Festival of Ideas May 2017

Please note: this season finished in June 2017
Festival of Ideas May 2017

2016 was a year of political convulsions and we’ll be exploring the implications of the Brexit vote and the Donald Trump victory for a long time. Bristol Festival of Ideas will be looking at aspects of both of these and more with a focus on rebels and revolution. 2017 also marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution and we’re looking at this with films – including October and Reds and some classics of twentieth-century revolutionary cinema – as well as talks and discussions.

As ever, it's a packed programme of stimulating events - see you there!

Visit for details of all the talks happening in Bristol at Watershed and beyond.

Ticket prices: £4.50 - £9.00.

Previous screenings & events in this Season

John Bew looks at the radical Clement Attlee and what his life and work means today for Britain, politics and the Labour Party.

Read More - John Bew

Helen Rappaport and Daniel Beer bring to life both the brutal realities of an inhuman system and the tragic and inspiring fates of those who endured the Russian Revolution.

Read More - Helen Rappaport

Applying decades of expertise in physics, computer science, and economics, Robin Hanson uses standard theories to paint a detailed picture of a world dominated by smart robots.

Read More - Robin Hanson

Leif Wenar explores natural resources - the biggest source of unchecked power in the world.

Read More - Leif Wenar

Come the Revolution presents a discussion on Black representation inspired by the award winning documentary I Am Not Your Negro, exploring the function of the term “nigger" in the 'White' imagination.

Read More - Come the Revolution discussion: A Reply to the 'N' Question

Raoul Peck's Oscar®-nominated documentary envisions the book James Baldwin never finished (a personal account of the assassinations of three of his close friends) in this examination of black history in America.

Read More - Come The Revolution Presents: I am Not your Negro

Reni Eddo-Lodge explores what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today, covering issues from eradicated black history to white privilege, the fallacy of ‘meritocracy’ to white-washing feminism and the inextricable link between class and race.

Read More - Reni Eddo-Lodge

Colin Grant traces the history of epilepsy, the work of pioneering doctors who made breakthroughts, famous people with the condition and the effect it has had on his own life.

Read More - Colin Grant

Labour MP Jess Phillips has created such a storm since her election to Parliament in 2015 - she will give an account of her life including what it was like entering Parliament as a new MP.

Read More - Jess Phillips - CANCELLED

Feminist and anti-FGM campaigner Nimko Ali shares stories of pregnancy and periods, orgasms and the menopause, from women from all walks of life.

Read More - Nimko Ali

Shedding light on controversial research and investigating the ferocious gender wars in biology, psychology and anthropology, Angela Saini uncovers how women are being rediscovered.

Read More - Angela Saini

Ian Cobain reveals how a complex bureaucratic machine has grown up around the British state, allowing governments to evade accountability and their secrets to be buried.

Read More - Ian Cobain

Tariq Ramadan sets out to offer an introduction to Islam, to its spirituality, its principles, its rituals, its diversity and its evolution.

Read More - Tariq Ramadan

Surgeon Steve Westaby offers an exceptional insight into the exhilarating and sometimes tragic world of heart surgery, and how it feels to hold someone’s life in your hands.

Read More - Steve Westaby

Can mainstream economics be fixed? Kate Raworth identifies seven critical ways in which it has led us astray, and sets out a roadmap for bringing humanity into a sweet spot that meets the needs of all within the means of the planet.

Read More - Kate Raworth

Twenty-five years after the arrival of the Internet, we are drowning in data and deadlines. Julia Hobsbawm sets out a path for survival and success in this hyper-connected world and how to reclaim time, space and identity.

Read More - Julia Hobsbawm

Philip Lymbery examines the role of industrial farming in the plight of animals facing extinction by laying bare the myths that prop up factory farming and exploring what we can do to save the planet with healthy food.

Read More - Philip Lymbery

How much freedom do we really have in our lives? Raoul Martinez exposes the mechanisms of control, arguing that the more we understand the limits on our freedom, the better placed we are to transcend them.

Read More - Raoul Martinez

From a case for reform of the European Fisheries’ Policy to illegal forestry in Africa, James Thornton and Martin Goodman examine actions against some of the most powerful companies, institutions and governments worldwide.

Read More - James Thornton and Martin Goodman

Drawing on stories ranging from six-toed cats and stickleback hips to Mickey Mouse mice and zombie genes Kat Arney explores the mysteries in our genes.

Read More - Kat Arney

Hospice chaplain Kerry Egan witnesses firsthand what she calls the 'spiritual work of the dying' - in this talk shecompassionately describes and distills what she has learned in their service.

Read More - Kerry Egan

David Goodhart presents a robust and timely investigation into the political and moral fault-lines that divide Brexit Britain - and how a new settlement may be achieved.

Read More - David Goodhart

What will the world of technology look like in 2050? And how will it affect the way we live? Daniel Franklin and Kenneth Cukier offer insights which imagine how big developments in technology might shape the future.

Read More - Daniel Franklin and Kenneth Cukier

Facebook and Instagram have come to be an integral part of the lives of billions of people across the world. Media scholar Marcus Gilroy-Ware explores if they are simply another source of information and entertainment, or a far more ominous symptom of capitalism’s excesses?

Read More - Filling the Void - Emotion, Capitalism and Social Media

Highly acclaimed at the 2013 Sundance and Sheffield Documentary festivals, The Stuart Hall Project, by award-winning documentarian John Akomfrah (The Nine Muses) is a sensitive, emotionally charged portrait of this cultural theorist.

Read More - The Stuart Hall Project

An informative glimpse at various ways to reverse the path of global decline as French star Mélanie Laurent co-directs a documentary on activism around the world.

Read More - Demain

Director and producer Colin Thomas looks back at over 50 years of innovative, restless, rebellious filmmaking, upsetting conventional wisdom and disrupting the status quo.

Read More - Colin Thomas: Reel Rebel

David Tennant turns in a memorable performance as Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing in Robert Mullan’s biopic of the maverick scientist.

Read More - Mad to be Normal + Q&A

An astonishing documentary by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, author of The Earth from The Air, who spent three years collecting real-life emotional stories from more than 2,000 people across 60 countries.

Read More - Human