Beyond Babel Multilingual Film Festival


3rd edition 8-9 February 2017



Beyond Babel will take place over two nights – Weds 8th February and Thurs 9th February 2016

Each event will run 6pm – 9pm

Location: LT2, Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester M15 6LL

The event is FREE via


Date: Wednesday 8th February 2016
Time: 18:00-21:00

Screening: La Cour de Babel (Julie Bertuccelli, 2013) [France] la-cour-de-babel-380x260

Synopsis: ‘The school of La Grange aux Belles in northern Paris has a program for immigrant children (many of whom have a hesitant grasp of French) that provides intense language lessons alongside the core curriculum so the kids can ultimately matriculate into regular classes. Teacher Brigitte Cervoni, demonstrating the perfect balance of encouraging warmth and unwavering academic expectations, guides her charges through the year, cognizant of the need to be not only a teacher, but also a symbol of a France ideally welcoming to all newcomers’. (

Introduction and Q&A session: Dr Isabelle Vanderschelden (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Isabelle will introduce the film and will discussed issues on multilingual community representation and intercultural issues raised by the documentary.


Date: Thursday 9th February 2016
Time: 18:00-21:00

Colours of the Alphabet (2016)25970154353_0f22535029_m

(Alastair Cole) [United Kingdom – New Zealand]

[Languages: Soli / Nyanja / Bemba / English]


Colours of the Alphabet is a beautiful, inspiring and bittersweet story about language and childhood in Africa. It is a story of childhood innocence, misplaced hope, and the role of language as a means of binding a nation together. Colours of the Alphabet is a feature documentary shot over a period of 12 months in rural Zambia, in a grade one class with 30 children, as they, and their parents, come to terms with the often bemusing reality of education in their country. A country where you are told that to get ahead means understanding the world in English, despite less than 2% of Zambians using the language in their daily lives’. (


Guest speaker for the introduction and Q&A session: Dr. Alastair Cole (University of Newcastle), director of Colours of the Alphabetacole-profile-squareDr. Cole will introduce the film and pose questions on multilingualism and education.





Films can provide extraordinary creative, artistic and entertainment experiences. Even with the powerful influence of new media technologies, films are more than ever part of our society and tell stories about who we are and the world we live in. Moving pictures can be ideal vehicles for bringing us closer to cultures and realities that are different from our own as they provide a platform to build cultural bridges and raise intercultural awareness.

Alluding to the biblical story of the Tower of Babel and the curse of diversity of tongues, Beyond Babel is a film festival that aims to celebrate multilingual life. Nowadays multilingualism is part of our everyday life, and films can help to open a space for a wider cultural dialogue on the richness and complexities that lie in the multilingual experience of our age.

Now in its third edition, Beyond Babel aims to showcase transnational productions from different regions of the world; to present multilingual films that connect with the personal, the local, and the global and open conversation across cultures. By bringing together different communities and audiences, this edition of Beyond Babel screens multilingual films that may raise questions about education and multilingualism. This year’s programme will bring together two afternoons of screenings, with film introductions and Q&A sessions. We hope to engage, inspire, connect and celebrate the culturally diverse communities of Manchester.

Beyond Babel brings you two films and includes introductory talks and Q&A sessions, as well as a director introductory presentation and post screening. The Festival opens on Wednesday 8 Feburary with La Cour de Babel/ School of Babel (Julie Bertuccelli, 2014). This French documentary captures how a group of international adolescents learn to cope with the experience of moving to France by joining a Parisian school. The film will be introduced by Dr Isabelle Vanderschelden from the French section at Manchester Metropolitan University. On Thursday 9th February, director Alastair Cole will introduce his documentary Colours of the Alphabet (2016), a lyrical and beautiful film that questions the role of language in a multilingual nation (Zambia). After the screening, the Q&A sessions aim to engage the audience in a discussion on education, identity, integration, mother tongue and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.



Beyond Babel Film Festival offers a cultural space to enjoy and appreciate multilingual films. As a culturally diverse cosmopolitan city, Manchester is the ideal location to host a film festival that promotes and values the richness of multilingualism. The Beyond Babel project addresses a wide range of themes: co-existence of communities, diaspora, life in global cities, and local hybridity. The festival was set up with a very specific agenda: to recognise and celebrate multilingualism, showcase a wide range of films, share discussions on film aesthetics, give visibility to the transnational and complex dynamics of cinema, increase the profile of world cinema, and broaden the representation of multilingual communities on screen.

Dr Alastair Cole is a Lecturer in Film Practice at Newcastle University. Colours of the Alphabet is the latest in a series of documentaries directed by New Zealand-born, Scotland-based, Alastair Cole on the subtle, intimate and often amusing reality of living in a multilingual world.  Alastair’s previous films have won multiple awards, twice premiered at Cannes Critics Week, and have been broadcast in 26 countries. He is the founder of Edinburgh-based Tongue Tied Films and is also a lecturer in film practice at Newcastle University. Colours of the Alphabet is Alastair Cole’s first feature length documentary and sees him work with Lansdowne Productions and producer Nick Higgins for the first time. See: and on Twitter: @TongueTiedFilms for more information.

Dr. Isabelle Vanderschelden is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Languages, Information and Communication at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her main research interest is contemporary French cinema. Her publications include a critical study of Jeunet’s Amelie (2007) Studying French Cinema (Auteur 2013), and she has co-edited France at the Flicks with Darren Waldron (2007). She is currently working on a book on French screenwriters with Sarah Leahy. She also contributes to regular film events for schools and training sessions to promote the use of film in the language classroom and is a co-founder of FILTA.

Dr. Carmen Herrero is a Principal Lecturer in the Department of Languages, Information and Communication and Director of FLAME (Research Group for Film, Languages and Media in Education) at Manchester Metropolitan University. Carmen teaches Hispanic cinema and culture at undergraduate level and is involved with the TEFL Masters. She supervises and examines doctoral students on a range of topics, including Hispanic cinemas, film pedagogy and language education, new technologies and education and Spanish literature. As a lecturer in Spanish language and culture, Carmen has a special interest in teaching and researching Spanish cinema, culture and intercultural issues.











About flameresearch

Film, Languages and Media in Education (FLAME) is a pioneering research group at Manchester Metropolitan University established in 2013 and dedicated to the development of research and knowledge exchange activity in the areas of Pedagogy, Languages, Film and Media.
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