Ren Bennett, BA Film student and festival co-ordinator, talks about what is was like to be part of a team running a festival in a pandemic.
My experience organising the 19th Oxford Human Rights Festival has been invaluable. I hosted five events and worked towards creating six of them, including ‘Extraordinary Stories from Two Extra-Ordinary Women’, the film screenings, and the event ‘Is Anybody Listening?’
One of the main challenges I faced was due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic. I think the online aspect of the festival had its benefits as our events could reach people all over the world. Still, I also believe that it was the source of many challenges for myself and the festival team.
One of the events I was a part of, ‘Flipside: Disrupting Perspectives on Africa‘, was cancelled due to logistical problems. It was tough to organise an entire festival online, and in some ways, I feel as though I have missed out on some of the valuable social aspects of being involved with the festival. There were 20 people involved in planning the festival, and other than the three people I knew before starting, I had only met one other person from the festival face to face.
However, that is not to say that my experience has been negative. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as part of the festival, and I have learned many skills and things about myself. The pandemic disrupted a lot of the work for my degree, so it has been incredibly beneficial for me to have the festival’s consistency to allow me to see my ideas through to fruition.
My self-confidence has developed tremendously. I am much more confident in my ability to speak publicly and engage with others as a professional. It has been a great experience to work on so many different projects and explore so many of my interests in such a focused manner at the same time.