The People’s Film Club is as simple as our name suggests; we bring people together to watch films. Great films, that tell the stories of people around the world. So often issues can feel too daunting, complex and intense to engage with, to even know where to start or how to help. Films bring the human side of issues which are often only presented in the abstract. We pair these films with speakers who understand the subjects best – filmmakers, activists, academics and community organisers. We believe that through frank discussions, great films and comfy seats we can start conversations and support brilliant charities.
In the spring of 2017, reports started reaching the UK from Chechnya, detailing the rise of systemic, government-mandated persecution of LGBTQ people. Individuals were being abducted, detained and tortured by the Chechen authorities. The number of people killed while held in these camps is not known. Russian and international activists scrambled to evacuate survivors of the camps and other vulnerable individuals. We knew we couldn’t stand by and do nothing, and thus The People’s Film Club was born.
A small group of activists from various campaign backgrounds (from death penalty abolition to migrant rights, from LGBTQ equality to international human rights) came together to support the work of The Russian LGBT Network. They were working on the ground, evacuating LGBTQ people, establishing safe-houses and assisting with visa applications, but they desperately needed funds. We were shocked by the negligible response to these atrocities, by both British politicians and in the media. We were determined to make a difference. Throughout the spring and summer, we hosted film screenings and speakers to raise awareness of the situation in Chechnya. We highlighted the importance of lobbying the UK government to stand against these human rights violations, partnering with the Amnesty LGBTQI network and promoting their petition. We raised £1,100 which we donated to the Russian LGBT Network.
The summer came to a close, our programme finished, and our (sadly conventional-sized) donations cheque had been sent. We had achieved what we had set out to, and yet, it didn’t seem quite right to stop. We had stumbled upon something we loved; screening films, encouraging conversations, and raising money for causes we cared about.
Since then, we have hosted a huge range of screenings, with films’ spanning endless geographies, communities and topics. From skateboarders in Palestine to FGM activists in The Gambia, from migrant solidarity groups in Wales to jazz musicians in London, we love to screen films that tell under-reported stories and magnify underrepresented voices. Through our little London club, we are able to raise money for amazing charities around the world.
We are an entirely voluntary organisation, and all the money we raise is in-turn donated to local grassroots organisations who are tackling the issues at hand, while helping our audience to understand how they can make a difference at a community-level.
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