Feature on Film Curiosity website

Sam Watling, the Chair of Film at the Folk Hall, is an impassioned man to bring the best that he can to the community of New Earswick, York.  Watling’s journey began with a ten-day focus on positivity in January 2016 to bite those winter blues.  Taking him through giving food parcels to those caught by the York floods and giving blood for the first time, he branched out to volunteering in a local group.  Discovering the film group was a “five-minute walk from my house, it’s a film club in need of someone, it was a no-brainer for me I’ll be honest.”

Supporting the group initially, he was invited to step up to the leadership role after only six months and took the lead without question.  Having never done a leadership role before, he’s been running the group of ten volunteers for the last year and has taken the group from strength to strength.  “We’ve built something with some serious potential, so even though it was a bit daunting, and I work full-time you know…It was a big thing, extra thing to take on but it’s become a passion project very very quickly.”

The group started back in December 2014 as an offshoot from the New Earswick Less Lonely Initative (NELLI).  Later, bringing Watling on board, they rebranded the group to Film at the Folk Hall and they were lucky enough to get good support.  The Independent Cinema Office provided advice and they’re now a member of Cinema for All.  The BFI Fund gave them their first projector, the John Lewis Community Fund gave them their screen and they were up and running.

As an alternative to the Multiplex Cinema and a firm community favourite to build connections in the area, Film at the Folk Hall runs film screenings and events to bring to the people the cinema they want to see.  They survey their event attendees to plan the best screening schedule they can.  Their recent Disney Pixar events, funded by York City Council, were designed especially for children where they could colour and craft through the screening: an inspired way to appease those bouncing bottoms on the cinema seat.  Watling has found these events inspiring for the future of the group.  “It’s all been about give it a try.  If it works, try and make sure that we make a song and dance about it.”

Joseph Rowntree was a manufacturer in the area in the 20th Century and a natural philanthropist.  Believing his staff should share in the wealth of the company, he built social housing for his employees, as well as the Folk Hall, which opened in October 1907.  The film group aims to continue his legacy where running the group is as much about serving the needs of the community as it is about serving film.

This year has seen the group reach new heights.  “For me personally, I, Daniel Blake was the biggest achievement.”  The group were lucky enough for Dave Johns, the lead actor, to come along and give a Q&A session before their screening.  He was a welcome visitor who chatted to group participants before the session started.  “For us, the type of film that it is, the fact that it has a social impact, the fact that we were absolutely sold out, and all of our volunteers got together…it kind of showed us that we can be more than just a film group.  We can really kind of open people’s minds to new ideas.  We raised nearly £100 for the York Food Bank.  For us, it consolidated everything that we’d been trying to do.”  The group has posted the recording of Dave Johns speaking in the Q&A session here if you would like to watch.

Coming up soon is an evening of Dementia Awareness to partner their screening of Still, Alice starring Julianne Moore: tickets to all of their events are available here.  With speakers coming in to talk about the illness and give advice, and a selection of short films, this will be a thought-provoking event.

The group is purposely inclusive.  They’re looking for more volunteers to assist them on the team.  Watling has so many ideas including social impact screenings, engaging local business and filmmaking workshops.  They’re also seeking to reach more quarters of the community including families, people who are socially isolated or the disabled to encourage them to join the group.  There is more information about the group available on their website here.

If you’re in the York area, this group really has something to offer.    In the words of Watling himself, “we have got a 16-foot high definition projection, we’ve got great sound, we’ve got a bar, we’ve got parking.”  What’s not to like?


Dementia Action with ‘Still Alice’ (12a) and special guests – Friday 26th May @ 7pm

Julianne Moore’s emotional portrayal of a professor facing up to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease won her an Oscar and a BAFTA. We are proud to be showing this incredible film as part of a special event where we will get an insight into local projects and inspiring people living with dementia.

Special Guests

As well as the award winning feature film we will be welcoming speakers from:

  • Inspired Youth – A York based film production company introducing some of their short films.
  • Minds in motion – A student volunteer group working with people living with dementia.
  • City of York Council – To offer advice and insight into relevant work going on in this field.

