Below is a blog from Central England Co-op Western MCC Shaz about his experience during the awards ceremony of the Just Film Festival organised by the Birmingham Film Co-op.
The Just Film festival concluded on Sunday the 4th of July with a hybrid awards ceremony conducted at the Warehouse Café and on Zoom. The Just Film Festival was organised by the Birmingham Film Co-op who were looking at ways to remain active during lockdown. The Birmingham Film Co-op is run by a group of volunteers who have a passion for films on social justice issues. Normally the Birmingham Film Co-op would hold in person screenings at the Warehouse Café, in central Birmingham. but this stopped being an option. With initial support from Central England Co-op and then Co-op News the Just Film Festival was 10 Films screened online to a virtual audience with an awards ceremony for the two winners of our short films categories. The aim of the festival was to keep the screening of films with social justice themes going during a pandemic, whilst reaching a broader audience than normal.
The ten films were from a broad spectrum of genres, including environmental films and films about co-ops. The most popular films were “2040, where filmmaker Damon Gameau travels the world speaking to people about the possible solutions to the continuing Climate Emergency. The other most popular film was “Your Sunday Paper” an archive documentary showing the life of a co-operator reading a newspaper in the 1950’s. “Your Sunday Paper” was shown immediately after the celebratory 150thanniversary AGM of Co-op Press. In total 59 different people bought tickets to the festival, with there being 163 separate streams of the films. A total viewing time of 4 days, 1 hour, 44 minutes and 41 seconds for the Just Film Festival.
The two short film categories were judged by Debbie Robinson, the CEO of Central England Co-operative, Rebecca Harvey, the Executive Editor of Co-op News and Kate Palser, the Chair of Birmingham Film Co-op. In the end we had two victors for our short film competitions; the best documentary category was won by “The Seven Cities of Rome.” This film documented how people in a small, deprived town in Italy, worked and co-operated together to make the best of a tough situation. Richard Bickle, a director of Central England Co-op “presented the award to the makers of “Seven Cities of Rome” film. The best Co-op Storey category was won by “The Bins and the Bees”, which was an animation that looked at how Bees move about and how they contribute to a sustainable society. Shaz Rahman on behalf of Co-op Press “Presented the award” to Georgia and Kat, the makers of “The Bins and the Bees” film. The winners joined us via zoom via Italy and Leeds and were delighted to be award winners, whilst a select, covid safe in person meeting was held in the Warehouse.
Overall, the Just Film festival has been deemed a success. The learning curve was steep for the Directors of the Birmingham Film Co-op, who had never organised a virtual film festival before. People from all over the world enjoyed watching films about a variety of social justice and co-op issues. Kate Palser, the Chair of Birmingham Film Co-op said evaluating the festival;
“The festival featured a wide diversity of films, and yet panel discussions often explored the links between the varied themes. As organisers and volunteers, we’ve been delighted with so many aspects of the festival, but aware of how much we have learned the hard way. Would we do it again? Central England Co-op will be among the first to know when we have future plans...”