Catharine Des Forges

Catharine Des Forges is Director of the Independent Cinema Office (ICO); the national organisation for the development and support of independent film exhibition in the UK. Catharine has spent 18 years working in the exhibition sector for a variety of organisations including the BFI and Arts Council England. She has worked as a freelance programmer and arts consultant and progammed for festivals and cinemas both in the UK and internationally. She founded the ICO in 2003 and has been its Director ever since.


What's your connection to the British Council?
The British Council is kindly supporting our next training course which is
running at the Motovun Film Festival in Croatia, which runs 23-28 July. It’s
called Developing Your Film Festival and we’re welcoming film festival
professionals from across Europe to this beautiful medieval town to a
course which will equip them with the skills, confidence and inspiration to
develop their film festivals.

What are your current projects?
Aside from our Motovun course, we’re releasing an amazing British classic film called Woman in A Dressing Gown in cinemas on the 27th July – people don’t know it, but it’s absolutely fabulous, a precursor to  kitchen sink drama, directed by J Lee Thompson who made the original Cape Fear and an emotional melodrama which is heartbreaking  and wonderful in equal measure.  We’re also releasing Box of Delights, a  complilation of new animation for children and we’ve just launched a new blog for anyone interested in independent cinema.

What/who originally turned you onto film?
I used to go to my local independent cinema as a teenager and watch absolutely everything – I loved seeing things that were different, that no-one else knew and being in a different kind of space that felt very different and special.

What has been your career high so far?
Setting up the Independent Cinema Office and still being here, nearly 10 years later. We’ve achieved a lot in that time and each year brings new projects, partners and films – it’s great actually!

What was your first job in the film industry?
I was an usher at Warwick Arts Centre cinema when I was at university but my first real job was a 3 month contract as a Trainee Film Exhibition Officer at the British Film Institute.

If I knew then what I know now…(a key piece of advice you’d give to someone starting off in film making)
Watch everything not just things you think you’d like or you do like. Think about the audience.

What is your favourite British film?
This is too hard! If you do my job you always have about a zillion favourites and they change every day. So today maybe somewhere between KesGreat ExpectationsBlack Narcissus and House of Mirth.

If you could have directed/been involved with any film ever made, which one would it be?
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or Calamity Jane – especially if I could be in all the dance numbers.

What’s the first film you remember seeing?
The Wizard of Oz – I was terrified of the wicked witch of the north when the house lands on and her toes curl up.

What’s your favourite line or scene from a film?
‘Match me Sidney’ – from Sweet Smell of Success – such a fantastic film. Such clever wordplay and truly indicative of those characters. And I love when Lord Patrick of Swayze sews up his arm wound in Roadhouse.

Favourite screen kiss?
Probably Bogart and Bacall in To Have and Have Not – that’s a very erotic film generally anyway! but the kiss brings it all together.

Who’s your favourite screen hero and/or villain?
My favourite villain is probably Nosferatu, and hero -  maybe Keanu Reeves in Point Break or Speed.

Who would play you in the film about your life?
Doris Day.