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Bristol Radical Film Festival
Programme 2023

 
 

The Bristol Radical Film Festival returns this November in collaboration with The Cube Microplex.

We will kick off things with a book launch event on November 1st, followed for a weekend of screenings and discussions. As always, we will be celebrating all manners of political, activist and experimental filmmaking. We hope you can join us.

November 1 / 8 -10 PM

Opening event

Book launch: Radical Film, Art and Digital Media for Societies in Turmoil

The book launch will also include a special focus on video activism in Turkey,

We kick off the festival with the launch of a major new anthology of writing edited by members of the Berlin chapter of the international Radical Film Network. 

Can radical film practices help to understand a disintegrating world? Can they have a healing effect? How can we maintain structures of solidarity in the field of radical media production for societies in turmoil and transition? And what does radical cultural practice look like in times such as ours, when everywhere we turn there seem to lurk even more acute challenges?

This collection investigates practices of audio-visual production that act on and struggle with the conditions of our time. The contributions were created by film practitioners, artists, activists, as well as academics and critics, all of whom share a commitment to experimentation and insist on a pluriversal rethinking of the image in radical film, art and digital media.

November 4 / 11AM - 1 PM

Riotsville, USA

(Sierra Pettengill  2022, USA, 90 mins, Cert 12A)

+ Wicked and Bad

(Toni Lotta Groner, 2023, UK, 15 mins)

RIOTSVILLE, USA is a poetic and furious reflection on the reaction of a nation’s citizens and institutions to the rebellions of the late 1960s. Amid today’s shifting reckonings on power and identity, technology companies consolidating power, and a new generation’s coming-of-age, Pettengill delivers insight from a time similar to our own, urging us to understand how the machine of institutional power manages to rumble on.

In WICKED AND BAD, Tyler is one of the 28 charged protestors after attending the ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration and being in confrontation with the police outside the New Bridewell Police Station in Bristol. ‘Wicked and Bad’ is the story of Tyler Overall’s journey to prison. We focus on his final week of freedom before prison, whilst also covering the events of the March 2021 Kill the Bill protest.

November 4 / 1.30 PM - 3.30 PM

Nae Pasaran

(Felipe Bustos Sierra, 2018, United Kingdom 96 mins, Cert 12 A)

The feature-length documentary tells the story of four Scotsmen - Bob Fulton, John Keenan, Robert Somerville and Stuart Barrie - who along with their workmates downed tools and refused to service and repair engines for the Chilean air force's British-made Hawker Hunter jet fighters. It explores just how significant their actions were in depriving the Chilean military dictatorship of much of its air power.

Following Chile's return to democracy, three of the four Scotsmen - Fulton, Keenan and Somerville - were awarded the highest honour which the Chilean government can bestow on foreigners.

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November 4 / 4 PM - 5.30 PM

100 Years of Struggle

(Colin Thomas, 1973, 30 mins. NC)

+ ReelNews short

Following the screenings there will be a panel discussion on the recent wave of strikes and union organising today.

100 YEARS OF STRUGGLE is a unique documentary made to mark the centenary of the Bristol Trades Union Council (BTUC) in 1973. Although it was transmitted by BBC Bristol, it was written, researched and presented by trade unionists at a time when some organisations outside the Corporation were allowed to use BBC resources to have their own say. The film features men and women union activists recounting moments from Bristol workers’ history.

With an introduction by Colin Thomas.

November 4 / 6 PM - 8 PM

Everything Must Change

(ReelNews, Zahra Dalilah and Rowan Mataram  2023, United Kingdom,   72 mins, NC)

 

Cost of living, climate change, food, housing, land: the multiple crises we face are deeply interlinked, which means the solutions are too. EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE explains how all these crises have come about, and shows how a just transition away from a free market extractive system based on exploitation to a renewable energy system based on people's needs can solve all of them. Drawing on the experience of numerous inspiring social movements,  the film argues that as a movement we need to concentrate much more on emissions arising at the point of production, rather than at the level of consumption - which means building a global mass workers and peasants movement to enact that transition ourselves as a matter of priority, because governments and big business aren’t going to do it for us.

Featuring Indian Farmers Movement, Construction Rank & File, Grenfell, La Via Campesina, BLF Green Bans, Right to Food, Living Rent, Kenyan Peasants League, striking French and English workers, Save St Fitticks, PELUM Zimbabwe, the Lucas Plan and many more.

