5 Tips to Hosting a Film Screening for Social Change


A great film has the power to inspire change. From sharing stories to creating awareness of specific issues, film screenings have become an essential platform for community engagement.

In our recent workshop on Using Films for Social Change, participants from civil society organizations learned best practices in hosting a film screening specifically as a tool to drive social change.

Here are 5 TIPS from Freedom Film Network!

Tip 1 to Hosting a Film Screening for Social Change- Selection of film

Picking out a film that resonates with your target audience can inspire the audience to care, understand and act on your cause. When selecting your film, you should consider certain elements such as the duration, style or treatment, storyline, language, character, and most importantly, a human rights perspective. Keep in mind that the film you choose should reflect the main objective of the screening.

Tip 2 of hosting a film screening - target audience

As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks! A tip to figuring out your target audience is to identify a specific group of audience that is strategically important to reach out to. This can include an affected or at-risk community, policymakers, stakeholders, influencers, the media, and others. Once your target audience is identified, you will be able to decide on a suitable location, time, and programme that are attractive and relevant to them, which can help increase the chances of winning their support for your cause.

Tip 3 to Hosting a Film Screening for Social Change - Engaging post screening discussion

Active participation and engagement from the audience can be encouraged by having a facilitator guide the discussion. Further, you should include a resource person such as the filmmaker, subject matter experts, or organization representatives that can provide a deeper insight into the issue for the audience. At the end of the discussion, make sure to have a clear Call to Action that your audience can easily do or participate in on the spot. As creating impact begins with action, you may encourage a group solidarity action from the audience which makes for a great photo op for the media and can even help your campaign go viral on social media!

Tip 4 to Hosting a Film Screening for Social Change - Mobilise your audience

Apart from e-invites, posters, and sharing on social media platforms, shortlist a group of people and organisations that you want to be present at your film screening event and personally reach out to them to communicate why their attendance will make a difference. After sending out your invitations, send out reminders a couple of days before the event with directions to the venue or details about the event that will encourage them to attend. Further, you may consider the partners and resource persons you can work with to mobilise the audience to action.

Below are some of the key resources you should think about throughout the event planning stage:

  • Venue: Choose a venue that suits your audience. For example, if your target audience are farmers from a rural village, you might need to utilise a space closer to the village. Approach the locals there to find spaces that are convenient and familiar to your audience.
  • Organising Team: Assign clear roles and responsibilities to each team member. Get more help if the event requires it. Some key roles are: the tech team in charge of screening, projection, and sound; the guest registration and welcoming team, the floor manager who ensures the smooth flow of the programme, resource persons and guests; and also the person(s) who will usher and pass the mics around (if required).
  • Funding: Prepare a budget sheet or project expenses document to manage your funds. Where possible, allocate some money for refreshments, tokens for speakers and volunteers, rental of equipment, and communication and travel costs for the organising team. If you are planning for a big event that requires substantial funds, make sure you plan ahead and seek out additional funding through sponsors, partners, or grants.

And lastly, here’s a Bonus Tip.

Bonus Tip to Hosting a Film Screening for Social Change - do risk & needs assessment

Remember to assess the potential risks of organising your event and to have a mitigation strategy. This includes risks to the organisers, participants, and also the people featured in the film. Also, standby alternatives in case of bad weather, failure of speakers to turn up, and a plan to manage “troublemakers”. 

Host your film screening

Whether you’re a budding filmmaker, artist, activist, or human rights defender, a film screening is an effective platform to tell your story and build support for your cause. With that in mind, we hope you are inspired to host your very own film screening and shape public conversations about your cause.

Interested in using film to create impact for your advocacy campaign? Apply for our Social Impact grant for CSOs here.

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