Showroom Cinema: Somebody to lean on

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It’s been a highly eventful week in the world of politics, and in serendipitous fortune there are three very different films out in from Friday which are all stories that are inherently political.

British director Andrew Haigh is back with the wonderful Lean on Pete, starring the mesmerising Charlie Plummer, Chloë Sevigny, and Steve Buscemi. A beautiful voyage of discovery across America, Lean on Pete is the coming-of-age story of a boy and his horse that sweeps across rundown racetracks, hostile city streets and vast open prairies to tell a wider tale of life in modern America. Based on Willy Vlautin’s acclaimed novel, 15-year- old Charley arrives on the edges of Portland, Oregon with his single father - both eager for a fresh start.

While his dad Ray descends into new relationships, job hunts and personal turmoil, Charley stumbles on a local racetrack where he lands a gig with gruff trainer Del caring for an ageing quarter horse called ‘Lean on Pete’. But Pete’s sprints aren’t what they used to be, and neither are the races, and when Del earmarks the horse for the slaughterhouse, Charley is driven to extreme measures to spare his new friend’s life. This is the hungry tale of those often invisible in the mainstream media, of marginalised populations barely scraping by that don’t equate with the versions of people and places that the powers that be want us to see. Lean on Pete is big hearted and thick skinned with adventure and sorrow aplenty.

Zooming back into the mid-1800s, but hot on the heels of his recent masterpiece, I Am Not Your Negro, Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck is back with another portrait of one of the world’s most influential thinkers: The Young Karl Marx. But who was Marx? Philosopher? Predictor of globalisation? 19th century prophet of exploitation for profit? In 1844, a collective of young Europeans assembled and decided that the world had to change. Marx and his wife Jenny met Manchester textile factory heir, Friedrich Engels and set about organising the newly formed working classes to stand up against poverty, market forces and manipulation. Radical politics take centre stage in this gripping study of revolutionary action: We have nothing to lose but our chains.

Finally, on 8 May at the Showroom in collaboration with Cinema Palestino Sheffield and Manchester and West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign, we have 70 Years of Nakba: a unique collection of Palestinian short films that aims to reflect on the events in 1948 that marked a decisive turning point in the Middle East. It’s a diverse and thought-provoking programme that recalls both forgotten histories and contemporary Palestinian experiences.