Film

Two films; few answers

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Nick Grant contrasts two new films on the neo-Nazi atrocity in Norway in 2011.

On 22 July 2011 a Norwegian neo-Nazi stunned the world with his cold-blooded slaughter of 77 people. Another 242 were seriously injured, many permanently disabled.

Most victims were members of the Norwegian Labour Party at a Workers Youth League camp on the tiny island of Utoya. Eight of the deaths plus most casualties were caused by his van-bombing of a government building in Oslo earlier the same day.

Nae Pasaran!

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This is an inspiring documentary about one of the high points of Scottish trade unionism. It follows four former Rolls Royce engineers who, in 1974, some six months after Pinochet’s bloody coup against the Allende government in Chile, led a campaign to “black” — stop all maintenance work — on the engines of Hawker Hunter jets flown by the Chilean air force.

Four engines ended up in crates at the back of Rolls Royce’s plant in East Kilbride for four years before they mysteriously disappeared.

Peterloo

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The immense power of the Manchester textile factories hits you in the face in an early shot in Peterloo. Workers in this new industry were surrounded by dangerous machines. They were replacing the work done in homes by weavers, who were suffering the hardships of a declining workforce.

Later, during the mass protest for democracy on Monday 16 August 1819, when the factories are empty and the machines lie dead, the contrast leaves you with a sense of what power really is. “Scum” cries a boss, walking down an empty street.

Black 47

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“This is going to be harrowing”, I said to myself as I set out to see Black 47, the newly released film about the Irish Famine. In the event it was much less harrowing than I expected. Indeed parts of it were almost fun. But this is hardly to the film’s credit.

Of course it is very good that there is now a film about the famine — amazingly for the first time ever.

Matangi/Maya/M.I.A

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Celebrities often talk about themselves as if they’re among the most important people in the world. Rapper M.I.A is different. She has spent her career talking about some of the most marginalised people on the planet, including victims of war and in particular, refugees. Now she has an opportunity to tell her story without being ignored. If anyone deserves to make a film about themselves it is M.I.A.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

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A study published by the Williams Institute this year estimates that in the US almost 700,000 LGBT adults aged 18-59 have received “conversion therapy” in an attempt to “cure” them of homosexuality. Half of them went through it while they were adolescents. Over a third received the treatment from registered health care professionals, the rest from religious advisors.

The Little Stranger

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Part gothic ghost story, part social commentary on post-Second World War Britain, Lenny Abrahamson’s film is a tense psychological (or is it supernatural?) study of class and the change wrought by war.

Adapted from Sarah Waters’s 2009 novel, it stars Domhnall Gleeson as Faraday, a youngish doctor in a Warwickshire village just before the National Health Service. He lives alone and spends his working hours tending to the rural poor. Then one day he is summoned to Hundreds Hall, the stately home his mother had worked at as a maid a generation before.

Generation Wealth

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Lauren Greenfield is an American photographer and filmmaker who documents culture on a global scale. Her previous films include The Queen of Versailles, about a billionaire’s scheme to create a vast mansion in Florida styled after the French palace; and Thin — following four young women being treated in a specialist eating disorders centre, again in Florida.

In the Fade

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Set in contemporary Germany and Greece, In the Fade, the latest film from Hamburg-born filmmaker Fatih Akin, is a chilling exploration of European neo-Nazism as seen through one woman’s insufferable bereavement.

Katja Sekerci (Diane Kruger), who is white and German, marries her Kurdish-German husband Nuri (Numan Acar) while he is in prison for drug dealing. Following his release, Nuri becomes a model of rehabilitation, setting up his own small business in Hamburg providing translation and travel services to the Turkish and Kurdish communities.

The subversive movies of May ’68

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Fifty years ago this month the world was convulsed by the astonishing “evenements” that exploded on the streets of Paris in May 1968. What started as a student protest detonated the biggest general strike in history.

To commemorate the epic events there is a series of interesting screenings, exhibitions and talks planned throughout May organised by the Institut Francais and the British Film Institute. Inevitably these are mainly in London, but the BFI is touring to other cities with at least some of these movies.

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