Britain's electorate has shocked the world by voting to leave the European Union. Raindance staff here in London have been left devastated like so many others in the European independent film industry. Forget for a moment the arguments about economics and the political design of the EU in the first place, and the arguments whether or not the EU was well or poorly designed and ripe for reform. Set this all aside. Anyone who draws comfort and inspiration from the common universality of creativity and the freedom culture that artists enjoy--the things that Raindance has stood to defend for a quarter century--will be appalled by the results of the Brexit referendum.
I don't care which side of the political divide you sit on--whether you think the EU is a champion of human rights or simply a front to cover up the excesses of big business. The Leave vote is regressive, reactionary, isolationist and divisive. There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that Raindance rejects all that the Leave vote implies.
I started Raindance in 1992 in London. I chose to move to Britain because I wanted to live in Europe. Oddly, nearly half our members and over 75% of our filmmakers live outside the UK. Filmmakers to our festival have come from over a hundred countries. Our staff have come from Greece, Japan, Mexico, China, America, Canada, Poland, Italy, Scotland, Germany, Belgium and France. Many of the activities we create or sponsor come from outside Europe and the EU.
Here's the raw and uncooked fact: Raindance and the independent film community draw strength and inspiration from the fact that we in Britain operate not as a tiny dot on the globe but are part of an international community of independent filmmakers, content providers, and creators. We do not judge a film nor a filmmaker by their nationality, sexual preference or religion. I feel I need to state this again, loud and clear in the height of the current Brexit hysteria. I also state this again to reassure all of our members and all of the filmmakers whose films we receive and adjudicate each year.
The Brexit referendum result was clearly anti-establishment. It was clearly a call for reform and renewal - what could be more 'independent film' than that? Moving forward we each need to revisit our core values. We need to decide what it is we stand up for, both in personal and national terms, and also on what we feel about the film industry.
Currently our EU funding has been granted on outmoded film finance models and not incorporating any of the advances of new technologies which have revolutionised the distribution of movies, as well as the direct monetisation filmmakers can use. Will we have the strength to persevere? Will we find leaders to steer us away from this horribly dangerous abyss?
I believe we will. First we need to renew our commitment to the core values of independent vision. As Tony Herrington of THE WIRE wrote today:
"Embrace difference and celebrate connectedness"