Screening Rights 2019

“Film is … probably the best option if you actually want to change the world, not just re-decorate it.” — Banksy

The world lurches from one natural/unnatural catastrophe to another and ‘film’ – captured on smartphones on streets as the people, or the rivers, rise – becomes the main means of telling the truth…or rather a truth…of what’s happening. Meanwhile, Oscar-winning actresses (and Olympians) are getting themselves arrested in response to climate crisis, and the industry steals the show of outing, and occasionally ousting, sexual abuse within its ranks.

The relationship between film and social justice couldn’t be more evident. The result of this relationship, however, remains mostly intangible. Some films alter geopolitical landscapes: previous SRFF-featured filmmakers Joshua Oppenheimer and Callum Macrae have had a huge impact on how Indonesia and Sri Lanka, respectively, deal with their genocidal pasts. But most films with social justice intent, do little more than move us to think or feel differently. While it is usually sympathy, fury or fear that is produced, and temporarily so, the power of film to move us to think or feel differently should not be underestimated. 

Screening Rights Film Festival explores and exploits this power by bringing some of the most compelling recent films to our region, and by opening them up fully for discussion. It is not about sharing the world’s worthiest or bleakest films or spreading the love of noble intentions. It is about harnessing cinema to entertain, educate and inspire change; to nudge us to do as well as think and feel. 

Thanks to funding from the BFI’s Midlands Film Hub, we’ve been able to focus our programming and outreach on young people in particular this year. You’ll see more screening events about young people in SRFF2019, and, hopefully, see greater numbers in the audience and involved on panels. There are also more British and fiction films this year, as we look to make the festival more appealing and potentially more relevant to communities we’ve not yet reached. 

Exciting things lie ahead for the Midlands: City of Culture in 2021 and the Commonwealth Games in 2022. We’re delighted to be working this year with City of Culture on our Coventry events and are looking forward to continuing to build the festival in the coming years. If you’re interested in supporting SRFF or collaborating with it, please do get in touch. If you’re involved in young people’s organisations or development, we’d love to work with you in the future.

Thanks to our funders, collaborators and student volunteers. Thanks, especially, to Rachael Yardley, this year’s Festival Coordinator. 

Michele Aaron
Festival Director/Curator
Reader in Film and Television
University of Warwick

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