Bristol Radical Film Festival Returns


Written by Arianne Sheppard
10 Monday 10th February 2014

Bristol Radical Film Festival (BRFF) is soon to be back for the third year running, so we spoke to co-organiser Steve Presence about the finer details of this not-for-profit festival. Steve describes BRFF as:

“A showcase for overtly political documentary and fiction film that doesn’t tend to get exhibition in mainstream or art-house cinema.”

Steve calls the festival “home-grown” as he and the four other organisers, Humberto Perez-Blanco, Anthony Killick, Elizabeth Mizon and Milan Stuermer, have all either taught or studied at UWE. Steve was keen to mention that they draw on lots of other peoples labour as well: 

“My mate did our flyer for us for free because we’re skint.” 

So, what makes this film festival radical? Steve said:

“First and foremost it’s about politics. The radicalism is political in the sense that we show films that advocate radical social change and are predominantly about democracy, sustainability, equality and social justice.”

Films exhibited include McLibel, the 2005 ‘David and Goliath’ documentary that followed two activists as they took on McDonalds in what Channel 4 News called 'The biggest corporate PR disaster in history'.

Most of the films shown are feature length, but contributors from around the world send in their films for the short film section. Steve spoke about his favourite film of this year’s festival: 

“The headline film that we’re showing on the Saturday night, ‘On The Art of War’, is brilliant. It was sent to us from a couple of Italian guys. I was doing the ironing one afternoon and I stuck it in the DVD player and it just blew me away.”

After every screening there is an opportunity for people to discuss what they’ve seen. Steve said:

“From the workshops and talks people can expect to be challenged, learn and see things that they’re not going to see elsewhere. It’s fundamental that we’re using films to create a situation where people can talk about a shared experience and learn from it. It’s about seeing how we can take on the issues that the films are trying to talk about, learn from them and take action. People change things, not films.”

We were pleasantly surprised to find that asylum seekers receive free entry to the festival and were interested to hear what Steve had to say about their decision. He said:

“Asylum seekers receive free entry because they are one of the most vilified groups in our society. Some of the most disadvantaged people coming from the most war torn places on earth and are demonised in the mainstream media for simply seeking asylum. I think it’s really important to take a stand against that sort of nasty, nationalist rhetoric.’ 

It’s clear that a lot of passion and hard work goes in to the production of this festival and Steve was open to the idea of others becoming a part of the team: 

“If people want to get involved, email us. We’re always up for working with people and and trying new things, so if you've got an idea then please get in touch!” 

Get in touch

More information can be found on their website.

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at and we will respond asap.