So our film, Witches and Bitches has been shortlisted at the annual Small Axe Radical Film Festival at Tolpuddle this weekend, meaning for a second year in a row, Hollywood Hegemony will be represented at their screenings. That’s the good news. The bad news, is that for a second year in a row, I will be unable to attend thanks to work commitments. Now I know what you’re all thinking, “poor Jack, he must be devastated, we should probably buy him presents to cheer him up,” but the truth is you needn’t bother… well, maybe you can bother with the presents – but don’t worry about me. You see I feel it’s where I’m supposed to be.
Sure, making films is good for a laugh – but really, serving people over-priced coffee and renewing their car insurance is my passion. My calling. Nothing gets me going in the morning like the smell of weak macchiato and the intoxicating click of a thousand computer-mice applying no claims discount to the thankless swinish multitude. No really… really…
Really the question “How was work?” literally fills me with a feeling of revulsion, in a way that a war veteran with PTSD might regard a backfiring car. At best work can be regarded as an inevitable nuisance, at worst, the murder of your hopes and ambitions, the barely-metaphorical strangulation at birth of your most passionate dreams and deeply held beliefs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the only film-maker to ever have had to put their plans on the backburner – or worse, in the cellar to be forgotten along with that half-completed space craft and your trusty alchemy kit – and I appreciate in what so many adults rather patronisingly refer to as “the real world” I know it is seen as par the course to put things of even greater worth – functioning social lives, travel, good food, story time with the kids etc – on the shelf to keep the chequers coming in. But that is why I am writing this.
As a society as a whole, we simply don’t do enough to challenge the idea that it is somehow right and natural to abandon our dreams, our imaginations, our souls in order to function as adults. The human world, from top to bottom, is stagnating, in a wretched vat of gradually decomposing ideological slurry. We won’t escape that without enabling one another to chase our visions, or providing one another with a canvas on which to paint an alternative; a platform from which we can call for change.
One of the most commonly regurgitated statements at leftist gatherings is that radicals do not understand how to communicate. I agree to an extent. Not when it comes from those advocating the tabloid-wretch splattered on their particular party paper’s front page of course – who mean we should simply be using smaller words to appeal to the poorly educated masses – but with people like Owen Jones, who talk about the art of storytelling as a way to win people over. A million cold statistics will get you nowhere, even if you do phrase them in language simple enough you might have once found it in the little “WTO I reckon” box next to a Page 3 model. The real power in communicating comes from narrativising events in order to appeal to our collective human experiences.
The left has failed miserably with this so far; but it doesn’t have to be this way. One of the ways we can start to weapons sentiment in this manner is through film. I don’t just mean one or two token lefty films once in a while either – packing out a hall with the usual suspects to watch a film on why racism is bad – I mean a sustained attempt to develop modern progressive cinema from the grassroots up. That means moving beyond an editorial line on what needs to be seen, and providing a public platform for the films ordinary people feel need to be made, to tell the stories they need told. This means radical film festivals
Across the country, film festivals presenting amateurs an opportunity to shine have taken their locality by storm, from Liverpool to Bristol to Tolpuddle. As a son of Norwich, I don’t know why my city should be any different. This is a city of art, literature, creativity, and learning. There are film-makers everywhere ready to tell their stories of ordinary and extraordinary lives – some of whom probably don’t even realise they’ve got it in them yet – and without a platform locally beyond the extremely limited Norwich Film Festival, which is aimed mostly at providing polished national shorts with a slick marketing venue, these local talents will go wasted. Their potential to touch and change hearts and minds will be wasted. Our chance to forge a vibrant, three dimensional movement for change in Norfolk will be wasted.
That is why I am proud to announce that the Norwich People’s Assembly have voted in co-operation with the Norwich Radical to establish a local Radical Film Festival, with the inaugural festival to be hosted in February 2016. As we begin to make provisions for that though, we need ideas, practical and fantastic and everything in between; to not only solve spacing issues and inform radical film-makers in Norfolk, and further a field that we can give them a platform, but also to inspire people out there who long gave up on the relevance of their dreams to pick up a camera, and tell a story.
If you would like to get involved in the early stages of the event, please contact us through the Hollywood Hegemony Facebook or twitter (@HegemonicHog) pages, through my personal email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via the People’s Assembly email (email@example.com) and we will keep you posted regarding organising meetings and press releases in the coming months.
Let’s show the world our dreams don’t die easy, and that something more than a life of drudgery is possible. Let’s make something that speaks to people. Let’s make films.