Welcome to the 2024 festival sponsored by the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University and curated by staff from the university’s Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU).

Since 2019 we’ve had a consistent mission – screening great films which provoke debate and provide an alternative take on crime, justice and punishment in the 21st century.  

This year’s programme brings you an eclectic mix of crime classics and lesser-known gems chosen by crime experts and film enthusiasts: box office hits, critical favourites and a UK premiere! Our experts will be on hand to introduce their movie choices and to answer your questions at Q+A sessions after each screening.   

The Festival is supported by our partners: 

We’re partnering internationally with French filmmaker Stéphane Roland and historian Gloria Truly Estrelita. Roland’s film The Mutes’ Soliloquy, a shocking and heartfelt documentary interviewing survivors of the Indonesian massacres of 1965, will receive its UK premiere as part of the Festival.  

To mark the university’s 200th anniversary, The Accused – the closing film to his year’s festival has been chosen by Lady Edwina Grosvenor, a criminologist, philanthropist and prison reformer.  Lady Edwina’s father Gerald Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, was Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan from 1992 to 2005. 

The Festival has a new home this year. The East Grosvenor Building is the university’s Arts and Creative Hub; you can find it on the corner of Oxford Road and Cavendish Street, just five minutes’ walk from Oxford Rd train station. Festival events are also being hosted by our partners, the Greater Manchester Police Museum and Instituto Cervantes Manchester.     

We look forward to welcoming old friends and new audiences alike, from the UK and internationally. 

See you at the movies! 

Your festival team: 

Kevin Wong, Gavin Bailey, Anton Roberts, Katie Hunter and Phil Edwards  

1: Les Misérables (2019) by Ladj Ly – with Benedicte Brachte, Frederic Blesser and Ian MacDonald 

Wednesday 8th May 17.30–20.15 FREE   

At the East Grosvenor Building, Cavendish Street, Manchester, M15 6BG 

Ladj Ly’s César-winning drama explores life on a poor Paris estate as tensions with the police reach boiling point in the summer of 2018. Set in Montfermeil – the Paris district which was the setting for Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables – Ly’s film evokes Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and David Simon’s seminal TV series The Wire. In the words of film critic Mark Kermode, Les Misérables “slips stealthily from astute observation to urgent action, reminding us of Hugo’s maxim that ‘there are no such things as bad plants or bad men. There are only bad cultivators’.” 

Le Journal du Dimanche reported that Emmanuel Macron was “overwhelmed” by the accuracy of Les Misérables, and “called on the government to take rapid action to improve living conditions in those areas”. 

Les Misérables was selected for the festival by Dr Benedicte Brahic, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University. Benedicte will introduce the film and the post-screening Q&A will involve Frederic Blesser, Trustee for Alliance Francaise de Manchester (Registered Charity n° 1068084) and Ian MacDonald, a former senior police officer, whose family was from Liverpool’s Toxteth area and who policed the 1981 riots there. 

To book for this free event click here


2: Gaslight (1944) with Russell Webster and Jasmine Hearn 

Monday 13th May 17.30-20.15 FREE 

At the East Grosvenor Building, Cavendish Street, Manchester, M15 6BG  

This classic psychological thriller was directed by George Cukor and stars Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten and Angela Lansbury. Adapted from Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play, it follows a young woman whose husband slowly manipulates her into believing that she is descending into insanity.  

Both play and film are credited for originating the contemporary term ‘gaslighting’ – manipulating another person into doubting their perceptions, experiences or understanding of events.   

Gaslight was selected for the festival by Russell Webster, an independent criminal justice researcher and the UK’s most widely-read Criminal Justice blogger, who will introduce the film. After the screening Russell will discuss the film, and the phenomenon of gaslighting, with Manchester Metropolitan’s Dr Jasmine Hearn, whose research has highlighted the gaslighting of women by medical professionals.   

To book for this free event click here


3: The Mutes’ Soliloquy (2017) – with director Stéphane Roland, Gloria Truly Estrelita and Matthew Woolgar 

Saturday 18th May 13.00–15.30 Free  

At the East Grosvenor Building, Cavendish Street, Manchester, M15 6BG and ONLINE 


In 1965 a military dictatorship was imposed in Indonesia, with brutal repression on a massive scale. Huge numbers were imprisoned in degrading and abusive conditions, and about half a million killed (the exact number is unknown). Stéphane Roland’s documentary The Mutes’ Soliloquy (Le Soliloque des Muets) gives a voice to survivors of the repression, who are shunned and viewed with suspicion in Indonesia even now. The film brings a neglected episode of the Cold War to life, and makes it chillingly clear that the victims of 1965 are still waiting for justice. 

The Mutes’ Soliloquy melds footage shot in the picture-perfect setting of contemporary Indonesia with recordings from the International People’s Tribunal for 1965, held in The Hague in 2015, which charged the Indonesian government and its global allies with crimes against humanity. Visually stunning, emotionally harrowing and deeply thought-provoking, The Mutes’ Soliloquy invites comparison with The Act of Killing, Shoah and Zone of Interest. 

We are delighted to be hosting the UK premiere of The Mutes’ Soliloquy. We will be joined (virtually) by the film’s director Stéphane Roland and the film’s historical consultant Gloria Truly Estrelita, who will introduce the film. The screening will be followed by a Q&A, in which Stéphane and Truly will be joined by Indonesia expert Dr Matthew Woolgar from the University of Leeds. 

To book for this free event click here


4: Papillon (2017) – HMP/YOI Thorncross – Learners’ Choice  

Tuesday 21st May 17.30–20.15 FREE   

At the East Grosvenor Building, Cavendish Street, Manchester, M15 6BG  

Directed by Michael Noer and starring Charlie Hunnam and Remi Malek, Papillon was based on Henri “Papillon” Charrière’s autobiographies Papillon and Banco as well as the 1973 movie with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. The film tells the story of Charrière’s false imprisonment in 1933 on the Devil’s Island penal colony and his escape helped by fellow inmate Louis Dega.  

