Jonny Tull

Connecting people with stuff

Category: Film distribution

North East filmmaker David Kenny tackles divisions in society with his new documentary film IT IS NOT ONE WAY


Photo: Simone Rudolphi

What happens when a Muslim city councillor, a key figure in the English Defence League and a member of ANTIFA have a meal together?

In 2015 North East filmmaker David Kenny picked up his camera and set out on an unusual project.  Having become frustrated at the political and social divisions in UK society, at increasing anti-Islamic sentiments and at more and more media reports of civic unrest, David wanted to try and understand how the opposing views in Britain’s communities might be better articulated and understood. Rather than left and right wing taking to the streets was there another way for opinions to be conveyed?

To answer this question, David invited three people with disparate and opposing societal views to dinner.

Newcastle Muslim Labour Councillor Dipu Ahad, English Defence League member John Banks, and Rob Sands, a member of ANTIFA, all met for the first time in a restaurant in Cumbria, and the resulting documentary, IS NOT ONE WAY, shows what happened that night.

Before making the film, with such a challenging and far-reaching project, David knew the result would offer different answers than purely seeking a response to anti-Muslim sentiment.

“I know that it would be naive to expect any solution to such a huge social issue so my intention was to try and encourage Rob, Dipu and John to better understand one another as people, and to begin to respect one another’s views by the time they had finished their desserts.”

The resulting film is a thought-provoking insight into the mindset of our three subjects and in a way offers its own insight into a fragmented Britain. David says:

“I’m really happy to have undertaken this experiment and with how it has turned out. John, Rob and Dipu were all amazing to have dedicated themselves so fully to the film, and they were all really open and honest. The three have met again since and whilst they will never relate to their differing worlds, they all now have a better understanding of each another’s situations.”

Understanding that the idea of screening a film about societal unrest might make some cinema managers cautious, since completing the film; David has been carefully preparing for a UK cinema tour, going so far as to screen It Is Not One Way in London in a private showing for political and film journalists. He now feels he is ready to unveil his film, with the first public screening taking place at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema on Tuesday 26th February at 6.30pm.

Director of Film Programme at Tyneside Cinema, Andrew Simpson says:

“I was very keen to bring It Is Not One Way to Tyneside Cinema as part of our Frontline series of films. Frontline is all about taking issues or subjects that matter to people now, and starting a conversation which is driven by cinema, and within the cinema space. In this film, David Kenny does exactly that – it perfectly embodies what we are trying to achieve with our Frontline programme. I anticipate a lively discussion after the screening too!”

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion to discuss whether ‘swapping demonstration for dinner’ is a practical option. The panel will include Peter Hopkins (Professor for Social Geography from Newcastle University), Tony Dowling (Chair, People’s Assembly North East & local anti-fascist) and David himself.  It is chaired by Richard Moss, the BBC’s Political Editor for North East and Cumbria.

David says:

“I’m thrilled to be able to screen It Is Not One Way in the north east.  After this screening, I have plans to take the film to other cinemas in the UK during 2019. The release of the film has been supported by over 100 people via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, and it will be really interesting to meet the people who supported it – whatever their perspective.  I’m expecting a healthy debate, and I really want to hear what the audience think of our project.”

Tickets for IT IS NOT ONE WAY (recommended as 15+) can be bought in person from the Tyneside Cinema Box Office, online at www.tynesidecinema.co.uk/film-and-events/view/frontline-9-it-not-one-wayor by calling the cinema on 0191 227 5500. 

Anyone wishing to find out more about David’s film can see more at www.itisnotoneway.com

A year of new experiences

What a year!
 
2018 was going to be the make or break year for me in my endeavour of Connecting People With Stuff, and to have not only survived it but also be looking forward to the next year is unbelievable.
 
I look back on the last 12 months and see the peaks of happy clients, setting out into film distribution, finding new colleagues, enjoying a slate of work which expanded across the UK and the world, lots of recommendations and repeat engagements. I experienced loads of travelling, new learning and skills building – and the sheer sexiness of having a film I’m working on be made The Observer’s Film of The Week by Mark Kermode!
 
I also see the lows of missed opportunities, the anxieties of where the next gig might come from, a little bit of ill-health, and the normal insecurities that occasionally cloud our feelings, strategies and judgement.
 
Cinema is in my blood. After 20+ years of bringing a world of film to my region, and trying to replicate the deep journey I had into cinema for countless others I can’t let go. In 2017 I refused to let the trepidation I felt about major career change push me into another sector and into a role that didn’t involve cinema or an audience sat in front of a big screen.
 
