Discover the films that changed opinion... and the law

A fascinating day is in store as Chichester Cinema at New Park examines The Power of Film – Films which influenced Public Opinion and the Law.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 9:05 am
Organisers Rosemary & David Coxon
Organisers Rosemary & David Coxon

The event will run on Saturday, October 9 in the auditorium from 10am to 2.30pm with lunch and comfort breaks and will be free to all attendees.

It will be led by Rosemary Coxon and the cinema education team. Attendees must book in advance through the cinema.

Rosemary said: “We will look in detail at clips from two films which were outstanding in their day for bravely and explicitly tackling the laws of the time and influencing public opinion.”

These films are Victim (1961, director Basil Dearden) and Cathy Come Home (1966, director Ken Loach).

“Victim was a landmark in the history of cinema and British society. It fearlessly tackled the existing law governing homosexual offences and, by doing so, eased the path towards partial de-criminalisation of homosexuality in 1967.

“It was also marks a brave decision on the part of the star of the film, Dirk Bogarde, who shed his matinee idol image to take on the main part in the film – a barrister with a thriving career who is being blackmailed because of his personal life.

“Controversial, moving and brilliantly acted, Cathy Come Home is arguably the most influential TV drama ever broadcast. Watched by ten million people, the film provoked major public and political discussion and was instrumental in the foundation of the charities Shelter and Crisis.

“The film tells the story of Reg and Cathy a couple with three young children whose lives are spiralling into poverty. Gripping and emotional, it remains a truly ground-breaking film, engaging viewers with social issues which changed the law such as the right of families to stay together and mothers to keep their children.”

Rosemary led a similar event last year and it was a big success: “It attracted A-level law students from Bishop Luffa, and we had a particularly good turn-out. I thought this time we should do something looking at British films.

“I have always been interested in the law. I thought we should look at films which influenced British public opinion and changed the law. Various people in my team said it was a good idea and so I started drawing up a list, films that made people think about capital punishment, about abortion, about domestic violence, about homosexuality…

“I had a very long list, and I had a meeting with the head of law at Bishops Luffa and they said to me ‘What you have got to think is how can you be sure that these films changed the law?’ They said to me ‘If someone challenges you, how can you prove that these films changed public opinion and also changed the law?’ That really shocked me – in a nice way! It meant that I had to start thinking again and so I went through my whole list again and I came up with these two films where I was sure that I would be on solid ground.”

On the day, Rosemary and the cinema education team will welcome law students from Bishop Luffa school and the University of Chichester, representatives from Stonepillow and local law firms and John Coldstream, the official biographer of Dirk Bogarde, the star of the film Victim. The public are also welcome, free of charge.