Friday, July 07, 2006

Favourite leftie films

Over the last two or three year’s Swindon Socialist Alliance have had a irregular film night in a local pub. This has been reasonably successful, with us getting more than 70 people to a showing of Michael Moore’s “Roger and Me” for example, and excellent turn outs for documentaries about Argentina, Venezuela and Palestine.

So now we have decided to get a bit more professional, book a series of 6 films in advance, and we have produced 2000 glossy postcards to advertise them.

The next 6 films we are showing are:

Goodbye Lenin
Come and See (Russian film about WW2)
The Edukators
Soy Cuba (Classic 1964 documentary)
Burn! (Marlon Brando film about 19th century slave revolt)
Indefensible DSEi (Indymedia documentary about anti-arms trade protests)

What do you think are the best films for socialists to show, and why?


Renegade Eye said...

"Paradise Now" a joint Palestinian, Israeli and Western production company, presents the last 24 hours, in the life of a Palestinian suicide bomber.

John said...

Michael Moore has just stolen (?) your idea and started a film festival type thing. I don't know - he just sent his mailing list an email about it!

Renegade Eye said...

I forget "Salt of the Earth".

Louisefeminista said...

Well, to promote the short documentary I would say "Speak Out: I have had an abortion". I saw it the other night at an Abortion Rights meeting and the film was made in the States. (http//

(incidentially... my own shameful self-promotion but have written a post about this over at Stroppy about the worry that the limited gains women have made could be attacked in the next coming months. So read the post and take action ... oh and comment please.. long post I know cos you may zzzzz half way through but please persevere)

Oh on that note, will stop my shameless self-advertisement.Sorry..

Rob said...

Battle of Algiers
Some Eisenstein films (?)
I quite enjoyed The Corporation

AN said...

We showed "the Corporation", but found it a bit long for the format as a film showing in a pub. I think the structure of the fiom is a bir repetituve, and it could have done with more editing.

I would certainly recommend "Burn" to anyone who like Battle of Algeirs, it is allso directed by Gillo Ontecorvo, but is much less frequently shown. Also known as "Quemada")

I have never seem "Salt of the Earth" Oh Reenegade one, is it actually a goood film in the sense of being entertaining, or just politically right on?

AN said...

And Rob

Which Eisenstein films? - Silents are a problem for a public showing.

I remember a very good showing of "Oktober" at the SWP's easter camp at Skegness amost 20 years ago, where the problem of no sound was made up for by football st7yle chanting from about 500 comrades!

Skegness was awaful Not enough accomodtaion, so we had to cram 5 people into rooms inteneded for 2. NO heating, terrible inedible food, and long queues. We used to call it practicing for socilaism. :o)

But it was great fun, and the SWP seems to have lost that sense of just letting its hair down and having fun.

Derek Wall said...

Guantanamera / directed by Tomas Gutierrez Alea, basically anything by Alea.

Comadante, Oliver Stone.

Any good films on Marx, perhaps someone could make a film of Francis Wheen's very entertaining Marx bio.

The film about the coup in Venezuela is excellent but I guess you have shown that!

Louisefeminista said...

I remember watching film showings at the 4th International Youth Summer Camps (ahhh those were the days)Unfortunately, most of us watching them would ultimately nod off as we were all usually pissed from the night before (or had just got pissed)

Think I saw Battle of Algiers and Battle Potemkin there but unfortunately a blur as booze addled brain.

Oh and do remember excited SWPers all bounding around shouting, "Skeggie here we come"!
And now it all seems rather slick and organised (Marxism) and even the agenda and timetable is on glossy paper and not usual rough cheap paper which can be mistaken for cheap toilet paper.

And they have usual fair re: films and documentaries s this year as well. Disappointed.

Louisefeminista said...

Actually can I really really recommend the documentary, "Titicut Follies"(1967) directed Frederick Wiseman.

This doc was banned by the Supreme court in Massachusetts for "invasion of privacy". It is one the most hardhitting, disturbing, powerful and shocking docs I have seen. It was shown as part of the "Reel Madness" film festival in 2003. It takes place in an institution for the "criminally insane".

I remember the cinema was packed with about 100 or so people. My friend was a documentary film maker who remembered seeing the film in '67 before it was banned and she said there were protests at the way these incarcerated men were treated hence the ban (if people don't see the film then nobody can protest).

The doc shows scenes of graphic cruelty and abuse yet Wiseman was allowed complete access.

I think the doc is much more prevalent and relevant now with the horrors of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and that places like Bridgewater were places to practice institutionalised abuse and violence against powerless people.

When the film finished and lights came up nobody said a word as I think we were just numb and utterly shocked by what we saw. Some people were crying.

The ban has been taken off and the rights are in Wiseman's hands but he won't sell as a DVD or video. I think you come get access to a copy but probably through the States.

Can I also say Salvador (Oliver Stone), Missing (Costa Gavras)and

Camille Claudel as a fine example of women artists during the late 19th C. being excluded and overlooked and trampled on by the male sexist dominated art world (also the film help change french mental health legislation for the positive)

apols for long comment.

AN said...

Good films about Marx, Derek? I don't know of any. But open to suggestions.

We missed trrick on "Missing" coos one of our film evenings fealls n 11th September this year, and Missing would have therefore been ideal, to remind people about the hand the USA played in the "other" 9/11.

