Our commitment to equality and inclusion
Africa in Motion Film Festival is an annual African film festival showcasing talent from Africa and the African diaspora. We are a festival of excellence and artistic brilliance, rather than a developmental initiative, showing African films as cinematic masterpieces at par with cinema from anywhere in the world. We prioritise giving a voice to African storytellers, screening African stories told by Africans themselves, rather than an outside perspective that we are so used to seeing in the west.
African films are rarely shown in the UK, thus our festival ensured dedicated screen time for showing these films. We hope to eventually see more African films on general release in independent cinemas, and hope that our work building audiences for these films can contribute to achieving this.
When selecting films for the festival we maintain an awareness that African identity or ‘being African’ is not a monolithic or homogenous notion, it is complex and diverse, and not only confined to the African continent due to histories of slavery, colonisation and contemporary migration. African cinema reflects this, and thus we do not confine ourselves to cinema only from the African continent.
We want our location in Scotland to be relevant to our work, and to provide space for showcasing Scottish-African films and talent. We therefore act globally through bringing African and African diasporic stories to screens in Scotland, and work locally with People of Colour (PoC) and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) artists and communities ensuring they are represented on screen and during events.
Curatorial approach: We take a collaborative approach to curation, ensuring that no one voice has sole auteurship within the curation of the festival. Through what we have termed participatory programming we have created a non-hierarchical space with a variety of voices curating, selecting and suggesting films for the festival. This comes out of a recognition of white privilege and the space white people take up in the arts industry in Scotland and the fact that the festival was dominated by white curators for a number of years, which necessitated opening up space for new voices within the organisation. We work with community groups, BAME artists, curators of colour and students, including them within the selection of films. Over the last four years we have run Programming Traineeships specifically targeting candidates from BAME backgrounds. We have worked with community groups such as Maryhill Integration Network, Garnethill Multicultural Centre, Rosemount Educational Learning Centre, Glendale Women’s Café, Glasgow Women’s Library and more, to ask community groups who frequent these venues what they would like to see on screen. We also run a programme called Reviving Scotland’s Black History which targets BAME programmers to learn about Black history in Scotland and about film curation through walking tours, lecture series and workshops. The participants then get an opportunity to curate their own events during the festival. All of these initiatives have changed the shape of the festival, bringing in new films and strands derived from the positionality of the curators. They have also helped us to diversify our staff team, as a number of trainees moved into paid positions and now around 60% of the paid staff are from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background, something we hope to continue building upon.
Audiences: We want to attract and include a diverse range of audiences and ensure that Africa in Motion is a safe space for a variety of demographics to attend and participate in the festival. We reach a wide variety of audiences through our work, including cinephiles, students, and people from the African diaspora. To cater for these audiences, we ensure that we use a wide range of different spaces ranging from professional cinema venues, to community centres, libraries, university venues, cafes and churches. We organise both free and paid screenings, and work with partners to make screenings free for refugees and asylum seekers, and those on low income. We screen films from as many different countries as possible, including as many different filmmaking styles, genres and narratives as possible, in order to cater for different tastes, contexts of viewing and aesthetic appreciation for film. This diverse programme also reflects the complexities and multiplicities of African stories, histories, cultures and identities.
We want our white audiences to learn from, appreciate and be exposed to Africa and African people through the films we show, and we want BAME and PoC audiences to feel that the festival can be a place where they are represented on screen. To ensure that this is possible and that screening spaces are safe for a variety of people, we ask audiences to be conscious of their space within the festival, ensuring that everyone is able to comfortably take part in Q&As, and that there is a mutual respect amongst audience members and an awareness of the sensitive subject matters expressed in some of the films we screen
Power and location:
‘Intersectionality draws attention to invisibilities that exist in feminism, in anti-racism, in class politics, so, obviously, it takes a lot of work to consistently challenge ourselves to be attentive to aspects of power that we don’t ourselves experience.’ - Kimberle Crenshaw
We are extremely proud to be an African film festival based in Scotland, a country that has been at the forefront of welcoming refugees and has been exemplary and inclusive in its immigration policies. Despite these positives, we acknowledge that much remains to be done, as the legacies of the slave trade and colonisation are a part of Scotland’s history which have seeped into contemporary societal structures. Film tells stories about histories and cultures, it brings different perspectives, and we therefore want to use African film as a tool for unlearning our complicity in white supremacy and other power structures. We take an intersectional approach in our work, and aim to decolonise knowledge within our festival organisation, screenings and events. Through our awareness of intersectionality, we acknowledge the power differences between people of different races, genders, sexual orientations, class positions, etc., balancing these both within and outside of the organisation.
Accessibility: We believe that cinema should be by the people, for the people, and thus we are making it our mission to empower the audience, taking the films to them, rather than the other way around. We regularly hold free screenings across Scotland through our pop-up mobile cinema initiative and in other non-cinema venues, thereby significantly increasing both the provision and accessibility of African cinema. For ticketed events we work with partners to provide free tickets to refugees, asylum seekers and job seekers, ensure that everyone has access to arts and cultural activities taking place in Scotland.
Disabled access: All our venues are fitted with suitable disabled access to ensure that it is easy for anyone with a disability to attend. Our main screening venue in Edinburgh, Filmhouse Cinema, is fitted with a ramped surface at the foyer and there is a disabled toilet on ground level. There is wheelchair access to all three cinemas in Filmhouse. Cinema 1 has space for two wheelchairs and is reached via the passenger lift; Cinemas 2 and 3 have one space each and to get to these you need to use the platform lifts. Staff are always on hand to operate them. Our main screening venue in Glasgow, Glasgow Film Theatre, also provides access for wheelchairs and those with limited mobility. With the exception of the Balcony Bar and Education Room all public areas of the GFT are fully accessible to people using wheelchairs. Toilet facilities for wheelchair users are available on the ground floor and there is lift access to Cinema 1, Cinema 2 is on the ground floor.
Subtitles: Any of the films we screen that are not in the English language are subtitled so that they are widely accessible to our audiences.