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Ipswich Film Theatre launches home streaming service

PUBLISHED: 19:01 28 April 2020

Pahokee, a colourful documentary charting the lives of senior year students in the Florida everglades. The film festival favourite is available to stream through IFT at Home  Photo: Monument Releasing

Pahokee, a colourful documentary charting the lives of senior year students in the Florida everglades. The film festival favourite is available to stream through IFT at Home Photo: Monument Releasing

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The independent cinema is pioneering a new world streaming service to provide audiences with new films during lockdown.

Ipswich Film Theatre audiences will still be getting their diet of diverse films thanks to a new streaming iniative called IFT at Home  Photo: Gregg BrownIpswich Film Theatre audiences will still be getting their diet of diverse films thanks to a new streaming iniative called IFT at Home Photo: Gregg Brown

It’s rare that a cinema can herald some good news and launch a new initiative at a time of national emergency, with all doors locked and screenings cancelled but this is exactly what the Ipswich Film Theatre is doing this week with their IFT at Home online streaming programme.

The IFT is the only independent cinema in Suffolk currently offering a home streaming service which allows IFT supporters to watch a variety of new films which the cinema would have programmed had the Coronavirus lockdown not happened.

The IFT at Home initiative runs alongside the MUBI offer which allows subscribers to access a wider range of contemporary and archive films with a percentage of the rental price going to the Ipswich Film Theatre.

Trustee Dan Champion said that the IFT at Home offer is accessed through the weekly newsletter sent out to subscribers. The newsletter will contain links and special codes which allow members to access the films at special rates which will also provide a welcome revenue stream in these straitened times.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire one of the films available for home screening through the Ipswich Film Theatre's IFT at Home scheme Photo: Lilies FilmsPortrait of a Lady on Fire one of the films available for home screening through the Ipswich Film Theatre's IFT at Home scheme Photo: Lilies Films

“At the IFT we are very aware that we have a very loyal audience who enjoy the opportunity to watch a wide range of films from all over the world and are currently suffering withdrawal symptoms. IFT at Home was a way to keep independent cinema alive for its customers during this time and to continue to provide challenging and entertaining films and docs right inside people’s homes.

“The genesis of the project was trying to answer the question: “how do we continue to provide good films for our audience in this current climate?” Other indie cinemas, such as Home in Manchester and Bertha DocHouse, had already started similar projects and it was felt this was a great opportunity to keep a dialogue alive with our customers.

“Everything we do as cinema operators should be about the audience and I believe it’s vital that we maintain a dialogue between audience and cinema, because, I hope, it reminds us all that cinemas are the property of the audience. It’s not our cinema, it’s your cinema.”

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He added that as 2020 marked two big birthdays for the Film Theatre – 45 years since it first opened, ten years since it re-opened as a trust – they should be looking at alternative means of keeping the Film Theatre very much alive, and potentially meeting new audiences through this new platform.

“It would be a great way to continue to keep the Film Theatre at the forefront of the independent cinema landscape. Many of our customers come every week, some twice a week, and this was a way we could offer them a chance to see the sort of films we would have programmed had we still been open.

“Just as importantly, it also offered us a way to have a small income while we were forced to be closed.” He said that the IFT at Home streaming service could not have happened without the help of distributors Dogwoof and Monument Pictures who were willing to make films available for streaming.

The opening film of IFT at Home is the colourful and heartwarming documentary Pahokee, telling the story of a group of high school students in a small agricultural town in the Florida Everglades.

Pahokee, a colourful documentary charting the lives of senior year students in the Florida everglades. The film festival favourite is available to stream through IFT at Home  Photo: Monument ReleasingPahokee, a colourful documentary charting the lives of senior year students in the Florida everglades. The film festival favourite is available to stream through IFT at Home Photo: Monument Releasing

With echoes of the Oscar-nominated The Florida Project and the cult-classic Reality Bites, Pahokee is a powerful portrait of a forgotten America absent from the current political landscape, examining the hopes for the future as four teens face heartbreak and celebrate the rituals of an extraordinary senior year.

In the midst of so much darkness and frustration on the news and in daily life, Pahokee offers an uplifting and life-affirming piece of cinema right when we need it.

In addition, IFT subscribers can access the French period romance Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, which tells the story of 18th century painter Marianne, who is commissioned by a countess to paint the wedding portrait of her daughter Héloïse. While posing as her hired companion, Marianne is instructed to complete the portrait in secret. However, intimacy and attraction begin to blossom between both women.

By way of contrast there is also the opportunity to view German film System Crasher about a nine-year-old wild child who gives the child protection services the run around. The film has been likened to the sort of films produced by Ken Loach and has received a 96% fresh rating on review website Rotten Tomatoes.

To access IFT at Home sign up to the weekly IFT newsletter at the IFT website.


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