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Manchester Film Co-operative

The revolution will be televised – tonight in a pub in Salford. Rachel Winterbottom looks forward to a screening of Naomi Klein's radical documentary <i>The Take</i>

Written by . Published on September 23rd 2008.

Manchester Film Co-operative

Maybe you are one of the knowledgeable collective who have been gathering on the third Tuesday of every month in Salford’s pub-cum-venue, the Kings Arms. Maybe you’re the ultimate mix of political activist and film buff. But more likely, you’re one of the masses who have, up until this moment, been regrettably unaware of the film festival that has been quietly taking place for the last six months in Salford.

It's hosted by the Manchester Film Co-operative and was launched in April of this year. The film season has been steadily building up a core following of film fans, activists and those eager to wax lyrical about politics – and, happily, anyone can get involved.

The co-operative provides a platform to those films that are rarely seen in mainstream cinema. Even Cornerhouse – a champion of art house, world cinema and independent film – appears as mainstream as Top Shop when compared to the Kings Arms’ screenings.

Like many great things, this was a venture birthed by discussion. Speaking on behalf of the Co-operative, member Giles Simon explained how it all came into being. “A group of people sat around talking about how great it would be if people in Manchester had a place where they could regularly get together to watch politically interesting films, discuss them afterwards and generally bring lots of different people together.”

The scheme has attracted a mixed bag of film fans, experts, and those interested in politics and activism. According to Simon, one of the attractions has been the distinctive setting: “The Kings Arms has got good beer and there isn't a traditional cinema layout – there are tables, snacks, occasional sofas and drinks. It's a very chilled and friendly environment.”

So if you fancy staying for the discussion, or the existential sofas, each month’s film is shown at 7.45pm, followed by a break for a bevy and topped off by an expert or activist-led talk. This being the Kings Arms, whenever there’s a gap, there’s been a DJ on hand to provide background tunes. Radical documentary The Take is the final film of the season. Simon said of the documentary’s makers: “Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein are both well known journalists and reporters. Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo, one of the most influential books in the anti-capitalist movement. Lewis is an award-winning journalist who currently presents on Al Jazeera TV, amongst other things.

“In The Take they catalogue the way in which workers in Argentina took over factories that had closed down during a massive economic downturn in 2001. Not only does the film show how workers were forced to take things into their own hands in Argentina, but it might even be a vision of the future in the UK if the credit crunch and recession continue to have such huge effects as we've seen over the last few weeks!” For The Take Bob Cannell, from one of the largest worker co-operatives in the UK, Suma, will head the discussions.

It can’t escape notice that the co-operative’s themes of revolution and political turmoil are timely, especially with Manchester playing host to the annual Labour Party Conference this week. Susan Hampson, one of the film co-operative’s founding members, said: “This is a great time to show The Take, a film about the importance of workers’ rights and democracy. The Labour Party conference and the Convention of the Left will be going on in Manchester, so we hope to attract plenty of interest, particularly from disgruntled Labour activists.” If anything, the timing of the showing should

So has the independent-film crusade been worth it? Simon suggests that film can make a difference: “The theme Revolution was chosen as it represents what we want the Co-operative to be – somewhere where we can get together and watch inspiring films that present real alternatives… I think all the founders of the co-operative are surprised at how effective the venture has been. We wanted to get a whole range of different people together to watch good film, talk about it and hopefully start to organise and start working together, and this is happening now. Basically we just want to keep building on what we've got now and ensure it keeps a momentum.”

The Take screens on Tuesday 23 September at 7.30pm. Tickets are £2 on the door. If you miss out, next seasons’ films, on the theme of Sustainable Futures, begin with The Gleaners and I by Agnes Varda on Tuesday 21 October. Sustainable Futures runs until March 2009.

Kings Arms
11 Bloom Street
M3 6AN
0161 832 3605

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