FAN Access Coordinator Yasmin Begum discusses her time at Film Hub Wales working on the Inclusive Cinema project.
It’s an exciting time to be working in film exhibition and programming. Programming in the United Kingdom is becoming more and more varied and diverse, from more discussions on inclusion, engagement down to more community programming.
I’ve spent the past three months working on British Film Institute’s flagship Sinema Cynhwysol scheme. It’s an initiative to promote equality, inclusion and diversity in the film sector. I’ve been based in Chapter Arts Centre at Nod Canolfan Ffilm Cymru in Cardiff, a creative hub of the city and the largest art venue of its kind in Europe.
My time and work has been really varied at Inclusive Cinema. I’ve attended training, learned loads about areas I didn’t know about before and had the opportunity to attend screening days. I’ve enjoyed learning more about access and inclusion while in-post. One thing I’ve noticed working in the sector is how in a tighter funding climate that identities are sometimes pitched against each other. I’m proud to say that Inclusive Cinema champions an intersectional attitude and approach to working that looks at where we can join up work in new areas to ensure that nobody is left behind. Intersectionality is a framework that looks at how power impacts different groups in society to see how that power overlaps for different groups. I’m thrilled I have been able to work on information pages and highlight our shared similarities to make film exhibition and programming a better place for everyone.
A definite highlight of my time has been the events that Inclusive Cinema and Film Hub Wales has helped to deliver. In December, I was fortunate enough to give a Pecha Kucha presentation on the importance of intersectional approaches to film programming for audience development at the fantastic This Way Up Conference in Liverpool. Intersectionality is a tool for understanding the world around us, looking at power and how some groups are less likely to have power than others – or be subject to power. The next month I was in Scotland with Film Hub Scotland delivering “Agor Ein Drysau”, a day aimed at increasing the capacity of programmers and cinemas who are members of FHS. I’d never had an opportunity to programme like that and my heart soared to overhear attendees talk about new ways in which that want to make their venue more accessible for people from lower income communities.
There’s a quote by Audre Lorde (a self-described “black, lesbian, warrior mother poet”) which reads;
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept and celebrate those differences”.
I’ve thought about this a tremendous amount when considering exhibition and programming in the UK. Who programmes what? And for whom? And who can afford it? These are the questions that go through my head. I feel for far too long that our inability to discuss topics relating to equality and inclusion has divided us and resulted in a myth of meritocracy.
The UK is small. The sector’s even smaller. It’s time to act to both set and promote good practice in the industry to not only support exhibitors, but equality and diversity in film overall at every level including filmmakers, screenwriters etc. I’d never really understood BFI, what it did, what its remit was or how it affected the communities I come from. Now I know and I’m excited to see BFI champion equality and diversity as it goes from strength to strength. Inclusive Cinema is a step towards recognising, accepting those differences to help support the sector and I look forward to seeing it thrive.