The Bigger Picture is ARC’s new project to increase the number of South Asian films on offer for local audiences.

ARC based in Stockton has developed a reputation for the range of content featured in its cinema programme from big name franchise fayre such as James Bond and Star Wars to niche indie hits and a range of foreign language titles. And the number of specialist screenings the venue has hosted over last few years has broadened this further, with documentaries, locally made films, and festivals all finding a home there.

One area where the team at ARC has faced difficultly however is in accessing high quality cinema from South Asia, which has become recognised internationally as a hotbed for exciting filmmaking talent in recent years. The team have found accessing such films which don’t often find a major release in the UK can be a big hurdle to overcome for a local cinema.

Producer, Daniel Mitchelson, who takes responsibility for ARC’s film offer says, “For a long time, we have wanted to increase the amount of brilliant South Asian films shown in our cinema, and while we’ve had some successes over the last few years, it’s something we want to develop much further. We spoke to Film HUB North, and put together a concentrated programme of activity specifically designed to bring more of this work to our cinema, to help us build links with new partners, and to offer people in our local communities something new. We’re so excited to be launching The Bigger Picture and can’t wait to share some amazing new films with our audiences.”

Now thanks to funding from Film Hub North’s Inclusive Cinema Award ARC will be able to commit more time and resources to building and sharing a strong programme of South Asian content with its audiences.

Film Hub says, “As one of our strategic Inclusive Cinema projects, ARC’s community-led programme is a key example in the North on how to reach local communities who are currently under-represented as audiences for independent and cultural cinema. We saw the potential for ARC’s local and regional leadership in cultural provision to be further strengthened, in particular by programming for Asian audiences as part of ARC’s overall cinema programming. We believe that this will help to shift how both the mainstream audiences and the under-served view ARC as a cultural and community neighbour.“

With the funding in place ARC have made an exciting appointment, welcoming Amandeep Dhillon to take their plans forward via The Bigger Picture programme. Amandeep has a background in sourcing film content from South Asia for audiences in the UK after a number of successful years working with Tongues on Fire, the organisation responsible for the annual UK Asian Film Festival between 2018 and 2021.

She now works on a freelance basis with a number of arts and cultural organisations helping them connect with new audiences. Her wealth of experience and understanding of the industry will now help ARC achieve its goals.

As well as working to bring more South Asian films to ARC’s programme Amandeep has another goal as part of her role too, and hopes she help engage more of the South Asian communities across the Tees Valley in all that ARC’s programme has to offer. She has already started conversations with a number of local groups and organisations, and encourages anyone else who would like to hear more about what to expect from the project to get in touch.

Amandeep says, “I am really excited to be working with the ARC team to deliver an inclusive programme that will bring in diverse communities and enrich them with an immersive experience. There will be something for everyone children, adults, from all genres of film, South Asian content, feature, shorts and documentaries. With enhanced features such as interviews with the film cast, directors, learning workshops and discussions.”

Amandeep is already busy lining up an exciting programme for the coming months, including something spooky for Halloween, screenings around Diwali aimed at the whole family, and more. Announcements for these screenings will be released very soon.

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