Volunteer film enthusiasts are teaming up with the prison in the borough to screen an innovative movie produced locally behind bars.
Leigh Film Society is putting together the pioneering project to screen LGBTQ+ anthology film Spectrum at HMP Hindley.
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The award-winning group of cinema buffs was approached by the prison service to help launch a new film club for the offenders with a challenging, boundary-breaking work.
The film society has therefore chosen the selection of short stories exploring the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people meeting in the course of one night on Manchester’s iconic Canal Street, which has Wigan writer, director and producer Abigail Henry as one half of the creative team behind it.
Leigh Film Society will then visit HMP Hindley on a regular basis putting on a programme of cinema to engage those serving sentences with the artform and the opportunities in it.
Leigh Film Society chair Paul Costello said: “When the HM Prison Service (Novus) approached us to screen a film in Hindley Prison to offenders promoting an interest in the many genres of film and to encourage the start of a film club we saw it as a unique opportunity.
“Engaging with young and adult offenders, Novus wanted to launch the film club with a challenging film promoting inclusivity and British values.
“Leigh Film Society had recently financially supported the making of a LGBT film called Spectrum made by local film-maker Abigail Henry so it was an easy decision to select this one.
“It is important that everyone in society has access to art and culture, that is why Leigh Film Society is always looking at ways to engage hard-to-reach groups in film.
“We believe that film screenings promote many benefits from health and wellbeing to learning. We have used our regular film screenings to fight against social isolation and create opportunities for young people.
“It is an exciting project and hopefully Hindley Prison Film Club will become a great success and in the future may become involved in the Wigan and Leigh Short Film Festival.”
The society hopes introducing prisoners to the opportunities available in the multi-billion-pound cinema industry will potentially give them more employment chances after being released and increase the likelihood of their rehabilitation.
Novus has also expressed the hope that the offenders may be inspired enough by the screenings to work on their own creative projects alongside learning about topics such as inclusivity and tolerance.
HMP Hindley head of learning and skills Lucy Clayson said: “The work being completed by Leigh Film Society is an exciting opportunity for HMP Hindley to raise awareness of LGBTQI issues.
“Unfortunately a large number of issues faced by the LGBTQI community stem from ignorance, and Leigh Film Society continues tto challenge and overcome such attitudes and promote equality and diversity.
“This work supports the shared vision of our establishment and educational services in promoting inclusivity, acceptance and tolerance. This is an innovative way to foster a culture of acceptance and positive relationships and contribute to the wider vision of reducing reoffending.”
The screenings will be followed by discussions of the issues raised. The makers of Spectrum are expected to attend the first event.
Spectrum will be screened in HMP Hindley to launch the prison’s film club on April 9.