The project, founded by director Rabab Ghazoul, started its life as the ‘BME Women’s Film Club’ in 2004. In 2013, the BME Women’s Film Club joined forces with the WOW Festival to become the WOW Women’s Film Club.
Over its 12 years history, the Film Club has excelled in organizing and delivering daytime screenings for women who experience marginalisation and exclusion from both cultural spaces and wider services and provision. Whilst the project is open to all women regardless of background, it specifically targets women from minority ethnic communities, with many audiences also drawn from refugee and asyluem seeking groups.
In 2016, the Film Club received a grant a Big Lottery People & Places grant, that has enabled the project to develop its activities, and to expand to two new members of staff – Rajma Begum, the Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, and Radha Patel, the Assistant Project and Administrative Coordinator.
The Lottery grant has enabled the project to expand the number of screenings per year, as well as work across a range of grassroots and cultural community spaces, from Hindu Temple community centres to youth pavilions serving minority ethnic teens; from grassroots community hub spaces to black history cultural centres.
The Film Club’s rich work is supported by a series of dynamic partnerships with fellow cultural, community and voluntary sector organisations. To date, the project has worked with over 35 partners, some of whom include Women Connect First, Artes Mundi, BAWSO, Taff Housing Association, South Riverside Community Development Centre, Women’s Equality Network Wales, Chapter Arts Centre,
Swansea Waterfront Museum, Unity in Diversity, Oasis Refugee Centre, Butetown Pavilion, Butetown History and Arts, Displaced People in Action and many many more.
Jasmine Chowdhury, a public and community health worker and longstanding supporter of Film Club describes how women have benefitted from the project’s activities, “It’s so important for women to get together and share experiences. Watching inspiring films and the discussion afterwards are powerful ways to encourage women to start talking about issues and challenges that affect their lives.”
The Film Club doesn’t just cater for women, but also has a strong remit to address issues of cultural integration and increased understanding across the diverse spaces which define our cities. In 2013, a cross-community Bollywood pop-up film event at the Hindu Temple in Grangetown attracted a wide cross section of the city’s residents. Rabab Ghazoul, the Film Club Director, believes that culture has a powerful role to play in bringing together disparate communities: “We recognise and feel strongly that a city’s cultural diversity is only truly valuable when its communities gain opportunities to meet, mix and develop trust. This feels more critical now than ever, and we will be developing more events that bring communities together in this way.”
The Film Club draws women, men, young people and children from diverse communities to watch and debate film. Our post-screening discussions have attracted some of the most dynamic speakers, from Bethan Jenkins AM to Marcus Knox-Hooke, childhood friend of Mark Duggan. The project has also come to be a popular social hub, providing a space for women, and people from a variety of communities, to meet, share food, company, and dialogue.
In April 2017 the WOW Film Club will find its permanent home within Cardiff-based arts organization ‘Gentle/Radical’ and as it enters its second year of Lottery funding, will be looking to expand its work in Swansea and Newport, as well as continuing to deliver its longstanding events in Cardiff. The Film Club will also be developing a new young women and girls-focused projectardiff, delivering film activity that will be led, curated, and organized by young women of colour across the city. Our coming year of programming from April 17 onwards includes titles such as ‘Moonlight’, ‘I am not your Negro’, ‘Letters from Baghdad’, ‘Lion’, ‘The Fits’, ‘Hidden Figures’ and ‘Kedi’. And the Film Club looks forward to continuing to deliver some of the most exciting grassroots community film events in Wales.
This is an Audience Development project supported by Film Hub Wales