Beyond Babel at MMU Geoffrey Manton Building

Polly Checkland Harding
Manchester skyline at sunset

Beyond Babel at MMU Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester 8 — 9 February 2017 Entrance is free — Visit now

The third edition of Beyond Babel will showcase two diverse, provoke discussions on film aesthetics and broaden the visibility of multilingual communities on film. This year’s programme brings together two afternoons of screenings, with the French-set La Cour de Babel on the Wednesday and Colours of the Alphabet on the Thursday, and prompts questions around cultural differences, multilingualism, homeland, education, global citizenship, mobility, immigration, integration and identity.

The event takes its name from the biblical story of The Tower of Babel, in which the people of the earth all spoke one language following the great flood – but became arrogant and tried to build a tower that would reach up to heaven. God’s punishment was to confound their speech so that they could no longer understand one another, and scatter them across the earth. It’s an apt allusion for a film festival that explores the benefits and drawbacks of the diversity of tongues.


La Cour de Babel (Julie  Bertuccelli, 2013)

Synopsis: The school of La Grange aux Belles in northern Paris has a program for immigrant children (many of whom have a hesitant grasp of French) that provides intense language lessons alongside the core curriculum so the kids can ultimately matriculate into regular classes. Teacher Brigitte Cervoni, demonstrating the perfect balance of encouraging warmth and unwavering academic expectations, guides her charges through the year, cognizant of the need to be not only a teacher, but also a symbol of a France ideally welcoming to all newcomers.

Colours of the Alphabet (Alastair Cole, 2016)

Synopsis: Colours of the Alphabet is a beautiful, inspiring and bittersweet story about language and childhood in Africa.  It is a story of childhood innocence, misplaced hope, and the role of language as a means of binding a nation together. Colours of the Alphabet is a feature documentary shot over a period of 12 months in rural Zambia, in a grade one class with 30 children, as they, and their parents, come to terms with the often bemusing reality of education in their country. A country where you are told that to get ahead means understanding the world in English, despite less than two percent of Zambians using the language in their daily lives.

Beyond Babel at MMU Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester 8 — 9 February 2017 Entrance is free Visit now

Where to go near Beyond Babel at MMU Geoffrey Manton Building

exterior of Contact Theatre building
Contact Theatre

Following a major redevelopment, the iconic venue on Oxford Road will be reopening its doors to welcome the public back into the building this autumn. 

Music venue
The Deaf Institute

The Deaf Institute is a vibrant gig venue and nightclub for which it is well worth taking a jaunt out of the Northern Quarter.

Catalog Bookshop

Find Peter and his Christiania cargo bike around All Saints Park, a hop, skip and a bunnyhop from Manchester Poetry Library.

Bar or Pub

Sandbar, just off Oxford Road in Manchester, is a well-loved watering hole, with a great selection of ales and some eccentric seating.

Johnny Roadhouse store
Johnny Roadhouse

Buffeted by fried chicken outlets, legendary musical instrument emporium Johnny Roadhouse has been serving the local music community for over 50 years.

Café or Coffee Shop
Eighth Day

Eighth Day is a co-operative shop that sells ethically-sourced food, wine and cosmetics. There’s also café that serves hearty, healthy meals in the basement.

Event venue
The Proud Place

Based in the heart of Manchester on Sidney Street, The Proud Place houses The Proud Trust and serves as a community hub for the wider LGBT+ population across Greater Manchester and beyond.

What's on: Exhibitions

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