head of Online Heritage at the British Film Institute, James Rocarols, have so far been appointed to the new committee with further appointments to be made in the weeks ahead.

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 inmediate challenges, I’m convinced the future is bright for IFT under the new team and can’t wait to get started.”

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

It is hoped that the Ipswich Film Theatre will re-open its doors in October, please keep an eye on their website www.ipswichfilmtheatre.co.uk and their social media @ipswichfilmtheatre on Instagram, @ipswichftt on Twitter and IpswichFilmTheatre on Facebook.

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