The coup they televised: Venezuela, Chavez and a cinematic masterpiece

chavez_filmAn exciting new radical film festival Seeing Red: a festival of subversive cinema takes place this weekend and the organisers are to be congratulated on choosing to show the ground breaking docu-film about the temporarily successful 2002 coup against the left-wing government in Venezuela, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

This unique film came about as a television crew from Ireland’s Radio Telifís Éireann happened to be recording a documentary about Hugo Chávez (and in the Presidential Palace itself!) in April 2002. Continue reading

The Sunday Times Rich List – the antidote

The best antidote I have seen to the annual Sunday Times Rich List! A beautiful film illustration of the realities of wealth inequality. And in order to eliminate inequality, we don’t have to change the distribution to what most people regard as the ideal. We only have to change it to what people think it is anyway. And only 6% of the people would be any worse off!

OK. It is about the US, but Britain is not very different. Almost 6m viewings so far.

(hat-tip: Socialist Unity)

Ding dong the witch is dead – Tories seek to crush power of free market

Whatever you think of the good taste of celebratory Thatcher death partying, it is an interesting spectator sport watching the Tories tie themselves up in knots over a chart-topping Wizard of Oz song and whether the BBC should permit the “free market” in music downloads to determine what it plays (admission: I’ve downloaded two versions in the last few days).

The Daily Telegraph which bizarrely refers to the song as an anti-Thatcher anthem — hardly what Judy Garland had in mind — is carefully hedging its position: their printed front page lead has “BBC chief refuses to ban Thatcher death song” in response to demands by Lord McAlpine and Sir Gerald Howarth, but the website has moved on to “Play Margaret Thatcher death song, her supporters tell BBC“. The clincher seems to be Nigel Farage’s more pragmatic than genuinely libertarian line of: Continue reading

Now’s no time to ditch Labour

Responsible capitalism.”

It’s a phrase that rolls off the tongue with great ease nowadays. Claimed by Ed Miliband as he attacked “predator” energy companies, media groups and banks, it was seen as a huge Labour success when the term spread across the political spectrum.

At least Labour is no longer “intensely relaxed” about people getting “filthy rich.” But for all the uses of political jargon, sometimes it’s just plain rubbish. Put two contradictory words – “responsible” and “capitalism” – together and create an oxymoron. But say it enough and you might convince yourself. Continue reading

Exploitation, solidarity – and a tale of two films

Seeing two films dealing with exploitation in the developing world made me think of the trajectory of British documentary maker Nick Broomfield. His first film –Who Cares? – focused on the slum clearances. We never see Broomfield’s face in the feature – back then he used cinéma vérité – interspersing the comments and narratives of his subjects.

Yet since 1988, his films have taken on a contrasting form, with director as the centrepiece. As the Guardian put it, “His search for answers provides the narrative backbone to issues which may remain unresolved, usually laced with his gently sly comedy.” Continue reading