Watch…Manuscripts Don’t Burn (general release)
….one of the most frightening films I have seen in a longtime. Why? Because it was made by Mohammad Rasoulof, a filmmaker who has been banned by the Iranian government from making films so the film had to be smuggled out of the country. The cast and crew were so worried about being arrested that they did not want their names to be listed. The film is about how the Iranian government will go to any means to repress human rights including the arrest, torture and killing of individuals. The title is taken from a work by Bulkagov, a writer who lived during the times of Stalin, who started writing his famous novel the Master and Margarita in 1928 but fearing it would never be published in the Soviet Union burnt the first draft. He restarted the book in 1931 and it was published but heavily censored after his death in 1967. The complete manuscript was published in 1989 and many people believe it to be one of the finest novels of the 20 century. I believe Rasoulof has used this title to assert that you can burn books and you can kill individuals but you cannot kill the spirit of freedom. Watching this film reminded me of writer Jim Allen’s film Hidden Agenda which dealt with the war in the north of Ireland in the 80s. Another haunting but important film about the importance of people speaking out and fighting for freedom. Allen said; “After a film I hope the audience demand answers and action. I’m not keen on sending them to bed happy-I want them angry to get change.” This film certainly made me angry and I hope it will/can make some change in Iran. Highly recommended.
Go to a play...about union representatives being sent to jail…think it couldn’t happen in this country? It did in 1972 when 24 trade unionists who had been active in a strike in the construction industry were put on trial. Two people, Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson, were sent to prison on conspiracy charges. Warren is now dead but there is a campaign to expose the political nature of the charges and to clear the names of the men. A new play called “United We Stand” is being toured by Townsend Productions which tells the story of the men and this very important miscarriage of justice. This week on 23 September on BBC Breakfast you can watch an interview with Ricky Tomlinson. Further info see Join the campaign for the Shrewsbury 24 at
Go to a meeting… on press freedom.
It’s the Labour Party conference in Manchester and the local NUJ are organising a public meeting on No More Murdoch’s ; Making the Media An Election Issue on Monday 22 September, 6.30pm Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester M2 5NS. Speakers include John McDonnell MP, Rachel Broadey of the NUJ and Ann Field of the CPBF.
Support radical theatre…
Red Ladder Theatre’s We Are Not Going Back is on this Monday and Tuesday in Oldham. Its the story of three sisters and the Miners Strike so lots of opportunity for conflict of all kinds! More info at
Join a campaign...
to stop groups with a racist agenda such as UKIP winning at the General Election next year. Hope not Hate are the main organisers and to do this important work they need financial support, please see their appeal at
Find out about
….local writer Jim Allen and see his film United Kingdom. Set on a council estate it’s about a community that refuses to pay a rent increase. Listen to Honor Donnelly of the Bedroom Tax Campaign and lecturer Andy Willis talk about the significance of Allen’s work. Further info see