Making Noise with Cinema: Activism on Screen

By Rosie Beattie, TOAFF19 Volunteer

As a film student I often feel stuck between academia and the desire to use film as a platform for discussing and raising awareness of larger social, political and environmental issues. Volunteering for Take One Action has provided a bridge for that gap by combining cinema with activism at a time where increasing action must be taken. Pouring over 2019’s programme it is clear that the festival is offering a platform for addressing a diverse number of pressing global issues. From exploring the impact of increasing tourism on the remote Easter Island in Eating Up Easter to zooming in closer to home in the housing estates of Motherwell in Scheme Birds, this year’s programme appeals to anyone looking to engage with world changing people and cinema.  

Cinema and television have a unique relationship to social issues. With recent successes such as Our Planet instigating a further push for reducing the plastics and waste that are harming the Earth and films such as Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman shedding light on white supremacy in the U.S.A, it is clear that cinema and television have the power to confront us with often discouraging realities. Nonetheless, the positive energy of Take One Action encourages and empowers audiences to Take a Stand on the contemporary issues that the screenings address.

Narrowing down a particular topic of interest to discuss is difficult since the festival is structured around four strands of prevalent topics: All Equal – Challenging systematic, structural and cultural inequality; Sisters – Celebrating female empowerment; Shared Planet – Inspiration and vision for a sustainable future, and Truth to Power – Agents of change and challenging economic and political might. I have therefore instead compiled a list of my top five most highly anticipated screenings that are taking place over the festival.

Everything Must Fall

Thurs 26 Sept | 19:30 | CCA, Glasgow

Everything Must Fall documents the student-led #FeesMustFall movement in South Africa which progressed into a much larger national revolt. By recording the four student leaders from Wits University and their Vice Chancellor, this documentary promises to give an urgent voice to those fighting for the breakdown of political and social structures that maintain vast inequality.

Midnight Traveller

Sat 21 Sept | 20:15 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh

Sun 22 Sept | 17:00 | GFT, Glasgow

Shot entirely on three phones over several years, Midnight Traveller documents the flight of an Afghan film director and his family who are under threat from the Taliban. As such an intimate portrait of this family’s plight is shown a film like this is the closest some audiences will get to understanding the desperate and violent situations faced by asylum seekers.

Sorry We Missed You

Sat 28 Sept | 17:00 | GFT, Glasgow

Sun 29 Sept | 17.45 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh

In this special preview of Sorry We Missed You, Ken Loach’s new feature promises to bring the same rawness and rage as his previous film I, Daniel Blake. The film follows a father of two, Ricky, who loses his job and mortgage after the 2008 financial crash and starts working as a freelance delivery driver. Shedding light on the people who are hit the hardest by Britain’s zero-hour gig economy, Sorry We Missed You will be sure to fire up audiences.


Fri 20 Sept | 19:00 | Out of the Blue Drill Hall, Edinburgh

Wed 25 Sept | 18:00 | CCA, Glasgow

With recent reports being published indicating that consuming meat is one of the direct causes for the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, Soyalism takes a timely look at the food industry and considers its impact on the planet. As the human population and therefore demand for food increases (the FAO estimates it will surpass 9 billion by 2050) this documentary questions the sustainability of our current food system. 

Gods of Molenbeek

Sat 21 Sept | 17:30 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh

Gods of Molenbeek explores deep religious and philosophical issues through the lens of two six-year-old friends, Aatos and Amine who live in the Molenbeek district of Brussels. A terrorist attack in Brussels brings to halt their care-free childhood adventures.  Unravelling thought-provoking issues through the innocence of childhood indicates that Gods of Molenbeek will give a fresh take on religion, friendship and community.

By Rosie Beattie