Film & TV Editor Charlie Gearon examines the role which Bristol’s independent cinemas play in encouraging diversity
In the 2016/17 academic year, University of Bristol’s ethnic diversity was higher than ever. According
to the university’s own student population statistics, just under 70% of enrolled students were
white. This represents a 2% increase in ethnic diversity from the year before, and places Bristol 7%
above the national average (according to HESA).
With regards to national heritage, 22% of students were international, slightly under the national
average of 30%.
Obviously, this is somewhat of an under representation of people from diverse national backgrounds
and ethnic minorities. Generally speaking though, Bristol’s representation of minorities is improving.
These institutions celebrate diversity in cinema and help Bristol along in its journey towards inclusivity
A vital part of this movement is the work done by the independent cinemas of Bristol, particularly
The Cube and Watershed. Both cinemas curate screening programmes which stress the importance
of equal representation in cinema.
Even a brief look at the films on offer will make evident how well represented the works of diverse
international filmmakers are by these institutions. To that end, here are some of the best films
on show over the next few weeks which highlight and celebrate diversity in cinema, and in doing so,
help Bristol along in its journey towards inclusivity.
Insyriated is about as culturally-diverse as it gets. Directed by Belgian director Philippe van Leeuw,
made with the help of a production team spanning from France to Lebanon and Germany and set in
present-day Damascus, Insyriated is a testament to just how diverse cinema can be. It’s an
exemplary tour-de- force in how film can transcend national borders and create a truly international
piece of art. A nail-biting siege film routed in tangible human drama, van Leeuw’s feature is as
haunting as it is relevant. A must-see piece of cinema.
Soul of a Nation
This collection of shorts has been commissioned by the Tate Modern in conjunction with their latest
exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power. All the films on show here have been
created by black filmmakers and directors and aim to highlight the role of African American artists in
the civil rights movement of the mid-20 th Century. With racial tensions in America running higher
than they have in decades, this collection promises to be topical and of vital importance.
God’s Own Country
Somewhat reductively being labelled as ‘A British Brokeback Mountain’, Francis Lee’s debut feature
is a poignant romance set against the bleak yet beautiful backdrop of rural Yorkshire. God’s Own
Country sees its protagonist (O’Connor) struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality when a
young Romanian man (Secareanu) comes to help out on his failing farm. While the troubled romance
may be the central focus of the film, the nature of the protagonists’ relationship can be seen as
allegory of the beauty, value and even necessity of cultural diversity. It’s by embracing the figure of different national heritage that O’Connor’s character is able to fully embrace his homosexuality and save his family’s farm.
My Pure Land
Another debut feature, Sarmad Masud’s My Pure Land tells the true story of a mother and two
daughters fighting to protect their home in rural Pakistan from a local, heavily-armed militia. Action-
packed, feministic and politically charged, My Pure Land looks set to be a refreshing take on siege-
films which steers clear of exploitation while retaining its human drama.
Battling For Bristol
This event is taking place as part of the Journey to Justice exhibition and is being sponsored by the
Bristol Radical History Group. It’s being labelled as ‘an evening of films on Bristol campaigns for
social justice.’ On display will be archived documentary footage of the Bristol risings of 1980 and
1986, as well as the Bristol Bus Boycott which ended racial segregation on the Bristol bus network in
the 1960s. It promises to be informative and insightful, while providing essential socio-historical
context of the increasingly diverse city which Bristol is striving to become.
For more from Charlie, visit charliegearon.com
What do you think of the films on offer in Bristol? Let us know @EpigramFilm