Two things stick out about this week's Future Artists' Film and Media Festival. The first is that it's happening upstairs in a Salford pub. And the second is that organisers chose to launch the Fest, not at Salford's MediaCityUK but at the more organic Manchester Sharp Project.
It all says absolutely loads about the ethics of Future Artists, the Salford group behind the Fest – where the emphasis is on Do-It-Yourself, not on corporate, business-sterilized schlock.
Future Artists wanted an independent cinema in Salford. They built one above the Black Lion. They wanted a film and media festival too. They've built one. And the content of that Festival more or less sums up what they are about.
The stylishly shot Press Pause and Play (Sunday 4th November 5pm £6) has loads of people one-lining about the cultural world…
"They call it the music industry…They call it the film industry…The industry's dead"…
"Everyone thinks they have a novel in them; everyone thinks they can make a movie; everyone thinks they can write a song"… "Now everyone's a photographer, everyone's a film maker, everyone's a writer; everyone's a musician…" …
"There's a shortage of digital talent out there. I disagree…I think there are more. But they don't want to work in small little cubes, in agencies…they want to work on their own terms…they want to work on projects that they're motivated and passionate about…"
Press Pause and Play has the subtitle: `A film about hope, fear and digital culture'. Is everything really possible now? (see here for trailers)
Meanwhile, the documentary Riot From Wrong (Thursday November 1st 7:30pm free) sees young people from Fully Focused Community tell their own story of the riots – that started in Tottenham after the police attacked a 16 year old girl who was on a protest against the murder of Mark Duggan and "is a separate issue from the murder by the police of Mark Duggan". This is citizen's journalism at its finest, using DIY filming to tell an alternative truth (see pre-film trailer here).
The indie record scene of the late seventies and eighties was also a sniff of freedom – and the documentary Last Shop Standing (Saturday 3rd November 7:30pm £6) follows what's left of over 2000 independent record ships, now withered to just under 270, but re-birthing as a phenomena. It stars Johnny Marr, Paul Weller, Norman Cook and Billy Bragg talking about shops like the legendary King Bee in South Manc (see trailer here).
An then there's Indie Game:The Movie (Sunday 4th November 7:30pm free) – geeks on fire looking for freedom, making independent games and struggling to succeed…
"I make video games because I can"… "My whole career has been finding new ways to communicate with people because I desperately want to communicate with people but I don't want the messy interaction of having to make friends and talk to people because I probably don't like them"… "Let me take my deepest flaws and vulnerabilities and put them in a game…". Honesty at its acest...(see trailer here).
Also screening is the coming of age film Tiny Furniture (see trailer here) produced and directed by Lena Dunham, the creator and star of HBO series Girls (Sunday 4th November 3pm £6), and Call Me Kuchu (Friday 2nd November 7:30pm £6) a documentary about the oppressed life of gays in Uganda (see trailer here).
Industry workshops will take place throughout the festival, hosted by Creative England, Distrify, Dogwoof, Pip Piper, Indiegogo, Smith and Smith Pr and Susan Woodward from the Sharp Project.
All in all, the Festival has some top screenings, and everyone watching X Factor and Strictly should be frogmarched off their couch to see some of this stuff – to see an alternative that doesn't involve consuming culture but making it. DIY style.
"The music business has gone through a complete revolution in the last five years and film is now going the same way" says Mark Ashmore of Future Artists and the Black Lion "This festival will be about capturing the moment of the film revolution; showcasing exciting new work; and casting aside the 'old' outdated Hollywood system."
Sallywood, sans MediaCityUK, anyone?
Future Artists' Film and Media Festival
Thursday 1st November – Sunday 4th November
Black Lion pub, Chapel Street
various prices from free to £6 and more for four day passes.
For more information see www.futureartists.co.uk
For ticket details click here