The Commonwealth Film Festival is a not-for-profit organization which exists to showcase the talents of Commonwealth filmmakers and to develop audiences for their products. It is rapidly establishing itself as an annual world-class large-scale festival dedicated to the promotion of Commonwealth-produced film culture to the global market.
The Festival is committed to inclusivity and excellence in all its operations and seeks to promote respect for human rights, equality, freedom and sustainable economic development.
History of the festival
Founded in 2001 by Michael Burke & Michael Fox, two of the North’s most successful media producers, the first Festival was launched in June 2002 as a Beacon Project of the Spirit of Friendship Festival in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Opening with Arjun Sajnani’s ‘Agni Vasha’, the festival screened over 100 features and 275 shorts.
Building on the first year’s success, the second festival took place in June 2003, with a smaller but equally high quality programme, and began to establish an international reputation for intelligent programming and good hospitality.
Delegate networking and public access are the key characteristics of the festival, which takes place in an informal and friendly atmosphere at great venues in an inspiring city.
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For some the word ‘Commonwealth’ resounds with echoes of a colonial era – but the contemporary reality is forward-looking as 53 countries work together to pursue goals of sustainable economic and social development with a commitment to human rights, justice and equality. As Nelson Mandela has said, ‘The Commonwealth is an image of Diversity’, and the culture that arises from this vast diversity is worth a lifetime’s exploration.
Cinema is at the leading edge of that exploration, as film makers undertake journeys beyond the frontiers of their audience’s knowledge, bringing back vibrant and powerful stories from a teeming world.
Their festival is dedicated to giving these stories a presence. It is the ‘conversation’ between different stories from different cultures which makes a festival such as theirs unique, compelling and full of surprises.
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