Our group aims to be more than just a cinema. We want to find award winning films that shed light on subjects that affect our society. We want to bring you exciting and thought provoking events on these subjects and we want to offer somewhere safe, inclusive and supportive to enjoy such events with like minded people.

Most of all we want everyone to feel welcome through our doors. As another step toward that aim we are proud to be pledging our support to York’s Dementia Action Alliance and working towards becoming dementia friendly. We hope you can support us by sharing this event with your friends

We expect this event to be well attended and so please book tickets early to avoid disappointment. They can be purchased from New Earswick Folk Hall or online our tickets section.

We look forward to seeing you!

Kids at the Folk Hall 2017

Well what a fabulous start to the year it has been. Our season of kids films was funded by the City of York Council so it allowed us to provide an amazing Disney Pixar movie, crafting, prizes and refreshments all for only £1 per ticket. Altogether we have had 266 people join us for our events where we enjoyed ‘The Jungle Book’ in December, a series of ‘Pixar Short films’ in February, ‘Inside Out’ in March and then ‘Finding Dory’ in April.

Families settle down to watch the film!

One of our volunteers did a bit of filming at our recent event so we made it into a little video to show you how much fun we all had!

As well as lots of great fun being had there was also lots of beautiful artwork created too. We had music before the films and during the interval and left the lights up throughout so that people could move around and carry on crafting during the films. Running the events like this gave everyone a proper chance to talk and make friends and allowed for any restless little ones to stretch their legs.

Crafts for the underwater ‘stop-motion’ animation workshop

These events definitely helped us address some of the things our organisation hopes to achieve such as giving local people an opportunity to meet like minded folk in their community and to offer them a much cheaper and more interactive alternative to the big cinemas in York. Our aims as a community cinema compliment the priorities of the Huntington and New Earswick Ward too, helping to reduce social isolation and to give opportunities to young people in the area. This is one reason why your local councillors agreed to fund this project and, we hope they agree it has been a great success. We thank them for their support! More information about your ward and it’s councillors can be found on the council website.

Lots of incredible crafting took place and prizes were awarded for best effort!

During one of the events our resident film maker, Steve and his equally talented son, Finlay joined us to run a stop-motion animation workshop. It went down a storm and lots of kids got involved and learned the basics of making an animated film. Here’s a short clip from one of the workshops:

The crafting at all the events was organised by the Friends of New Earswick School and all the box office money went to their fundraising efforts for school play equipment. They were also instrumental in making sure New Earswick Primary School kids and parents were informed about our events and even got the kids to help choose our final two films so we thank all their volunteers for helping us with this project! We are very proud to say we have made some great friends there and will certainly look to work with FONES again in the future, including attending their summer fair later this year. Check out their Facebook page to find out what they are getting up to.

A great place for families to meet and kids to play in a relaxed atmosphere

Finally, a big thanks to our own volunteers who give their free time on a Sunday to come along and help set up, get involved and make these things fun and enjoyable for everyone!

Watch this space for more kids events early next year!


Upcoming Films Not To Miss

What a selection of great films we have for May, June and July. The volunteers at Film at the Folk Hall are certainly raising the bar higher and higher. So, subject to Craig obtaining the licenses, here they are.

STILL ALICE (12) 26 MAY 2017 @ 7 p.m.

When words begin to escape Alice she must come to terms with a devastating diagnosis: early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. As she struggles to hang on to her sense of self Alice’s three grown children watch helplessly as their mother disappears more with each passing day. Starring, Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart.

AWARDS: Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe winner for Julianne Moore.

Event – Following Dementia Awareness week we will have special guests from Inspired Youth, Minds in Motion and the City of York Council to talk about fantastic local work going on in your area relating to dementia.


CAROL (15) 30 JUNE 2017 @ 7 p.m.

Apapted from Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel The Price of Salt, Carol follows two women from very different backgrounds who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change. Starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Kyle Chandler.

AWARDS: Cannes Film Festival, Best Actress Award for Rooney Mara and Queer Palm for Todd Haynes.

Event – Special guest Christine Appleton from JRF LGBT Allies network.


LIFE, ANIMATED (PG) – 28 JULY 2017 @ 7 p.m.

