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  • Writer's pictureMaire Tracey

Bolton Film Festival

This month’s blog post is written by Maire Tracey, Senior Lecturer in Media Practice and Programme Leader for MA Documentary Production and MA Wildlife Documentary Production at the University of Salford. Maire co-directed the South African Modernism project film, All That Is Buried, with Simon Stanton-Sharma.

This week the South African Modernism team attended the Bolton International Film Festival. It was a huge honour to have our film, All That Is Buried, selected for competition by the festival organisers. We attended both screenings on Wednesday 4th and Saturday 7th October, and Simon and I took part in the Q&As afterwards.

Bolton International Film Festival screens over 300 short films over a 5-day period at the Light Cinema in Bolton, and is both a BAFTA- and BIFA-qualifying Event. As well as seeing our film on the big screens, I also attended some fascinating masterclasses and thoroughly enjoyed the VR films, which were out of this world!

Images show Maire Tracey, Simon Stanton-Sharma, Liza Ryan-Carter and Jade Munslow Ong

With free tea, coffee and gingernut biscuits in the Kudos Gallery, the festival has a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, where you get to chat to film makers, festival-goers, industry professionals and students from the North West and beyond.

Some of our MA students from the University of Salford also attended, experiencing the great pleasure of spending all day in a dark cinema enjoying drama, documentaries, comedy and environmental films from all the corners of the world. Many of our students are international and the themes raised in our documentary really resonated with them.

With two screenings on Wednesday and Saturday as part of the Doc 60-2 group, All That Is Buried, was shown alongside four other really beautiful films: The Men and the Chairs Right Under My Window, Grace, Within the Water, and Filho. All five complimented each other so well, so huge thanks to festival organisers for not only selecting the film but also for screening it together with other great documentaries. You can read more about the films here.

The Q&A and questionnaires that we handed out to audience members helped us to collect useful responses to the film. The main feedback from the audience was about how incredible our contributors are. Obviously we knew this already(!) but it was a lovely moment to recount the experiences of first meeting, and then filming in Cape Town with, musician Dizu Plaatjies, poet Zizipho Bam, artist Haroon Gunn-Salie and writer Sindiswa Busuku. You can read about the making of the film on our blogpost here.

Audience questions included: How did we connect with these amazing and diverse artists? How and why did they agree to be in this documentary?

We explained that we were really lucky to spend lots of time getting to know them in pre-production so that All That Is Buried could be co-created with the guidance and creative inputs of Dizu, Zizipho, Haroon and Sindiswa. Watching the film again on the big screen left us with gratitude that these four talented and creative artists not only invited us into their world, but also explained with clarity and searing honesty about how they use their art to respond to the world around them. And try to change it.

The audience was also interested in how we worked as a team with each other within the South African Modernism 1880-2020 group and with the contributors. Our aim to share creative vision and ownership of the film generated some lively debate and hopefully sparked thinking about different, more egalitarian ways to make interesting documentaries.

Audience feedback included comments such as:

  • ‘The thing I found most interesting was the perspective on not finishing the historic fight for rights’

  • All That Is Buried changed my perspective hearing about experience[s] of women particularly’

  • ‘I thought the writing and music was very moving’

  • ‘I particularly enjoyed the insight into District Six, it’s something I would look into’

  • ‘I really enjoyed the film & hearing from the directors’

  • ‘It made me want to look up the artists involved’

We are so grateful to Bolton Film Festival for showing All That Is Buried, and now look forward to the film’s next outing at the Tangier Film Festival in Morocco next month!

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