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Ruth Reid • Producer

“Documentaries can change the world”


- Producer Ruth Reid of Her Films, one of Jihlava's 2018 Emerging Producers, talks about her approach to producing documentaries

Ruth Reid • Producer

Sottish-born but based in both UK and Sweden, producer Ruth Reid of Her Films, one of Jihlava's 2018 Emerging Producers, talks about her approach to producing documentaries.

Why do you produce documentaries? Do you believe that they have the power to change the world?
Ruth Reid: I would find it difficult to believe anyone who produces documentaries would not think that films can change the world. 

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My background is in Law, which I found fascinating but exclusionary. I was involved in a change of the law affecting sex workers in Scotland over 10 years ago. While researching, speaking with politicians and legal experts, there seemed to be the greatest disconnect between those writing the law and those who would be affected by the law. At this point I decided I had to try to communicate these imbalances and the possible injustices that could follow in some way that was accessible to everyone. And so I went to film school. A lofty plan and while I don't think I have yet significantly contributed to changing the world with my catalogue of wide-ranging documentaries; I have made a series of films about and with sex workers, their own stories told from their own perspective. So if nothing else I have contributed to broadening a dialogue that was absent 10 years ago.

What do you think is the future of distribution of documentary films?
I was recently in a session with a marketing specialist who told a group of filmmakers that the primary audience of all arthouse and documentary projects is 50+ year old women called Linda. If Linda comes to watch my films with her friends then I am happy. Of course it would be better if she brought her entire family and extended network to the cinema but one can but only hope. Beyond that or to break it, it's the platforms, no? 

What projects do you have under way?
A Swedish-British documentary Scheme Birds (dir. Ellen Fiske & Ellinor Hallin) – the story of Gemma, a young girl growing up in an environment of violence and pigeons (supported by BFI, Creative Scotland, SFI, SVT and Stockholm Debut) will shortly begin final editing, to be completed in the fall of 2018. 

A Swedish feature, An Army of Lovers, tells the unknown story of the queer movement in Sweden in the 1970s and will be completed by the summer of this year. 

A further Swedish-Scottish project Workers! is art-film crossover is also nearing completion, director by Professor Petra Bauer - telling the story of the sex worker labour movement in the UK. In collaboration with Collective Gallery, Edinburgh.

I am also developing my first feature fiction project with the multiple award-winning director Åsa Sandzen, based on the life of famed Swedish author Karin Boye. 


Emerging Producers is a promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.

Deadline for applications to the Emerging Producers 2019 edition is 31 March, 2018. Click here.

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