A programme of special events is underway across the UK, all of which use film to connect us in these ever-changing times.
The Changing Times: Curious screen heritage programme, which began in earnest at Thurrock Film Festival, uses archive film to find new ways to celebrate the human desire to learn more about the people and things around us, bringing heritage cinema to new audiences in many different ways. The programme is from the BFI Film Audience Network and made possible thanks to National Lottery funding.
Later in the autumn, The Box, in partnership with Plymouth Arts Cinema and Compass Presents, will show a selection of films as part of Changing Times: Curious, which allow audience members to expand their connection with the work in the galleries. CURIOUS About British Art Show 9 will feature screenings that highlight the ways in which encounters between British and other cultures have enriched our society throughout history.
This follows the events in Thurrock by the Anglo Asiatic Arts and Heritage Alliance (AAAHA), which honoured several socio-historic milestones, namely the 75th anniversary of the Independence of India and Pakistan, the 50th year since the expulsion of South Asians and Sikhs from Uganda, and the 25th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong.
Similarly, Re:Score was part of The Freedom Festival 2022, an annual feast of music and performance arts held since 2007 in honour of Hull’s slave trade abolitionist, the MP William Wilberforce. It featured commissions by The Broken Orchestra (UK), providing specially created scores to breathe new life into seemingly forgotten pieces of silent archive footage, featuring a Black May Queen in wartime Britain, and a charity supporting the families of local fisherman in the 1960s.
Now taking place is Journey to the Isles, Marjory Kennedy-Fraser, a new commission from the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival that offers a glimpse into the landscapes, folktales and songs that inspired one of Scotland’s great early collectors of traditional arts. The tour of the piece, which has so far been shown at Sea Change Festival by Screen Argyll in Tiree, Dundee Contemporary Arts, and An Tobar and Mull Theatre, will continue across Scotland and conclude at Eden Court in Inverness on October 17. The final event will feature a performer Q&A, plus a live stream for international audiences.
In collaboration with the East Anglian Film Archive, Reel Connections in Norwich will host an archive package entitled Sounds of Silents: Curious Youth at the Octagon Unitarian Chapel in the city on 27 October. The event will include live scores by local musicians Broads featuring Jess Blake, Kitty Perrin and Milly Hirst. A short film version will then be made available for screenings at community venues in partnership with Creative Arts East, later in the year.
This will be followed by I Ken Whaur I’m Gaun (I Know Where I’m Going) by Cinetopia at The French Institute in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town between 27 and 31 October. The event, which will explore how folk songs have acted as a form of storytelling in Scotland over time, includes archive film screenings, live musical performances using material extracted from the National Library of Scotland’s moving image archive, and a looped audio-visual installation that will be on display throughout.
Starting on October 13 at Berneray in Borve, Uist Film will screen Gaelic documentary Dúthchas (Home) through the UK, accompanied by a minority language archival film programme using materials from across the UK’s film archives. Dúthchas (Home) is a touching and emotive exploration of what it meant – and still means to people, especially women, to have to leave the island of their birth.
For the finale of Yorkshire Silent Film Festival on 6 November at Morecambe Winter Gardens, No Dots Ltd will present the world premiere of a Echoes of the North: Four Chapters in Time silent film made from more than 100 fragments of archive film, together with an all-brass live score performance from Brighouse and Rastrick Band. The event will be complemented by a selection of short films scored by Morecambe and Lancaster-based musicians.
Throughout November, Birds’s Eye View will present Queerious, an archive programme with short films from national archives that’s touring the UK, exploring a multitude of desires on screen in ways all too rarely seen in cinema, including stories of sexual awakenings and re- awakenings, and queer love through a feminist perspective. Venues include the Exeter Phoenix, Glasgow Film Theatre, Broadway in Nottingham, London’s Rio and Genesis, the Showroom in Sheffield, Chapter in Cardiff, and Depot in Lewes.
Venues in Glasgow, Leeds and Erith this month and next will showcase After Hours, co- curated by Invisible Women and T A P E Collective to explore the significance of nightlife and safe cultural spaces through a queer/feminist lens.
Meanwhile, audiences in Walton, Liverpool can enjoy Walton Wonders under Cinema Nation’s The Spirit of Liverpool banner, a series of screenings and community events celebrating unexpected archive discoveries, including a Home Movie Day and a pop-up cinema at the Rice Lane Underpass in collaboration with the North West Film Archive.
A double bill of Welsh Horror films from the 1970s will be shown by Matchbox Cine in collaboration with the National Library of Wales Screen and Sound Archive. Screenings will take place at Chapter, Cardiff on 22 October, Weird Weekend, Glasgow on 30 October, and at Abertoir – The International Horror Film Festival of Wales in Aberystwyth, starting on 15 November.
Screen Heritage Producer Andy Robson was a key decision-maker selecting projects to make up Changing Times: Curious. Speaking on the theme of curiosity, and the forthcoming events, he said: “The last few years have forced us to look at life through a new lens. Through disruption and isolation, we’ve recognised things we may have missed or never considered before.
“Through multiple lockdowns, we gained a new awareness of our communities and neighbourhoods, made discoveries of previously unacknowledged places on our doorsteps, and found satisfaction in personal passions and curiosities.
“However we experienced it, we were asked to question and learn something new, to understand the unfamiliar and seek solutions. Through film’s unique ability to transport us, illuminate ideas and to spark a conversation, we can seek those solutions and understand those experiences together.”
And last but not least, Belfast Film Festival is to host Vox Populi: The Voice of the People, a walk-through installation at the Bank of Ireland building in the city featuring informal street interviews recorded between 1959-1969 from the Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive, offering an insight into the area’s social history and highlighting unexpected attitudes of the day which both differ from, and echo, those held today.
Visit individual venues and organisations to find out more about events and to book.