Life, Animated is a documentary about Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child due to autism. One day, his family found a way to communicate with him by immersing them- selves in the world of Disney animated films.

By interweaving classic Disney sequences with scenes from Suskins own life the film explores how empathy with characters like Simba and Ariel allowed Suskind to understand his feelings and interpret the world around him; a moving and inspiring coming-of-age tale.

AWARDS: Sundance Film Festival, Director of a Documentary.


Event (Special guests to Be Confirmed)


Further information on upcoming films, and how to buy tickets, can be found using this link.

Here are the links to the York based digital media group Inspired Youth and the Dementia Action Alliance

Springtime at the Folk Hall

The weather starts improving, the days get longer and Film at the Folk Hall continues to get more exciting! We have continued to see a nice rise in our average audience numbers so thank you to all those out there supporting what we do!

Following on from the incredible I, Daniel Blake event in January and our second successful kids event with Pixar Short films in Feb, we are looking to the future and to bringing you more amazing films to enjoy with us.

Bridget Jones’s Baby was the first romantic comedy we have played and lots of you turned up to help us make it a great event! We opened with a brief mention of our constitution and how, as well as great films at cheap prices, we are committed to bringing people together, fostering friendships and trying to reduce isolation in our community. To help get us in the mood we had some lovely videos from TV2 Denmark and Mentos. Mentos even sent us some yummy sweets to enjoy during the main feature.

Here’s the beautiful ‘All That We Share’ video from TV2 Denmark, reminding us that there is more that brings us together than sets us apart –

And here’s the brilliant ‘Mentos Mentors’ video about connecting people –

At the interval we even tried ‘Speed Friending’. We rang a bell every few minutes and asked the audience to chat to someone they didn’t know. It was, of course, completely optional but it was lovely to see people having a go! We like the idea that people would feel comfortable coming to visit us even if they were on their own. With a licensed bar and lots of lovely people, there’s always new friends to be made. Hopefully this helped reinforce that message and I’m sure it won’t be the last time we do it!

Next up is Inside Out on Sunday 12th March @ 2pm and Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Friday 31st March @ 7pm. Don’t forget our AGM from 6pm too! Come and hear about the year we have had and what we hope for the future.

We hope to see you all soon!


Sam’s chat with Vale Radio

After a short phone call about our humble cinema, I was kindly invited over to Vale Radio in Haxby to have a chat with Dougie Weake about our work! Check out our interview below:

Following their small beginnings in August 2014 Vale Radio has gone from strength to strength and now broadcast over DAB digital radio and the internet all over the world! Like our group they are non profit and look to bring together other local groups and charities and have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for a variety of causes since they began. They also have over 30 different local DJ’s and a wide range of musical tastes which they tend to.

It was a great opportunity to meet them and see how it all works and they are currently in the process of moving to a brand new studio – we wish them all the best. Here’s a little introduction video to their radio station and we highly recommend you tune in! Hopefully our local organisations can work together in future.


More fun at Film at the Folk Hall

It was a pleasure to host Dave Johns and Abigail Scott-Paul at our showing of Ken Loach’s Palm D’Or award winning film I, Daniel Blake. The film is up for a few BAFTA awards too, so keep your fingers crossed.

The film may not in itself change government policy on the benefits system in the UK but it is certainly making people think, as all great art should do. The lead performances by Hayley Squires and Dave Johns deserve all the accolades coming their way. Stunning work is all I can say. The food-bank scene will go down as one of the most heartbreaking scenes in British film history. I wonder what our local politicians would have to say about it?

It was telling that many people in the audience for the Q & A had their own stories to tell about benefits sanctions and family disagreements about the “worthiness” of people on benefits. What is great is that local people came out in force to see the film, talk with Dave & Abigail, and contributed some money towards supporting our local food-bank.

All this wouldn’t have happened without the many, many hours our volunteers put in, week after week. So here is my weekly call out to anyone wanting to help us provide this great community cinema experience at the Folk Hall in New Earswick, York.

PLEASE, PLEASE join us as a volunteer. Sell ice cream, talk to film stars and support your neighbours. Just click and you will be transported to our volunteer page.

Abigail Scott-Paul and Dave Johns in the spotlight