I’m never going to let go of that fascination of engaging audiences with cinema.
 
I set out on this new path to learn new skills and develop. After a wildly successful and satisfying career, this necessary new chapter had to be about exploration, growth, and self-affirmation.
 
It hasn’t disappointed.
 
The last 18 months of being a freelancer have been tough, really tough, but it’s also been the most rewarding period of my life and through it, I’ve found untapped resolve, new skills and an eagerness to push ahead and build myself into something bigger, better and bolder.
 
2019 is the next stage. I head into a new year with pencil sketches of plans – films to help distribute, projects in place across exhibition, programming and audience development – and more teaching. I also now have a network of people around me to talk to, seek advice from and take inspiration from.
 
Once again it’s a make or break year, but this time I head into the fray with more support around me than ever before, more experience, more confidence and a little bit of a strategy.
 
Time to learn, once again. So if you booked a film, offered advice, hired me, or were just there with support, thank you for everything and have a good one!

Co-release of New Zealand drama WARU

Really excited to announce that I’ll be teaming up with distribution company Day For Night and founder Sonali Joshi for the UK release of the terrific New Zealand drama WARU (currently rated 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes kids!).
 
More details announced soon, but follow the link to info and trailer below if you fancy a peek.
 

New film distribution projects for summer 2018

After a fantastic spring 2018, and the releases of PSYCHO VERTICAL and ALAN HINKES – THE FIRST BRITON TO CLIMB THE WORLD’S HIGHEST MOUNTAINS, I’m excited about the many new projects projects coming up over the summer.

Two fascinating north-east projects lead the way, with Abi Lewis’ GEORDIE JAZZ MAN about to make its bow around the UK and David Kenny’s critically-important IT IS NOT ONE WAY showing that discussion can be an alternative to demonstration, which heads out on the road in the next few months.

We’ll also be taking the US documentary DIRTBAG – THE LEGEND OF FRED BECKEY out to cinemas from mid-August, introducing UK audiences to the maverick US mountaineer who could have had the world figuratively – as well as literally – at his feet.

Finally, sometime in the early autumn, we’ll be lending our support to Chris Lewis’ THE YUKON ASSIGNMENT too.  It’s the brilliant story of a father and son’s journey across the vast Yukon –  by canoe!

With more conversations currently happening with filmmakers all across the world, watch out for more exciting announcements very soon! Find out about our current distribution projects by following this link.

Adventures in grassroots film distribution


I’m having a whale of a time working on film distribution projects as part of my consultancy services.

Offering a bespoke and tailored approach to a grassroots release means close contact and consultation with the filmmaker and a really film-friendly and common-sense approach for the release of their work.

So far, the fantastic PSYCHO VERTICAL, the first film I’ve supported this year, has been booked into over 30 UK cinemas over the last month, including several Picturehouse sites, Glasgow Film Theatre, Watershed Bristol, Showroom, Sheffield and many more.  With four clients on the books, I have a really diverse and exciting set of projects to work on and I’m currently in negotiation with a further five filmmakers worldwide, stretching from the UK to Australia, Japan and the US.  I’m really very grateful to be given the opportunities to help tell the stories they have made by these talented people.

Find out about the first three films I’m supporting in 2018, and our approach to releasing each at my film distribution support page here.

OPEN THE GATES North East film industry event a success!

Just going over the dazzling feedback for my OPEN THE GATES industry event in Newcastle yesterday and reeling that it went so well.

Delivered for Northern Film and Media, we were able to attract some key UK decision makers in distribution, acquisitions and exhibition to the north east to  give practitioners in the region the chance to pick up some tips on how to see their work into cinema spaces and in front of real life audiences.

I’d hoped it would be a useful and practical event for practitioners, and it seems to have had just that outcome.   Now to refine it, and expand on it and to deliver it to more people in more places.

Massive thanks to NFM for giving me the chance to get it off the ground – onwards and upwards!

Event information:

OPEN THE GATES
Getting your feature in front of your audience

This one-day event will give practitioners working in the region’s film production sector the chance to hear from the gatekeepers – the exhibitors and distributors who decide if films not only make the grade but also if there’s an audience for their work. We’ll hear from these all-powerful people, and from the filmmakers in the region whose work has made it out to an audience and the inside of a cinema – either via a distributor or through self-distribution. Often seen as an antagonistic relationship, we’ll pull back the curtain and discuss how to better collaborate and communicate and ensure you can reach your theatrical audience…

The day will include guests from Picturehouse, Showroom Workstation, Hanway Films and there’ll be a chance to hear from regional filmmakers about their own success stories too.

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