The 20th Rainbow Film Festival took place in July 2019 in East London, presenting over 30 international titles with a specific focus on reaching Asian women, Asian families and young Asians. It also hosted a day-long workshop for women looking to engage with film on a personal or professional level.
Organised by Rainbow Film Society, the 20th edition of the Rainbow Film Festival presented over 30 international titles at venues across East London in July 2019. Due to language and social barriers in the local Bangladeshi community, it has often been difficult to encourage women and families to engage in the programme. In an effort to directly address this, there were family-friendly Bangladeshi titles screening as part of the festival.
The programme took place at Genesis Cinema, Rich Mix and the Brady Arts Centre for one week and consisted of films from 13 countries including the UK, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Norway, Jordan, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Greece and Belgium.
The programme also included a screening for children followed by a workshop and a day-long Women's Film Conference. A total of 28 women from different parts of London participated. Bengali film actress Jayasree Kabir, film activist Amita Shankar, Director of Balkan Arts Yesim Gulzepinar, and film directors Debanik Kundu and Syed Jobair Ahmed presented a film programme and hosted a workshop.
The children’s workshop was attended by 26 children with their parents. Films made by young children at Rainbow Film Society and a young people's workshop by Tower Hamlets Council were screened at the event. All participating children were presented with certificates to inspire and encourage them to take part in this type of programme.
Festival guests were mainly from the local Bangladeshi community but the festival also attracted audiences from across London.
To bring in new audiences who usually do not visit cinema at all or visit very rarely. This includes Asian families, Asian women and young adults.
To encourage and engage young people under 16 into films and filmmaking.
To bring in those women who have rarely or never been to the cinema to go and see a film.
To extend the festival beyond the Tower Hamlets area.
Audience attendance was more than expected.
By showcasing films made by children, the festival helped boost their morale and confidence with a sense of achievement.
During the women’s conference, women who usually don’t go to the cinema went to see a film.
Drawing in the Bangladeshi community and building connections with the local community.
The majority of the festival attendees were female, even though Bangladeshi women are traditionally non-cinema goers.
30 films in total were screened as part of the festival (both feature films and shorts). These included Fagun Haway (2019, Bangladesh), Komola Rocket (2018, Bangladesh), Azar (2017, Iran) and Ek Je Chhilo Raja (2018, India), amongst others.
The festival cooperated with various organisations including Rich Mix Centre, Genesis Cinema, Brady Arts Centre, Icon College, MC Accountant, Young News, Kolotan, Montefiore Centre and individuals such as community leaders and journalists.
Budget in brief
Key income sources: Borough of Tower Hamlets and Canary Wharf; £3,000 Film Hub London award. Overall income (cash and in-kind combined): £14,168; subsidy per head: £4.55.
Reinforcement and growth of ties with the local Bangladeshi community.
There was great interest in the women’s conference, with participants expressing interest to attend again.
Drawing in a younger audience as well as traditional non-attendees.
The festival managed to maintain their audience, but they also acquired 25% new audiences.
100% of the festival goers said that they would come to an event like Rainbow Film Festival again.
What has been difficult
There were slight disappointments on the issues of fundraising and total income for the festival. Rainbow anticipated to raise £17k, but were only able to raise £11k, including contributions from the audience. Faced with this, they had to carefully cut costs to run the festival smoothly.
What you would do differently if you did it again
Suggestions were made to extend the days for the women’s workshop and hold the event preferably on weekends when more women could join.
Need more side activities such as the women’s conference.
Contact organisations further ahead of time.
Recruit more volunteers and a couple of paid members of staff.
Develop a fundraising strategy.
Awareness / Attitudes
Knowledge & Experience
What audiences said
I felt these events really brought the community together. It was delightful to see people from all kinds of backgrounds attending the film festival. Seeing some of the films from my home country of Bangladesh, and other countries like India, Iran and Norway was really entertaining. I liked that most of the films focused on social issues which many can relate to. I also liked short films and exhibition on famous film directors. I really admire Rainbow Film Society's ongoing support for independent film makers, I feel it is very inspiring for the younger generation of independent film makers from all over the world. I want to thank Rainbow Film Society and their sponsors for organising the festival. I will definitely be attending again next year!
Our society, specially Bangladeshi community women, are not going out for watch a film. RAINBOW did fantastic job in giving us the opportunity to watch the film with family and friends. Story was beyond my expectations. All those movies we are not able to watch on line. All day women’s conference-great opportunity to meet peoples from different countries and culture. Also how they think and their opinions.
We love this film festival and wait for whole year to be happened. I come to this festival with my family almost every day and we enjoy the films very much. I was delighted to be able to attend this year's Women's Film Conference which enrich my knowledge on films and helps to understand film differently. I would like to say thanks to Rainbow Film Society.
The festival had news coverage and an hour-long talk show on ATN Bangla TV, Channel S and on Betar Bangla (radio station).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6ir5Q1bB3I (in Bengali)