The second and final day of This Way Up in Hull saw a wide range of subjects covered; failure, safety, the future of foreign language cinema, archiving of contemporary cinema, collecting data, and disruptive festival platforms. There was a lot of ground to cover, and a number of things to take away from the past two days. As much as being learnt in lunch breaks as from the panelists, and it is clearly vital that events such as This Way Up continue to bring exhibitors together. The sharing of information and demonstrations of best practice are desperately needed, and that sense of community needs to be kept alive as things become more difficult.
A clear example of this was a panel on safety and safeguarding. Melanie Iredale of Sheffield Doc/Fest lead the panel, which wanted to discuss the topic in the wake of the Weinstein allegations. In the current climate where fresh allegations are being revealed daily, and conversations online and in the pub are still ongoing, it was useful and desperately needed to have a conversation that offered and discussed practical advice, and allowed members of the panel and the audience to highlight problem areas and share information.
As well as the need for community, diversity is still on everybody’s mind, but more importantly, it’s meaning is being interrogated- it truly needs to include EVERYONE.
As mentioned previously by Simran Hans in her keynote on day one, it’s deeply important that equality in all its forms is not performative or co-opted by organisations in a way that is insincere, and This Way Up does offer a space to go deeper beyond the hashtags and the online noise. Questions were raised about the true nature of diversity in our industry, and the consensus seems to be that we need to go deeper and expand our meaning of the word. Our industry is still not as inclusive as we are lead to believe; we are still incredibly London-centric, we do not include D/deaf and disabled people in our discussions, and funding is still something of a tick boxing exercise that only serves organisations that have the most choice in the first place. And we as exhibitors need to ensure that we keep having those discussions, and being bold enough to make changes to improve it; whether that means assigning some of that precious budget to ensure the safety of your staff, or increasing the number of subtitled screenings to include your D/deaf audiences.
Looking to the future, let’s hope that at the next This Way Up, some of those learnings have been implemented and we can continue to see positive change.