Are you in New York or LA?

Here’s a chance to meet and talk with me

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USA July 2013

I’ll be visiting New York City 3-5 July 2013, followed by Hollywood, CA 6 – 11 July. My purpose is to talk with people about Insight’s aims and objectives.

Some good folk have already put my visit in their diaries and I’m looking forward to meeting them. I have some diary space and would be delighted to meet others who think they may share the Insight objectives (see below).

Insight is growing globally by partnering with people and organizations who understand the importance of ‘faith’ and can how it connects with contemporary life, media and film.

And the objectives:

The Insight Film Festival exists to encourage film makers throughout the world to make films about ‘faith’. It creates events and spaces where such films can be displayed, discussed and celebrated. It welcomes participants from all faith backgrounds and none and focuses particularly on young film makers. In doing so it wants to make positive contributions to understanding and respect.

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Being Frank

It seemed an irrefusable opportunity for Insight to accept an invite to hear Frank Cottrell Boyce deliver a lecture on the source of a writer’s inspiration. Frank is an award-winning author and screenwriter who will be speaking at our festival in December, and it was interesting to discover how his faith has shaped his inspiration and thus, his work; which has seen him leap from success to success.

Titled “A footling little parson: The greatest of English prose writers”, what followed was a charming look at the relationship between his faith and the themes of his work, which includes his Carnegie medal-winning novel Millions, which director Danny Boyle brought to the big screen in 2004. The story depicts a little boy who often talks to saints, this idea catalysing the motif of saints within the lecture, which also discussed John Henry Newman, a nineteenth century writer and leader in the Oxford Movement. Interestingly, Newman was at the forefront of a controversial conversion from Church of England to Catholicism – something which, whether for better or worse, his name has become famous for; sadly sometimes secondary to his literary work. perhaps future sainthood, and whether we each live our daily lives towards with a definate purpose of achievement or status.

Frank joked about saints sometimes ‘getting us into trouble’, relating to childhood and adolescent accounts of belief and fairytales. This of course highlighted the often hushed topic of faith altogether today, and was as relevant to Insight as ever. He spoke candidly about his relationship with saints, in a way that was admirable, philosophical and somehow not far-fetched or preachlike. It was easy to see why a refreshing voice such as Frank’s was chosen to speak today about Newman’s fight to deliver work that both epitomised his faith but also owned unique intellect and artistic integrity that came from both his involvment with the Oxford Movement, and deep within. His articulation tapped into the audience’s base similarity; that we are the result of everything before us. To hear Frank talk about his films reminded us of the power of watching other’s experiences to help shape our own existence.

We are looking forward to welcoming Frank Cottrell Boyce to deliver the first insight Festival Lecture on 3rd December, 2011 at 5.00 p.m.


Inaugural Newman Lecture 2011

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Although the Insight Festival is international and wants to attract a global audience, our administration is based in Manchester England. Recently we’ve experienced a taste of mob rule – with commerce and everyday life violently interrupted. Our friends around the world may have seen TV pictures of Manchester, and London, and other cities in the UK as the streets have burned and citizens have experienced real fear and violence. We didn’t want this, but it’s a reminder that people in many corners of the world have been experiencing such violence in their everyday lives for many years.

Whilst there’s a universal hope for peace and understanding, what it takes for human beings to live peaceably with each other is a mystery. Some believe that faith provides an insight on the human condition, but too often there is little common understanding about the positive influences that someone else’s faith provides.

In response to violence in the UK at the moment, some in the ruling classes suggest that those who commit violence don’t understand respect. In fact, in a society with great divisions, people may be focussing their respect in different ways and it’s possible that the ruling classes don’t spot this.

Big feature films can provide us with a shared view of our society, especially in the West. At Insight we want to encourage creative people to explore the phenomenon of faith in their films. We have always seen this in the context of contributing to community cohesion. Through our awards we are keen to ensure this is done with all the integrity that creative people can muster. Understanding each other has got to be a goal we all share.

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Call for entries closed

We’ve closed this year’s call for entries – we did so at the end of July 7th 2011.

That’s a date etched into contemporary British consciousness relating to a suicide bombing attack in Central London.

The timing is not deliberate – but coincidental.

There have been plenty of faith themes explored in the films that have attempted to deal with the 7/7 theme. Plenty of religious people affected by tragedy find their belief systems challenged. Of course that big question ‘why?’ is ever present. Can distorted faith understanding lead one human being to harm another human being? Did that happen on 7/7. What imact did the event have on community cohesion?

It is not coincidental that Insight wants film to pursue these questions, and to help all of us understand each other.

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The 100th Entry

We don’t dish out a stream of statistics from the Insight Festival.
We’re content that entry numbers rise year on year as the message of our existence zips around the world.

We’re aware that people are in the act of making films especially for our Competition – and delighted with the fact. Entry closes in July 2011 and we’re pleased to have had over a hundred entries by the beginning of March.

Numbers don’t matter that much for the winning films. They just need to hit the individual viewer with fresh a different on subjects sometimes relegated to obscurity. They need to be films about faith.

I’m delighted to observe the very broad spectrum definition of the genre shown by our wide range of entries – from across the globe.

Some film makers find themselves belonging to groups who take a view on faith (religious groups are the obvious example) and we’re delighted to receive films from such people. But I’m also pleased we’re getting movies from those who have no connection with any sort of religiously defined group.

It’s a genre that benefits from a diversity of views. Your film can help the rest of us with insight.

If you haven’t entered yet, check our main site to see how to do it (there’s no cost) and note our prizes.

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How Insight Began

The Festival began in 2008 with an idea. Is it possible to encourage young and emergent film makers to make films about faith?

A few of us in the UK media industry got together to discuss possibilities and, amazingly, we found £1000 to present to a young film maker as a prize.

We were joined by colleagues from the Screen Studies Department at the University of Manchester, and by the then head of Religion at BBC.

It was a small but promising start.

Very soon we realized that we wanted everything to be inclusive. We realized that faith is sometimes seen (and portrayed) as a divisive element in society today. So began our catch phrase ‘committed to community cohesion’.

Now we are keen to ensure that people of all faiths – and none – are included here.

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