Sensory Cinema in Birmingham

The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) is working with Sense and Flatpack, to bring some special Sensory Cinema sessions to Birmingham. The project – which runs across three dates – will provide free cinema sessions, that absolutely everyone can enjoy. They’re taking place at Sense TouchBase Pears in Selly Oak and the first day of showings was on the 2nd of May, and there’s two more to come throughout the summer. 


Flatpack has been working on the sensory cinema initiative since 2020 with artist and theatre-maker Sarah Hamilton Baker, and together they’ve designed a film offer that can be enjoyed by people with complex disabilities and young families. The touch screen events translate short films into an experience that involves all the senses. Audiences might touch, smell, taste, hear or feel their way through the films, and there’s an opportunity to become immersed in lights, sounds and movement, while interacting with tangible objects portrayed in the films.  


A group of people on stage Description automatically generated with medium confidence


The project has been in the works for a year and has been supported by Commonwealth Games legacy funding. It leads on from work TAWS was involved with last summer, with big screens in Handsworth and Lozells providing free outside cinema experiences for families. It’s hoped this will provide a fully inclusive experience for all involved.  


Lucy Bird from The Active Wellbeing Society’s Active Streets programme said: “This cinema model is designed to be inclusive and accessible for all. The experience is beautifully curated and thoughtfully planned to create an environment that welcomes movement, touch and engagement through visual films in a sensitive and carefully thought through journey, awakening senses in a considered and safe space.”    


Sarah Hamilton Baker, Artist and creator of Touch Screen said: “Every month we have an exciting set of short films with a curated offering of objects to enliven the senses. At the heart of touch screen is the desire to create an open and playful environment in which to enjoy films. I love that each month is totally different, and the audience brings their own ideas and playfulness to the events.” 


Sunney Sharma Arts & Wellbeing Manager at Sense TouchBase Pears said: “Exploring how we make films inclusive, accessible and a unique sensorial experience has been an inimitable opportunity for all involved and opens up further conversations on how the film industry can be supported as a whole to include people with complex disabilities and those with deaf blindness.” 




Alice Rosenthal
Author: Alice Rosenthal