How Can We Use Film For The Greater Good?
If you’ve seen the news or even glanced at a newspaper recently, you’ll know tensions of all kinds – political, social, religious – are incredibly high. It’s hard not to feel hopeless and uninspired because of all this. At times of adversity such as these, it’s important to turn towards the things in life that unite us, such as science and creativity. In particular, film is incredibly influential and a hugely important medium that can change perspectives and argue for another point of view. It can also be used as a force for good, urging people to do more and fight for change in our society.
Ken Loach is a classic example of this. His most recent film, “I, Daniel Blake” (that he directed at the age of 80!) has caused a huge stir amongst audiences recently. Although it was snubbed at the Oscars, it has become wildly popular due to the emotions it has evoked in many viewers. Whatever you may think about our government, it’s hard not to feel angry for the character portrayed in the film, and for those like him in our society. This film, alongside many other films by Loach, encourages the viewer to question the society they live in. It invites them to leave the film, look at their own government and class system and ask themselves – is this right? A good film allows the viewer to feel something. They should leave asking questions, thinking about the characters and how they’ve been impacted by them. If you want your film to stand out, have it resonate with the viewer, and tackle subjects that other directors may be afraid to touch.
It’s easy to criticise the film industry and dismiss it as shallow or vain, but films like Loach’s can cause social change. In 1966, his film Cathy Come Home was released by the BBC. It led to debates in parliament about homelessness, as well as the formation of the homeless charity Crisis. Another, more recent example of films leading to dramatic change is the 2016 film, Lion. In this true story, a young boy is separated from his family in India and uses Google Earth to track them down again years later. It’s incredibly emotional, not just because of the heartbreaking story, but because child homelessness and disappearance is a regular occurrence in India. The film states towards the end that every year, 80,000 children go missing in India. It’s a staggering statistic. This film is not only helping to raise awareness of the current situation, but it is also starting its own campaign. It promotes this campaign at the end of the film, so that a large audience can see it. This campaign works with various charities including Railway Children and Magic Bus to support street children. This is a prime example of how films can be used to spread awareness and even start up their own charitable campaigns.
Understandably, you may feel like there isn’t much you can do to change the world. Unless you become a politician or a famous celebrity, you may feel as if you have little power. But if you want somewhere to start, go and support your local cinemas and look online at Vimeo and YouTube to find short film directors. Watch a film about a social issue, go and see something you might not otherwise have watched. Learn about different topics through an exciting medium and allow them to visually educate you on the world in which you live. You’d be surprised at how much good one film can do. If you want to find out more about the organisations mentioned in this article, visit LION and CRISIS.