SOAS Students conduct a field trip to the London Palestine Film Festival
24 January 2022
As cinema venues reopened their doors to bring diverse worldviews to London-based audiences, the class members of Introduction to Film Language, History and Theory selected the London Palestine Film Festival for the fieldtrip visit.
This was a key moment to socialise outside of physical and virtual classrooms, and to witness the important link between research and practice. Class members were invited to become active observers and critics, with a series of guided activities to engage with before, during and after the film festival.
These included conducting academic and contextual research about the film and festival, with consideration of questions such as:
- What is the global circulation of films with a regional focus on Palestine? In other words, is it easy to access them through mainstream cinemas, television and online television platforms?
- What is the role that festivals may place in the visibility or access to Palestinian storytelling?
- Have you been able to find any other Palestine Film Festival?
- What is the festival mission and how does the programme reflect this?
- What do you think is so unique about this festival?
- How much can you find online about the filmmaker and the film we will watch and
- what can you conclude about the festival’s curatorial approach from such findings?
During the festival, class members were invited to conduct an ethnography of a film festival, observing and participating in the space, paying attention to questions such as:
- Where is the festival venue located? Are there any accessibility issues?
- What do audience members do as they wait for the festival to start?
- How is the space indoors and how do people interact in this?
- What does the venue look like and what kind of technical quality and festival experience does it offer?
- Is there a host and how do they present the festival and films?
- Is the screening followed by any kind of debate? Are audiences invited to join?
- What do they say? And how?
- What do people do as the leave the festival venue?
- Are there opportunities to discuss with ‘strangers’? And with the guest filmmaker?
After the fieldtrip visit, class members exchanged their various ethnographic experiences and applied the film theory in the module to embody the role of a film critic. This led to the production of brief statements reviewing the films, acquiring knowledge and understanding of rating systems based on stars and numbered grades. The ‘experiment’ led to such an insightful debate about different ideas on cinematic quality. Class members were further introduced to media and academic platforms where to read and write film reviews.
This activity took place on 29 November 2021, for the film screening of Jaffa: The Orange’s Clockwork (Eyal Sivan, 2009, 91 min.), in Curzon Soho, as part of the London Palestine Film Festival .