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A Magazine for Sheffield

The Right to Continue Dreaming

Those fighting for a better world continue to do so, whether that's in Palestine or Peru. A double-bill film screening in Sheffield on 19 February celebrates the links between culture and politics, in Latin America and beyond.

Fragments of a Dream still 2

A still from Fragments of a Dream.

Alborada Films

Reading about the state of the world right now, it’s easy to feel nothing but despair. Reactionary forces in places like Israel seem intent on inflicting what seems like unending pain. But those fighting for a better world continue to do so, whether that's in Palestine or Peru, where a US-backed dictatorship has been in power since December 2022.

In the context of the bleak times we are living, I feel it’s even more important to showcase historic and current initiatives that are advancing progressive politics.

That’s why I’m delighted to be hosting Alborada Films Presents: Documentaries from Latin America and Beyond at Theatre Deli next week. The focus is on two documentaries that celebrate the relationship between culture and politics, one of which I co-directed.

Fragments of a Dream is a short film that my production company Alborada Films released last year. The documentary journeys to the Welsh town of Machynlleth, where the El Sueño Existe (The Dream Lives On) takes place, a festival of politics and culture dedicated to the memory of Chilean singer Victor Jara.

A visionary musician and theatre director, Jara was murdered by the dictatorship that took power in Chile after a military coup on 11 September 1973. Jara had been a high-profile supporter of the socialist government of Salvador Allende that the US-backed coup violently overthrew. Allende died on the day of the coup. The film is observational in style and spends time with the musicians, academics, activists and others, like Jeremy Corbyn, who have come together to celebrate Jara’s life and legacy, and their quest for a better world for all.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the coup. As with tens of thousands of other Allende supporters, my parents were forced to leave Chile after the coup, arriving in London as political refugees, where they still live to this day. Further north, Sheffield and the surrounding areas became a major UK centre for Chilean refugees, something recently explored in the documentary Chileans of the North. I’m close to completing Mother, Country, a documentary that explores some of my parents’ story in Chile before and in the aftermath of the coup. A people’s uprising there in late 2019 inspired me to go and see the unfolding events for myself and confront my parents’ past.

We will also be showing the fascinating documentary The People’s Train of Culture (El Tren Popular de la Cultura), about an inspiring initiative under the Allende government to bring culture to marginalised communities.

Corbyn, who spoke after a screening of the film we organised in London last year, had this to say about it:

I think the most powerful message from the film is that it’s art, music, culture, and poetry that make the fundamental differences in people's lives. […] The importance and the genius of Salvador Allende in deciding to invest considerably in the Culture Train and the culture activities all over Chile made a fantastic difference. Just imagine, had the coup not taken place, what a country Chile would now be like.

As well as these two films, we will show a short video made by Sheffield filmmaker Angela Martin from the Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and both film sessions will include in-person Q&As. The evening will also feature live music from Chilean singer/songwriter Francisco Carrasco, who will perform songs at the end of each Q&A inspired by his journey as a child exile and cultural activist. He will be accompanied by Chilean musician Esteban Perez. We have stalls from a number of groups and delicious Chilean empanadas.

Learn more

Alborada Films Presents: Documentaries from Latin America and Beyond.

Theatre Deli, Monday 19 February 2024, 5:30pm to 10pm.

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