Hampstead Arts Festival kicks off at Burgh House

Paul Mortimer during the Valley Stadium 21st Anniversary Dinner. Picture: Stephen Pond

Paul Mortimer during the Valley Stadium 21st Anniversary Dinner. Picture: Stephen Pond - Credit: EMPICS Sport

As Hampstead’s very own arts festival kicks off this weekend BRIDGET GALTON previews some of the word events coming up at Burgh House

The Hampstead Arts Festival, which gets imminently underway is not only focused on sublime musical entertainment. A series of word events at Burgh House next weekend takes in sport, politics, race, sexuality and poetry.

Discrimination and prejudice in the ‘beautiful game’ come under the spotlight on November 12 when journalist Paul Rees is in conversation with ex Charlton Athletic player Paul Mortimer, and Troy Townsend, a coach and education and development manager for campaigning organisation Kick It Out.

Together they work with the FA, clubs, players and fans to address racism in the sport and campaign for equality.

On November 13 British novelist, screenwriter and filmmaker Shamim Sarif talks about her life and work to Helen O’Hara.

Born to Indian parents who left South Africa in the 60s to escape Apartheid, the 47-year-old drew on her difficult journey coming out to a family from a conservative cultural background, for her award-winning novel The World Unseen.

She and wife Hanan Kattan set up their company Enlightenment Productions to enable her to make films – often featuring female-led casts - with “creative integrity.”

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The World Unseen which became her debut movie is set in 1950s era South Africa as two women fall in love.

Her second film I Just Can’t Think Straight is the semi-autobiographical tale of a British woman of Jordanian Palestinian background preparing for her wedding while falling for a friend.

Her latest; Despite The Falling Snow deals with a female spy in Cold War Moscow who falls in love with the wrong man.

In an interview for the festival website Sarif says: “I believe very deeply that stories have the power to make us look at the world differently because they speak to us emotionally. Film seems particularly powerful in touching our feelings - perhaps because they are so visual.

“Every week I hear from someone who has made a change in their lives because of one of our films – so I have come to believe in the power of stories to help us navigate our choices in life.”

In addition to opening a Soho restaurant focusing on Palestinian home cooking she is about to publish The Artemis Protocol an action thriller about human trafficking.

Also on November 13 Professor Tim Bale asks: Is the political party over?

The Queen Mary University academic and author of Five Year Mission: The Labour Party under Ed Miliband and; The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron examines how with voters increasingly less tribal and less committed to traditional political activity, are the parties we’ve always known in terminal decline? Or do recent surges in support for the SNP Labour and Greens suggest an untapped interest in politics?

How he asks should the parties re-invent themselves for the 21st Century?

Also on Nov 13 leading poets Clare Pollard and Patience Agbabi remix old favourites for the modern era, with Pollard’s Ovid’s Heroines featuring poems in the voices of the brave, horrifying and heartbreaking women from Greek and Roman myth, and Agbabi’s Telling Tales celebrating the storytelling of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales pilgrims in all their boisterous foul mouthed glory.

The Festival runs November 5-20 at Burgh House, St John’s and Hampstead Parish Church. hampsteadartsfestival.com