Jacqui Freeman

The Disappearance of Émile Zola

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On Monday 18 July 1898 the French novelist Emile Zola was sentenced to a year in prison and a 3,000 franc fine. His crime was to have written an open letter to the French president entitled “J’accuse” (I accuse).

In it Zola accused military officials, including the minister of war, of falsely convicting Major Alfred Dreyfus (a Jewish officer) of passing military secrets to Germany. Fully aware that he risked prosecution for libel by denouncing the army and government’s handling of the Dreyfus affair, Zola boldly stated:

A vision for education

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There is a growing rejection among parents and teachers of the narrow rote learning advocated by the Tories. Jacqui Freeman looks at alternative approaches focused on engaging children.

In February Tory prime minister David Cameron and secretary of state for education Nicky Morgan declared war “on mediocrity” and “on illiteracy and innumeracy”. Bold words for a government whose flagship Academy and Free School programmes have been shown not to improve standards more than comprehensive schools and which has presided over a 25 percent increase in the number of teachers leaving the profession.

Win Win

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Director: Thomas McCarthy
Release date: 20 May

Win Win is about the impact of the economic crisis on a small New Jersey town. The increasing financial pressure experienced by a widening section in US society and the inadequacy of the healthcare system are central themes. But most of all, the film depicts how people deal with not being in a winning situation, through small acts of solidarity and an underlying determination to exercise some control over their lives.

Made in Dagenham

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Director: Nigel Cole; Release date: 1 October

It's 1968 and 187 female machinists at the huge Ford Dagenham car plant in east London vote for a 24-hour stoppage in a dispute over grading. Employed to sew seat covers in a dilapidated building where the roof leaks, the women decide upon action when they are regraded as unskilled while male colleagues doing similar work are classified as semi-skilled.

The Time That Remains

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Director: Elia Suleiman; Release date: 20 May

The Time That Remains is a semi-biographical account of daily life in Palestine from 1948 to the present day. The film recounts four episodes of history based upon the diaries of Elia Suleiman's father, a resistance fighter in 1948, letters written by his mother to relatives in exile, and Suleiman's own memory of childhood.

One Dimensional Woman

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Nina Power, Zero Books, £7.99

One Dimensional Woman offers an interesting contribution to the current debate on work, sex and politics. Consciously drawing upon the critique of consumerist ideology in Herbert Marcuse's 1964 work One-Dimensional Man, Power argues that when it comes to women's liberation under capitalism "what looks like emancipation is nothing but a tightening of the shackles".

35 Shots of Rum

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Director Claire Denis; Release date: 10 July

Claire Denis's latest film is a warm and beautifully observed portrayal of life in a working class suburb of Paris. Centring on the deeply affectionate relationship between Lionel, a widowed train driver, and Josephine (Jo), his daughter, the plot unfolds effortlessly, yet offers rich insight into the various characters who make up their world.

Linha de Passe

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Directors: Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas; Release date: out now

The opening shots of Linha de Passe capture eloquently the sense of movement at the heart of this beautifully filmed and thought-provoking portrayal of Brazilian society: an exuberant crowd chanting at a football match, a young motorcycle courier speeding through traffic, a fervent congregation of swaying evangelical Christians and a young boy riding a bus.

Dreams from the Endz

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Faiza Guene, Chatto and Windus, £11.99

Dreams from the Endz is about the impact of politics on everyday life and how the French state stamps on the dreams of the young, immigrants and poor. Set on Uprising Estate in the Parisian suburb of Ivry, the novel's main character, Ahleme, is a sharpwitted and determined 24 year old Algerian woman.

Caramel

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Director: Nadine Labaki; Release date: 16 May

Set in Beirut, Caramel explores the contrast between the supposedly "open, free and emancipated" nature of present-day Lebanon and the reality of life for five working class women. Written and directed by, and starring, Nadine Labaki, the film depicts the guilt and frustration these women experience when their aspirations conflict with social expectations.

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