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

Talk John Bew

Thu 1 June 2017 20:00

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

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Helen Rappaport

Talk Helen Rappaport

Thu 1 June 2017 18:30

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.

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Robin Hanson

Talk Robin Hanson

Thu 1 June 2017 12:30

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.

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Leif Wenar

Talk Leif Wenar

Wed 31 May 2017 12:30

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

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Come the Revolution discussion: A Reply to the 'N' Question

Talk I am Not Your Negro Talk

Sat 27 May 2017 15:15

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.

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Come The Revolution Presents: I am Not your Negro 12A Sold Out

Film I am Not Your Negro

Sat 27 May 2017 13:00

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.

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Reni Eddo-Lodge

Talk Reni Eddo-Lodge

Fri 26 May 2017 20:00

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.

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Colin Grant

Talk Colin Grant

Fri 26 May 2017 18:30

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.

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Jess Phillips - CANCELLED

Talk Jess Phillips

Fri 26 May 2017 12:30

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.

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Nimko Ali

Talk Nimko Ali

Thu 25 May 2017 20:00

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

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Angela Saini

Talk Angela Saini

Thu 25 May 2017 18:30

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

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Ian Cobain Sold Out

Talk Festival of Ideas: Ian Cobain

Wed 24 May 2017 20:00

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.

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Tariq Ramadan

Talk Tariq Ramadan

Wed 24 May 2017 18:30

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

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Steve Westaby

Talk Festival of Ideas: Steve Westaby

Wed 24 May 2017 12:30

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.

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Kate Raworth Sold Out

Talk Festival of Ideas: Kate Raworth

Tue 23 May 2017 20:00

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.

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Julia Hobsbawm

Talk Festival of Ideas: Julia Hobsbawm

Tue 23 May 2017 18:30

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.

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Philip Lymbery

Talk Festival of Ideas: Philip Lymbery

Tue 23 May 2017 12:30

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.

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Raoul Martinez

Talk Raoul Martinez

Mon 22 May 2017 20:00

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.

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James Thornton and Martin Goodman

Talk James Thornton and Martin Goodman

Mon 22 May 2017 18:30

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.

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Kat Arney

Talk Festival of Ideas: Kat Arney

Mon 22 May 2017 12:30

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.

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Kerry Egan Sold Out

Talk Kerry Egan

Sat 20 May 2017 18:00

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.

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David Goodhart Sold Out

Talk David Goodhart

Sat 20 May 2017 16:30

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.

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Daniel Franklin and Kenneth Cukier

Talk Daniel Franklin and Kenneth Cukier

Sat 20 May 2017 15:00

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.

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Filling the Void - Emotion, Capitalism and Social Media

Talk Filling The Void

Tue 16 May 2017 18:00

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?

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The Stuart Hall Project 12A

Film The Stuart Hall Project

Sat 13 May 2017 15:00

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.

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Demain 12A

Film Demain

Mon 8 May 2017 17:50

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.

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Colin Thomas: Reel Rebel 18 (CTBA)

Talk Colin Thomas: Reel Rebel

Sun 7 May 2017 14:00

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

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Mad to be Normal + Q&A 15

Film Mad to be Normal

Sat 6 May 2017 13:00

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

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Human 12A (S) Sold Out

Film Human

Sun 30 April 2017 14:15

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.

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