Full landmark documentary to air on PBS America

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PBS America will premiere the full 18-hour directors’ cut of the critically acclaimed documentary The Vietnam War in April 2018.

PBS America is the new British television channel from America’s Public Service broadcasting and is available in the UK on Freeview (94), Freesat (155), Virgin (276) and Sky (534).

The 10-hour international version of The Vietnam War was broadcast on BBC Four in 2017 and made many Top TV Shows of the year lists. The Guardian newspaper described it as “one of the highest achievements of factual programme-making.”

The series features digitally re-mastered archival footage, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th century, historic television broadcasts, emotive home movies and audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations. The series was directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

“Ken and I are thrilled that British audiences will be able to watch our full directors’ cut from this April,” says Novick.

“We tried to shed new light on the war by looking at it from the bottom up, the top down, and from all sides.”

“In addition to the dozens of Americans who shared their stories, we interviewed many Vietnamese on both the winning and losing sides and were surprised to learn that the war remains as painful and unresolved for them as it is for us. Within this almost incomprehensibly destructive event, we discovered profound, universal human truths, as well as uncanny resonances with recent events.”

In comments for BBC Radio 4’s The Saturday Review, the author Sebastian Faulks said:

“There is something incredibly inspiring and comforting to think journalism of this quality, this even-handedness, this depth, is still available in the western world today.”

The full 18 hour, 10-part version of The Vietnam War will premiere in the UK on PBS America on Wednesdays at 21.00 (BST) from 11 April 2018.

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In and of the moment Shakespeare? See Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre

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Do not go and see Julius Caesar at the new Bridge Theatre in London if you like your Shakespeare traditional and staid.  From the scene-setting live rock music to making the audience an active part of the drama you are unlikely to have seen Shakespeare performed like this in the past.

As in Shakespeare’s day, there are no seats in the stalls and the action takes place right in the middle of the audience.  Staging moves up and down, stairways are wheeled in, actors are hidden amongst the general public and the entire experience feels very live and part of our modern world.  It is big, bold, brash and exciting.

The energy of the staging means the actors have a lot of work to do to maintain the pace.  The glorious language is complex to deliver at speed without losing the meaning but the cast manage (mostly) admirably.  David Morrissey is a revelation as a masterful Mark Antony.  David Calder is a very Trump-like Caesar, while Ben Whishaw as Marcus Brutus, makes an interesting transition from slightly bookish intellectual to an assured but ultimately fatally flawed politician.

I have two issues with this production.  Having Cassius played by a woman, no matter how well acted, introduces a gender dynamic into the play which I am not sure quite works.  Secondly, the fact that in Shakespeare’s play Marcus Brutus is unable to kill himself says something important about his character so when it is done differently in this production I think we lose something.

If you have seen dull versions of Shakespeare in the past and hope to be able to snooze while you watch, think again.  With no interval there is no let-up in arresting drama for just under two hours.  If societal commentators are to be believed, in the age of shortened attention spans and the instant gratification of social media, this is exactly the way Shakespeare needs to be delivered.  But, of course, it is simply going back to the drama that he originally intended.  My advice would be to get tickets amongst the groundlings.  You’ll be immersed in one of the most exciting, innovative and creative productions of Shakespeare you are currently likely to see on the London stage.

London short story writers celebrated

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The London Short Story Prize Anthology will be published in late April 2018.

The prize was launched five years ago by Spread the World, London’s writer development agency. The competition seeks to discover and promote exciting short story authors from the capital.

The Anthology features writing submitted for the 2017 contest and includes work by Maria Thomas, Alun Evans, Selma Carvalho, Dylan Brethour, Anton Rose, Kerstin Twachtmann, Kate Ellis, Bren Gosling and Ed Cottrell.

“Winning the London Short Story Prize has increased my confidence, meaning I’m taking more risks in my work and applying for more opportunities with writing I’m really excited about, ” commented Maria Thomas.

“It is like the prize helped me give myself permission to write on my own terms. The exposure has been great too. I’ve been solicited by literary agents, awarded writing residencies and interviewed for podcasts.”

Publication of the Anthology will be celebrated at an event at the Idea Store in Whitechapel, London, on 26 April attended by judges and authors Joe Dunthorne and Leone Ross.

