Case Study: Slough International Short Film Festival

Almost 300 young individuals aged 11 to 25 took part in YEStival, including two screenings at the local arts centre; an awards screening at Slough Empire Cinema and a showcase of films on an outdoor, cycle-powered screen and in the YES Shop in the local shopping Mall.

  • #YEStival


Slough is a young and culturally diverse borough; anything that enables disparate groups to come together is important.

BAME and diverse youth groups don’t always see themselves represented on-screen and so showing content that reflects their culture/peers encourages them to make their film choices more critically.

There is a growing network of young filmmakers who have no way to share or showcase their talent to a public audience and this project facilitated that.

Other than getting a job at a cinema, there are very few work experience opportunities for young people to learn about what is involved in the programming, exhibition and promotion of film and this project equipped all the volunteers with those skills.

This project directly led to the director Myriam – securing a job a London Short Film Festival, where she continues to work, whilst making films.

Project aims

  • Celebrate the multicultural community of Slough.

  • Offer young people who were interested in careers in film an opportunity to programme screenings.

  • Showcase an engaging and diverse range of short films from all over the world.

  • Support and engage emerging filmmakers by providing them with a safe showcasing platform.

  • Attract a non-traditional diverse audience of young people and adults.


  • We engaged people who would not traditionally see anything other than Hollywood or Bollywood. Almost 300 diverse young people and adults saw films that they would not otherwise see.

  • It formed part of a bigger project and we worked in partnership with local youth organisations as well as with a mainstream cinema and the local film society.

  • Over 30 young volunteers helped plan and support the screenings

  • The project Director Myriam Raja set-up and led the project and is under 25, BAME and female


Over 30 short films were showcased.

Key partnerships

Film Hub South East; BFI Neighbourhood Cinema Fund (Equipment); Resource Productions & Resource Youth Film; YES: Youth Engagement Slough; BFI Film Academy Network; Funders: O2 Think Big, Heathrow Community Fund, Slough Borough Council & Artswork, Film Hub South East; Supporters: Pinewood Studios, Empire Cinema, Copthorne Hotel

Budget in brief

The ‘real cost’ of this project was around £10,000 c£33/head.

What worked

  • High numbers of films sent in to be considered for screening.

  • Core team of dedicated volunteers with a passion for film

  • Volunteers went on to secure work in the film exhibition sector.

  • A diverse range of audience members viewed ‘alternative’ film

What has been difficult

  • Young People need ongoing support and guidance, it will take longer to organize and expectation/ambition will be higher than if an experienced project manager planned and delivered the screenings.

  • Trying to find the budget and work with what we had was a challenge and required lots of favours.

What you would do differently if you did it again

  • More time needs to be spent out with each community group – getting them committed to participating – so a much longer run-up needed!

  • Get the young person to shadow a paid professional

  • Ensure continuity, the lead young person was core to driving the project and when they moved on there was no continuity, the website has gone down and no one is following up with the online audiences we engaged with.

  • Get better press coverage – the YEStival was well-covered but the film screenings were over-shadowed by all the other arts/sports/social activity. Maybe best as a standalone event.

Awareness / Attitudes

Showcased career options in programming and exhibition

Developed local talent

Expanded the range of films on offer outside of mainstream



As Slough is more than 50% BAME – and our audience was representative of that, we were able to engage with a diverse range of people from a wide range of backgrounds.

The project was completely led by young people!


Knowledge & Experience

Giving young people the skills in how to run a screening.

Explored how to understand and interpret what you are watching.

Social Cohesion

Getting different cultures, ages and faiths together in one screening room for shared experience.


Encouraging those with few social skills, depression, lack of confidence with a safe space to be with people, without the need to talk.

Several autistic volunteers


Created a job for one person and increased employability of a number of volunteers.

Encouraged more people into the town centre.

Press coverage

  • Slough Express:

  • Local Buzz Magazine:

  • Maidenhead Advertiser: ot

  • Slough Fim Society: