Screening ‘Victoria & Abdul’: Community Comment

Sophie faceLast week Damaris Media gathered together community leaders and influencers for a sneak preview of Victoria & Abdul, a new historical drama coming to cinemas 15th September.

The film, which stars Judi Dench and Ali Fazal, tells the true story of an elderly Queen Victoria’s friendship with her Indian aide Abdul Karim. It’s gently comedic, but also an insightful look at the loneliness which can sometimes accompany old age, and the way that human connection can restore life and dignity.

We invited representatives of charities like the SamariAge UK LLL Logo RGBtans, Rotary and Age
Action Alliance – as well as luminaries such as Dame Jenni Murray and former Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman – to see what they made of the film. I spoke to John Norley, CEO of Age UK Medway, about the challenges he sees in the community he works with, and how Victoria & Abdul might speak to
these issues.

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Screening ‘The Shack’: Community comment

Sophie faceEarlier this year we supported the release of The Shack, an adaptation of the bestselling book starring Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington. We knew that because of its unusual approach to exploring questions around faith and suffering, this film would particularly resonate with the UK church community.

‘Damaris were passionate about sharing the film effectively and as widely as possible throughout the UK church community, covering all denominations.  I found them to be very creative with their ideas, to have a great network of relationships, and to be reliable and efficient at introducing the film to leaders and laity alike.’ – The Shack director Stuart Hazeldine

Lots of people seized the opportunity to see The Shack in cinemas, and we had a great response to our resources. In Reading, Ann and Keith Wilson brought together about 150 people from their Baptist church community and beyond to watch the film and talk about it afterwards – I asked Ann how this came about.

‘As a Union of 2000 churches, Baptists Together live and breathe engaging with their local communities. To enable this, they need good support and excellent resources. Damaris, through their film resources have been helping us brilliantly for a long time. Enabling local churches to put on their own screening of The Shack is a significant and exciting development in that equipping.’ – Mike Lowe, Baptists Together 

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Sweet Dreams are made of these

SWEET_DREAMS_NEW QUAD_online copy

Sophie faceLast night we screened Fai bei sogni (or Sweet Dreams), the new film from director Marco Bellochio, at the beautiful Hospital Club in Covent Garden. We invited a group of people involved in various aspects of Italian life in the UK, including lecturers, scientists, and representatives from the Italian embassy and the Italian Chamber of Commerce.

Sweet Dreams follows the story of Massimo (Nicolò Cabras), a sensitive and introverted young boy who loses his beloved mother (Barbara Ronchi) in a sudden tragedy. Drawing on his rich fantasy life to help him cope, Massimo grows up into a withdrawn man (Valerio Mastandrea) who is unable to make real emotional connections. 

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That Loving Feeling

Church screening 1 cropped
Take particular note of the delicious seaweed crackers on the left

Sophie face

We put on a screening! Two screenings, actually – one for leaders in the Christian community, and one for the folks at NUS.

I was lucky enough to attend the first, after an impromptu driving tour of central London courtesy of a series of unexpected diversions in the middle of rush hour. Universal have offices in the rather swish Central Saint Giles, near a guitar emporium named ‘Stairway To Kevin’.

Stairway to Kevin
Stairway to Kevin

The film itself is a slow burn but a powerful one, and it was great to watch the drama unfold in a room full of spellbound people. It’s a story to be absorbed by rather than a conventional crowd-pleaser, but nonetheless there were laughs at some of the lighter moments and a few audible intakes of breath. Like Spotlight before it, Loving  eschews melodrama – but it still has the power to shock.

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