TOA Volunteer View – “All Equal”

By Carolyn Paterson, TOAFF19 Volunteer

“Let’s gear our society to social need, not personal greed”. – Jimmy Reid.

2019 has been a bad year for equality. We are five months into Hong Kong’s anti-extradition bill protests, Chinese technology workers have launched a digital campaign about exploitative working hours and Living Rent have been fiercely campaigning to stop lock-change evictions for asylum seekers. The need to fight back against Orwellian social injustices and corrupt politicians has never been greater and film is one of the best creative mediums to do this.

Documentaries are accessible and stimulating. Since the 1970s, this genre has been used by activists to bring topics such as social alienation to the centre of public debates. And given the meteoric rise of Netflix documentaries such as The Great Hack they are still hugely important today.

This is what I love about Take One Action: their films make the social and economic issues of the 21st Century human. Throughout this year’s programme, personal accounts intermingle with academic research and animation combines with news clips to make the political personal. Not only are audiences at the edge of their seats, but they are at the edge of their perspectives also.

Come along this year. Take a seat. Take a stand.

Ghost Fleet

Mon 23rd Sept | 20:15 | GFT, Glasgow

Tues 24th Sept | 20:30 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh

Presented in association with Oxfam.

Based on the heroic actions of Bangkok-based activist Patima Tungpuchayakul, Ghost Fleet investigates modern-day slavery throughout Southeast Asia. As Patima dedicates her life to rescuing men who have been captured and forced to work on fishing boats she receives threats of violence from criminal gangs and uncovers political corruption. Featuring personal testimonies from ex-slaves and Patima’s research into the extent of slavery in the global fishing sector, Ghost Fleet is a remarkable film. It forces the audience to question the treatment of food production workers and encourages them to take a David-like stand against exploitative Goliath-like industries. 


Wed 18th Sept | 20:20 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh

Thurs 19th Sept | 19:30| CCA, Glasgow

Presented in association with Oxfam, Unison Scotland and Moving Docs.

If news reports on the number of Airbnbs in your local area makes you angry, then Push is a must-see. This well-timed documentary follows Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, as she investigates the housing crisis in New York, London, Seoul, Valparaiso and Barcelona. Fredrik Gertten’s investigative filmmaking talents combine gloomy shots of empty “investment property” streets and shocking house price statistics to emphasise how housing is seen as a commodity in the 21st Century. Push will make you wonder who our modern cities are actually for and if it is finally time for us to take back control of them.

Scheme Birds

Tues 24th Sept | 17:45 | GFT, Glasgow

Wed 25th Sept | 18:00 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh

Fresh from its UK Premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June, Scheme Birds is a tough yet tender film about Gemma, a strong-willed Scottish teenager from a Motherwell housing estate who thinks her future will involve getting “locked up or knocked up”, and the relationships with her grandfather, boyfriend and friends. As her life begins to change direction, the film makes us consider how much our future is “set” by the social and economic inequalities which shape our upbringing. It is also a fully-realised examination of the impact steelwork closures have on working-class communities.

Sorry We Missed You

Sat 28th Sept | 17:00 | GFT, Glasgow

Sun 29th Sept | 17:45 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh

When the main character hears the phrase “You don’t work for us … you work with us” in a job interview, the mood of working life in 2019 is immediately summed up. Sorry We Missed You focuses on Ricky, who loses his job in the 2008 financial crisis and accepts a smoke-and-mirrors opportunity to “be his own boss” as a delivery driver, Abby, a carer on a zero-hours contract, and their children. As to be expected from Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake), this film is a searing commentary on the franchising of everyday work. It also challenges the inequality between faceless corporations and the families who depend on them to make ends meet.

Together We Are Powerful

Sat 21st Sept | 09:00 – 21:00 | Custom Lane, Edinburgh

Presented by Global Justice Now

To compliment our jam-packed film programme, this year’s festival features an interactive exhibition. Together We Are Powerful is a curated display of images and mementos from activists who use different creative mediums to oppose capitalism, climate change and unjust corporations. By connecting local organisers to global fights against inequality, the exhibition will be eye-opening and inspiring.

There will also be an informal evening workshop where attendees can hear personal stories from successful activists such as Dorothy Guerrero (Head of Policy, Global Justice Now) and get vital advice on how to begin their own art-based activism.

By Carolyn Paterson