My New Promoter Experience - Yusuf Javed

Hello, Hi, Howdy, I’m Yusuf Javed, Glasgow Film Festival 2020's New Promoter, and programmer for this week's Best of the Fest films - Second Chance Cinema.

The New Promoter scheme was launched back in 2019 by Film Hub Scotland with the goal of increasing the number of people working in the exhibition industry in Scotland who are from underrepresented groups, like those marginalised due to race, gender, sexuality age, class and disability.

I never thought I had a chance of getting through, especially not as part of the Glasgow Film Festival, but after an interview and a week of waiting for a rejection, I somehow got the job. I know, I’m still confused too. I wasn’t particularly program-minded, but I loved what GFF did and was keen to be part of it in whatever small way I could.  

I had studied scriptwriting, I looked at films in terms of creating a narrative but this role was about the complete other end of the filmmaking ecosystem. How was I supposed to do this? I thought long and hard about this until I recognised the link between a scriptwriter and a film programmer – audience. A scriptwriter writes for an audience, considers how they’d feel, think, and react during their film. A programmer works to find audiences who will connect with the film they’ve found. It’s all about connecting the audience with the film. 

I worked with this principle in mind. I started by finding films to champion, films I was passionate about getting in front of an audience. I watched dozens of submissions and found many possible choices. Most fell by the wayside for some reason or another (a programmer’s ceaseless frustration) but one film rose victorious above the others. Pacarrete – a warm hearted, wickedly funny film that had me cackling like a maniac in the office.  

My next challenge was to expand on the festival’s famous retrospective strand. How could I do something more for free screenings? Well, these are well known films that audiences are, most likely, rewatching on the big screen. If they have connected with them before, why don’t I try and take that connection further? I chose three of the retrospective films and created panels for a post film discussion with after each film. The specialist panellists could expand on the issues these films raised and engage the audience on a deeper level. This was an arduous, but ultimately rewarding, task that I enjoyed putting together and received overwhelmingly positive feedback for.  

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Through these responsibilities, my brilliant supervisor’s guidance and professional workshops, I was ready to host my own event. This was to be the testing ground for all I’d learned and prepared for. Then lockdown hit, 2020 upended the world and my event was put on pause. Months went by until I was asked to host an event for Glasgow Film’s new online platform. This wasn’t what I’d planned but there was definitely potential for something good.  

I looked back over the last five years of GFF to find films that intrigued me. To find overlooked films that I connected with. Films I could give a spotlight where they could shine once more and show people how good they are. How they could connect with them, and that’s how I created Second Chance Cinema.  

Now, my role is coming to an end. It’s been the best job I’ve ever had, with a fantastic team of people that I’m going to miss dearly. I hope I get to work with Glasgow Film again and find a way to connect films with their audience once more, but whatever happens, being the GFF New Promoter was an absolute pleasure. 

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