Film

The Danish Girl

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The visibility of trans people has taken great leaps in the past couple of years. The release of The Danish Girl is well timed to continue that trend.

Lili Elbe was born Einar Wegener in 1882. Einar became an award winning painter of rather restrained landscapes. She died aged 49, legally a woman, with a passport in the name Lili Elbe, after undergoing five experimental operations for gender confirmation.

Spotlight

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It’s not that we aren’t aware of scandals and cover-ups around paedophilia and the Catholic church. And in Britain the Jimmy Savile scandal demonstrated that it isn’t only the Catholic church which is involved in the institutionalised covering-up of child abuse.

The film Spotlight isn’t simply telling the story of yet more poor, working class children being abused by Catholic priests in Boston over a period of 30 or 40 years, although that itself would justify the telling of it.

Grandma

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A day which starts with a full-on screaming breakup with your partner, followed by a serious bout of panic, will not be enhanced by an unexpected visit from your granddaughter who needs $600 by the end of the day.

Sunset Song

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Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song is a crushingly beautiful book that every socialist should read. Terence Davies’s beautiful film adaptation does the novel full justice.

Set in rural north east Scotland around the outbreak of the First World War, it couples a brutal realism — of back-breaking labour, women’s oppression and the devastation of war — with an incredible sense of the moments of beauty in life.

Carol

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Todd Haynes’s themes of sexual outsiders and repressive social mores have seen him associated with the New Queer Cinema — a trend which redefines cultures of sexual transgression.

Goya: recorder of turbulent times

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In 1814 Francisco Goya, who was almost 70 years old, was commanded to paint the portrait of the restored king of Spain, Ferdinand VII. Ferdinand’s father, Charles IV, had appointed him first court painter to the king 15 years earlier.

Since then there had been a furious battle in Spanish society over the direction of the state. Goya was in a perfect position to record these tumultuous shifts.

There were few secure career paths open to a painter at that time. Goya had been an ambitious provincial artist and he moved to the capital, Madrid, at the first opportunity.

Larry and Janet Move Out

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This short film documents the demolition of a south London housing estate and its impact on the residents. Seen through the eyes of one working class couple who were forced from their home after 30 years on the Heygate Estate, its underlying message is about social cleansing and in the words of co-director Patrick Steel, “the human cost of big regeneration projects and the decline in social housing”.

Tangerine

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The opening credits of Tangerine — curly script on a pink paper backdrop — suggest an old-fashioned romantic screwball comedy. Although the film is ultra-modern in its themes and techniques, that is exactly what we get.

Tangerine is a hilarious, frantically-paced day in the life of two black trans women who work as prostitutes in West Hollywood, Los Angeles.

It manages to be both laugh out loud funny and extremely poignant as it follows the interactions between these women, their pimp, the men who pay for sex, and other neighbourhood characters.

He Named Me Malala

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If anybody should have a film made about them, it should be Malala Yousafzai. Still only seventeen years old, she has a huge story to tell — she survived a bullet to her head, she is the youngest ever Nobel prize laureate and she stood up to the most dangerous force in her home town — the Taliban.

He Named Me Malala is a touching film which really shows what a strong, confident and intelligent young woman Malala is and why she has inspired so many other girls and women, young and old, to challenge the status quo and fight for better lives and more respect.

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