From January – July 2015, Impact of Conflict was a timely reflection on the repercussion of conflict and the ways this has been presented through film.
Presented by Watershed in partnership with Bristol University and cinemas across Wales, Northern Ireland and the South West & West Midlands, this season of screenings, events and online publishing explored the wider cultural, human and socio-political repercussions of conflict and the countless ways this has been presented through film both then and now.
The theme of Impact of Conflict arose out of 2014’s commemoration of the start of WW1. This centenary was of course cause for reflection on the scale and impact of that war and the immense global repercussions which still ripple to this day. You just have to think about the recent screen adaptation of Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth to see our continued interest in stories emanating from WW1. The impact of war, any war, is not confined to the period between dates but goes wider and deeper; it shapes people, society, places and politics: as I write this, the Chilcott enquiry into the 2003 Iraq War is causing political fallout and Clint Eastwood’s The Sniper divides audiences in its portrait of one man’s experience of that war.
As a subject, conflict has always drawn filmmakers, whether driven by political or social ideals, or inspired by more humanitarian concerns. Now, however, with conflicts continuing across the globe, the political resonance of film is becoming ever more significant as a mechanism for observation and reportage, a means to document, a medium for comment and protest, a tool for learning and understanding, and for opening up discussion and debate. Through such films as forthcoming portrait of the 60s civil rights in Selma, the search for reconciliation in The Look of Silence and Timbuktu’s revealing drama of the recent radical jihadi insurgency in Mali, Conversation about Cinema will focus on a variety of themes including racial tension, human riots violation, extremism, migration and displacement. Again whilst writing this I read reports from America that Selma illustrates that the civil rights struggle is not over, whilst, Timbuktu has been pulled from cinemas in Paris then reinstated because the powers that be realised it was not advocating terrorism but rather critiquing it – further evidence that film, whether about a historical or contemporary conflict, has the power to open up meaningful debate and discussion.”
Mark Cosgrove, Cinema Curator, Watershed
More than 25 organisations contributed to the programme, with over 60 films and close to 50 special guests and speakers taking part. Those 25 participating organisations include International Film Festivals, Universities, Independent Cinemas, Community Groups and Social Initiatives – the far reaching programme explored how film can be much more than a form of entertainment, and how it can directly address issues that are of personal, national and global significance. Leading academics, award winning filmmakers and other key experts contributed to the diverse range of voices accompanying the screenings and events and provided unique social and political commentary and insight on and offline.
“Film Hub Wales, with Chapter as its lead organisation, is proud to participate in the Impact of Conflict season, as it allows us to be part of a UK wide conversation exploring how the culture of cinema can stimulate discussion. The diverse program has been developed in partnership with the European commission, Watch Africa, Wales One World Film Festival and Cardiff University, allowing us to examine themes such as post-war European integration, liberation of African nations after the destruction of traditional empires, Iranian cinema since the 1979 revolution, Chilean response to the Pinochet coup and Wales after the 1984 miners strike. Through the project we continue our important work with independent exhibitors, whilst also generating a deeper level of audience engagement with the films on offer.” Hana Lewis, Film Hub Wales Manager Chapter
“Rather than telling stories about wars, we’re also interested in exploring how conflict has impacted on displaced people, refugees, women, those who are left behind and the soldiers as well … We’re trying to broaden it out from a purely historical perspective into something that is a little bit more about the actual people and feelings and how it has impacted on people’s real lives.” Susan Picken, QFT Belfast
Your thoughts and opinions about the films screened during the Impact of Conflict season, and the issues we highlighted are central to this project’s success. We want everyone, everywhere to join in with our Conversation about Cinema.