The Film Bunch: stories for all

In today’s digital world, there are stories everywhere we look. On our Facebook feeds, mobile apps, TVs, radios, magazines, books and more. We’ve literally got stories coming out of our ears. And the amazing thing about stories is that they appeal to all. So whether you’re into fairy-tales, food hacks or fighting, there is a story out there for you. There is one group of people, however, that often miss out on the magic of storytelling: those that are deaf or hard-of-hearing. During National Storytelling Week, we caught up with project leader Shajna Begum, who, being hard-of-hearing herself, decided to do something about it.

“After university, I was trying to break into the film industry and attended as many film events as I could. Being hard-of-hearing myself, I quickly noticed the lack of captions at short film screenings which made it difficult for me to understand the films. After a bit of research, I decided to set up my own project – open to everyone, whether they need captions or not.

It can be difficult for filmmakers with hearing loss to fully participate at networking events, meaning they miss out on opportunities. I wanted to create an open and supportive space for everyone to connect and collaborate.”

Shajna decided to set up Think Big project The Film Bunch, which holds monthly film screenings with subtitles, British Sign Language interpreters and live captioning. The events are a chance for attendees to network and watch films in a comfortable environment. We asked Shajna about the impact of her project so far.

“We've attracted over 600 guests with mixed hearing levels, including some regulars! Our events are continuously helping to reduce the stigma associated with hearing loss.

We recently started practical workshops which give those that are deaf or hard-of-hearing the opportunity to get involved in making short films and gain new skills. We provide communication support in these workshops too, to make sure everyone feels included.

We've worked with over 40 volunteers who have helped out with various activities, including videography, events management, film programming, marketing, interpreting, hosting and photography.”

Shajna has learnt stacks since starting her project.

“Before this, I'd never organised events so I was starting from scratch and learning new things all the time. Being a reserved person, I've had to work on building my confidence, especially for public speaking. I also developed my leadership skills. After each event, I always find something else I can improve on but I think I'm now getting the hang of events management.”

Well done Shajna, and keep up the good work! Keep up with The Film Bunch’s latest news and events here. 

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