Films for Food raises a feast for deprived east London

Films for Food

Richard York and Hannan Majid with the donations. Pic: Shima Begum

Two documentary film makers raised donations  for Tower Hamlets foodbanks by showing short films for free – in exchange for food – this week.

Films for Food, an “evening of revolutionary short films,”at Hub 67 in Hackney Wick on Wednesday was organised by filmmakers Hannan Majid from Mile End and Richard York from Limehouse. A selection of films made by their students were shown, and as payment each audience member was asked to bring a bag of non-perishable food.

The filmmakers, who run their own documentary production company, Rainbow Collective, set up the Films for Food initiative with Abbas Nokhasteh from Openvisor, a non-profit arts organisation, to raise awareness about food bank use within the community.

Rainbow Collective work with children and adults from the UK as well as deprived countries, much like the street children from Dhaka. They provide workshops and teach video skills as well as create a platform for viewers to explore their part of the world, allowing them to produce their own content for people to see.

Majid, 36, said: “Whenever we do these screenings a lot of people who come to them are not aware of their local foodbanks and with this programme it forms this bridge of communication between the two.

“There were over a million people using foodbanks [last year] and it’s because of the cuts imposed by the government that has put families in difficult situations.”

York, 34, who had volunteered at foodbanks with Majid said: “No one wants to really use foodbanks but the experiences I have had volunteering are great and there’s a sense of respect in the way the advisors treat people who come to foodbanks. It’s not just a matter of giving you food and hoping for the best.”

The films were well received by the audience, who showed interest in some key themes from the films such as Muslim identity and the life of street children in Dhaka, and were entertained by the more comical performances.

Aleya Begum, 37, an ex-journalist from East London who attended the event, said: “I was interested in this event because I like to watch independent films as they give a different perspective and not only that we are doing something good while we’re here.”

Majid and York have done more than seven Films for Food events. He said: “It’s actually the community helping the community which I think is a really powerful thing.”

The event ended with a question and answer session about the company’s involvement with the students. Majid said: “We have a big training element, which is part of our organisation, we have workshops set up for people like the children of Dhaka and we help them shoot and edit their own film.” They are also planning future projects related to conflict in war-torn countries.


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