Preview: London International Documentary Festival 2011

Seven highlights, as recommended by us.

Taking place at numerous venues in London from 13-28 May, the London International Documentary Film Festival 2011 (LIDF) will show over 130 films from 44 countries, and host several workshops and debates. Covering a number of themes including recent changes to the Arab Middle East, explorations of the city and the nature of privacy, the LIDF not only features the work of new film makers but also premieres of documentaries crafted by Academy Award winners Steven Soderberrgh, Martin Scorsese and Brigitte Berman. Here are some of the highlights coming up over the next few weeks:


Directed by Asif Kapadia, this biopic of Formula One driver Ayrton Senna eschews the traditional voiceover documentary style in favour of a more visual approach. Not just a film for sports racing fans, the film uses vast amounts of unseen footage to depict the physical and spiritual life of this sporting icon.

LIDF Visions

A workshop aimed at new filmmakers, the LIDF has teamed up with Abingdon Film Unit to create training opportunities for up-and-coming documentarists. A chance to learn new skills from industry professionals and develop films to be presented at a pitching session, three successful projects will get the chance to be assisted in their productions for the next 12 months.

Our Generation

Exploring an unresolved and complex issue, this film investigates the Australian government's continued policies of assimilation and paternalism towards the Aborigines. Hoping the film will not only open a dialogue on a long ignored issue but also give a voice to the Indigenous peoples of Australia and their culture, the makers have included many interviews with the Yonglu alongside civil rights leaders in the documentary.

Focus on Pakistan: Filmmaking for social change

A collection of shorts exploring various themes including faith, the effects of terrorism, struggle and the counter-culture, these films aim to show the hidden complexities and often ignored elements of life in contemporary Pakistan. Given Pakistan's recent ubiquity on the stage of world news, these documentaries should provide a timely insight into a multifaceted country and its people.

Invisible City

Structured around a variety of topics including squatting, the journey of Christmas trees and street sweeping, this collection of short documentaries on London surveys the stories behind people, spaces, communities and objects that make up the capital.

California is a Place & Fragments of Different Everyday Life

Drea Cooper, director of California is a Place, says he placed huge emphasis on the "aesthetic and the visual" depictions in the film. Via such methods, both documentaries aim to emphasise the effects of globalisation and state economic policies on California and its many citizens.

Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel

Oscar-winner Brigitte Berman's film promises to give an intimate portrait of Hugh Heffner, the infamous owner of Playboy. With interviews featuring Hefner and many 20th-century cultural icons as well as archive footage, Berman says she hopes the film will challenge people's preconceptions of Hefner, moving beyond the sexual escapades and reveal him to be a complex and politically motivated character.

Ticket and program information for the LIDF can be found at

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TV show ideas better than the Game of Thrones showrunners’ series about slavery

Beep Show: 25 minutes of constant annoying beep sounds.

So David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the showrunners on Game of Thrones, have announced their next TV idea: a revisionist piece where slavery never ended in America. The response was... not good. As Ira Madison III wrote for the Daily Beast, “this harebrained idea serves as yet another reminder that the imaginations of white men can be incredibly myopic... this show sounds stupid as hell.” So I and the New Statesman web team came up with our suggestions for TV shows we’d rather watch. Please enjoy.

The Office, except it’s your office, every day, from 9-5, from now until you’re 70.

Blackadder, but it’s just about fucking snakes.

Pingu, but after the icecaps have melted.

A children’s TV show about a time-travelling grammar-obsessed medical pedant called Doctor Whom.

A Series Of Unfortunate Events, but it’s just me, trying to talk to people in various social settings.

The Great British Hake Off: who has the best medium to large seawater fish averaging from 1 to 8 pounds?

Gilmore Girl. Lorelai is dead.

Brooklyn 99. Let’s go buy an ice cream in New York City, baby!

Come Dine With Me. The host only cooks one meal and other contestants fight for it.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Alan Sugar selling broomsticks in Romford market.

Match of the Day, but it’s just about actual wooden matches.

One Tree Hill. It’s just a tree on a hill.

House of Cards. It’s a man building a – ok I think you get where we’re going with this now.

Knife Swap: what happens when gangs trade territories?

Recess: a provincial MP goes home and sorts out his guttering.

Blue Planet: on the ground in the smurf community.

Transparent: Your TV, replaced with glass.

Game of Thrones, without the violence against women.

Friends, but without modern medicine so all the friends die by age 25. Except Ross. Ross lives.

Beep Show: 25 minutes of constant annoying beep sounds.

Rugrats, but it’s just one long tracking shot of a rat-infested rug.

A talking head countdown starring minor British celebrities but instead of the best comedies of the 1970s or whatever they’re just ranking other talking head countdowns starring minor British celebrities.

30 Rocks: seven sweet, sweet hours of unfiltered footage of 30 motionless rocks.

Live footage of the emotional breakdown I’m having while writing this article.

The Good Wife: she’s just super sweet and likes making everyone cookies!

Stranger Things, but it’s about the time that stranger walked towards you and you both moved right and then both moved left to avoid each other and oh my God how is this still happening.

Parks and Recreation: Just a couple o’ pals having fun in the park!

Who Do You Think You Are? Just loads of your ancestors asking you how you even sleep at night.

The Crown: some really graphic childbirth footage playing on repeat.

Downtown Abbey: nuns in inner city Chicago.

Peeky Blinders: a study of neighbourhood curtain twitchers in a Belfast suburb.

DIY: SOS. The emergency services are called every episode!

The Big Bang Theory.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.