Screened/ MCR is a new film and discussion night in Manchester aiming to ask the questions: How do culture and the wider context inform a film? And how does a film inform the culture around it?
This time specifically Screened/ MCR will be focusing on the issue of diversity in the film industry and asking the questions:
• Is the acting industry diverse enough?
• How easy is it for someone to enter the industry regardless of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, age or disability?
• What are the experiences of people in the industry?
The issue has been in the spotlight of late, with controversy about the lack of non-white nominees at this years Oscars and the subsequent boycott of many leading black stars such as Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith. The academy quickly tried to make amends, promising “to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020”.
A short history of the lack of diversity on Hollywood can be seen on this YouTube clip from British comedian John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.
We have seen the events in the US get huge public attention but it leads to the question, does the UK industry do enough for diversity?
British actors such as David Oyelowo, David Harewood and Idris Elba have left the UK to find further job opportunities in the US. – We can see David Harewood discuss his situation in this video from the Act for Change organisation.
But with organisations like Act for Change and the BFI promising a diversity fund is a lack of diversity in the British acting industry an issue?
Screened/ MCR are really pleased to announce that we have Hamida Ali – the arts and entertainment union Equity’s first ever-dedicated Equality and Diversities rep, who took this role after previously being an equalities officer at the BBC. Hamida will be doing a short talk followed by a Q and A, and with a wealth of experience this will be really exciting and informative. We can discuss with Hamida the current situation in the UK acting industry and what – if anything – is going to change.
The format of Screened/ MCR is to host a discussion but also to show a film related to that topic. For Screened/ Diversity they have decided to show Justin Simien’s 2014 film Dear White People. The conversation about diversity should be an uncomfortable one, discussing and looking at hard truths about the society we all live in and an industry and culture that we love. Dear White People ticks these boxes.
Despite being set in an American college campus context it raises issues and discussion about race, culture, diversity and class that are relevant in the UK. It also raises issues about film distribution in the UK itself, with the film initially not finding a distributor and was due to go straight to DVD. Despite selling out at the London Film Festival and Justin Simien winning U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The New Black FIlm Collective picked up the film but didn’t receive Big Lottery Funding from the BFI, forcing them to create a Change.org petition calling to ‘Screen Dear White People in Cinema’s across the UK’ and start a Crowdfunder.
You can hear Justin Simein talk about his film and the New Black Film Collective discuss distributing the film on Radio 4’s film programme (have a listen, its very good).
The film eventually had a limited release in 2015 in the UK so it is really exciting that this is being Screened/ in Manchester at this event series still in it’s infancy.
Screened/ MCR is not-for-profit, but will be charging a small fee of £2.50. This is for venue hire, film licences, travel for speakers and all money goes back in to holding future events. Secure your ticket for £2.50 on Eventbrite.
The film was very well received despite its limited run and currently has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 91%, and undoubtedly will inspire good conversation and healthy debate over a few drinks afterwards.