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On Tuesday this week, there was a huge celebration for WOW Women's Film Club being awarded Big Lottery funding. The event was held at Chapter Arts Centre and was extremely well attended, with a passionate discussion and shared meal after the film (He Named Me Malala).
“It made me talk to people who I would not normally, in my small world, speak to” Cardiff resident, Oasis film night
“The film touch our hearts equally for both the natives and refugee. It was a film that has hope, courage, and determination” Asylum seeker from Eritrea, Oasis film night
We know too well the plight of refugees in recent months and tragic stories of people, including children, losing their lives trying to escape horrors at home. There has been an outpouring of support across Europe. But what does it mean for us in Cardiff, a city where refugees and asylum seekers are already part of our community? What connections can we make with communities on our doorstep?
If you’re male in Thailand, in the year of your 21st birthday, you gather with guys the same age from your district to pick a card from an urn in front of everybody. If the card is black, your military service is waived and you don’t need to go. If it’s red, however, you must commit two years of your life serving your country. Unlike in other countries, where military service is either voluntary or compulsory, in Thailand it's largely dependent on luck. Consider this in relation to Thailand's relatively liberal stance on LGBT issues, with homosexuality having been decriminalised in 1956. It wasn't until 2005, however, that the ban on LGBT soldiers in the military was lifted.
This is a subject that director Josh Kim has explored previously, as he explains, "Before coming to Thailand, I had never actually seen this process before... it was still unclear what the rules were regarding male to female transgenders. So in 2013, I made a short documentary, which followed two transgender women on the day of their own draft."
Kim's experience of making Draft Day went into writing How to Win at Checkers (Every Amser), Thailand's entry to the 2016 Academy Awards, which is being screened on Thursday 8 & Saturday 10 October at the Iris Prize Festival in Cardiff (in association with WOW).
Aberystwyth Arts Centre is bringing back two of the most popular and successful films of the 2015 WOW festival, Dukhtar and Timbuktu, for a double bill on Saturday 17 July.
Leila Sansour gave a tremendously successful Q&A at Taliesin Arts Centre on Monday night, when 190 people attended the WOW festival screening of Open Bethlehem, an event well supported by Swansea's Palestine support groups. Pictured from left to right are David Gillam, Open Bethlehem's director Leila Sansour and her assistant Julia Katarina.
With the support of Conversations About Cinema, we have been able to document a number of the panel discussions that have taken place during the 2015 WOW film festival.
Fadhili Maghiya (Watch Africa Film Festival), Dr Rachel Langford (Cardiff University) and Sandra Skinner (Hay Timbuktu) discuss issues raised by Abderrahmane Sissako's film Timbuktu and the nuances and complexity of the socio-political situation in Mali.
WOW Festival Director David Gillam is joined by guests Dr Saeed Zeydabadi-Nejad (School of Oriental and African Studies, Dr Maryam Ghorbankarimi (St Andrews University) and Ehsan Khoshbakht (Iranian Film Critic, Curator ad Architect) who discuss the Iranian classics Hamoun by Dariush Mehrjui and Under the Skin of the City by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad.
We're delighted that Dukhtar/Daughter Director Afia Nathaniel and Co-producer Cordelia Stephens, will be joining WOW for Q&As following all three screenings of their award winning film at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff this month. They have some amazing stories to tell about their experiences, both in the lead up to and during the making of Dukhtar/Daughter, which was filmed in the Himalayan mountains in the north of Pakistan. For example, how they overcame the obstacles of getting a film made in a desolate region disputed between Pakistan and India, where no other film crew had been given permission to film.
We're really fortunate to have quite a few director Q&As in the festival this year. If, like us, you enjoy getting the chance to ask questions about the film you have just seen and are fascinated by what inspires filmmakers and what it takes to get the job done, then come along and join in with what promise to be some fascinating discussions.
Persian New Year, or Nowruz coincides with the opening weekend of the WOW film festival. Deeply rooted in Zoroastrian traditions, Nowruz, meaning ‘New Day’, has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years to mark the start of Spring.
When we found out that it was actually celebrated for two weeks, it was the perfect excuse to hold a little party in our west Wales home town of Cardigan, on Saturday 28th March.
Here we have Small World Theatre, a sustainable community arts venue resembling of a pagoda, creating the perfect space for a sociable evening involving great food and a great film!
After only two years in Melbourne, I wasn't sure that we would be able to muster the kind of crowd that turned out for the premiere of my last film, Lammas, which launched to packed houses across Wales as part of the WOW Wales One World Film Festival in January 2013.
Then, we faced blizzards of snow, whilst here, on March 1, the thunderstorms which rage across the city the night before thankfully give way to a calm, warm evening.