New Ken Loach film on the gig economy among highlights at Take One Action Film Festival


The socially conscious film festival returns to Scotland this week, with 20 new features playing across Edinburgh and Glasgow

  • Take One Action film festival returns for its 12th year with a programme of 20 films highlighting women’s empowerment, action against climate change, workers’ rights and the international food industry
  • Over 60 per cent of the films featured will be directed or co-directed by women, while a third of the showcase will be directed by filmmakers from the countries in which their movies are set
  • Festival will culminate with a special preview of Ken Loach’s new exploration of the gig economy Sorry We Missed You

THE UK’s “leading global change film festival” returns to Scotland this week, with a programme of new cinema that brings focus to issues including the climate emergency, women’s empowerment and international workers’ rights.

Now in its 12th year, the Take One Action festival will run from 18-19 September across locations in Edinburgh and Glasgow, before moving on to Aberdeen on 15-17 November and finishing off in Inverness on 22-24 November. Organisers promise a “crucial platform for our communal exploration of stories, ideas and questions at the heart of positive social change.”

In keeping with the festival’s commitment to highlighting female and indigenous voices in cinema, over 60 per cent of this year’s programme is made up of films directed or co-directed by women, while over a third are directed by filmmakers from the countries in which the movies are set, with talents represented this year coming from Jordan, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Easter Island, Afghanistan, Peru, Cambodia and Egypt.

In observance of Scottish Housing Day, the festival will begin with an opening night screening of the new documentary Push, an investigation into the global forces behind the commodification of housing and the growing housing crisis that has made many of the world’s cities unaffordable for most of their residents.

Scottish filmmaking will be represented by producer Ruth Reid’s Tribeca Award-winning Scheme Birds, which follows teenager Gemma’s life growing up in Motherwell’s Jerviston housing estate and the reality of social inequity facing youth in contemporary Scotland.

Two strands of the festival present films centred around the various forms of women’s empowerment worldwide and the questions raised by climate action. Supported by Engender Scotland, the ‘Sisters’ strand reveals the story of an Indonesian teenager challenging corporate power in Grit; the fight to secure legal justice for victims of conflict-related sexual violence is explored in The Prosecutors; a feminist foreign policy’s articulation on the international stage in The Feminister, and the battle to upend male domination of political activism in South Africa with Everything Must Fall.

In the ‘Shared Planet’ strand – which will coincide with the start of the first ever global climate strike on 20 September – particularly relevant viewing for Scotland is promised by French documentary Time For Forests, as it explores the necessity of rewilding to preserve forests as areas of wild nature, and Eating Up Easter, a glimpse of the devastating effect rising sea levels and mass tourism has had on Easter Island and its people, and the threat such forces pose elsewhere. Also showing are Inventing Tomorrow, in which teenage science students address the dangers facing by communities on the front-line of ecological destruction, and Edward Burtynsky’s Anthropocene, described as a “monumental” study of the ways in which human activity has changed the face of the planet in recent decades.

Take One Action’s 2019 programme also contains a number of features concerning the food industry; Ghost Fleet exposes the reliance on violence, enslavement and human trafficking in the Thai fishing industry (the exports of which are consumed by the UK in significant quanties), while Soyalism investigates the worrying concentration of power with the global pork industry and the related soybean monoculture due to rising demand from China and the UK.

Closing this year’s showcase of 20 films, Take One Action will host a special preview of Ken Loach’s latest Sorry We Missed You, which aims to explore the human cost of the gig economy and the daily reality of zero-hour contracts.

Commenting on the 2019 festival, Take One Action’s Executive Director Tamara Van Strijthem said: “Take One Action was set up in 2008 to bring people together, nurture conversations and empower audiences to be the change they want to see in the world – starting from Scotland.

“At a time when the very notions of solidarity, equality and environmental responsibility are being eroded, providing a direct and accessible connection to contemporary issues through inspiring stories of change feels really crucial.  Our festival is not just a platform for the discovery of a rich array of films from five continents, it is an invitation to explore and challenge our current realities – and a direct invitation to reshape our world for the better.

READ MORE: Take One Action: How a cinema of activism in Scotland is tackling the issues of our time

“Our programme reflects our organisation’s commitment to participation and collaboration. The 50+ events and screenings that make up Take One Action 2019 are planned and delivered with the collaborative input of over 25 partners, from community groups to universities and international organisations. Not only do these collaborations enable us to anchor our films’ international narratives within a local context, they also help shape, inform and diversify our relationship with audiences – and our ability to respond to the communities we work with, and for.”

Screen Scotland’s Sean Greenhorn added: “Take One Action is providing a crucial platform for our communal exploration of stories, ideas and questions at the heart of positive social change. 

“Through its expanding programme of world-class films showcasing inspiring stories that explore issues of global concern, the 12 day, Scotland-wide festival invites individuals, communities, campaigners, filmmakers, politicians, academics and artists to explore connections, systems and cultures underpinning social, cultural, environmental and economic inequality – and inspire tangible action for a fairer, more sustainable and more fulfilling world.”

This full programme for this year’s Take One Action festival can be found here, while tickets can be purchased at or via the websites of participating venues.

Picture courtesy of the Cornerhouse

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