Culture

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.

Rojo

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Rojo is set in Argentina just before the right wing military coup that took place in 1976.

A man arrives in a restaurant and starts to attack and insult Claudio, a respected lawyer and the main character of the film. The altercation continues later in the evening. From that moment on Claudio will be dragged into a nightmare. And then a Chilean inspector arrives to investigate…

The film capably explores one the darkest pages in Argentina’s history.

Gwen

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Set amid the slate-filled landscape of mid-19th century Snowdonia, this gothic tale of black-hearted capitalism features powerful performances from Eleanor Worthington-Cox and Maxine Peake.

It is a powerful story of grief, adolescence, suspicion and superstition that builds an atmosphere of intense dread, broken only by the realisation that the truth of industrialisation is more brutal than anything young Gwen (Worthington-Cox) can conjure in her imagination.

The Brink

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The Brink follows far-right icon Steve Bannon and chronicles his activities for over a year. The film aims to see past the idea that Bannon is a complete mastermind, and it does this well, as it shows how the far-right movement has many flaws. Moreover, it also shows the many contradictions within the far-right.

Bikini Kill

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Kathleen Hanna, who originally went into music with a mixture of experience in stripping and spoken word, shook up the grunge music scene of the 1990s with a unique perspective and vocal anger. Bikini Kill, the band Hanna fronts, made a name for itself with punky honesty, shame-free sexualisation and an outspoken bluntness on controversial topics that weren’t spoken about (and often still aren’t), even after the punk movement had opened up the music scene.

Get Up, Stand Up Now

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Somerset House is celebrating the past 50 years of Black creatives in Britain through its new exhibit Get Up, Stand Up Now. The exhibit provides snapshots into the Black British experience. It is designed to shift the perspective of British history through the lens of Black art and expression.

Each room contains a variety of creative media: music, dance, photography, film and more. It highlights the way in which Black Britons have and continue to carve space in British society.

Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance

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The title of this exhibition, which spans Portuguese artist Paula Rego’s output from the 1960s to the present day, succinctly describes the tensions expressed in her complex work. Rego’s experience and imagination are particular to Portuguese society —starting with growing up under Salazar’s savage fascist dictatorship and the weight of the Catholic Church. But her works go beyond the particular to comment on the human experience — particularly women’s — in all oppressive, hierarchical societies.

The Art of Persuasion: Wartime posters by Abram Games

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The Art of Persuasion at the National Army Museum is a fascinating exhibition of Second World War posters produced by the incredibly prolific and inventive artist Abram Games (although artist is not a term he liked to use about himself. He preferred the term “graphic thinker”). It’s also an insight into how the Second World War was seen by very many of its ordinary participants, military and civilian.

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