Block Cinema

Sam asked me a bunch of questions about Block Cinema, so I said I'd post them here.


  • A monthly community cinema, in the same place where our Tuesday night service meets.
  • It's free.
  • We show arty films or defining classics from across the history of cinema. We don't just show a film cause it's good. It's gotta be important in some way.
  • Films we've shown this year: Raging Bull, The Big Sleep, Quiet City, Akira, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Shining. Annie Hall is on next week.
  • We warn Christians with weak consciences to check out about the films in advance, cause some are explicit in one way or another.
  • We do up some nice finger food. We try to theme the food where possible (sushi and wasabi peas for Akira, bagels and cream cheese for Annie Hall).
  • There's no Christian spin on the whole thing. Instead we have some fliers about our church and upcoming events on a table up the back. I may say a word or two about events our church is running, but I don't labour it.
  • The bottom of our flier has, in small print, 'Brought to you by Crossroads Church, but don't worry, there's no strings attached'. It seems over the top, but both Christians and non-Christians have appreciated it.
  • I give an introduction to the films, with a few words about their importance and their themes and the questions they should raise for the viewer.
  • I was expecting a huge turnout really easily, but it has grown much slower than I thought. We began with 12 people, and we now have 25-35 people. This is now about 1/3 visitors, many of whom are 'cold contacts' as well as friends of church goers. It looks to keep building momentum.
  • Those who've come from South Hobart have alread adopted it as 'their very own cinema night'.
  • I wanted us to do something to make contact with the community. Some 'good deed' that fitted within our unique gifts and interests as a church. Cultural enrichment seemed to be a good deed we could do for a suburb (South Hobart) and in fact a city that is quite village-like and culturally sophisticated. Cultural enrichment is higher up the hierarchy of needs than soup for the homeless but it still is a good deed. Think about the cultural poverty of East Germany for a case in point.
  • There have been very successful film groups in the past - 'Cinema Afterdark' would regularly get 30-50 people back in the late 90s and the UTAS Cinema Society was also similarly popular. At the start of this year there were no such groups running.
  • Interestingly, I wasn't the only one who perceived this need. A month after I'd begun planning Block Cinema, a pub in North Hobart also began advertising a cult cinema night.
  • This whole thing was an act of 'pre-evangelism', a woeful title, but one that most you will probably understand. I prefer the word 'hospitality', both because it is more biblical and because it is less cynical.
  • Our hope was to both make contact with new people, build relationships with existing friends/contacts who haven't come to church yet and provide another point of contact with those already are going to church.
  • We have sought out permission to screen from distributors. Mostly this has been Village Roadshow or Madman so far. Except for the lo-fi film Quiet City we were in direct contact with the film company in New York City and they were really excited we were showing their film. They asked that we ask people for feedback and let them know how it was received.
  • Permission to screen, once-off, costs between $100 and $200 per film. Although Quiet City was free and we tried to get permission for 36th Chamber, but the Hong Kong distributor wanted $600.
  • We advertise in the local community newsletter (the editor of this loves Block Cinema and comes whenever she can with friends), Facebook, the main Hobart newspaper - in the Youth Section (the editor of this section - Attitude - also loves the idea) and with fliers and posters around the city.
  • We are going to have a donation box next year, so that regulars can contribute to the cost if they want to.
  • CCLI, the Christian copyright people, do a Video License. But it's only for in-house screenings. You can't advertise publically.
  • I've asked two guys in our Tuesday service to really own it. They organise all the set up and pack down. They've also gradually improved the atmosphere of the events. I'm still choosing the films at the moment.
  • I've asked another guy to design a flier that we can re-use to advertise the next three films. This gets a brand recognised and saves us from having to muck around with permission to use film graphics.