Sheffield Doc/Fest (Gentle / Radical)

Radha Patel attended Sheffield Doc/Fest on behalf of Gentle/Radical in June, 2017, read about her visit/experience below. 

“This was the first film festival I’d attended and it was an incredible experience. I felt privileged to have had access to exciting, relevant films, and to be able to bring many of them home to the audiences of the film club.

One of the things that really excited and impressed me was the platforming and position of female film makers. It’s incredibly refreshing that time is taken to curate film screenings made by women who are largely ignored in the film industry. I was particularly excited to meet director Lana Wilson, who I greatly admire.”

As an organisation that aims to bring the best of independent and international cinema to marginalised communities in South Wales, it’s vital we attend film festivals to refresh and update our programmes with content that is new, exciting and accessible to our audiences, many of whom speak English as a second language and require films that are heavily visual. We were able to access interesting, non-fiction content, from around the world, which we would not usually have the time or resources to do.

As our audiences grow at the WOW Film Club, and we attract more people from different backgrounds, it’s great to have access to content which represents them and their heritage. The festival was a great way to do this, and we came away with a number of titles that we’re really excited about showing in Cardiff and Swansea. In particular a series of documentaries that we know will appeal to our Asian audiences, vital for us given there is more limited content available in the UK.

We were also alble to make good connections with the respective producers and directors. In this regard, attending a film festival meant that we are able to network and build new connections with filmmakers, film organisations and similar projects in a much easier manner than, for example, having to search endlessly through the internet to find respective contact details. This was also valuable because we are now able to invite fresh, new voices to our panels and discussions, and have already started to make links with film makers we are intending to invite to Wales.

I was able to take time to immerse myself in an environment where I could access a variety of films, make notes, and then discuss the outcomes with the Director to gain a better understanding of what accessible means, for diverse audiences, as well as for young people and teens (in light of the development of our ‘’Young Women and Girls Film Club).

I am learning that this is highly nuanced territory. It’s not about dismissing films because of certain content, based on assumptions that they might not be well received, rather, it’s about finding the content that enables us to open out issues in delicate and culturally appropriate ways that respects our audiences, but also challenges them.

Even something as simple as this is an incredibly time consuming part of our work but in essence, is one of the most important aspects. Many large cultural institutions and cinemas ignore BME communities in their programmes, so it is essential that, as our target audience is those communities, we are able to have time to access and subsequently curate an exciting programme of films that are easy to follow, address serious issues and are also entertaining.

We are talking to Julia Dahr, director of ‘Thank You For For The Rain’, an extraordinary documentary about climate change told from the perspective of a Kenyan farmer and community activist. As a project that works with BME communities, a film that focuses specifically on environmental racism, and the impact on non-Western communities on climate change in, for example, Africa, is precisely the kind of perspective we’re interested in opening out on this subject. We have started to talk with environmental activists in Wales, and we are planning a screening/symposium we hope in December 2017 to coincide with the two year anniversary of the Cop 21 climate change talks in Paris. We’re keen to involve Wales based environmental organisations in this event, and we’d be happy to talk to any other Hub members who might find this of interest.

  1. Greater confidence in programming.
  2. Better understanding of how to network.
  3. Direct access to film makers/directors and respective dialogues.
  4. Direct access to new, interesting content and up to date content.
  5. The opportunity to experience a lot of material in one go and select the best

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