Liverpool's new film club helps residents of the Edge Hill district find common ground and newfound confidence through cinema, conversation and the kitchen.
Launched in June 2019, the Humanise Community Film Club is a new film society based out of Metal, Liverpool’s arts laboratory. The Club was founded to bring together the various communities living in Metal's immediate vicinity and uses a combination of film, food and discussion to highlight all that these neighbours have in common. The inaugural season focused on stories of marginalised communities and those fighting for their rights in testing circumstances. Each screening took place on a "pay what you can" basis and was expanded into a broader social event through a shared meal and a guided discussion lead by visiting speakers.
To establish a community group that brings together Edge Hill residents through shared meals, screenings and discussions.
To use film to explore the experiences of marginalised communities.
To celebrate the Club participants' common humanity.
The final dinner in the first season attracted a group of 32 people from diverse backgrounds, with ages ranging from 4 - 60.
The "pay what you can" scheme has evolved and audiences have responded positively, feeding back that there is reduced stigma around paying less.
The value of the Club's work has been recognised by community microfunders, receiving additional funding from Liverpool Soup and Awesome Liverpool.
The club's first season consisted of 6 screenings. The films featured were: 12 Angry Lebanese (2009), Dark Days (2000), I, Daniel Blake (2016), Latcho Drom (1993), Rize (2005), Waste Land (2010).
Scalarama Liverpool supported the Club in establishing its film and audience development programme. Asylum Link Merseyside allowed the Club to reach out to service users living locally. And organisations like The Choir with No Name and Imagine If Theatre brought vital expertise to the pre-film introductions, making the screenings special events where discussions were informed and empathetic.
Budget in brief
Total budget: £2,396
Sources of income -
Film Hub North grant: £1,200
Other subsidies: £627
Box office and donations: £542
Hub subsidy per head: £7.14
Fostering a supportive and welcoming community. The Club now has a group of people who meet regularly to discuss films.
Tackling social isolation. Some of the Club's regulars were previously very socially isolated, but now attend almost every session.
What has been difficult
Surveying audiences. Many of them have English as a second language and found the form used difficult.
Documenting events. Some visitors were initially uncomfortable with having their photos taken, so there is less documentation than anticipated.
What you would do differently if you did it again
Discuss reporting requirements with any funders and investigate other ways to monitor audiences.
Recognise the amount of time required to establish a community group. More of the first programme was meant to be developed in partnership with Club participants, but this wasn't feasible within the season's timetable.
Awareness / Attitudes
Finding commonality among the audience and empathy with the issues presented on screen is key to the Humanise Community Film Club. By providing introductions that contextualised each screening and a space for discussion after every film, audiences were given the opportunity to learn more about the marginalised groups featured in the Club’s first season. This included a response to Dark Days lead by homelessness organisation The Choir with No Name and a response to 12 Angry Lebanese lead by Imagine If Theatre – a theatre company with extensive experience working with offenders and ex-offenders.
I’d like to see more films that I wouldn’t normally watch. It’s good to talk with people who have different ideas from me. – Audience member
The Club brings together the various communities that call Liverpool’s Edge Hill district home. 26% of surveyed audiences identified as BAME – due to difficulties in surveying audiences, the actual figure is estimated at over 40%. A significant number of asylum seekers and refugees living locally participated in the Club. Recognising that many audience members have English as a second language, subtitles were provided wherever possible.
This focus on inclusivity was similarly evident on screen. Each film featured in the Club’s first season foregrounded the experiences of marginalised communities – from benefit claimants in the UK to Romani people journeying throughout Europe to waste pickers living off a vast landfill site in Brazil.
The club is about community as much as it is about film, with its founding aim being to highlight participants’ common humanity. By combining screenings with a wider community engagement programme of outreach, shared meals and discussion sessions, the Club brought participants together in a number of ways. Neighbours were introduced to one another in various contexts and community members were able to contribute in a way they felt comfortable.
It’s a good reason to go out. I don’t go out much. There’s a nice atmosphere: friendly, and with a bigger range of films than I would normally watch. – Audience member
What audiences said
"It brings people together. The movies teach us how to be human. We are many nationalities. It is a nice way to teach people not to be violent, to cheer people up and help us think about the future."
"I love the community, bringing people together."
"It's good for people who are new to the city."
What professionals, press and partners said
"Working closely with groups in our direct neighbourhood, The Humanise Community Film Club has attracted audiences from the local asylum seeker and refugee community. The socially engaged approach has been an inspiration to us." - Jenny Porter, Metal Liverpool
"I had the honour of speaking at the Humanise screening of 12 Angry Lebanese - so many incredible human beings attended and beautiful conversations were had." - Chesca Joy, Imagine If Theatre
Coverage was secured on Jermaine Foster's BBC Radio Merseyside show.