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About us

What We Do

We show films in the village hall; it’s rather more than that though. We screen every fortnight on a Saturday evening throughout the year. Each film has a main theme and we try to reflect that in the elements we put together for each show. We always have home-made baked items or other sweetmeats that are typical of the country or culture depicted in the film. Where the film lends itself to it, we decorate the hall in keeping with the theme of the film. Volunteers’ clothing is also sometimes reflective of this. Our evening begins with pre-film entertainment – often of educational or cultural significance that is strongly related to the theme of the main film. This could be a display, a talk, a workshop, or most commonly a series of short films that take about 20 minutes in total. The pre-film entertainment is selected by our volunteer impresario to entertain, inform, and provide fodder for the discussion groups which we host immediately after films. These groups allow us to share impressions and realize aspects of the event that some may have missed. They are held with a live Zoom link so that those who are unable to reach us may share the experience from home. Examples of pre-film entertainments may be found on another page [1]. We also record the salient parts of discussion groups and publish these summaries together with our custom-made poster of the evening on our blog [2]. Pictures of each event are made available as Facebook albums [3] to allow us to look back on happy times. [1] [2] [3]

How We Function

We are a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation [1] run entirely by volunteers, some of whom are the Trustees who guide us. The films we watch are recommended by past audiences and all in the community are invited to vote for which of these films make it to our six-monthly programme. The voting process is explained on another page [2]. All shows are in an air-conditioned, well ventilated environment with cushioned seating and a licensed bar selling hot and cold drinks, ice cream and snacks. There are many tasks that need to be undertaken when putting on film shows and we divide these into per film, and per season groups inviting volunteers to select task(s) that they would most like to undertake with no commitment beyond the next film or next season; these are described in some detail on another page [3]. The principles we follow for interacting with one another are also available on our website [4]. We maintain a document shared over the internet and ask volunteers to record which tasks they would like to take on for the coming few shows. Periodically the volunteers get together for a social function where the trustees can thank them for their efforts over the season. For example, we recently went to watch a show in London’s West End that was being filmed in preparation for screening by us and other cinemas as part of the National Theatre live programme. Our charity owns all of the technical equipment used to screen a film, and the infrastructure is provided by the hall we rent for the occasion. Films are screened at 4K resolution where possible and with 7 surround sound speakers. We publicise our schedule on our website, on social media, with custom designed posters in prominent positions in the village, via a brochure that is delivered to almost all homes in the area (about 5,000), but most importantly, word of mouth. Anyone can watch our films, there is no membership, residence or other barrier. Seats are usually reserved online before the show although a few are often available for last minute walk-ins. [1] [2] [3] [4]

This video of Gordon's first visit to Rusthall is a perfect portrayal of what we are about.  An excellent introduction for those contemplating visiting us for the first time and a wonderful vignette of some good times for the old hands.

Our Charitable Goals

The Charity Commission regulates us and ensures that we follow the charitable objectives set out in our governing document: “to promote for the benefit of the inhabitants of Rusthall, particularly rural and/or isolated areas, the provision of community cinema facilities for recreation or leisure time occupation of individuals who have need of such facilities by reason of their youth, age, infirmity or disablement, financial hardship or social and economic circumstances or for the public at large in the interests of social welfare and with the object of improving the condition of life of the said inhabitants”. In practice this has us encouraging attendance by those otherwise home alone in an attempt to encourage social inclusion and minimise loneliness. Our positioning is designed to encourage conversations to spring up and our Host, MC, and Feedback volunteers mingle to make visitors feel welcome. We try to make cinema accessible to those who would otherwise find it hard to get to commercial cinemas - whether due to age, infirmity, or financial constraints. We offer free transport and chaperones to all who ask. To help those with limited financial means all tickets to regular Saturday evening shows are free of charge and we support our Saturday Cinema entirely by donations, with those who can afford a little more, subsidising those struggling. We use a wheelchair accessible space and provide an induction loop to help those with hearing difficulties. By running mini-seasons of related activities we have tried to raise awareness of dementia, refugees, homelessness, addiction, misogyny and homophobia.

History and Highlights

The idea for a local community cinema was formed in Summer 2015 when Ronnie Williams and Eugene Gardner went to Evington village hall near Ashford to see how they operated a cinema. In the months that followed other similar community cinemas were visited and opinions solicited. An online survey under the auspices of the Village Association to assess local interest was created and that showed overwhelming support. The first film (Joy) was screened on 28th May 2016 as a free event, part of the first Rusthall Arts Festival and 80 people crammed into the hall on plastic chairs to enjoy that. All equipment was borrowed or hired and the projector was on top of two stacked tables in the middle of the hall. We initially showed films every four weeks and in September 2016 moved to a three-weekly schedule. A year later we moved to a fortnightly programme and remain at that frequency to this day. In 2019 we experimented with showing art and world cinema films under the banner of the Rusthall Film Society, but this was not supported with audiences large enough to enable it to survive. In 2022 we hosted a live streamed international film festival [1] where more than 250 short films from 47 countries did battle to win one of our ‘best in class’ prizes. Throughout our history we have put on annual children’s matinee shows and this continues to be a crowd pleaser amongst our potential future clientele. In early 2023 we started screening recordings of live shows performed at the National Theatre and this has quickly become a monthly Sunday afternoon event that brings high quality theatre to our village without the cost or inconvenience of a trip to London’s West End. [1]

RCC seating plan.png

Our typical seating plan.  There is a small table between cushioned seats in the middle of the row and a central aisle. There's about 10m between the screen and the back row and usually about 1.5m between rows.  Rows B and A are sometimes added if a sell out would otherwise be likely. Row A is about 2.8m from the screen.

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