SRFF 2015

The inaugural Screening Rights Film Festival, a three-day programme of social justice film and discussion, took place at Mac Birmingham between Thursday 9 July and Saturday 11 July 2015. It grew out of research done at The Birmingham Centre for Film Studies (B-Film) at University of Birmingham.

The need for heartfelt films about the depths of human adversity around the world has grown enormously in recent decades. This new film festival will bring some of the best and most interesting of these films to Birmingham.

The festival programme combines screenings of highly acclaimed social justice films with post screening discussions involving directors, producers, writers, activists and experts.

Screening Rights Film Festival is a new venture led by Michele Aaron at the University of Birmingham. Screening Rights aims to inspire and develop debates on the potential of film to effect personal, social and political change.

Thank you to all those who helped make it happen. Please visit B-Film’s Facebook page for photos from the festival and from the ‘Screening Vulnerability’ symposium that kicked it all off.  

Here is the festival programme:

SRFF 2015


6PM | Open Bethlehem [dir: Leila Sansour, 2013, 90m]

the kind of art that peace processes are built on – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Open Beth

Open Bethlehem is a story of a homecoming to the world’s most famous little town. Armed with her camera and her family’s unreliable car, Leila sets out to make an epic film about a legendary town in crisis but just a few months into filming the course of her life, and the film, takes an unexpected turn when her cousin Carol, Leila’s last relative in town, persuades her to stay and start a campaign to save the city.

Drawn from 700 hours of original footage and rare archive material, the film spans seven momentous years in the life of Bethlehem, revealing a city of astonishing beauty and political strife under occupation.

Following the screening, we are delighted to be joined by the film’s director, Leila Sansour, Deborah Burton from the Tipping Point Film Fund, and Salma Yaqoob, former leader and former vice-chairman of the Respect Party and a former Birmingham City Councillor.

Admission £7.50/5.50*. Book to reserve your place.
This film carries a PG Certificate but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children.

This event is sponsored by Voices of War and Peace: the Great War and its Legacy is a First World War Engagement Centre funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Voices of War and Peace logo


2PM | But They Can’t Break Stones [dir: Elena Dirstaru, 2015, 50m]

But They Can't Break Stones

Nepal’s civil war ended almost ten years ago, and its effects are still very visible, especially in terms of women’s rights. Violence against women is very common in Nepal and there are many women’s rights organisations trying to combat it, as well as improve women’s access to education in the aftermath of the conflict.

But They Can’t Break Stones follows the feminisation of a national trauma, documenting the effect the civil war had on women and how women’s lives are shaped by political instability and cultural norms that place them in domestic roles, documenting activists’ roles in Nepalese society, as well as the personal stories of women living in rural Nepal.

We’re delighted to be joined by the director, Elena Dirstaru, for a Q&A after the film conducted by Dr Shohini Chaudhuri

Admission free. Book to reserve your place.


4.10PM | Waves [dir: Ahmed Nour, 2014, 71m]

Still image taken from 'Waves'

Combining archive footage, live action and animation, this feature-length documentary is a lyrical reflection on the Egyptian city of Suez, ‘a city of waves and crows’.

The documentary charts the bittersweet story of a generation born under the rule of Hosni Mubarak, who served as President of Egypt from 1981 – 2011. Suez was the first city to hold major anti-Mubarak protests during the Egyptian revolution in 2011, which resulted in Mubarak’s resignation after thirty years at the helm.

Despite their key role, the citizens of Suez have seen no justice from the courts for friends and family killed during the uprising, and have seen no improvement to their everyday lives. In this insightful film, Nour asks was it all worth it?

We’re delighted to have Dr Dima Saber with us to introduce the film

Admission free. Book to reserve your place.


8.10PM |The Look of Silence [dir: Joshua Oppenheimer, 2014, 103m]

One of the greatest and most powerful documentaries ever made. A profound comment on the human condition.” – Errol Morris


The Look of Silence is Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to the Oscar®-nominated The Act of Killing. Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers.

