Culture

Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History

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The first few episodes of this seven-part series, tracing the 30 years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, lean heavily on sensational claims, such as Ian Paisley financing loyalist bombings in the late 1960s and rare film footage of Martin McGuinness handling weapons, not all of which are as dramatic as the filmmakers would like to suggest. A large part of the second episode was taken up with evidence that Gerry Adams was in the IRA, which will come as news to no-one.

Five things to do or see this month

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Top Boy
Season 3 on Netflix now
Six years after the second season ended on Channel 4, Netflix has brought back Top Boy, this time with added violence, intensity and politics. The east London-set drama follows Ashley Walters’ Dushane (lying low in Jamaica), and Sully (played by grime artist Kano), who is in prison awaiting his release. Dealing with drugs, racism, refugees and police violence, it is grim but powerful viewing.

Youth Without God

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A prolific playwright, Ödön von Horváth wrote his first novel Youth Without God in 1938, a year before his death. He remained in Germany for a few years after the Nazis gained power, but was a fierce anti-Nazi. Von Horváth had been involved in street fights with the fascists and at various times was in critical dialogue with the German Communist Party (KPD).

Hoodies All Summer

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East Ham’s grime pioneer, Kano fires back against a broken system, racism and wealth inequality in his sixth album – Hoodies All Summer. After the release of Made in the Manor in 2016, Kano once again has solidified his position as one of grime’s best.

Having recently featured in Ronan Bennet’s Top Boy on Netflix, all eyes have been on Kano. His emotional, passionate performance continues into the album, expressing the desperation people can feel as a result of the system they are born into.

Eve

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MC Rapsody’s third album follows Laila’s Wisdom, which was nominated for Best Rap Album at 2017’s Grammys, helping open doors for other female rappers who at the time had not won in this category since 1997. Rapsody continues to explore and critique the reasons for this in the feminist hip-hop experience that is Eve.

Eve is largely a commentary on the portrayal of black women, particularly in the rap industry, as well as the systems which have and continue to oppress black people. Permeating the album are strong themes of slavery and freedom, sexism, unity and sisterhood.

All too believable tale of trauma

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Unbelievable is a quietly devastating drama based on the true story of an 18 year old woman who in 2008 reported to police that she had been raped at knife-point by an intruder, only to be disbelieved and eventually even charged with wasting police time.

Unlike too many other crime dramas, there is no glamorisation of brutal sex crimes and serial predators here. Unbelievable focuses instead on the trauma suffered by the young woman, Marie Adler (played by Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever) and other victims of what turns out to be a serial rapist.

Peter Fonda, uneasy icon

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The actor Peter Fonda, who died last month aged 79, was Hollywood royalty. His father was Henry Fonda, star of classic films such as Twelve Angry Men and The Grapes of Wrath. Fonda senior’s sensitive performances established the idea of the American as a thoughtful liberal, intent on rooting out prejudice and injustice and bringing about a better way of life for all.

Interview: A Haunted Existence

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In 1954 Geoffrey Patrick Williamson was arrested after approaching a fellow train passenger, who was in fact a policeman. On arrest, Williamson gave the names of men he had been sexually involved with, resulting in a spate of prosecutions in Taunton. Theatremaker Tom Marshman talked to Michael Dance about his new show, A Haunted Existence, which explores the story.

Why did you want to focus on the 1950s, a really dark period in British history for LGBT+ people?

The main reason was that I heard the story of Geoffrey Patrick Williamson at an LGBT history conference and I was just so intrigued to know really what happened. I was curious to know about all these men and the witch-hunt that seemed to be alluded to. A lot of my work is involved in exploring different histories and hidden histories.

Benjamin Naishtat on Rojo and the disappeared of Argentina

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Director Benjamin Naishtat spoke to Socialist Review about his new film Rojo and Argentina in the 1970s and now.

What inspired you to make this film now?

I wanted to make a film about the 1970s, but frankly there were already many films about those years and about the “desaparecidos” [disappeared], the torture and the political activism against all of this. I discovered, however, that there were not films about the silent majority of Argentinians that went through these times either without doing any political activity at all or being accomplices of the regime.

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