REVOLUTIONS can begin in unlikely places, so why not a Scottish cinema?

A film festival that believes in the power of film to inspire social change is about to take place in Edinburgh and Glasgow and this year boasts 10 Scottish premieres and two UK premieres.

Bike-powered screenings are also part of Take One Action!, Britain’s leading social change film festival, which takes place in both from September 16 to 27.

The festival aims to inspire audiences to take action on the issues raised by the films, with every screening followed by a discussion event involving activists, journalists and politicians.

Cat Boyd of Radical Independence, Makar Liz Lochhead, land rights campaigner Andy Wightman and Bahraini human rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja are among the guests at this year’s event.

“We want people to feel empowered to help make the world a fairer, more sustainable place by taking practical action alongside others in Scotland,” said festival director Simon Bateson.

“We want audiences to organise their own Take One: Action film seasons in their own communities.”

To facilitate this, Take One Action has launched its Locals initiative, through which any group in Scotland can set up its own Take One Action festival. It makes film licensing easy while providing access to essential support – both for event planning and post-screening discussions.

“A lot of groups with a desire to engage with social justice have sprung up as a result of the referendum," said Tamara Van Strijthem, the festival's executive director. "Watching and discussing films communally is a uniquely powerful way to explore crucial issues and engage audiences.”


THE festival, now in its eighth year, opens with Scottish premiere of The Price We Pay, Harold Crooks’s acclaimed new documentary about international tax avoidance.

The film, which has won rave reviews in Canada, examines the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, putting the spotlight on multinational companies depriving governments of trillions of dollars in tax revenues by harbouring profits in offshore havens – originally created by London bankers in the 1950s.

Other festival highlights include the UK premiere of Food Chains, right, a documentary exposing the exploitation of US farm workers. The film is narrated by Forest Whitaker and features Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser and actress Eva Longoria, its executive producer. There's also the Scottish premieres of Tigers, a powerful new drama about a Nestle whistleblower directed by Danis Tanovic (Oscar winner for No Man’s Land); and The Divide, based on Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson’s bestselling book about social inequality, The Spirit Level.

As well as tackling big issues, the festival tells fascinating human stories from across the world. Landfill Harmonic, below left, follows the journey of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a youth music group from the slums of Paraguay who built classical instruments out of rubbish from the giant landfill site that towers over their homes – a story that captured the world’s imagination and featured in Time magazine and on Fox News.

Stories of Our Lives is a series of moving vignettes about LGBTI people from Kenya, while Casablanca Calling focuses on the women leading a spiritual revolution in Morocco by becoming Muslim leaders in a country where 60 per cent of women have never been to school.


OTHER highlights include Democrats, a gripping, multi-award-winning documentary, presented in partnership with NIDOS (Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland) about the two men at the centre of drafting a new constitution for Zimbabwe with the intention of loosening Robert Mugabe’s grip on the country. Danish director Camilla Nielsson will attend the festival and the Scottish Documentary Institute will host a masterclass before the Edinburgh screening.

A film that could strike a particular chord with disappointed Yes voters is the Scottish premiere of a documentary set in Colombia called Life is Sacred.

“The film concentrates on the long road to peace negotiations in a country devastated by decades of violence, said Van Strijthem. "It poignantly illustrates how slow change can be to come – and how fighting for an ideal can lead to unexpected detours. The film will echo with people who may feel that, though what they were fighting for last year – the wider social justice goals that many people embraced – may not been achieved, there is hope to be taken from the notion that the ideals you argue passionately for can, eventually, influence the wider political landscape.”

Cat Boyd will be speaking after the Glasgow screening, which is supported by Unison.


AN unusual event will be held at Edinburgh’s Out of the Blue Cafe, with a three-course meal served alongside Good Things Await, a lyrical portrait of an elderly Danish farmer’s bio-dynamic approach to agriculture, nutrition and the cosmos.

Another food-related highlight will be the screening of little-known Mexican documentary Sunu, which shows farmers taking on the might of government and the big agricultural companies. This is one of the two bike-powered events at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. The other is Bikes Vs Cars at the same venue, shown as part of International Car Free Day on September 22 in partnership with Christian Aid.

Also tackling the big issue of climate change is This Changes Everything, a film based on Naomi Klein’s book, which will be screened in partnership with Friends of the Earth Scotland on September 27 as part of To Paris and Beyond, a weekend of climate action in Scotland.

We Are The Giant transports viewers to the front lines of the Arab Spring through the stories of six extraordinary people grappling with the dilemma at the heart of all struggles for justice and freedom: whether to take up arms and fight, or to advocate change through peace and non-violence. It was filmed largely in secret and at great risk by award-winning director and former war correspondent Greg Barker, who has framed intimate portraits of individuals resolving to challenge oppressive regimes. The event partner is Amnesty International and one of the film's key protagonists, Bahraini Human Rights Activist Maryam Al-Khawaja, will be joined in Glasgow by David Pratt, foreign editor of the Sunday Herald.

As ever, prices are being kept as low as possible to make the films accessible to a wide audience. More information at