GFT and National Autistic Society launch Autism Friendly cinema club

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Relaunch Monday 14 August, 2023

Scottish star Lewis Gribben will join the special relaunch event to share his experience as an autistic person in the industry.

Glasgow Film Theatre, 12 Rose Street, Glasgow G3 6RB

Get It Duked Screening at GFT

GFT, together with National Autistic Society Scotland, are delighted to announce they will be relaunching their Autism friendly film screenings: Access Film Club, with a special event on Monday 14 August. Scottish horror-comedy Get Duked! will be screening at GFT, and one of the film’s stars, Lewis Gribben will be providing a special recorded Q&A talking about his work on the film and his experience as an autistic person working within the film industry. 

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In Ninian Doff’s directorial debut, four teenagers travel to the Highlands to complete a Duke of Edinburgh Award. Through a series of strange encounters they become forced to fight for their very survival in this hip-hop laced black comedy adventure.

Following Get Duked!, where he featured alongside Sam Bottomley, Eddie Izzard, James Cosmo and Kate Dickie, Gribben starred in the 2019 Cannes Audience Award-winning series Somewhere Boy; and appeared in Ben Sharrock’s acclaimed feature Limbo which premiered at Cannes in 2020 and was nominated for a BIFA in the Best Independent Film Category. 

Originally launched in 2014, Access Film Club is a popular and inclusive film event developed by Glasgow Film Theatre in collaboration with The National Autistic Society Scotland. For autistic people, learning disabled people and neurodivergent people, a relaxed environment can be the ideal way to enjoy a film. Access Film Club is designed to engage with people aged 15+ who welcome a relaxed cinema environment. 

GFT was the first cinema in Scotland to have screenings with adjustments suited to autistic people, and in 2017 GFT was the first cinema in the UK to receive the National Autistic Society’s Autism Friendly Award. 

Access Film Club, which includes a friendly post-screening discussion after the film, is not exclusive and it is important that everybody feels welcome to attend which is why tickets can be booked at a lower-than-usual rate of £6.50. To ensure the screening feels as relaxed as possible, there are no adverts or trailers before the film; sound levels are turned down slightly lower; and LED stair lights remain on throughout the film.

The forthcoming relaunch will see the club introduce two brand new Calm Kits, which include fidget cubes, weighted shoulder wraps and stress balls. These can be used by audience members while watching the film or in the nearby designated Quiet Room.

Lewis Gribben said: “The Access Film Club is a great and much-needed idea from Glasgow Film Theatre to allow neurodivergent people the freedom and right to lose themselves in the magic of film in a safe and secure environment, without the fear of judgement or need to compromise who they are.

“It is great to see GFT being inclusive of a wider community who otherwise may not get the chance to experience the big screen. As an autistic actor, I am proud to help re-launch Access Film Club and to present my film Get Duked! as part of the launch event.”

Random Coyle, who is autistic and presents Access Film Club said: Access Film Club is a way of being able to show a diverse range of films in a comfy and reliable environment. For autistic people, going to the cinema can be an intense sensory experience, on top of learning a new set of subtle social rules.

Being able to come to a cinema and be comfortable enough to really enjoy film is often easy for most people. We want to extend that as much as possible to autistic and other neurodivergent people.”

Rob Holland, Director of the National Autistic Society Scotland, said: “We are delighted to renew our partnership with GFT to relaunch the wonderful Access Film Club which has been so successful over the years. We know that two-thirds of autistic people in Scotland report feeling socially isolated, in part because going out can be stressful, particularly for those facing sensory challenges.  

“Cinemas themselves can often be chaotic, noisy and anxiety-inducing places, meaning that autistic people can miss out on the simple joy of watching a film on the big screen. Access Film Club offers an inclusive, relaxed and welcoming experience where autistic people and others can enjoy films stress-free.  

 “We hope that other cinemas and venues across Scotland follow in the footsteps of GFT by looking at how they can make the movie-going experience as inclusive and accessible as possible.” 

Nicola Scott, Community Engagement Co-ordinator at GFT, said: “Access Film Club is a well-loved addition to the GFT programme. It is a social and inclusive screening that shows a mix of classic, foreign and new films. With the new addition of the Calm Kits and Quiet Room we hope people will feel even more comfortable and welcome at these relaxed screenings. GFT takes a human rights approach to our access and engagement, meaning everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community and this is at the heart of the GFT ethos as a ‘Cinema For All’.”

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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