Individuals undertaking education provision run by Novus (a leading provider of education in prisons) in His Majesty’s Prison and Young Offender Institution (HMP/YOI) Thorn Cross were invited by the festival team to select a film for the festival.  

As part of their Functional Skills English class learners discussed the brief and their own experiences of the criminal justice sector, and selected Papillon as their film choice. 

A learner said, “There are high levels of tension, and this emphasises the loneliness and confinement I feel. Persistency is the key theme to the film, nothing stops the character and I see that in myself, I will keep going. I find this story inspirational and the character shows great resilience, which I hope to find.”  

A tutor said “By working to a ‘live brief,’ employability skills are developed which included working collaboratively, team building and problem solving. The participants discussed the possible film choices from gathering research in the library. They listened to each other’s points of view and justifications, and voted for the film Papillon to be chosen for the film festival 

For the introduction and Q+A we will be joined at this event by Novus staff and hope to have input from the learners themselves. 

To book for this free event click here


5: Lean on Pete (2017) – with Siobhan Pollitt and Anton Roberts 

Wednesday 22nd May 17.30–20.15 FREE   

At the East Grosvenor Building, Cavendish Street, Manchester, M15 6BG  

Adapted from Willy Vlautin’s third novel, “Lean on Pete” has been described by the Guardian’s Mark Kermode as blending “timeless American myths with pin-point portrayals of modern urban hardship, as its lonely teenage lead heads east from Oregon with a horse on its last hurrah”.  At the heart of British writer-director, Andrew Haigh’s coming of age story is “an unsentimental tenderness” that provides “a melancholic counterpoint to the grim realities of life from which our young hero flees”. 

Selected by Siobhan Pollitt, Chief Executive of Back on Track, the film’s themes reflect the experiences of some of the people that the Manchester charity supports. Siobhan will introduce the film and will be joined for the post-screening Q&A by Anton Roberts a homelessness researcher from Manchester Metropolitan’s Policy Evaluation and Research Unit. 

To book for this free event click here

Back on Track work with people who face multiple disadvantage. This can include experience of homelessness, problematic drug and alcohol use, mental health problems and contact with the criminal justice system. Donations mean that the charity can reach more people at a time when their services are needed. Find out how to support Back on Track by clicking here. 


6: La Isla Minima (Marshland) (2014) – with Karl McLaughlin 

Thursday 6th June 17.30–20.15 FREE  

At Instituto Cervantes Manchester, 326-330 Deansgate M3 4FN 

Described as “Southern Gothic Spanish-style” by Sight and Sound’s Maria Delgado, Alberto Rodriguez’s atmospheric thriller follows a pair of detectives sent from Madrid in 1980 to investigate the disappearance of two sisters from the small southern town of Villafranco.  

“Infused with a spirit of uncanny gothic redolent of David Lynch and David Fincher”, Rodriguez’s film combines edge of the seat thriller with a chilling interrogation of “the formation of Spain’s post-dictatorship culture.” 

La Isla Minima will be introduced by Dr Karl McLaughlin, Senior Lecturer in Spanish at Manchester Metropolitan, who will also take part in the post-screening Q&A. 

This event is hosted and supported by Instituto Cervantes Manchester. 

To book for this free event click here


7: Hot Fuzz (2007) + Free tour of the Police Museum – with Helen Mallinson & Neil Archer 

Saturday 8th June 13.00–17.30 FREE 

At the Greater Manchester Police Museum, 57A Newton St, Manchester M1 1ET  

Part of Edgar Wright’s “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy”, modern comedy classic “Hot Fuzz” has been selected by Helen Mallison from the  Greater Manchester Police Museum Greater Manchester Police Museum. Helen will be joined for the introduction and Q&A by Neil Archer, who teaches film at Keele University and is the author of Studying Hot Fuzz. 

Housed in a Grade II listed building in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, the museum is a hidden gem. The building is a former police station, complete with its own courthouse; it was home to Manchester City Police and its successors Manchester and Salford Police and Greater Manchester Police from 1879 until 1978. 

The screening will be preceded by a free guided tour of the museum and its exhibits. 

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.  

To book for this unique free event click here

You can support the Greater Manchester Police Museum, enabling it to maintain the building and its unique collection for years to come, at this address: https://gmpmuseum.co.uk/donations/ 


8: The Accused (1988) – with Lady Edwina Grosvenor  

Monday 15th July 17.30-20.15 FREE  

At the East Grosvenor Building, Cavendish Street, Manchester, M15 6BG  

To mark the university’s 200th anniversary, the closing film to his year’s festival has been chosen by Lady Edwina Grosvenor, a criminologist, philanthropist and prison reformer. She is the founder and trustee of the charity The Clink and founder and chair of the charity One Small Thing – which is piloting Hope Street – a new approach to working with justice involved women, offering a healing, trauma-informed, residential environment for women and children with a range of specialist support.   

Lady Edwina’s father Gerald Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, was Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan from 1992 to 2005.  

The Accused is loosely based on the 1983 gang rape of Cheryl Araujo in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Starring Jodie Foster and Kelly McGillis, it follows Sarah Tobias, a waitress who is gang raped, and her efforts to prosecute the rapists and the men who induced the assault. The film was controversial on its release in 1998 for its graphic rape scene but was widely acclaimed by critics for the performances and handling of the subject matter. 

Lady Edwina will introduce the film and take part in the post-screening Q&A. 

The screening of the film will be preceded by a reception at 17.00.   

Please note this film contains graphic violence which the audience may find upsetting. 

To book for this free event click here