One of the more unexpected aspects to come from working with the SLQ film program is the fascinating range of people that I’ve had the privelege of meeting along the way. On the surface of it, the idea of putting together a weekly movie program (sometimes six months in advance) is the type of job that one might find isolationst. Surely the very act of screening a movie is a passive one, where all elements are pre-determined, and the spontanaeity of a genuinely live eventfalls by the wayside? The audience pretty much knows what they’re getting, we sit in the dark, and it’s over.
It’s an idea that I discovered very quickly does not apply to what we do here. It’s not enough to simply present our community with a program of empty spectacle that connects with us on a superficial, escapist level. A program that is constantly evolving, open to the needs of it’s audience, and sometimes asks the hard questions of us- this is what a free public cinema should offer. Probably the most notable experience I’ve had in this position so far has been in working with the Romero Centre, a support organization for people that have arrived on our shores under usually arduous conditions: http://romerocentre.org.au/. Once a year the Romero Centre hold the Refugee Film festival, a day long extravaganza of live panel discussions, musical performances and film screenings, all addressing the experience of being a refugee, either in this country or elsewhere, most often made by the very people whose stories are being told. From comedy to tragedy, documentary to animation, shorts to feature length, the Refugee Fest has consistantly been a day of discovery.
For the last two years we’ve been privelleged to play host to this event, and we’re certainly richer for it. The show is a testament to the fact that every person that arrives in our country brings a new skill-set with them, and a celebration of this new age where the tools to create movies are more accessible than ever before, allowing local “film scenes” to flourish in much the same way the local music scene in Brisbane evolved from the notion of anyone being able to get on stage and do their thing. It has been not only a platform for the exploration of social issues, but equally important, it’s a day when people from the most diverse origins and life experiences can just get together and go to the movies. I can’t wait for next year.