World’s biggest learning disability film festival in Brighton

The world’s biggest learning disability film festival runs from October 23-26 at The Old Market, Hove –a tribute to the hard work of the learning-disabled team that manages and presents it.

Matthew Hellett
Matthew Hellett

The Oska Bright Film Festival is now in its ninth edition.

Spokeswoman Lisa Wolfe said: “Brighton & Hove is unique in hosting this international event, BFI funded and now a BAFTA qualifying festival (so any British short film screened is eligible for a BAFTA award). We had 2,000 submissions from around the world.

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“The four-day event is big in terms of the number of films it shows, its international reach, the audience that watches and the community of learning-disabled people it supports and promotes.

“For the ninth edition of the festival lead programmer Matthew Hellett has selected an eclectic range of shorts in genres such as animation, sci-fi, dance-film and Queer Freedom.”

He explained: “Learning-disabled artists and creatives from across the world are consistently underrepresented in the film and TV industries – both in front of and behind the camera. There is an incredible breadth of talent among this year’s submissions, so we’re really excited to give a voice to a community that is not seen and heard enough.”

Lisa added: “The festival, which takes place bi-annually in Brighton, has received a four-fold increase in submissions since its 2017 festival. Film-makers contributed 2,000 eligible submissions this year, from locations across the globe including Iran and Japan.

“The Oska Bright team feels that the volume and quality of this year’s submissions cannot be ignored and hope the films showcased at this year’s event will highlight the talent and creativity of those with learning disabilities, autism or Asperger’s.

“With just 0.3 per cent of the total workforce in the film industry living with a disability – compared with 19 per cent of working age adults nationally – Oska Bright Film Festival is calling for a step change within the film industry to diversify its talent pool as well as provide fairer representation in film.”

Special events include:

· Keynote speech from artist film-maker Eleana Button, whose BBC Ideas commissioned short What is Normal? Who Decides? is screened in the festival.

· Visual artist and Carousel chairman Sarah Watson draws live portraits ahead of the Portrait of the Artist screening; her previous subjects include illustrator Chris Riddell.

· One-to-one surgery sessions with industry experts as part of a day on collaborative film-making with the University of Brighton and BFI NETWORK.

Matthew added; “There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK and we see a variety of people every day in the real world, so it’s time that was reflected on screen.

“There’s room for change and we want to be at the forefront of this change. We’re big, bold and different.”

Full programme and tickets at