Film festival showcases talent of learning disabled

Becky Bruzas, the director of The Oska Bright Film Festival (Credit: Lighthouse)
Becky Bruzas, the director of The Oska Bright Film Festival (Credit: Lighthouse)

Oska Bright is a film festival featuring people with a learning disability and led by people with a learning disability. It is a massive branch of Brighton arts organisation Carousel.

I’d heard about Oska Bright years ago and decided to go along to the festival. I am disabled but even I was unsure about the quality of the films I’d see. But I was totally blown away. I saw people on the screen who looked like me, this was something I’d never seen before. The first disabled character appeared on screen in 1992, a year after I was born. One in four people are disabled or know someone who is, so why don’t we see more people like me on our screens?

Sanctuary by Guerilla Films, Ireland (Rap)

Sanctuary by Guerilla Films, Ireland (Rap)

Oska Bright Film Festival is incredibly important. The festival gives a voice to those who may not be able to have one. It brings filmmakers from all over the world together so they can meet and talk to one another.

Over the three days the films show that we can do as much as anybody else. The films don’t focus on disability, which is incredibly important. Each year we’re impressed by the quality and range of the films, they just get better and better.

We’ve had some absolutely incredible films submitted this year; 250 in total, more than ever before. With head programmer Matthew Hellett, I help devise the categories for each screening and arrange the sessions so that people can pick what they’d like to see. This year we have a new young people’s event, and a special LGBTQ+ strand. Choosing the award winners is always really hard but it’s a part of the job.

What should you look out for this year? There have been some extraordinary documentaries that are a window or a mirror into other worlds. A couple of my favourites are Like A Star, which follows Tiziano as he travels to America for the first time and Sanctuary, a film we saw in Galway which will have its UK premiere at our festival. Support us, come and see what we’re doing! It’s a chance to see disability represented on screen the right way.”

Oska Bright Film Festival runs from Wednesday, November 15 to Friday, November 17 at The Old Market, Hove. Tickets are £5 per screening, or save with a festival pass for £30. Visit: www.carousel.org.uk/oska-bright-film-festival-2017-programme/

Becky Bruzas is the director of The Oska Bright Film Festival.