Can films change the world? Last night Paul Laverty in his masterclass organised by Scottish Documentary Institute for the Take One Action film festival made a passionate case for us to think about it. His speech, at times a mere whisper, is loud and clear in his message. It is inspiring to have a screenwriter to be ideologically driven by social justice and to be so humble and acknowledge that it is a privilege as a filmmaker to select our characters and through their eyes discover new realities and truths.
Impartiality? Whatever for! He reminded us of the difference between fairness and objectivity. We can take distance but cannot be impartial. After ten years of collaboration with Ken Loach, driven by ideas and passion and despite many international awards, their films are continuously negatively accused of "being political" – for daring to explore contradictions which create an alternative space for thinking. Yes definitely political and proud to be.
Paul spends a lot of time researching his films, the ins and outs of a specific political situation. He meets and gets to know people who later on will feed passionate lines to his screen characters and share their poignant memories which will structure his scenes.
He studies and explores every fragment of reality before retreating into his world of imaginary.
Documentary filmmakers have a lot to learn from such rigour and commitment to alternative truths.
Can films change the world? Maybe not. But we can share and communicate ideas and come together.