Manchester Against Trump’s Muslim Ban

By Fionn Burrows

Following the success of the previous anti-Trump marches seen up and down the country, especially in Manchester, the latest comes as a front to say that Manchester does not stand for racism and religious discrimination.

Organisd by Stand Up To Racism Manchester in association with Manchester People’s Assembly the protest took place in the wake of a so called ‘Muslim Ban’ imposed by the United States government.

The ban restricts all travel to the US from 7  Muslim majority countries in the middle east including those holding duel citizenship with one of the countries for 90 days.The ban also focusses on restricting entry to the US of refugees from the 7 countries for 120 days and the complete halt on refugees from Syria indefinitely.

  Manchester Against Racism Rally, 4th Feb – Fionn Burrows


I spoke to members of the public who attended the event to gauge opinion on the issues and ask why they attended:

Kaylee Frye, 20, Engineering Student at University of Manchester

“You can’t just ban all Muslims from America. What’s probably the worst thing is the refusal to take refugees from an active warzone. It’s morally wrong…”

Patrick Watson, 45, Office Worker from Belfast

“I’m a catholic and despite not sharing religions, we all preach the same thing and that is tolerance… so I’m here to stand up for my Muslim brothers and sisters”

Tamil Naser, 33, NHS surgeon from Syria

“I’ve been lucky enough to have worked and lived in this country for 10+ years, so I’m here today for all my fellow migrants looking to make a new life, free from prejudice and discrimination as I did… doctors, nurses, teachers, skilled individuals who benefit the countries they enter”

The event, which was attened by an estimated 2,500 people, had the purpose of putting pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May to take a hard line with President Trump. The PM is currently visiting the US and is the first head of state to meet with Mr Trump since taking office in January.

Event organizers fear the PM “going soft” on the POTUS  due to negotiations of a trade deal between the UK and US following Britain’s exit from the EU’s single market. They hope that the support shown by the people of Manchester convinces May that the whole country feels strongly about this issue and she represents those views by condemning Trump and refusing to bow to his demands.

Further protests are planned over the next few months, many focusing on opposing President Trump’s UK state visit.

The route of the march took to Albert Square:

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By Fionn Burrows

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Moonlight Screening & Director Barry Jenkins Q&A

By Fionn Burrows

With awards season in full swing and the Oscars just around the corner, 8 times academy award nominated picture Moonlight came to HOME Manchester for a special screening followed by a Q&A with director Barry Jenkins.

Moonlight is the screen adaptation of the novel In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, which focuses on the life of an African American boy at different stages in his life. The film addresses this by splitting into 3 parts: i. Little (as a child) ii. Chiron (as a teenager) iii. Black (in his 20s)

The film uses its episodic nature to explore the changes in the characters life as he ages with each part named after his persona at the given time, with particular focus being on him coming to terms with homosexual feelings.

HOME Manchester exterior – By Fionn Burrows

Moonlight is only Barry Jenkins’ second feature film; however, he does have extensive experience in directing shorts.

After the screening, Jenkins approached the front and took questions from the audience.

He spoke about challenging the stereotypes that the film industry often presents us with, saying “it’s important to break down perceptions of masculinity and what it means to be a black male” believing that Moonlight allows the audience to see characters that they’d see in real life instead of an archetype that many never experience. think about these issues openly, without judgement.

Jenkins then talked about the low budget of $1.5m which may seem like a lot but when put into context is only about a 1/30th of the budget of other award nominated films such as Arrival and La La Land.

Barry Jenkins taking questions following a screening of Moonlight – By Fionn Burrows

“the budget limitations meant we had no time to rehearse and many of the shots had to be done in one take… I do think this made a better movie because the actors all knew that they needed to put everything into that one take, because they wouldn’t get another chance”

The low budget also led Jenkins to employ the strange tactic of hiring non actors to play main characters in order to keep costs down as well as big name stars such as Naomi Harris taking cuts to pay.

Jenkins spoke about conveying honesty and that he would say to his producers that he was “making the film that was in front of me, not the one in the script”

With nominations in screenplay, supporting actor and actress, a favorite for the Academy Awards best picture, and off the back of a Golden Globes win for best picture, this low budget film with unknown talent has shown the world that representation shouldn’t be a taboo and is capable of critical acclaim.


