What was your cultural highlight of 2017? Our top picks
22 December 2017
Global Justice Now's round up of our favourite cultural highlights from books to festivals this year.
Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick
The ongoing comic series Bitch Planet is set in a dystopian near-future that’s uncomfortably close to home. In a world ruled by a cabal of men called ‘The Fathers’, women are relegated to the kitchen, with draconian laws controlling everything from their relationships to their body size. Those who don’t fit are branded ‘non-compliant’ and sent to a prison planet run by faceless guards – and built on secrets. The series follows inmate Kamau Kogo, who’s desperate to break out and find her sister, while back home, revolution is in the air. Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale will eat up this smart, no-punches-pulled exploration of sexism, racism, and transphobia in a future where many of today’s scariest political trends have reached their logical – and horrifying – conclusion. The expressive and realistic art style makes the series inviting, even for first-time comic readers. Volumes 1 and 2 are in bookshops now.
Catherine Martin, grants manager
Voices from the jungle: stories from the Calais refugee camp
Edited by Marie Godin, Katrine Moller Hansen, Aura Lounasmaa,Corinne Squire and Tahir Zaman
This is the book I’m reading at the moment, and I would highly recommend it for a glimpse into the many different life experiences of refugees and migrants trying to find a home in the UK. Co-authored by refugees living in the jungle, the book came out of a university writing course that camp residents could access on site. It tells the story of their journeys from homelands as diverse as Afganistan, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan across Europe, to their stay in ‘the jungle’ camp in Calais. Juxtaposing the epic and the mundane, these are tales tell of homesickness, horrendous injustice, boredom and tragedy. The storytellers’ vulnerability to the whims of chance and fate is striking. But what is also apparent is the creativity, wisdom and enterprising spirit of the storytellers; as well as the cameraderie that has developed and that keeps them sane.
Jane Herbstritt, campaigns officer
This Evil Thing a play by Michael Mears
Michael Mears delivers a moving performance as the soul actor and director. You’re left with real insight into the lives of the characters he portrays, these range from Bertand Russell, one of the most famous advocates of conscientious objection to many of those less well known but no less deserving of attention and admiration. Inspiring on many levels.
Sam Lund-Harket, activism officer
Bare Lit Festival
In 2015 the UK’s three largest literary festivals featured over 2000 authors - only 4% were from Black Caribbean, Black African, South Asian or East Asian backgrounds. Bare Lit Festival is changing that by showcasing the talent of writers of colour. This year’s festival was their second and it brought together authors from a range of literary disciplines - from music and politics to cookbooks. The lack of pretence, variety of subjects covered and concerted effort to create a safe space for discussion made this the festival of 2017 for me. Bare Lit Festival will return 25-27 May 2018!
Radhika Patel, communications and campaigns officer
Director Sally Potter's political outlook and her artistry have always hit a sweet spot in her films. The Party is no exception, shot in two rooms and the garden of a London house, in black and white with a small cast, there‘s an almost claustrophobic element to the story. But the issues brought into this film, the study of relationships and how they flourish or not in the strained lives led by middle class lefties in today’s London.
Tim Spall is fantastic as Bill a shell shocked husband with a banging secret to divulge. The friends of Janet, Bill’s wife are arriving to laud and congratulate her on being promoted to a shadow ministerial post in a left-leaning opposition, but none of them can quite allow her the limelight as their own lives spew out all over the party. Cillian Murphy’s coke-fuelled psycho banker character ensures the evening will not go to plan.
The verbals are devilish, the suspense just right and this little film packs a real punch.
Guy Taylor, campaigns manager
Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis by George Monbiot
I’d recommend the book ‘Out of the Wreckage’ by author and journalist George Monbiot. Written in his usual readable style, it goes beyond describing the wreckage caused by the failing economic and political systems that are causing inequality and trashing the planet, and devotes a satisfying number of pages to the many possible alternatives that could create a more community-oriented, democratic society and a new ‘politics of belonging’. It then goes on to suggest how these changes could come about, particularly looking to the ‘big organising’ techniques of Bernie Sanders’ campaign in the US. Overall, ‘Out of the Wreckage’ is a surprisingly optimistic book, since Monbiot clearly believes in people and the good things about us, and ultimately his book promotes those things so vital for radical change: hope, the power of imagination, and effective action.
Liz Murray, head of Scottish campaigns
What was your favourite thing? Let us know by adding your pick in the comments below.