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November 4 / 8.30 PM - 10.30 PM

Cassius X: Becoming Ali

(Muta Ali, 2023, UK, 90mins, Cert TBC)

CASSIUS X: BECOMING ALI follows the early years of Cassius Clay, from bright-eyed rookie to world heavyweight champion and from working class intellectual to one of America’s most influential civil rights campaigners. The film reveals how the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, reinforced by a friendship with revolutionary preacher, Malcolm X, set Clay on the journey to become "Cassius X", before his induction to the Nation of Islam and ascension to the name of the great Muhammad Ali. CASSIUS X: BECOMING ALI is the extraordinary story of how one young boxer from Louisville, Kentucky became a cultural icon for the ages, forever to be known thereafter as “The Greatest”.

November 5 / 1.00 PM - 3.00 PM

Gaza Fights for Freedom

(Abby Martin, 2019, USA, 83 m - TBC)

 

The documentary “Gaza Fights for Freedom” uses videos of ‘live’ action in Gaza, mainly from the events concerning the Great March of Return in 2018-2019. The topics covered are varied but all are centred on the imprisonment and deprivation caused by the Israeli government blockading the small territory (about 40 km by 10 km). It has interviews with the people of Gaza and their concerns, hopes, and ambitions, in spite of 14 years of lockdown and destruction, and shows how they manage to survive in conditions that are uninhabitable.

November 5 / 3.30 PM - 5.00 PM

BRFF International Short Films Showcase

(various)

Click here to see the full list of films selected, with descriptions and directors biographies. 

Our annual International Short Films Showcase presents a range of new work from Italy, Finland and Spain to Iran the USA and UK. Features include campaigning animation highlighting the housing crisis, anti-fascist traditions in London’s east end, the oil industry’s suppression of research on climate change as well as dance performance exploring women’s inequality in the workplace. The selected films not only challenge us politically but also explore a multitude of different ways to represent love, death, memory, and war and all of them imaginative, affective, and thought provoking.

November 5 / 5.30 PM - 7.00 PM

The Hearing

(Lisa Gerig , 2023, Switzerland, 81 mins, NC)

What happens when your future depends on your ability to tell your own life story in a convincing way? In an ordinary and grey office like any other, four people are waiting to be called in for a hearing. The bureaucratic setting is closer to a theatre stage.

In THE HEARING the participants re-enact their own real-life conversations with real government officials. A Nigerian woman, a man from Cameroon, a transgender woman from Sri Lanka, and a young Afghan man – all four are in the same situation with everything at stake. The tension between reality and staging, between role-playing and reality, does not make their life stories any less moving or relevant. 

But the film does more. It reverses both the roles and the balance of power. The result is a (thought) provoking film  that gives a form to four individuals’ subjective experience of a system that is alien to most.

November 5 / 7.30 PM - 9.45 PM

Joyland

(Saim Sadiq, Pakistan, 2022, 126 mins. Cert 15)

+ Faith

(Zain Ilyas 2023, 5 mins.)

JOYLAND is set in bustling Lahore. The Ranases are, on the surface, a functional, patriarchal family.  The household is made up of Abbas, the elderly father, the older brother, Saleem and his wife Nucchi, and younger brother Haider and his wife Mumtaz.

Much to the embarrassment of his traditional father, Haider is the one in his relationship who stays at home, whilst Mumtaz goes to work at the salon every day- a job that she loves. When Haider gets a job in an erotic theatre as a backup dancer for trans starlet, Biba, and starts secretly dating her, everything changes, and the cracks that have always been there, tear the family apart.

FAITH is a collaborative film that speaks to understanding identity within faith, childhood, parental relationships and queerness. Poetry is used to guide the viewer through the narrative. Iman Sultan West is a South Asian artist, poet and director of @shiiku._community, currently based in Bristol.

This project came at a time of curiosity, providing a safe, creative environment to explore difficult experiences through words. The music was scored with gentle consideration by Zayd Sultan - Iman’s brother - a South Asian musician and producer also based in Bristol.

The film was shot, edited and directed by Zain Ilyas, a South Asian BBC producer and director of Desi with a passion for giving a voice to underrepresented people through film and storytelling. This project was produced under Desis Organise, a Bristol based CIC with a mission of spreading South Asian awareness and creativity through social justice ‘to promote solidarity, learning and activism among Desi communities’. 

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