Glasgow Film Theatre’s Access Film Club

Monthly autism friendly film events in a safe and welcoming environment.
Jodie Wilkinson, Public Engagement Coordinator, Glasgow Film Theatre

Project overview

Why the project matters

All people deserve a cultural offering of their choosing.


  • Provide a film experience for people who prefer to watch in a safe and low sensory environment.
  • Broaden understanding – programme is eclectic and seeks to challenge audiences. We’ve screened horrors, comedies, ’80s classics and even a stunning documentary about a 12 yr old Eagle Huntress which went down a treat!
  • Promote socialisation – every event always has a mixture of people and ages coming along.
  • Broaden Horizons – special events featuring guest creative, autistic professionals elevate aspiration and demystifies stereotype that autistic people cannot achieve success.
  • No exclusivity – the club is not exclusive and it is important that everybody feels welcome to attend.
  • Celebrate diversity – we want to make sure that people who welcome a relaxed film screening can find that with us.
  • Co-led by autistic people.

Headline results

  • Successfully running since April 2015.
  • GFT was the first cinema in the UK to receive the Autism Friendly award 2017.


  • The Eagle Huntress
  • Handsome Devil
  • Spaceship
  • My Life as a Courgette
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • The Final Girls
  • The Boy and the Beast
  • Patti Cake$
  • Rare Exports
  • Good Time
  • Brimstone and Glory with short The Girl with the Curly Hair
  • Lady Bird
  • A Fantastic Woman
  • Love, Simon

Key partnerships

Launch Partner -Scottish Autism (Nov 14-Feb 17)
National Autistic Society (Feb 17 – current)


Access Club is funded by Glasgow Film Theatre as part of the regular programme.

Learning outcomes

What worked

  • Listening to your partner orgs
  • Involving autistic people in your planning and programming
  • Getting staff and volunteers trained in advance
  • Making sure people with autism lead/co-facilitate the events

What didn’t work

  • Public vote for film options – failed to build interest.

What you’d do differently

Honestly nothing – everything has happened for a reason!


Awareness & attitudes

Internal – via autism awareness training and improved Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) training and induction programmes, our staff and volunteer cohorts are dramatically more aware of how to best serve our autistic patrons. Learning is shared across departments and feeds into front of house delivery and enhances programming and marketing communications.


Access Film Club is a very diverse programme. Every month we welcome people of all ages and always have a mixture of neuro-diverse and neuro-typical patrons because the film programme is diverse and interesting.

In addition, we collaborate with autistic volunteers who co-host the events which has such a positive influence on our audiences.

Finally, the fact that we have space for a post-film chat offers people the chance to share views on the film, learn from different perspectives, broadens film culture understanding and bolsters the social aspect outcome of the programme.

Knowledge & experience

We will never stop learning from this programme. Both our partners and our audiences offer knowledge and perspective that only serves to enhance our offer. We have built trust with our audiences, so much so that we have regulars who have never missed an event in the 3.5 years we have been running!

We also run a younger autism friendly offer to children and families called Take 2: Access


“I must admit that it felt a bit weird going to the Glasgow Film Theatre (or the GFT as it’s known) to ask them about their plans for Autism Awareness month because as far as venues go it has to be one of the most all round disability friendly and inclusive places in the city, if not the country.

“Autism friendly, closed caption, Take Two /Take 2: Access family events, dedicated disability friendly showings and genuinely brilliant and knowledgeable staff (amongst other things) all add up to make the GFT a perfect example of how a venue can tackle the issues of inclusion and get it right. And the fact that it’s a small cinema with charity status and a majority of volunteer staff makes it all the more remarkable. The GFT: Cinema Paradiso. Our podlings began their cinema education at the GFT when they were tiny so it does feel as tho’ it’s always been an Autistic friendly venue as far as we’re concerned so if you’re taking those first steps toward Autistic movie-going you’d be hard pushed to find a more accommodating cinema.

“A brilliant venue that you should check out. And before anyone asks yes I did badger the staff member on the desk with loads of questions (to which I kinda knew the answers) but didn’t want to be accused of favouritism.

“As another plus point it’s the only venue that actually offered to give me an email address to get in touch with someone if I wanted to discuss it further. All this walking and talking has been hard work which left me wondering, it’s all well and good having these family friendly venues around the city but is there anywhere you thirsty Autie can grab a pint safe in the knowledge that the bar is Autism Aware?

Hmmmm…..maybe!”Ashton Lamont- Autastical Blog

Find out more about Access Film Club on Glasgow Film Theatre’s website.

Find upcoming autism-friendly screenings.

An Evening with Rory Hoy from Geraldine Heaney on Vimeo.