13 June 2010

Refugee Week: Brightwide (Online Film Festival)

Welcome to Refugee Week, a yearly week of events, exhibitions, celebrations etc around World Refugee Day!

Many of you know of my passion for independent movie, in particular documentaries as well as social and political cinema. On this blog, I previously posted about the BFI London Film Festival 2009, movies of interest for Human Rights Day and most recently, Cinema Jenin.

I could therefore not think of a better way to kick off Refugee Week (details following soon), than by presenting an online film festival!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you: Brightwide!
A while ago at SOAS, I received an email notice about a free screening of Michael Winterbottom's "In This World" in the Khalili Lecture Theatre, with a following Q&A about "Refugees and obstacles to reaching protection" with:

Chris Nash - Head of Refugees and Migrant Rights Team, International Secretariat, Amnesty International;
Joanna Oyediran - Sudan Program Officer, Open Society Institute East Africa Initiative;
Tinyebwa Agaband - MA Law student at SOAS, former child soldier and refugee who fled to the UK in 2003.

Naturally, I was thrilled (and you can read up the event on the SOAS Film Society's Blog HERE or in more detail directly on Brightwide's blog HERE). The event was organised by Brightwide, a less than one year old organisation and quite innovative "social business" that aims to engage larger and younger audiences in contemporary issues by providing a platform for independent film-makers to present their work, stimulate demand and a give opportunities to spark a discussion between film viewers, film makers, activists, artists and campaigners:

Furthermore, "the Brightwide web community is the hub where film-makers, opinion leaders, artists and campaigners interact with an inquisitive audience that wants to be well-informed, connected and involved." (from their flyer)

Brightwide was founded by actor Colin Firth (read about the exciting launch event at the London Film Festival HERE) who as some of you might know, has been quite engaged in human rights and refugee issues himself. Partners include Oxfam, WWF, Amnesty International and Refugee Action.

To bring us back to Refugee Week, Brightwide will screen six movies on their online platform which will be available to watch for £9.99 for ALL six movies for the following two weeks (after that, they will be available in their online library for £2.99 each). If that's not an invitation!

So, the first and only online refugee film festival I know of was launched with an offline screening at the BFI Southbank:

"Chair Channel 4 News broadcaster Samira Ahmed will be joined by directors Stephen Frears (Dirty Pretty Things, My Beautiful Laundrette, Dangerous Liaisons, The Queen), Mat Whitecross (Road to Guantanamo, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Moving to Mars), and Kenny Glenaan (Summer, Gas Attack, Yasmin) and cultural commentator Professor Terence Wright of Ulster University for this unique event"

You can read all about the reception on THIS link (posted 11 June 2010) and BFI's own pitch for the event called "From Casablanca to Calais - Exile on Celluloid" HERE.
You can also follow Brightwide on Facebook and Twitter.

Without further ado then, the six movies (I tried to find trailers wherever I could):

Moving to Mars – Million miles from Burma (dir: Mat Whitecross, 90min)
Moving to Mars portrays the tender and humorous story of two families of Burmese refugees, as their arrival in the UK from a Thai refugee camp changes their lives completely.

Welcome (dir: Philippe Lioret, 110min)
Scooping numerous awards at the Berlin International Film Festival, Welcome tells the story of Bilal, a young Kurdish refugee ready to do anything to be reunited with his girlfriend in England.

No One Knows About Persian Cats (dir: Bahman Ghobadi, 105 min, Special Jury Prize of Un Certain regard Competition, Cannes 2009)
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Un Certain Regard in Cannes, No One Knows About Persian Cats is a moving account of young artists struggling to freely express themselves in the contemporary underground rock scene in Iran.

In this World (dir: Michael Winterbottom, 80 min, Golden Bear in Berlin 2003)
In This World follows the journey of two Afghan boys from a refugee camp in Pakistan as they attempt to reach Europe and rebuild their lives.

La Forteresse (dir: Fernand Melgar, 88min, Golden Leopard in Locarno 2008)
For the first time, a camera looks into the hidden world of a Swiss reception centre for asylum seekers. Awarding it the Golden Leopard, the Locarno festival jury cited La Forteresse as “a remarkably sensitive film exhibiting profound human intelligence.”

Machan (dir: Uberto Passolini, 106 min)
Machan relates the hilarious story of the players on a fake Sri Lankan handball team who enter an international competition in Germany in order to immigrate.

If you are interested in refugee/human rights-related film festivals, I would like to highlight the following:
_Human Rights Watch International Film Festival (NOW June in New York, see website)
_International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (October 2010 in Glasgow, see website)
_Oxford Brookes University Human Rights Film Festival (February/March 2010 but watch their website for next year's event)
_United Nations Association Film Festival (travelling world-wide, check UNAFF website for dates)
_Amnesty International Austria Human Rights Film Festival (December 2010 in Vienna, Austria; proudly started last year! Website)
_UNHCR Film Festival (October 2010 in Tokyo, see website)
Alternatively, have a look for one in your area in the world on the website of the Human Rights Film Network (watch out for those in Bahrain and Addis Ababa!).

3 courageous comments!:

Brightwide Team said...

Dear Heidiwitz,

Thanks so much for your nice blogging about Brightwide. We are happy that you like our films, our events and what we try to do, and we hope you will let us know everything you think about our future ideas...

For example I've seen that you have a link to Black Gold's website. We are so happy that you like it! Did you know that people can also watch the film on brightwide.com?

All best

Brightwide's Team

Heidi said...

Dear Brightwide Team!

Thank you very much for your visit on my blog! I do believe Brightwide is a great idea. In fact, if I had the luxury of working for free, I would love to work with you as an intern!

I already have a copy of Black Coffee but I loved watching Moving to Mars. Continue your terrific work and see you hopefully soon on one of your events!

Davide said...

Hi Heidi how are you? I am Davide from Brightwide. I have just seen the your answer. Can you gie me your email so I can keep you on the loop on our activities?
Thanks and talk soon, Davide