From my earliest days studying journalism in Venezuela, I’ve always been fascinated by the arts and our need, as humans, to communicate and connect. Before moving to the UK, I worked in a film distribution company and for local film festivals, and I was a lecturer of Films and TV at a University. When I came to England in 2011, I sought out opportunities to learn, expand my knowledge and connect. This led me to the Bath Film Festival where I worked initially as a volunteer helping in different tasks during the delivery of the festival, and from the last few years I have been working as a member of its programming team.
In November 2014, FilmBath included a Venezuelan film in their programme for the very first time. I was there one winter’s night experiencing a journey back to my home-country, connecting with its images, sounds, and voices. This was a revealing moment for me; it left a powerful connection with films as a medium and my own process of finding my place in a new culture. That feeling would take shape a few years later, when West Wiltshire Multi Faith Forum (WWMFF) supported my idea for a community film event in Trowbridge.
My dream came true in March 2017, when WWMFF allowed me to organise a film screening to celebrate International Women’s Day. This was an invaluable personal and professional challenge of adapting my previous experience working with films to a new environment. Trowbridge Town Hall opened its doors to this adventure and more than 80 women from different backgrounds came together to mark the day with an inspirational documentary from Iran. We talked about the film, we shared home- made food, tasted Moroccan tea, and laughed! Since then, I have organised more than 15 film events at the Town Hall under the banner of “Getting Together Through Films”, using cinema to build bridges between communities and explore topics like migration and identity. These events have been made possible with support from different organisations and individuals, including Film Hub South West, and the technical support and advice from Chris Baker from Cinema For All.
I would say as a migrant and member of a minority group in the UK, I have experienced the power of cinema to connect people from different backgrounds and raise awareness about current issues and different life experiences, but also as a way of entertaining.
During this journey that started a decade ago attending my local film festival, I have been taking part in multicultural initiatives as the Trowbridge Song Project and the Trowbridge Cultural Festival of Food; but also, I have been working for Cinema Rediscovered in Bristol; participating in the training programmes, Making it Possible by Raising Films and Beyond Boundaries 360 by Film Hub South West. Each of those experiences has been relevant in the way I have been working with films.
A new chapter is starting for Trowbridge Town Hall as a cinema venue, thanks to Film Hub South West, The FAN Exhibition Fund and Trowbridge Area Board. The idea is to attract all those who have enjoyed our film events in the past, by offering now a regular programme and opening up to a wider audience from our town and beyond. In essence, our new film programme seeks to do the similar things I was doing back in my home-country and more recently in my adoptive town, bringing people together, expanding our understanding and fulfilling our human need to connect and communicate.
Lorena Pino, Film Programmer