There are a thousand people at the Odeon cinema for The Northern Premier of Suffragette this evening. Most are women. Don’t see that everyday. The actors are mostly women too. Don’t see that everyday either. It takes a film directed by a woman about the women’s movement, written by a woman, to realize that a ridiculously high percentage of films are directed by men written by men about men (and sometimes about women) for men and women.”
I’ve decided to delete that paragraph above. I should start this blog in the following way: Suffragette includes the perfect use of a film star in Meryl Streep. Helena Bonham Carter’s character fits like a glove. Maybe it’s because Bonham-Carter is cut from the same cloth as The Pankhursts. She has a deeper well to draw from. In this powerful suspense filled and moving film see if you can identify where the main character Maud Watts looks exactly like writer and poet Kate Tempest. One more note: The nakedness in this film will tell you everything you need to know about male narratives in the film industry.
In 1987 in Manchester I performed at the opening of The Pankhurst Centre alongside Helen Pankhurst. Helen Pankhurst is the great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and invited me to the Northern Premier of Suffragette this evening. I was proud to attend in my official role as The Chancellor of University of Manchester where Christabel Pankhurst graduated in 1906. Sylvia Pankhurst (Helen’s grandmother) was born in Manchester and became close friends with Emperor Haile Selassie. Sylvia Pankhurst’s son Richard Pankhurst (Helen’s father) lives in Ethiopia today as does Alula her brother. It’s where I last met Helen Pankhurst earlier this year.
The Pankhurst are among the most famous names in Ethiopia. The first song in my Desert Island Discs this morning speaks to the story of Suffragettes. Suffragete is an engrossing film. It’s relatively easy for a man to laud the qualities after all it makes us look good if we do. It is more difficult to examine precisely which traits of the male characters are inside us in our relationships. The frontline. The suffragette slogan speaks louder as I walk outside the film theatre: “Deeds not words”. Film is “out” 12th October.
The picture is of Helen Pankhurst and myself with students from Manchester High School For Girls.