Artists with learning disabilities from Magpie Dance Charity to open the World's biggest sustainability film fest awards

Posted on: 08/11/2023

Amidst all the horrific events unfolding around the world, especially in the Middle East and Ukraine, a beacon of hope is inspiring millions across the UK and the world to be tolerant, empathetic and inclusive. The Big Syn International Film Festival - the world's biggest sustainability film festival features stories that inspires millions is calling for change and hope. Since 2019, the festival has reached over 45 million in 120 countries, led by a Grand Jury of OSCAR, BAFTA and EMMY award-winners and leaders from sustainability, policy and media. This year, an extraordinary array of films, especially from over 40 charities, UK's marginalised filmmakers, and films from Ukraine are highlighting the need for 'humanity' amidst all our differences.

The festival's gala awards ceremony will be hosted at the iconic Curzon Mayfair on 10th Nov, this Friday, in support of #savecurzonmayfair campaign, will be attended by celebrated guests, leaders from sustainability, policy and media. In line with the festival's theme of sustainability, Magpie Dance, the UK’s leading dance charity for people with learning disabilities will take centre stage and open the black tie gala event. Eight artists would display their artistic prowess to show that learning disability should not be a barrier to personal and artistic success.

Speaking of the curtain raiser, Alison Ferrao, Artistic Director Magpie Dance said“We are thrilled that Magpie Dance will be performing live to open this year’s Gala Awards Ceremony.  Our dancers, all of whom have learning disabilities, are excited to share ‘Our World’. The piece explores the world we live in today, and what we can each do to protect nature and look after one another. We are delighted to collaborate with the Big Syn Institute and be part of this amazing event.”


Big Syn International Film Festival opened screenings with announcements lighting up London’s BT tower and the iconic Piccadilly Lights last month. The festival screened over 150 films world-wide and invited everyone to watch these films on for free, to learn about the big-picture of sustainability, and be inspired to #actnow, to create positive changes all around them. The winners of the festival will be featured on London's iconic Piccadilly Lights on 14th Nov at 11 am. Winner of a micro shorts category, Piccadilly Lights Spotlight Prize, will also screen in full on Piccadilly Lights. A leading contender for this prize is a moving film from Child Poverty Action Group showing the appalling plight of children living in food poverty in the UK. The films screened at the festival included 2023 OSCAR winners, to 2024 OSCAR and BAFTA qualifiers, to ones with well known names such as Peter Capaldi and Richard Gere- representing an extraordinary selection of narratives.

Dr Ragini G Roy, the festival's director and co-founder indicated, Performers at Magpie Dance show us that we all share the same emotion for our planet and its people, irrespective of how diverse we are. I believe the spirit of inclusion and ability will be portrayed at its best through the act.


Alongside Magpie Dance Charity, two solo artists from Baked Bean Charity, that promotes education and social inclusion for adults & children with special educational needs and disabilities will also perform at the awards. They will present two exclusive acts, Dear God from the play Secrets of my Soul by D.M. Larson, and an adaptation of an excerpt from a famous monologue, rewritten to reflect the artist's experiences of being a transgender woman.

In collaborating with Magpie Dance and Baked Bean Charities, Big Syn Institute calls on society to embrace our differences and promote the ability of those who are often unseen.


About Big Syn International film festival and awards

Big Syn International film fest and awards is organised by Big Syn Institute, a part of Centre for Big Synergy, a Civil Society Organisation of the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs (UN DESA).Since 2019, the festival has reached over 45 million in 120 countries to create public awareness about sustainability and the United Nations Global Goals or Sustainable Development Goals, using the power of meaningful cinema.

The festival has been led by celebrated sustainability leaders and OSCAR, BAFTA and EMMY winning celebrities such as Gurinder Chadha, OBE (Bend It Like Beckham), Amma Asante, MBE (Belle), OSCAR winner Kevin Willmott (Blackkklansman), Anna Smith (BBC, SKY), Jemima Khan, Baroness Prashar (House of Lords), President Obama’s US Ambassador (Rtd) Howard Gutman, BBC Dragons’ Den green investor Deborah Meaden, BT Group’s Head of environmental sustainability, Gabrielle Giner; Founder of Freegle, Cat Fletcher; Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility guru from London Business School, Prof. Ioannis Ioannou; OSCAR winner Chris Tashima; BAFTA and Cannes award winning filmmaker, Waad Alkateab, and Tom Szaky (Founder Terracycle), to name a few.

Through the films and dialogue, millions of viewers are getting inspired to do more in their own lives because they see the big-picture and how all our lives are interconnected in this modern world. All films touch upon or cover one or more major issues faced by the planet and the people; around social, economic or environmental sustainability such as climate change, climate action, gender inequality, hunger and poverty, discrimination, education, mental health, disability, LGBTQIA+ and many more. The festival screens features, shorts, animations, documentaries, public service announcement, charity films, social media and music videos from independent filmmakers and established production houses, across the globe. Winners are screened in London and worldwide. OSCAR and BAFTA winning films have screened at the festival and vice-versa.

About Magpie Dance Charity

Magpie Dance?is the UK’s leading dance charity for people with learning disabilities.?We believe that a learning disability should not be a barrier to personal and artistic success. Through dance, our participants gain life, social and communication skills with added health and wellbeing benefits. The vision is to have a world where a learning disability is no barrier to personal and artistic success in dance. Their mission has been to enable people with learning disabilities to reach their full personal, social and artistic potential through dance. Founded in 1985 by Avril Hitman BEM our values and approach were founded on the social model of disability – it is up to society to find a way of including people rather than excluding because of disability. This remains vital to Magpie Dance today, which has now grown from one 45-minute session per week, to enabling over 300 people to access regular dance activity sessions each year.

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