Reality Bites

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Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne talk to Jim Wolfreys about the solidarity that transcends the tragedies of existence facing their characters and their latest film, The Silence of Lorna.

An adolescent boy is asked to look after the family of an immigrant worker in whose death he has been implicated. A young woman wages a furious lone struggle to forge an existence. A couple's life is blown apart when their son is offered for sale. These stories, told by the Dardenne brothers since the mid-1990s, turn around the dilemmas faced by individuals in marginal social situations, forced to comply with the ruthless logic of the market or find another way to live.

Interview: Jon McClure of Reverend and the Makers

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Jon McClure, lead singer of Sheffield band, Reverend and The Makers, hosted the recent 4,500-strong Love Music Hate Racism Rotherham Carnival. He speaks to Lee Billingham about his music and politics

How did you get into music?

I got into music by being a kind of poet and writer. I put on parties and performed poetry. I also wrote stuff for the Arctic Monkeys' website. I used to write it under various pseudonyms, which kind of increased their mythology. It was more politically inclined than their music would be.

Interview: George Pelecanos: Telling the tales of two cities

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The Wire has been dubbed the greatest series on TV. George Pelecanos, one of the writers and producers of the show, talks to Gaverne Bennett.

In November all eyes will be on Washington DC as the world waits to see who is to occupy the White House.

However, if you want to know what is behind and beyond that shiny residence there is no better chronicler than George Pelecanos.

Born and raised in Washington DC, Pelecanos had his first novel published in 1992. Fourteen crime novels later, and with many of the episodes of The Wire to his credit, George Pelecanos is still going strong.

Interview: Moazzam Begg: Operation end your freedom

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As Labour imposes more draconian legislation, Patrick Ward asks former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg for his views on civil liberties today

The government won the House of Commons vote to extend detention without trial to 42 days. What do you think about this attack on civil liberties?

It's important to remember that the government didn't want 42 days - they wanted 90 days and they've settled for less than half of that. What's really bizarre for me is that I was at the protest close to Downing Street when George Bush visited and I actually caught a glimpse of him.

Benjamin Zephaniah: Rhythms of radical culture

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Poet, novelist and musician Benjamin Zephaniah talks to Weyman Bennett and Judith Orr about politics, culture and why Boris Johnson's appointment of a black deputy should fool no one.

Your most recent album, Naked, blends spoken word with music. Is there more space for that?

For me they've never been really separate. When I start thinking about poetry I think of the sound of poetry and the effect it has on people when they hear it, rather than how they see it on the page.

Ronan Bennett: A sense of impending tragedy

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Writer Ronan Bennett talks to Shaun Doherty about the lead up to the Iraq war, the ignorance of New Labour and being a political writer

How did 10 Days to War, your series of eight short dramas marking the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, come about?

Someone had come up with the idea of dramatising the run-up to the war in a series of short films. It was green lit, fully financed, and given a broadcast date - which was obviously the anniversary of the war - but had no script. So I was asked.

Solidarity, struggle and resistance

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Iraqi-born writer and activist Haifa Zangana talks to Judith Orr about the struggle of Iraqi women still fighting for the liberation of their country.

Your new book, City of Widows, looks at the history of Iraq and in particular the role of women, which is often hidden in official histories.

During the period of Islam and the emergence of Islam and the building of the Islamic empire, there were always women leaders, poets - quite influential women in society.

Prominent women are more common at times of expansion, and when there have been struggles for national liberation women have been there, and have been quite powerful. So it varies from one period to another historically.

Making drama to quicken the heart

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Trevor Griffiths, co-writer of the film Reds, talks to Phil Turner about why he is committed to making a film on 18th century radical Tom Paine.

During his life Thomas Paine was hounded from Britain, imprisoned in France and treated as a pariah in the US, his adopted country. Why should we celebrate Paine's life and work?

He was one of a fairly long line of British socialists or pre-socialists, radicals whom history has sought to erase in one way or the other.


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