2022 BSIFF celebrates UK’s marginalised filmmakers and inspires millions to act on the UN’s Global Goals

Category: Press release | Date: October 30, 2022 | By: Big Syn Institute, London. UK.

A Grand Jury comprised of OSCAR, BAFTA and EMMY award-winners such as Kevin Willmott (Blackkklansman) and Pippa Ehrlich (My Octopus teacher) and global leaders from media, sustainability and policy selected the winners of the 2022 Big Syn International Film Festival from over 400 entries received from over 80 countries, including films from indie filmmakers and leading production houses such as Warner and Ubisoft, to name a few.

Through films, this unique festival educates people about the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) or Global Goals and celebrates diversity, inclusion and sustainability in cinema. The UN SDGs offer actionable plans for individuals, organisations and governments to address global challenges such as climate change, pollution, gender inequality, poverty, and, poor health and sanitation, to name a few.

This is the World’s biggest film festival of its kind for feature films, shorts, animations and documentaries and public service or charity videos –  educating and inspiring over 6.5 M people through the emotive power of cinema, for them to act now before it’s too late.

The Festival promotes sustainability, inclusion and diversity in cinema. This year, outstanding works from UK’s marginalised filmmakers were highlighted at the festival and were highly appreciated by members of the Grand Jury.

This year the festival had a special showcase of extraordinary films and filmmakers from UK’s marginalised creative talents. Marginalised because of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, language, and/or immigration status including but not limited to ethnic minorities, women and girls, people with physical and mental disabilities, and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) filmmakers.

Baroness Prashar, Crossbench member, House of Lords, an esteemed member of the Grand Jury commented, “It is very humbling to see, through this powerful medium of film, adversities people face, their resilience and their courage so poignantly captured”.

Although the festival has reached millions, more than 85% of people were made aware of UN SDGs and their significance for the very first time, through the festival.

Another esteemed member of the Grand Jury Dr. Sally Uren, CEO, Forum for the Future, mentioned, “It has been an honour and a joy to be a member of the Grand Jury.  The films have made me laugh, gasp and cry. The sustainability agenda can often be experienced as dry and technical, these films are the opposite. Watching them has bought richness and depth to issues in ways that have surprised me.”

The festival screened a curated shortlist of around 50 films 23-28 Oct. The winners include films such as Eva that tells the story of Eva Holmberg-Tedert, an ordinary Swedish lady who has dedicated her life to fight child trafficking in Nepal; Love of the game- a documentary about adaptive sports for people with disabilities in Alberta. Swollen, from Iran, a story of repression and authoritarian rule, was the winner in the animation category. The man of the tree, tells the story of Daniel Balima, a disabled senior horticulturist from Burkina Faso who planted 1 million trees to stop climate change. Bin boy, from India is a light-hearted yet powerful film that brings the responsibility of waste segregation to everyone’s doorsteps. Bienvenidos a Los Angeles from the USA tells the timely story of crisis and struggles faced by migrants. It’s ok to be different from the UK shines as the winner in the documentary category.

Notable films from UK’s marginalised film makers include, The Secret Life of Tom Lightfoot, the overall winner of the category – a film with a Down syndrome cast, that will mesmerize you for sure. It is part of a series of films “Secret Lives” combining the artistry and experiences of UK learning disability group Arty Party, the direction of Ray Jacobs and the writings of New York Times best selling fantasy author Jeff Vandermeer. Found, a film on Alzheimer and care, was the winner in the women and girls category. Wasps, Sharks & Vending Machines addressed homophobia in society, an excellent film in the Ethnic minority category. Mother Messiah in the LGBTQI+ category directed by P.A.Bitez – a Young Identity artist and a BBC Words First Finalist (2020), highlights the significance of femininity. Tourettes & I rocked in the disabled category -a poignant story about trying to fit into the world where awareness is limited and how young people living with Tourettes are braving society’s prejudices.

The festival and films showcased are a testimony to the fact that films that have a message for the world can be engaging and entertaining at the same time.

The festival will enter its 5th year in 2023. With ‘Big Synergy’ as its mantra, for the festival to become an even bigger force for positive change, the organiser welcomes collaboration and contribution from individuals and organisations in the UK and globally.

The organiser of the festival, Big Syn Institute, is a part of the Centre for Big Synergy, a CSO of the United Nations Department of the Social and Economic Affairs, tasked to create a thriving, capable and responsible future for us and generations to come.