Students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have acquired valuable first-hand experience of the film industry by volunteering at the UK Asian Film Festival Leicester.
The 11 Film Studies students have helped to deliver two weeks’ worth of events across Leicester, as part of one of Europe’s biggest showcases of South Asian cinema.
The festival got underway on Thursday 15 March and since then there have been more than a dozen events held at the Phoenix Cinema and De Montfort University.
The student volunteers have carried out wide-ranging roles including meeting and greeting guests, showing them to the appropriate screen, setting up and facilitating question and answer sessions, coordinating feedback forms and implementing suggestions.
Third-year student Bradley Lond volunteered at the first edition of the festival in 2017 and got so much out of it that he decided to return this year as team leader.
He explained: “I’ve enjoyed it a lot, it’s tiring but it’s also very rewarding. I’m not a huge Bollywood follower but being able to watch these films and see people enjoy them is very rewarding.
“We have people from all different parts of the film industry, so we’ve had actors, directors, producers and people behind-the-scenes like camera operators. We sometimes get to talk to them, which has been fascinating.
“Being able to exhibit Asian films that don’t get the representation that they should within cinema is very rewarding. It’s really great to be part of it.”
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To mark 100 years of women gaining the right to vote in the UK, the theme of the 2018 UK Asian Festival was ‘F-Rated’, focusing on a female perspective and championing the important role of women in film.
The first event of the festival featured Mahira Khan, Pakistan’s biggest celebrity actress, in conversation with BBC Asian Network presenter Noreen Khan.
First-year Film Studies student Aran Webster said it was a highlight of the festival to hear about Mahira’s experiences of working in the film industry as an Asian woman.
Aran said: “I’ve loved it so far. As well as the customer interaction I’ve been able to find out more about the industry itself and speak to some of the people behind the scenes. It’s been a great insight into the film industry.
“On the first night we had Mahira Khan and it was really interesting to see her Q&A and hear about how her story has affected society. There was a really touching moment where someone in the audience got upset and she came and comforted her.”
Maddy Flaherty, also a first-year Film Studies student, has been creating a documentary to document the volunteers’ behind-the-scenes experience at the festival.
She said: “I’ve definitely enjoyed it. Because I’ve been filming it I’ve been looking at it very closely, particularly the Q&As.
“Filming has made it more practical so I can learn about using a camera as well which helps with my course. The process of planning it and then filming it and editing it has been really good.”
DMU’s Film Studies course has a whole module focusing on film festivals so volunteering here has given the students a head start in that area of their course.
Aran said: “We get more of an insight behind the scenes here so it’s really useful for that module. We can see what works and what doesn’t.”
Bradley added: “This is also a great thing to add to our CV and we can get connections from it and talk to people in the industry, which has been fantastic.”
Dr Monia Acciari, senior lecturer in Film and Television at DMU, is Associate Director of the festival and employability champion for the Leicester Media School. She believes the students will see a number of benefits from their time working on the events.
She said: “This was an important opportunity for them to see how the world of film festivals works and to engage with professionals who have a lot of knowledge of the industry. It was important for me to also let them begin networking and create global working experiences beyond their stay at DMU and beyond the remit of this festival.”
“The festival has been a big success and I’m delighted that some of our students were able to play their part in it and help to showcase some of the amazing South Asian films that have been featured over the last two weeks.”
The UK Asian Film Festival Leicester has also been documented by two DMU student volunteers, third-year Emily Gett and first-year Matt Teagle, in a blog which can be viewed here
Posted on Thursday 29th March 2018