Thanks to everyone involved, the RFN unconferance and festival in May was a lot of fun! I wish I could have cloned myself to get to more of the film events and I really enjoyed taking part in the unconference. I want to leave a message on here about how to follow up on something I introduced in one of the sessions. I’ll also send out an email about it via the mailing list in a couple of weeks’ time.

The idea I brought to the unconference was the possibility that as a group, we could co-ordinate an international¬† ‘distributed’ Radical Film Network festival around a loosely organised theme – this is a different model to the bounded, geographical model of a festival such as the one we experienced in Glasgow, this version of a festival would be spread across many places and appear more like a broad, co-ordinated season of programming, using a wide range of venues connected by social media to encourage a group discourse.

There is an opportunity coming up in 2018 to mark 50 years since 1968 and this also offers a means to look further back into history and think about it being 100 years since the end of the 1st World War. These are, it seems to me, important moments in history for the political left and provide a great opportunity for us to collaborate on a project that could unite many of the international members of the network and claim this history for its radical politics, rather than its nostalgia value.

The way I thought it would work best would be to use the existing Scalarama festival as a model for this event series. Scalarama’s organisers support the idea and they shared knowledge about the evolution of their festival in the same session at the unconference. Basically, according to the Scalarama philosophy, anyone affiliated to the RFN who wanted to be involved in the festival could be, they would be responsible for organising and running their own events in their area. A working group of network members could do the administration and co-ordination of the festival, producing the programme guide and obtaining rights where possible, in order to ‘festivalise’ the event proposals into a national RFN festival.

At the moment, this festival idea has the working title of PROJECT 18-68-18. Here’s my slide presentation from the unconference:

It deliberately juxtaposes diverse images from the popular imagination in 1968. Seen together like this, I think it suggests that taking a broad look at the politics and cultural events of the period is a productive device for coming up with a programme. For this reason, I have set up an interactive notepad that at the moment anyone can add their ideas to. This can be used for clips, notes, images, music – anything. It’s just a starting point, so we can pool our ideas and knowledge and begin to shape a programme.

I hope everyone came away from the events in Glasgow feeling inspired and hopeful, it was great to meet more members of the network and see some brilliant films too.



Laura x

About Laura Ager

Freelance event organiser, film programmer and PhD student (University of Salford). I have been researching cultural festivals as a mode of engagement and education, looking in particular at festivals presented by universities. I have worked as film programmer, volunteer co-ordinator, venues manager, print co-ordinatrix and whatever else has needed doing at Leeds and Bradford International Film Festivals. I organise pop-up screenings in Leeds, I have contributed events to Scalarama's nationwide celebration of cinema and I volunteer at the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds. Usually this involves selling popcorn but sometimes I do bits of programming and host Q&As with guests. I'm interested in film, history, cultural studies, the politics of the cultural economy and non-hierarchical models of organising. You can find out about the films I'm screening on twitter: @filmfringe
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