London Labour Film Festival: Join our journey into working people’s stories
I am delighted to be directing the London Labour Film Festival for its second year and I’m very excited about the line up that we have planned for 2014.
I first developed an interest in labour films after picking up Tom Zaniello’s encyclopedic book ‘Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds and Riff Raff’ over 6 years ago and started watching the films therein, and soon realised what a wonderfully emotive genre Labour film really is. In 2011 I was invited to the first conference of labour film festival organisers in Washington DC where they encouraged me to set up a festival here in the UK. Two years or so later, here we are with our second London’s Labour Film Festival.
Of course, we already had film clubs here in the UK with a similar outlook, such as the London Socialist Film Co-op which has been running for over 23 years, the International Labour Film Festival born of the Turkish community and in more recent times the Radical Film Fest Network, born of the Occupy movement. The London Labour Film Festival, as with all of these festivals, uses film to shine the spotlight on social issues, in this case on working people and the often, unseen men and women that keep society moving day in day out.
Curating a festival each year is very time consuming and you always wonder, did I get it right this year? I wanted to have a fresh programme, with as many new films as possible. I wanted the opportunity to shine a spotlight on Europe. I hope that I got it right. I invite you to come and be the judge. With four film premieres and a wide selection of films from across genres there really is something for everyone.
By screening films that show the hopes, struggle and lives of workers, the festival has come at a most appropriate time, right at the end of the TUC campaign ‘Fair Pay Fortnight’ and there is no better time to screen a festival that highlights the issues of workers pay. The film ‘Women’s Day’ being a cinematic exploration of this case in point.
There is no better place to watch a film than at the cinema and we are delighted to be partnering with the Odeon, Covent Garden for this years festival, which has the feeling of an art house cinema. When you come to the festival and enjoy a screening, you will find what I have found, that each screening becomes like a small temporary community built around that film, we travel on a journey together and consequently feel a little bit closer to each other because of that journey.
A personal favourite of mine is cult sci-fi classic Silent Running. “Labour film?” I hear you cry. You betcha. All of earth’s plant life that isn’t extinct is floating around in space in great geodesic domes to preserve them. When orders come from the earth (employer) to jettison the domes and return the space freighters to more commercial work, botanist (worker) Lowell takes things into his own hands. With Lois Shenton singing Joan Baez covers before the screening of the film – this promises to be a memorable event.
I would like to make a special mention here to feature length campaign film Burgos. I was moved when contacted by colleagues within the Philippine community and asked to premiere this film as a fundraiser. The film is groundbreaking as a campaign drama and is about the abduction of labour activists and farm worker Juan Burgos. I would really recommend people come to this event and find out about the struggle of agricultural activists in the Philippines. Proceeds from the film will go to the campaign for Human rights in the Philippines.
Amongst other short films prior to each screening there will be a film that highlights the importance of voting in the European elections.
…Of course all of this is all a thinly veiled excuse to screen lots of brilliant films. I hope we’ll see you there.
Note: The festival is not for profit, money from ticket sales is used to pay for cinema hire, film distributer’s costs and publicity.