On the subject of Costa Garvas, I quite liked "Music Box" thoiugh a bit too courtroom drama. During the war against Serbia I spoke at a demosntaration In Budapest, mainly made up of a few hundred Serb refugees and the Hungarian Humanist party - and I realised only afterwards that the spot I spoke at was the exact same spot where the film portrayed the Jews as being thrown into the Danube. I felt a bit odd about it when the penny dropped.

AN said...

And any one got any suggestin for films that are, well you know, light hearted?

Louisefeminista said...

Light hearted?

Marx Brothers? and Groucho did have leftie credentials as well.

Duck Soup would be excellent...

AN said...

yes but then it isn't really political enough, and really sort of, well tooo film buff night.
Whereas we really need a balance - ideally films that are
i) entertaining
ii) left wing or green,
iii) some artistic merit

of the three criteria, sadly no 3 is the one I woudl dispense with first!!!

Louisefeminista said...

Ok, Riff Raff by Loach as it is political and has humour as well.

What is wrong with artistic merit..?

AN said...

Nothing wrong with artistic merit, but when organisig a social event it is better that the film is accessible and entertaining first!

For film buuffs it might be different, but these are primarily political events.

Louisefeminista said...

yeah, agree (am a film buff though...). Riff Raff would be a good film to show though.

AN said...

As a film buff - Do you know any good films about Marx, Louise, in answer to Derek's point?

Louisefeminista said...

Any good films about Marx: Nada

More on Trotsky though.

Derek does have a good point of turning the Wheen biog into a film. Could be "Carry on Karl.." or something similar

AN said...

Good films on trotsky? I am not talking Richard Burton hamming it up, intercut with scenes of a dying bull here.

wasn't there a film where Jack Palance (brilliant in Shane : "Weren't you with Robert E Lee, and his rebel trash") played Castro, and Omar Sharrif was Che. Sadly haven't seen it.

Louisefeminista said...

The film is "Che"

There seems to be one short Mexican doc about Trotsky and one made in Russia early 90s.

AN said...

They don't sound a laugh riot, and anyway we are a "socialist unity" group (or "socialist Allinace" if you prefer) - why wuld we want to show a documentary about trostky?

Louisefeminista said...

I just mentioned it in passing and you did ask: Good films on trotsky?

And yes, I agree, they sound like laugh a minute films and probably cause the audience to run screaming..... Or show some Tarkvosky... even better... mass break out of snoozing

Liam Mac Uaid said...

I'm convinced that The Magnificent Seven is a metaphor for the revolutionary party.

AN said...

I would sooooh like that to be true Liam, and would that mean that the Sci fi remake (also with robaert Vaughan) "Battle Beyond the Stars" was a metaphor for a Posadist party?

AN said...

h and Derek - we had shown the docu about the coup against Chvez (the revolution will not be televised), but in addition i wuld recommend the short documentaries that Global Womens Strike make. the one "Enter the Oil Workers" is very interesting.

Anonymous said...

I second Renegades choice of... Salt of the Earth
Modern Times
and Reds
All great films.

Louisefeminista said...

Yeah, I agree Modern Times is a great film but dunno about Reds though.

AN said...

Reads was mainly just much much to long. It could have been edited to make two other goood fiolms, one about the russian events, and one about the early years of the competing CPs in the USA.

AN said...

Any one up for John Sayles films? i thiought "Brother from Another Planet" was amazingly funny in parts. "White folks sure are getting weirder".

Darren said...

Have I missed it but no one seems to have mentioned 'Matewan'. Brilliant film that I saw again just the other night on TV.

Peter Watkins 'Commune' is a classic film. Granted it's a six hour film, but if you can't sit through a six hour committee meeting for this or that version of the 'Generals Without Armies' in days gone past, then I'm sure you can sit through 'Commune'. I was really impressed by it.

I think you should try and dig out some lost classics that no bugger has seen:
1) 'Praise Marx and Pass the Ammunition'which stars a young John Thaw as a Marxist-Leninist. Always wanted to see that.
2) Mike Leigh's 'High Hopes', which for some strange reason has never been released on DVD but I'm sure a pirate edition can be blagged.
3) 'Bulworth' which I always thought was overrated but Beatty uses the S word.
4) 'The Big Fix' - a late seventies thriller that stars Richard Dreyfus as a sixties radical turned detective.
5)'Steal This Movie' - cheesy as fuck biopic of Abbie Hoffman, with Vincent D'Onofrio playing the bloke in the dollar bill suit.

And if you were able to ever get a hold of any Jim Allen/Ken Loach play for today dramas from the seventies, I think I would make the effort myself to attend. And that would be an effort, what with me living in Brooklyn.

AN said...

No one had mentioned matewan, darren, good call.

Inspired by your sugestion I have just checked Play for Today, but mostly they don't seem avilable on DVD or Video. Although I won't give up, as it would be good to get you to come over from new York.

Just showed Goodbey lenin tonight, and i was suprised how moving and personal it was.

Charlie Pottins said...

Battleship Potemkin is a must, even if you've already seen it, and Viva Zapata likewise.
Love on the Dole is another golden oldie.
The Polish film "A Generation", made by Andrze Wajda first of a trilogy ending in the better known Ashes and Diamonds.
Italian film "The Organiser", early industrial struggle in Turin, starring Marcello Maistriani, very poignant. Made in 1964.