Rabab Ghazoul is an artist from Mosul, Iraq. She has lived in the UK for most of her life and runs a women’s film club.
The club is for all women, but predominantly aimed at black and ethnic minority communities. The types of films the club shows are ‘topical and inspirational’ and usually focused on women. Ms Ghazoul says she feels strongly about bringing the best international and home grown independent film.
With the film club, Ms Ghazoul has created a bespoke space where women can feel safe while enjoying culture, debate and discussion. She says ideally you would not need these kind of bespoke spaces because people would feel more welcomed in the mainstream cinema, theatre or gallery.
The film club exists because mainstream companies aren’t putting diversity in their ethos.
Inclusion, engagement and access shouldn’t just be something we do on the side.
A lot of people feel culture isn’t for them or what’s on offer isn’t for them.
Ms Ghazoul says that people are not particularly nuanced when programming for minority ethnic communities.
Sometimes people from the cultural sector have a patronising view of involving different ethnic groups and see it as box ticking.
She says it is important to go into community spaces. The film club met at Chapter Arts Centre for eleven years but now screens films at the Riverside Warehouse, the Samaj Hindu Community Centre and other pop-up community spaces across the city. Ms Ghazoul emphasised that faith and community spaces are full of culture and it is great to bring more to these spaces.
Ms Ghazoul says she tries to remove barriers with the film club. She says Muslim women may not want to go to a regular cinema where men also attend.
At the women’s film club they are able to meet new people who Ms Ghazoul says can be isolated and need friendship.
Women from BME communities often devote themselves to the home and their families, putting themselves last. The club is something just for them.
One Pakistani woman who came to the film club had never been to the cinema before and didn’t know what a box office was. We can’t assume people’s familiarity with mainstream cultural spaces.
As a visual artist, Ms Ghazoul’s work is being displayed in North Iraq later this month.
It will be the first time that Ms Ghazoul has returned to Iraq in around 30 years.
I wouldn’t recognise the city I grew up in, but it’s been a long held desire of mine to make contact with that area of the world.
I’d love for Cardiff, the city I’ve made my home, to be twinned to Mosul within my lifetime. For this to happen, it would mean stability, security, prosperity would have returned to Iraq, and no Isis. We should dream.