Beyond Babel returns to Manchester for the first time since the pandemic

  • Festival begins today and carries on all week
  • Films are being screened at Man Met and Instituto Cervantes
  • Many screenings feature a Q&A section with filmmakers 

The Beyond Babel film festival makes its return for the first time since the pandemic.

The multilingual festival shows various films from across the globe, focussing on two themes each year.

As well as the constant theme of language learning, a theme unique to this year is the experience of refugees.

The festival takes place in various locations across Manchester showing four films over a span of four days, with separate viewings, a matinee for students and the general audience in the afternoon.

The itinerary of the festival

Carmen Herrero, co-founder of Beyond Babel and section leader of languages at Man Met, said: “Life is not monolingual and no matter how much we pretend that English is enough, it’s not.

“We realised even if you communicate in a language that there are so many cultural aspects that are embedded into the language that you really need to learn.

“Everybody learns languages at different levels, even if you are watching a film and not studying French or Spanish or Italian, you always ask why are they doing that, either about their food, body language or gestures.

Life is not monolingual and no matter how much we pretend that English is enough, it’s not

“When you meet the people you understand why they are doing that or why they seem to be so aggressive when they talk, even though they aren’t.”

Films included this year’s festival are Dreaming of Words, a documentary about an Indian man who did not finish his education but created a comparative dictionary of four different languages; Josep, an animated movie based on the real life experience of a cartoonist who left Spain under the Franco regime and left for Mexico where he met Frida Kahlo; and Me Duele la Memoria, a documentary that tells the stories of various women who fled from Chile to Switzerland during the dictatorship.

When asked which film is her favourite, Carmen says: “I think it’s Me Duele la Memoria, the Swiss film, because the way that the stories are written are really beautiful.

Beyond Babel 2017 – Film Festival – Interview with Director Alastair Cole from Flame on Vimeo.

“The stories are being told through women and in chile they had to do something to avoid the censorship from the tenure of the dictatorship so they created these arpilleras, which are textile creations that tell what has happened there, either the tortures and killing or the way that they were cooking together to save some money.

”They did it with fabric and composed these beautiful stories. The director chose these arpilleras, some in Chile, some in Europe, and some were created specifically for this film.

“I think it’s a really interesting and artistic way of telling this story with all of the different points of view.”

When screened, Me Duele la Memoria will be introduced by the director during the festival.

The festival screens a different film everyday until Friday (10 June), tickets are free and are available on eventbrite for the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th.