Dimensions is a not-for-profit organisation, which supports people who experience autism and people with learning disabilities. They also run Autism Friendly Film screenings at cinemas across Scotland and the rest of the UK twice a month.
April has seen some exciting developments with their Autism Film Screening Partnerships. Dimensions is pleased to announce that Autism Friendly Films will be screened at 32 more Cineworld cinemas every month across the UK. A total of 53 Cineworld cinemas will now to take part in the initiative. The first film to show across all 53 cinemas will be Finding Nemo on Sunday May 5 at 11am as part of the partnership. The screenings will be shown monthly, on the first Sunday of the month.
Dimensions continues to partner with ODEON to show Autism Friendly Screenings across more than 90 cinemas nationwide.
Dimensions and ODEON began their project in August 2011 and since then the screenings have grown in popularity. It is the first time a social care provider has partnered with entertainment companies in this way, offering a wider choice for cinema goers.
Dimensions also announced this month that Vue Cinemas is pledging its support to the organisation’s Autism Friendly Films initiative. Vue Cinemas will launch its autism friendly screenings on the 30th June, with subsequent monthly screenings happening on the last Sunday of each month. These screenings will be available at 78 Vue Cinemas nationwide including Aberdeen, Inverness, Stirling and Edinburgh.
Vue is the third cinema chain to join the initative, making it the biggest scheme to specifically offer nationwide Autism Friendly Film showings, for which adjustments include eliminating adverts, lighting left on low and sound turned down. To find your nearest participating cinema visit www.dimensions-uk.org/autismfilms
May’s films are:
Cineworld: May 5th at 11am – Finding Nemo
ODEON: May 19th at 11.30am – Epic
June’s films are:
Cineworld: June 2nd at 11am– film TBC
ODEON: June 16 at 11.30am – Despicable 2
Vue: June 30th – film and time TBC.
Dimensions has recently conducted a survey into the likes and preferences of the people who attend the autism friendly screenings. Overall, the most popular films are those that appeal to a family audience, especially animation or family films. People also said that the most important factor was proximity to their nearest participating cinema, something that Vue’s involvement will help address, as an increased number of cinemas will mean that more people will be closer to a local cinema.
Most of the people that responded attend screenings with their family members and more than half said they were very pleased with how well staff in cinemas were trained about autism and the cinema adjustments needed to give them a positive experience.
One parent responding to the survey said: “This is such a blessing to us, we could not go to any other screenings with our two boys, one of whom has Aspergers. This is something we look forward to every month and would welcome the chance to attend more frequently in any given month.”
Another said: “I just think the autism friendly screenings are fantastic, as my child can get quite anxious when waiting on a film to start so it is great that there is minimal or no trailers and the low volume makes viewing much better.”
Jo Cook, who supports two people to attend to Autism Friendly Film Screenings, said: “It’s a fabulous idea that I hope continues for years to come. It’s wonderful seeing children thoroughly enjoying themselves who otherwise would not be able attend for many different reasons. We look forward to the next film showing.”
Lisa Hopkins, executive director of practice development at Dimensions, said having such partnerships with the cinemas provides more opportunities for people with autism to be included in their communities. The project is an element of the organisation’s focus to provide more inclusive environments for people with autism.
“We are really pleased to be partnering with all three cinema chains to extend this important and successful project even further. The fact that the screenings have been so well received and continue to gain support from national cinema chains shows that there was a need to introduce such environments.
“People who can sometimes be excluded from the traditional cinema experience, because they may find the sensory experience too difficult to manage, are now able to watch a wider variety of films, more frequently, in an environment conducive with their needs. These opportunities are important stepping stones towards full inclusion in mainstream cinemas,” said Lisa.
Matt Eyre, Vice President of Operations at Cineworld, said : “Cineworld is delighted to offer autism friendly screenings at selected cinemas and is pleased to be offering them across many more of our cinemas. We’ve seen a very positive take up of these performances.”
Roger Harris, COO of ODEON & UCI Cinemas Group, commented: “We are delighted with the success of the Autism Friendly Screenings since they began in 2011. It’s great that ODEON can offer a cinema experience to people who wouldn’t normally find it easy. Watching a film on the big screen is a wonderful experience and one that should be accessible to everyone. Working with Dimensions has raised our awareness about the needs of people with autism.”
A spokesperson for Vue Cinemas comments: “At Vue Cinemas we are dedicated to providing our customers with the best cinematic experience possible. We are delighted to be part of this project as the autism friendly screenings will mean those who were previously unable to attend, can now witness films on the big screen, receiving the ultimate viewing experience specifically tailored to their needs.”
Dee Davison, Senior Policy Executive from the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association, said: “We are delighted that Dimensions is working with some of the UK’s largest cinema chains to support autism friendly screenings in cinemas.
“We strongly believe that the big screen is the best place to watch a film, and everyone should be able to enjoy that experience. By running autism friendly screenings cinemas they are able to provide more comfortable environments for those who find the traditional cinema setting not suitable for them.
“By turning the lights up and the sound down, programming films in advance and enabling people to move around the screen during a film – autistic friendly screening are a great way for those with autism and similar conditions to come to the cinema with their family and friends to relax and enjoy a film. The leading cinema chains in the UK programme these screenings monthly and we have been really pleased with the take up from audiences.”
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