Open Cinema’s Vision

“Cinema has only been around for 100 years or so – not long enough for people to really understand it.” — George Lucas

Early evening finds a couple of hundred people of all ages pouring into a comfortable cabaret-style screening venue, and as they sit down for a bite to eat, the room fills with animated discussion, friends and strangers alike.

Through these popular weekly community screening events in cities and small communities throughout Canada and beyond, OPEN CINEMA is bringing films and people together around their hopes and concerns, and creating a twenty-first century town-hall cafe for community networking and collaboration. Whether the event is taking place at one of OPEN CINEMA’s own multi-purpose centres or at a partner venue, the format for the evening is consistent and the experience is a positive one. The screening of the thought-provoking film is followed by an animated open forum discussion on the issues raised by the film with local “experts and community members, and a live Internet installation connects voices and ideas from around the globe.

Some folks leave the event wanting further information, so they log onto OPEN CINEMA’s website which provides further links to dedicated organizations. OPEN CINEMA’s professional staff are involved with ongoing community research and collaboration, programming for schools and educational institutions, and they are now involved with producing and commissioning films that are a true catalyst for social change and innovation at a local, national and international level.

In 2015 OPEN CINEMA is an international non-profit organization with local franchises dedicated to exploring and redefining the ways in which we experience, produce and screen films.

OPEN CINEMA’s ongoing programming of socially relevant, thought-provoking fiction and non-fiction film in this interactive environment facilitates face-to-face community interaction through post-screening open forum discussions on the issues raised by the film. This engages activists and social issue organizations, academics, educators, government officials, professionals, corporations and local community members in a dialogue that contributes to grassroots information exchange, cooperation and collaboration. Local perspectives are shared with the global community via and through innovative use of Internet conferencing forums. OPEN CINEMA has developed outreach programs for film festivals, schools, educational institutions, elder care homes, minority groups and remote communities.

OPEN CINEMA’s programming reflects both local and global social and environmental concerns, providing a space for community discourse, a principled collective voice that furthers our understanding and experience of the issues and possible solutions. Working closely with its membership, OPEN CINEMA curates relevant films to address local concerns, and through professional expertise, in-kind donations and grants, OPEN CINEMA supports the creation of new film projects that address under-represented issues. These productions are in turn screened to incite further discourse.

OPEN CINEMA has accessible events in large and small communities around the world. Some are modest operations, screening films in church halls, cafes or restaurants; others collaborate with partner organizations to host screening events; larger communities have developed multi-purpose centres, which combine a cabaret-style screening venue with public Internet conferencing capability, a cafe/restaurant, office space for film professionals, cooperatives and organizations; and a film resource centre and library. This physical and intellectual space allows for both community building and collaborative film production, screening and distribution in an ongoing experiment to further the art of cinema as a catalyst for community building and a tool for social innovation.

OPEN CINEMA’s Main Office is run by a salaried team of professionals, a rotating pool of volunteers, a Board of Directors and an Advisory Roundtable. Other OPEN CINEMA centres have a small staff and volunteers, or are solely volunteer-run. All have extensive community partnership networks that provide in-kind support, sponsorships, cross-pollination and screening opportunities.

OPEN CINEMA’s grassroots distribution model provides an alternative to traditional corporate broadcaster-driven programming and filmmaking practices. OPEN CINEMA’s network of local franchises creates an interactive community-driven forum for local and global discussion and education. OPEN CINEMA’s collaborative partnerships with activists, community groups, filmmakers, broadcasters, corporations and individuals make a significant contribution to understanding film as a tool for social innovation, with measurable effects on local, national and international communities.