The Return of Q&As

As Doc/Fest gears up for its final weekend, after a programme that has brightened and enlightened, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cinema as a space for discovery and exploration.

This coming Monday, we are hosting our first in-person Q&A since March 2020, welcoming acclaimed British filmmaker Ben Wheatley to share a preview of his new film In The Earth. The screening sold out in less than 24 hours (at reduced capacity for social distancing), and it became clear to me that I’m not the only person that has missed the communal unpicking and restitching that comes with Q&As. They’re an opportunity to sit with what you’ve seen, understand the original intentions for a film and compare them with your experience of viewing it. Sometimes those align, but I think I like it best when they don’t – when you realise that half the people in the room saw the same film you saw, but their perception of it was completely different.

Live Q&A’s aren’t for everyone. Personally, I do enjoy them because even though the introvert in me couldn’t bear to ask a question, I love to be a fly on the wall for deep-dive discussion. If that’s you, too, then we also have a solid line-up of pre-recorded Q&As screening over the coming weeks and months. These allow you space to revel in thought and discussion without the pressure of actually discussing.

On Thursday 17 June, there’s a particularly special pre-recorded Q&A accompanying the 8.15pm show of Mandabi. Screening Monday – Thursday, Mandabi is a wonderful example of how cinema can form a space to visit and revisit film, finding new meaning along the way. First released in 1968, it was the first film to be made in an African language (Wolof), written and directed by one of cinema’s great auteurs, Ousmane Sembène. Our recorded Q&A features a panel of speakers revisiting the work through a contemporary lens, reflecting its place in film history and its relevance today. The panellists are Liz Chege, Director of Africa in Motion Film Festival; Dr Aboubakar Sanogo, an African cinema expert and Ivan Mbowa, an expert on African financial systems.

Following that, on Sunday 20 May, we have a preview of Oscar-winning Danish drama Another Round, starring Mads Mikkelsen. The acclaimed film is directed by Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt), who will be recording a special Q&A to be screened exclusively at the preview. For more information on Showroom Cinema’s programme visit: showroomworkstation.org.uk.

This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on Thursday 10 June 2021.

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