We all know that films can change the way we see the world. They have the capacity to help us make sense of the world around us, to shed light on key issues, to challenge dominant paradigms and most of all to motivate us to take action. These are just some of the reasons why humanitarian filmmakers keep the camera rolling when people are suffering. Whether as a result of war, oppression or disease each filmmaker believes that in making the film, it will do more to help the victim than intervening there and then. Perhaps it will raise awareness, perhaps audiences will be moved to donate money or give time. But is this the case?
Beyond basic monitoring there is very little audience evaluation occurring in the film exhibition sector and as a result, very little is known about what people do in response to viewing films. “Film Matters?” is a research strand as part of the British Film Institute’s Film Audience Network (BFI FAN), which aims to make a better case for the cultural value of film and cinema to policy makers, funders, the industry and ultimately the general public. The strand is being led by Film Hub South West and West Midlands with input from New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), PIP Creatives, film consultant / journalist Michael Gubbins and PR Consultant Clare Wilford. I am currently supporting the team in developing a framework for the measurement of impact arising from film exhibition in public spaces.
Image: Conversations about cinema, Borderlines Film Festival © Matthew Evans