Watch the trailer here:
Moonlight | Official Trailer HD | A24  –



Location of Home, the cinema where the event took place:
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Independent Film in Manchester – MANIFF

By Fionn Burrows

The Manchester Independent Film Festival (MANIFF) takes place over 4 days between the 2nd and 5th March and features films from every corner of the globe as well as those a little closer to home.

The festival which only started 3 years ago in 2015, showcases independent film from across the world. This year’s festival features international films from countries such as Norway, Denmark and Austria to name a few as well as shining a light on local talent by hosting a north- west themed opening night. The festival also makes a point of inclusivity by placing awards on films from ‘Women in Film’ to ‘Rising Star’.

The festival will take place at the Odeon Printworks in Manchester city centre where filmmakers from every corner of the globe will mix and mill in the crowds of fans looking to get their first chance to catch the films of the festival as well as panels from ‘Women in Film’ to ‘Jury Select’ which will discuss the film selection process for the festival.


Odeon Printworks exterior – Fionn Burrows

Speaking with pair of Danish film makers; Director Frederick Barington and Producer Lars Iversen, who are screening their film When the Sun Shines at the festival, they shone some light on the process of making a film and having them shown.

In particular talking about the sources of funding. They say that funding is usually reserved for more experienced filmmakers: “Our film was funded almost solely privately… we made our film outside of the normal system..” Suggesting that their youth means there “isn’t really a stepping stone.”

The Danish Film Institute  allocates “subsidies for the development, production and distribution of Danish films”. However Barington and Iversen suggest that the institute is not willing to take risks on funding films if the creators have not been to film school, which means, despite government funding, taking the initial first step is the hardest.

I then spoke to Austrian Cinematographer, Richi Wagner who is showcasing his film Planet Ottakring. Similarly to Denmark, government funding is available from the Austrian Film Institute (AFI) except when the AFI differs from its counterpart in Demark is that more money is put aside for smaller projects as in Austria Films primarily gain funding through television channels and the AFI, no corporations are involved.

Richi did suggest that despite more funding being available for young filmmakers, they are still met with difficulty from producers who tend to “favour their own interest”. So he pleads everyone “ the best way to support independent film is to spend your hard earned cash and go to the cinema!”.


Press event at the Radisson Blu hotel, Manchester – Fionn Burrows

In order to  find out more about the selection process for choosing which films will be screened as part of the festival I spoke to MANIFF organiser and co-founder,  Neil Jeram-Croft.

The selection process starts after the deadline for filmmakers to submit their works ends. At which point, Neil and several other on the Jury Select Committee sift through to find the best films for the given year. He said although he wishes he could have invited certain other filmmakers to showcase, “this is the fairest way to make the selections as it avoids any prior favouritism”.


Neil believes that “… films that focus on the art of cinema, as opposed to focused on audience” make for better films. Comparing the festival films to Hollywood blockbusters and comic book movies which are fully funded by large studios geared towards audience numbers and profit, he believes that independent films have more depth to them. As such, in order to qualify to be featured at the festival, films must be “at least 50% funded independently”.

The festival is completely non-profit. All submission fees go into the running of the festival which is also partnered with local business and organisations such as Manchester Metropolitan University, Odeon, Mentrolink, Radisson Blu Hotels, Manchester Evening News etc. in order to provide residence, transport and service to creators free of charge and provide discounts for festival goers. So Neil closed by saying “come and watch”.

Interview with MANIFF co-founder; Neil Jeram-Croft, whilst attending networking event at Radisson Blu Hotel – By Fionn Burrows/Jamie Oliver/Lauren Brassington

The festival offers a range of events including; narrative features, documentaries, shorts, animations, experimental films, music videos and screenplays. By offering such a wide range of specialities across the medium it allows the festival to showcase independent, up and coming talent from across the industry as well as providing festival goers with the widest range of events of and MANIFF to date.

The importance of independent, low budget cinema was echoed in February by Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, who’s production had the budget 1/30th of other Academy award nominated films. Jenkins said “I worked at a film festival in the mid-west for several years and started directing shorts… Moonlight is only my second feature film, which proves that you don’t need experience or high budget to produce good cinema”.

So whether it’s a Scandinavian drama or a British North-West short film, Manchester Film Festival will continue to shine a bright torch of representation for the independent filmmakers of the future.

Locations of Manchester Film Festival events:


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