Bristol to Host Third Annual Unchosen Film Festival
Amongst the multitude of film festivals taking place every year in the UK, Unchosen is the only one that tackles the serious and heart-wrenching issue of one of the worst of human rights violations still committed today. The Film Season, which commences on Tuesday 19th October 2010 with a UK Premier, will feature various events throughout Bristol and Bath focusing on the issue of human trafficking.
Through discussion forums, art exhibitions and screenings of an assortment of short and feature films, the campaign aims to make people aware of the continued existence of slavery in the 21st century. It is however more than just a themed art and film exhibition as Unchosen is specifically geared to examining ways in which everybody can get involved in bringing about the end of human trafficking, all organised in partnership with various organisations including Barnardo’s, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Fairtrade.
Unchosen Early Beginnings
The Unchosen initiative was founded in 2008, with its first festival held in the same year. It consisted of seven films screened in five venues in Bristol over six nights. The films that were shown included Ghosts, the tragic story of the Chinese cockle-pickers in Morecambe Bay, and Amazing Grace depicting the efforts of William Wilberforce towards the abolition of slavery in Britain over 200 years ago. Other films also included Sex Traffic, Our Big Fairtrade Adventure, Holly and It’s a Free World.
Initial responses to the first outing were positive, attracting over 600 attendees, and so the decision was made to repeat the event the following year. Unchosen 2009 was an even bigger success not only due to securing double the attendance figures but also featured the UK premier of Gerard Vandervegt’s stirring documentary Victoria Terminus, a collection of harrowing stories from the real street kids of Mumbai, India.
“It was hard work especially in the first year, it still is but I now have a very remarkable Organiser's Committee whose passion is the same, this particular committee (we have two) have worked together for nearly a year to put on the autumn initiative. Without the Organisers Committee it wouldn’t be possible.” Trish Davidson – Founder Director
Unchosen’s action to spread the word in 2009 extended beyond the film season. The initiative continued to promote awareness of human trafficking with other events throughout the year including, an action day, awareness evenings, as well as introducing the documentary Our Big Fairtrade Adventure in conjunction with the Bristol Fairtrade Newtwork into six schools within Bristol.
The initiative’s determination and commitment to keep the issue alive in the eyes of the public also attracted some prominent names serving as its patrons, including television presenter and charity fundraiser Chantelle Tagoe, composer and musician Paul Field, and award winning director Ken Loach, recently seen on BBC’s Newsnight battling with former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Heseltine.
The initiative also secured Nick Broomfield, director of Ghosts as its Honorary President. Broomfield was invited by Unchosen’s director to speak at the first festival, an invitation which he readily accepted. He continued offering his support long after, and was then invited to take up the presidential mantle. Ken Loach’s commitments are also equally strong as not only does it resonate with his own outspoken views emphasised in his work but as a resident of the city of Bath strengthens the festival’s local roots.
Since then a plethora of support and appearances have been offered from filmmakers such as Portuguese director Rui Simoes, Indian director Ananya Chakaborti, adding to the local connection is Bristol director Alistair Oldham, Kim Longinitto as well as journalist Chris Rogers.
Unchosen 2010 and the Future
The third annual festival looks set to be even bigger than previous years. According to Trish Davidson, finding suitable films for screenings has become a little easier as directors now approach the initiative requesting that they be involved in the events. It has also seen an increase in the availability of more films based on the facts surrounding human trafficking in the UK adding a chilling “close to home” feel for the audience.
The initiative however does reject voyeuristic films or those lacking any semblance of hope. The film must strongly convey the issue of human trafficking, and reach out to an audience’s emotions, inspire in them a need to get involved in the campaign. There is a strong requirement for screenings to be followed by Q&A’s lead by those involve in their production (director, writer etc), adding more depth and insight to the films and the issues they convey. If this commitment can be honoured then the films are more likely to be included.
Unchosen’s mission of promoting awareness of human trafficking, recently gained more poignancy this year following the British coalition government's announcement in August of their decision to "opt out" of a European Union effort to clamp down on the trade in sex slaves. This prompted claims it has prioritised anti-EU feeling ahead of women’s safety and Trish Davidson expressed strong feelings against this decision.
“We believe this is the wrong decision to opt out of the EU’s directive. We have joined with Anti Slavery and other NGOs to fight this decision, as it is a cross border crime and we have to remain in contact across Europe, not isolate ourselves.”
The festival this year will also see the launch of a new “How to Respond” pack for audiences in an effort to attract more campaigners. It will also feature exhibitions with at least eighteen different related organisations during each night of the events. Visitors will be able to engage with the exhibitors who will include Anti Slavery, Amnesty, ECPAT, Greenpeace, Refugee Action, Fairtrade, Rape Crisis, Stop The Traffik and Unseen.