Taxi Tehran What do you do if the country you live in bans you from doing your job? Well you get another one. In this new film banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi takes up taxiing to explore life in modern day Iran. Its not just conversations between Jafar and his customers but between customers that are most revealing. A young man gets in, followed by a woman. He is irate about the crime in the city and prescribes public hangings, she resists and challenges the purpose of capital punishment. We don’t get to know the real occupation of the young man, maybe he is a policeman? But the woman is a teacher who probably knows more about the desperation of young people and their families. Another passenger is a woman carrying roses, and although she isn’t named she is human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, on her way to prison to visit a hunger striker. It is easy from the outside to feel depressed about human rights in countries such as Iran but its when you watch films like this that you shouldn’t be, after all its down to Iranians themselves, such as Jafar and Nasrin, to change their country and we should admire their courage in demanding their rights to live in a democratic society.
Joe Hill Ain’t Dead (1879-1915) on 21 November in Liverpool. He was a songwriter and union activist, framed and then executed by the state of Utah. His creative way of campaigning and organising has relevance today for those fighting for workers’ rights. His work lives on in the dynamic International Workers of the World who have been active in organising in some of the most difficult parts of the labour force; cleaning and catering. Learn more about Joe in John Fay’s play “The Joe Hill Dream” which will be performed by the Dingle Community and Vauxy Theatre. Listen to women activists from “Northern ReSisters; conversations with Radical Women” as they inspire people to get active in trade unions, anti-cuts and community actions. Further details see
Bury the Chains The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery by Adam Hochschild. Another brilliantly written and accessible history of the campaign against the slave trade. A reminder for all of us working hard to win campaigns that a small group of committed people can make a difference. This week Shaker Aamer was released from Guantanamo Bay after 14 years without justice and reading this book reminded me of how slavery, at all different levels, still exists even in the so called western democracies. Adam reminds us that the campaign against the slave trade was fought at a time when most people were prisoners, their bondage was part of a global economy based on forced labour. Opposing this trade would have been seen as akin to treason in the 1700s but by the end of the 1833 it was abolished. This is the story of those people who took up that challenge.
Out about motorways. Love them or hate them we all use them and the recent collapse of part of the Mancunian Way shows how crucial they are to getting around the city. The Manchester Modernist Society and Proper Magazine are hosting a night of films to celebrate the history of motorways in the northwest; On the Road on November 26 at the Castlefield Gallery in Manchester. Films made by organisations as diverse as Ribble Buses, The Cement and Concrete Association and the building firm Laing. I did not make up these names! Further details see