We are excited to facilitate a wider conversation with members of the communities and workshops featured across the film and discussion season. This will be an oportunity to drawn threads across the season, discuss the workshop movement and explore how this work and way of working can speak to this moment.
In the 1980’s Britain the dominant narrative was capitalist excess and wealth, but the reality was very different for many people. The streets were erupting in anger at inequality, discrimination, misrepresentation and police violence. From London, to Birmingham, Belfast and Easington Colliery the people of the UK were taking their resistance to the streets. The mainstream media portrayed the people as the aggressors while film workshops, responding from within the communities, set out to represent the lived reality. We are honoured to facilitate a season of films grown from this collective way of working to reflect and explore the experiences of people outside the mainstream representation in the 80’s. By screening 4 films and facilitating 5 online conversations with figures from the Workshop Movement and members of the community in which they worked, we will explore the lasting resonance of these seminal films and how they speak to this current moment of unease and protest.
The 1982 Workshop Declaration began a radical, defining era that brought diverse voices and perspectives into cinemas and onto British television. In 1981 Channel 4 began with a remit to provide innovative films from outside white, middle class and cosmopolitan experience. Under the declaration the Channel agreed to fund and screen films from the ‘alternative’ film and video collectives – known as workshops. Working closely with trade unions, local authorities, political groups, women’s organisations and ethnic minority communities, by 1988, 44 workshops had had films funded and screened by Channel 4. What followed was a decade of experimentation with politically progressive and aesthetically experimental documentaries and dramas screened on British television, which continued until 1990.
This season was made possible as part of a Respond and Reimagine Grant from Art Fund, with support from BFI Film Audience Networks and through donations from audience members.