The Radical Film Network (RFN) was founded in September 2013 to provide infrastructural support to ‘radical film culture’ in Britain and elsewhere. Broadly characterised by a politically engaged and/or aesthetically innovative use of moving image media, radical film culture has expanded rapidly in recent years as contemporary socio-political, economic and environmental contexts, marked by crisis and discontent, have meshed with access to digital technologies. Comprised of academics, artists, filmmakers and other digital creatives as well as festivals, distributors, archives and a whole host of community organisations and production collectives, the RFN now consists of more than one-hundred organisations across twenty countries.
The first part of this seminar will reflect on the brief history of the network, its development thus far and some of the challenges involved in developing and sustaining an independent, international network for an already marginalised film culture that is chronically under-funded and under-resourced. The second part of the seminar will focus in more detail on the RFN’s exhibition sector and some of the festivals, collectives and cooperatives involved. These range from online TV stations such as Argentina’s TVPS to festivals and clubs such as Mexico’s Festival Internacional del Cine Pobre/Festival of Poor Cinema or Ireland’s Guerrilla Film Club. Exploring three exhibitors in the UK – the Liverpool Radical Film Festival, The Birmingham Film Coop and the Manchester Film Coop – I will discuss their distinct approaches to ‘radical’ film and the motivations, challenges and achievements of this most precarious, committed mode of film activism.