It’s hard not to reach for hyperbole when looking at the last 12 months: it has, undeniably, been a year of extremes – extreme weather events, extreme loss, extreme polarisation and extreme uncertainty.
While the hardship and injustice experienced by so many across the globe are far from new, they have been exacerbated by this pandemic. Far from being a “great leveller”, the coronavirus shed a shocking light on the deep inequities that affect people’s health and access to healthcare.
2020 will, for us, also be the year that emptied our streets and our cinemas, keeping people from mobilising physically or experiencing film communally – two elements at the heart of our mission. But, like many in the arts world and in campaigning, we found ways to adapt, to connect with audiences and with the stories that inspire us not to accept the status quo.
The year of the rat will soon come to a close, followed by the year of the Ox – the trickster giving way to the hard worker. We hope that you, like us, will feel ready to come into the new year with rolled-up sleeves and a renewed commitment to organise and mobilise. Our energies are needed to stand up for a truly green recovery – one that centres climate justice, anti-racism, labour rights, collaboration and equity.
We look forward to creating and sharing more opportunities for action and engagement from January – and we can’t wait to welcome audiences to screenings in the cinemas that have been home to us for so many years. For now, we wanted to share some of our favourite positive news stories of 2020, because we sure could do with a boost…
- Chile voted to rewrite their constitution
At the end of October, Chile celebrated after an overwhelming majority voted in support of rewriting Chile’s constitution, which dated back to the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
- Alaska offshore drilling project halted
Last week, the US Court of Appeals rejected an offshore oil drilling project in the Arctic, providing some grounds for hope for Indigenous communities and wildlife in the area.
- Parasite made Oscar history
February 2020 seems a lifetime away… yet it was only this year that Bong Joon-ho’s film about inequality and toxic injustice scooped the top prize back in February, making it the first foreign language title to win best picture.
- K-Pop fans united for political issues
Accustomed to mobilising quickly online, and often holding progressive values, fans of K-pop groups like BTS proved to be a force for online activism this year.
- There was a rise in mutual aid and local community support
Research undertaken by the Universities of Sheffield, Hull, and Leeds confirmed an increase in informal volunteering and mutual aid, both key to supporting local communities.
- Equal marriage was legalised in Costa Rica
In May, Costa Rica gave the go-ahead to recognising and performing same-sex marriages, making it the first country in Central America to do so.
- Africa was declared free of wild polio
In August of this year, after decades of work by a coalition of international health bodies, governments, community volunteers and survivors, Africa was declared free from wild polio.
- Indigenous leader’s activism was recognised
Nemonte Nenquimo, an indigenous leader from the Ecuadorean Amazon responsible for protecting 500,000 acres of rainforest from oil extraction, was named one of the winners of this year’s Goldman environmental prize.
- Greece outlawed a fascist party
Jubilant crowds gathered on the streets of Athens in October to celebrate a landmark verdict, which effectively outlawed the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn as a criminal organisation – bringing an end to a long, traumatic cycle of violence and hatred and enabling the country to turn a new chapter.
- Covid vaccine offers some hope
Although there is much work to be done to ensure that any vaccine is accessible and affordable to countries across the globe, the start of the vaccination programme against COVID-19 offers much-needed hope to people whose lives have been upended by this year’s pandemic.