Spotlight on Archive: Courage & Communities

01 Nov 2018 BY Robin McHugh

6 mins
Spotlight on Archive: Courage & Communities

We're very excited to bring you the latest in our 'Spotlight on Archive' series, centred on the recent Courage and Communities project. The film above provides a wide-reaching look at the efforts Into Film, the BFI, London's Screen Archives and other cultural organisations have made to help young people mark the centenary of the suffragette movement using archive film.

Below, Robin McHugh, one of Into Film's Programme Delivery Coordinators, speaks in further detail about the Courage and Communities mobile cinema project that we ran. This follows a piece on our partnership with the East Anglian Film Archive (EAFA) earlier this year.

This October marks the completion of Courage and Communities, a diverse series of events commemorating the Representation of the People Act, 1918. Coordinated by the Mayor of London, and made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Londoners young and old have been engaging with the suffragette movement and the lasting impact on democracy and equality made by its brave proponents.

Teaming up with our regular collaborators London's Screen Archives, we have been visiting Into Film Clubs and schools across the outer boroughs of the capital with the legendary KinoVan - a mobile cinema inspired by the travelling cinema vans of the 1920s. Viewing a specially curated edit of the BFI's Make More Noise! collection, over 250 young people have been exploring key moments from the suffragette movement. They include Emily Davison's fateful protest at the Epsom Derby and Emmeline Pankhurst's arrest outside Buckingham Palace, women's crucial role in Britain's war victory, as well as examples of propaganda and satire from the era.

Jumping forward in time, participants studied film from the London Metropolitan Archives collection, featuring young women from the 1980s discussing their experiences of working in construction roles and the challenges they faced in the form of prejudice from their male colleagues. How much has changed for the better since women earned financial independence and respect in the munitions factories of 1917 and how do attitudes compare with today?

The children have had a really fantastic time this morning, they've really enjoyed it. They really enjoyed watching the film, making their own films, and it was really great they learnt about the suffragettes because that's reinforced what they have been doing in their own classrooms especially in Year 5 and Year 6.

Lisa Kelly, Acting Headteacher at St Joseph's Catholic Junior School, Croydon

Inspired, informed and, in some cases, appropriately aggravated, students undertook a filmmaking challenge to storyboard, shoot and edit short documentary-style films, merging archive footage with their own, and deploying interview techniques to convey what they had learned.

The project saw both girls and boys considering the role they would like to play in their society against the historical backdrop of those who had to fight to be recognised as equal democratic citizens and asking whether they themselves were in fact growing up in a world that is now equal.

My favourite part was when we were interviewing each other and making our own films. We were interviewing each other about our opinions on the suffragettes and gender equality. It's not fair that women are still being treated unequally to men. The suffragettes did a lot to help us, but we are still being treated unequally.

Isabel (11), St Joseph's Catholic Junior School, Croydon

Interested in studying the suffragette movement? Bright, Bad and British! is a programme of films taken from the BFI National Archive, all featuring the suffragette movement, and is available for Into Film Clubs to order free from our catalogue. Don't have an Into Film Club yet? Sign up today!

Robin McHugh

Robin McHugh, Programme Coordinator at Into Film

Robin has a BSc in Biochemistry from UCL and trained as a teacher through the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. He has worked as a science teacher and head of biology at a London all-through school.

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