Take One Action Returns to Filmhouse – we take a sneak peek at this year’s programme...

With the state of our planet – and the interactions between some of its inhabitants – sending many of us into a pit of despair, Take One Action are coming back to Filmhouse with 12 days of screenings and events that offer a much-needed opportunity to understand, celebrate and harness our power for positive change.

The films we present do not shy away from stark realities, yet there is joy and inspiration to be found in the commitment, resilience and solidarity at the heart of the stories we share. From women’s empowerment to geo-politics, from climate action to refugee rights, our programme celebrates the people and the films that are changing the world. Wonder what’s in store? Here’s the lowdown on this year’s programme.

Our 12th annual festival will open on Scottish Housing Day with Push - a vital investigation into the global forces that are turning housing into a commodity and making cities across the world unaffordable for most of their citizens. We are delighted to welcoming representatives from Oxfam Scotland, UNISON Scotland and Shelter Scotland to the conversation to explore the factors fuelling the housing crisis in Scotland – and the many campaigns working to address and challenge it.


Take One Action’s exploration of inequality, both overseas and at home, finds its home in our All Equal? Strand, which features a range of beautifully crafted films that challenge systemic, structural and cultural inequality. Anbessa (Thurs 26th Sept – in partnership with Mercy Corps) tackles the reality of internal displacement in East Africa through a poetic, dream-like portrait of a 10-year-old boy, that pays as much attention to its protagonist’s emotional landscape as it does to the wider political and economic realities re-shaping Ethiopia. Gods of Molenbeek (Sat 21st Sept – International Day of Peace) also explores the effects of world events through a child’s eyes, this time through the prism of a six-year-old boy’s musings on gods, the origins of the universe and our place within it, ultimately offering a hopeful portrait of community cohesion in a district of Brussels most often associated with Islamist extremism. Hassan Fazili’s Sundance-award-winning Midnight Traveler (Sat 21st Sept – in partnership with Oxfam) provides a striking interrogation of the current refugee crisis – and Europe’s failure to respond to it – through a deeply personal account of the director’s and his young family’s flight from Afghanistan. Tiny Souls (Sun 22nd Sept – in partnership with Mercy Corps) also explores the lived experience of refuge but this time through a group of siblings living in the Zataari refugee camp in Jordan. Filmed over several years, during which the camp morphed from a temporary holding place to Jordan’s largest city, this quietly devastating film provides a unique and moving reflection on what lies in store for an entire generation born into conflict. The film’s director, Dina Naser, will join us in conversation after the film.

This year we will also turn the lens on the UK, with two films that probe rising inequality levels on our shores.  The Tribeca Award-winning Scheme Birds (Wed 25th Sept) is a lyrical yet unflinching documentary that follows young teenager Gemma as she grows up on Motherwell’s Jerviston housing estate. The documentary, which was one of the hottest tickets at this year’s EIFF, casts its eye on the reality of social inequity in contemporary Scotland. Producer Ruth Reid will be in attendance to take part in the post-screening conversation. 

Three years after closing our festival with the Scottish premiere of I, Daniel Blake, we close Take One Action’s 12th edition with a special preview of Ken Loach’s latest film, Sorry We Missed You (Sun 29th Sept). Through its exploration of zero-hour contracts and the gig economy, this intimate family drama  provides an angry indictment of a callous, inhumane economic system. We are thrilled that screenwriter Paul Laverty, long-term collaboration of Ken Loach, will be joining audiences  in conversation after the film.


Gender parity, both on and off screen, has been a central part of our programme for several years. 60% of our features and shorts are directed or co-directed by women, while our Sisters strand, supported by Engender, highlights women’s empowerment across the globe. Meet the Afghan women challenging the status quo in one of the world’s most fragile democracies (Facing the Dragon, Fri 27th Sept), the lawyers fighting for justice for victims of conflict related-sexual violence (The Prosecutors, Mon 23rd Sept) and the high-flying Swedish minister advocating for a feminist foreign policy on the international stage (The Feminister, Thurs 19th Sept).


Interlinked with both global inequity and women’s equality is climate justice and our Shared Planet strand is here to interrogate current environmental challenges in the face of growing climate chaos, and asks how we move beyond awareness to meaningful action. Our festival coincides with the first ever global climate strike (20-27 September) and our programme acknowledges the role of youth activism in pushing the climate agenda forward. Grit (Fri 20th Sept, in partnership with Global Justice Now) explores a young woman’s evolving sense of her power as a campaigner in a community devastated by a fracking disaster, while Inventing Tomorrow (Fri 27th Sept, in partnership with the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh) sees teenage science students from different corners of the world tackle some of the most pressing environmental dangers faced by their communities. Eating Up Easter (Sat 28th Sept) offers an urgent wake-up call from Easter Island in the remote Pacific, where rising sea levels, mass tourism and rapid development threaten the environment as well as its islanders’ cultural traditions (a film that  will no doubt echo strongly with many communities in Scotland). Anthropocene (Sat 28th Sept – in partnership with Friends of the Earth Scotland), the latest film by photographer Edward Burtynsky and the team behind Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark, provides a monumental exploration of the ways in which human activity has been transforming the planet over the last few decades.


We understand that more needs to be done to make festivals like ours accessible to wider audiences. We’ve put a lot of effort into our planning so that our events can be more inclusive, welcoming and accessible. Eight of our feature films are fully captioned for D/deaf and Hard of Hearing people and British Sign Language Interpretation will be offered at several screenings (including the opening and closing films). The majority of films will be fully subtitled for those for whom English is not their first language and we are also hosting our first audio-described screening (Sorry We Missed You). To remove some of the economic barriers faced by those on no or low income, we are offering a Community Ticket Fund, Travel Fund and Childcare Fund – please see takeoneaction.org.uk/access for full details of access provision throughout the festival.

Over the course of 12 days this month, we will be bringing 40 films and a dozen events, all of which offer an urgent reminder of the role we can play in shaping our world for the better. We are so proud and excited to invite you to be part of these journeys of change – and can’t wait to welcome you to this year’s Take One Action Film Festival.

Tamara Van Strijthem

Executive Director

Take One Action Film Festivals