The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions. This unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of fifty years of silence.

We’re delighted to be able to do a post-screening Q&A (via skype) with the film’s producer Signe Byrge Sørensen. Signe was also behind Oppenheimer’s Act of Killing (2012) as well as the documentary Concerning Violence (Göran Olsson, 2014) .

Admission £7.50/5.50*. Book to reserve your place.

This film carries a 15 certificate and contains graphic descriptions of killing and torture


11AM | No Fire Zone [dir: Callum Macrae, 2013, 96m]

A difficult… enraging watch… Tragically it’s essential viewing.” – Time Out UK


No Fire Zone is an Emmy nominated feature documentary whichtells the story of the final months of the 26-year long Sri Lankan civil war.

The story is told by the people who lived through the war – and through some of the most dramatic and disturbing video evidence ever seen. This footage – direct evidence of war crimes, summary execution, torture and sexual violence – was recorded by both the victims and perpetrators on mobile phones and small cameras during the final 138 days of hell which form the central narrative of the film.

The product of a three year investigation, the film is credited with playing a key role in convincing the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014 to launch a major international war crimes investigation into the events in the closing stages of the war. Not just an agenda setting investigation, it is also a cinematic tour de force – a stunning and disturbing film in its own right.

We are delighted to announce that No Fire Zone director and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Callum Macrae will be present for a post-screening Q&A which will be conducted by John Horne.

Admission free. Book to reserve your place.
This film carries an 18 certificate and contains disturbing and distressing descriptions and film of the shelling of civilians, executions and atrocities.


4.30PM | Riots Reframed [dir: Fahim Alam, 2014, 60m)

Riots Reframed

Riots Reframed is a feature-length documentary which reframes England’s 2011 riots through voices of resistance – threading these perspectives together using moody instrumentals, dramatic monologue and raw spoken word.

After being falsely accused of hurling bricks at the police during the east London riots, director Fahim Alam spent six weeks in prison on remand, and a further six months on an electronic tag. Following his release he set out to make this documentary challenging the UK power structure.

This hard-hitting film takes viewers on a journey that starts in Tottenham but extends to examine the role of police, power, racism, government, prison, war, resistance, and the media institutions that narrate them all.

We’re delighted that the director Fahim Alam will be present at the screening which will be followed by a Q&A conducted by Dr Kehinde Andrews.

Admission £7.50/5.50*. Book to reserve your place.
This film carries a 15 certificate and contains strong language.


6.30PM | Stories of Our Lives [dir: Jim Chuchu, 2014, 60m)


Stories of Our Lives is a Kenyan film created by members of The NEST, an arts collective working to explore African identities.

In 2013, the group began collecting and archiving the stories of persons identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex. The resulting film is an anthology of five vignettes dramatizing true stories of LGBTI life in Kenya. So compelling were these stories that The NEST were inspired to adapt some of them into short films.

Working on a shoestring budget with one small video camera, two LED lights, a portable digital recorder, a shotgun mic, and relentless courage and enthusiasm, the cast and crew shot, edited, and mixed five shorts over eight months to create this remarkable anthology film.

Winner of the Teddy Special Jury Award at Berlinale 2015, don’t miss your opportunity to see the first screening of this award-winning film outside London.

Admission £7.50/5.50*. Book to reserve your place.


*Advance tickets are available online. Tickets cost £7.50 per event, or you can purchase a festival pass for £15.

Web: You can book online 24 hours a day, and either have your tickets posted to you, or you can collect your tickets in person. Online bookings should be made at

Tel: The Sales & Information team are able to deal with queries 7 days a week, in person from 10am – 9.45pm (weekdays) and 9am – 9.45pm (weekends), and by telephone on 0121 446 3232 from 9am – 9.45pm.

Post: Bookings can also be made by post, with a cheque or postal order made payable to mac.