Making Space: New Online Platforms for Womxn

This discussion panel will be BSL interpreted

The way we view film and television has changed dramatically in the past few years and online streaming platforms have made it easier for us to access a variety of content, often for free or at a low cost. In this panel discussion we’re going to be chatting to the founders of two very new online platforms focused on bringing underrepresented cinema to audiences that have long been overlooked in the rise of streaming platforms. These two independent platforms, which both put cinema by women at the forefront, have both grown rapidly in a very short period of time, highlighting that there is very much a need for this content by audiences. We’ll be looking at what has changed and what still needs to change in order to ensure all audiences and creators are benefiting from this new way of watching films.

This screening [or event ] is part of Film FeelsConnected, a UK-wide cinema season, supported by the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network.  Explore all films and events at filmfeels.co.uk  

Habibi Collective was founded in 2018 as an open-access resource, digitally archived on Instagram. Now with a bank of over 400 films from women filmmakers in the MENA region and diaspora.

Habibi Collective has also co-created two film festivals with ShakoMako, including the  Queer MENA Online Film Festival. 

Habibi Collective has received numerous press features, in i-D, MOJEH, Frieze, Freuden Von Freuden, MILLE World, among many others.

Róisín Tapponi is an Iraqi/Irish curator/writer based in London. She is the founder of Habibi Collective, a digital archive and curatorial platform for MENA women's filmmaking. She has directed four five film festivals in the region, including a Queer MENA Film Festival, and is currently working on Iraq's first independent film festival, Independent Iraqi Film Festival (IIFF). She has programmed MENA films at some of the most highly-regarded institutions, festivals and cinemas across the globe; she has lectured at Oxford University and Duke University. Her practice is focussed on grassroots-led initiatives, she is currently developing the first independent streaming service for MENA cinema. She is also a writer and is founder and editor of ART WORK Magazine, a critical art e-publication for cultural workers operating on the margins. She works at The Mosaic Rooms and is pursuing postgraduate research at University College London (UCL). 

Lesflicks promotes films that show women loving women on screen; have a central lesbian or bisexual storyline; or which have a strong lesbian or bisexual presence which shows these women in a positive light.

We launched on 1 March 2019 because we were tired of seeing so many great films with lesbian and bisexual storylines that either weren’t getting distribution, or even with distribution just weren’t reaching their audience. Equally we constantly see women on social media asking for recommendations of where to find films and what to watch. Yet the clear message from the industry is that there isn’t an audience and filmmakers can’t get funding to make these films. The disconnect was clear! The solution is here.

Naomi Bennet is a lesbian entrepreneur based in London, UK. Following several years running a lesbian lifestyle events website she realized that she could make a difference to something she was passionate about – lesbian & bisexual film. Tired of hearing there is no paid audience for lesbian film; and equally seeing women on social desperate to find new films to watch – but most women not being able to name the majority of recent independent films she decided enough was enough. So in 2019 Naomi launched LesFlicks, a website, video on demand platform and events company aimed at increasing the knowledge of, and access to, lesbian films. LesFlicks is now one of the top 5 global SVOD platforms in terms of the amount of women loving women content. Naomi prides herself on being collaborative and sharing information and knowledge. She is building an audience community to amplify lesbian film and also a creative community of filmmakers to come together to share experiences and learn from past experiences to improve and increase the quality and amount of lesbian film. She invites anyone to reach out to her!

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