“It was a real pleasure to judge the London Short Story Prize and exciting to see so much ambition, energy and fearlessness,” commented Dunthorne.

The 2018 competition opens for entries in June.

New documentary trails the redemptive power of running

Skid Row Marathon follows Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell as he coaches a long-distance running club from the Midnight Mission on LA’s infamous Skid Row.

The Midnight Mission helps those fighting addiction and coping with homelessness from a notorious area of downtown Los Angeles. The organisation describes itself as offering “paths to self-sufficiency to men, women and children who have lost direction”.

This new feature length documentary shows how the camaraderie of the group and the redemptive power of running raises the spirits of the Skid Row inhabitants and gives a sense of purpose to those who are homeless, addicted or coming out of the prison system.

The film has won 13 awards from 10 different US film festivals during the 2017-2018 season and received critical acclaim from the US press.

In addition to the documentary, there is a 10 minute UK-focused pre-film exploring the transformative power of running and featuring interviews with Gold medalist Jo Pavey, broadcaster & coach Martin Yelling and journalist and well-known runner Sophie Raworth. The founder of parkrun Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the author Byrony Gordon and Emmerdale actor Tony Audenshaw also feature.

Skid Row Marathon will be screened on Wednesday 9 May 2018 in over 100 selected multiplex and independent cinemas nationwide. A number of exclusive preview screenings will be available during the registration period for the London Marathon at O2 Cineworld and Everyman Canary Wharf, while on Saturday 22 April there will be a chance to see the film followed by a live Q&A with Judge Craig Mitchell at O2 Cineworld.

Tickets for the screening on 9 May can be purchased via: http://www.skidrowmarathontickets.co.uk.

The Happy Mondays to perform at Jimmy’s Festival

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Channel 4 presenter and farmer Jimmy Doherty has announced the main stage line up for his music and food festival.

Headlining are Paul Young and the Happy Mondays with The Rats, The Bluetones, Marsicans, Longey & The Gospel Trash also performing.

The festival includes a programme of celebrity chef demonstrations in Woodforde’s Kitchen as well as children’s act Dick & Dom who will take to the main stage.

Twenty thousand people are expected to attend the weekend event at Jimmy’s Farm in Suffolk which includes a wildlife park, a butterfly house and an ancient woodland.

“We’re buzzing for this year’s line-up – it’s the best we have ever had,” said Jimmy Doherty.

“It is so exciting to be bringing this much new talent as well as incredible headliners. The whole event has something for everyone with all the added extras, especially the incredible food – where else can you hang out with meerkats one minute and the Happy Mondays the next?”

Jimmy’s Festival tickets are now on sale via: http://www.jimmysfestival.co.uk.

New documentary tells the story of world class archer

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Deepika Kumari was born in a small village 15km from Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state in eastern India.

As a child she became interested in archery and improved her aim by targeting fruit on the mango trees around her home.

In 2005 she was spotted by scouts from the Seraikela-Kharsawan Archery Academy and trained there before moving to the better facilities of the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur a year later.

She won the Youth World Archery Championship in Ogden, USA, in 2009 and went on to win two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010.

In 2012 she became the world no. 1 in Women’s Recurve Archery before competing to become the first Indian woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal in Rio in 2016.

Her amazing story is told in a new Netflix documentary – Ladies First – directed by Uraaz Bahl and produced by Shaana Levy-Bahl.

Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with over 117 million members in 190 countries around the world.

Ladies First, a Netflix original documentary short, will launch globally on International Women’s Day – 8 March 2018.

Questions Of Faith

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Three-time BAFTA nominee and Emmy winner David Suchet has travelled the world for a new podcast series exploring the connections between Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

During the series Suchet visits the UK, Israel and the USA and speaks to religious thinkers including Lord Jonathan Sacks, Dr Rowan Williams and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson. He investigates why different faiths have fought over Jerusalem, why peace and war are central to understanding Judaism and why some believers commit violence in God’s name.

Questions Of Faith will be available from Friday 9 March 2018 as part of Audible’s 30 day trial.  The Audible Original podcast can be downloaded via:

http://www.audible.co.uk/podcasts.