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Meet Alan: the Male feminist

Alan Howell is not your average feminist.

For starters, he’s a white British man. A descendent of Sir Walter Raleigh, Alan was brought up to be a proper and chivalrous gentleman.

Taught to open doors and give up seats for women. However, it was last year at the Seven Dials music festival when Alan worked alongside the CEO of Sister London, a PR firm located in Soho, that he found himself, almost a year later, working as a promotional officer for International Woman’s Day 2019.

After the festival, he went back and told his employers how much he enjoyed working with Sister.

“I love the fact that I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he tells me as we sit on a velvet pink couch in a pop-up shop in Seven Dials.

“We’ve been educated on the subject matter but not on the content or the opinions. I wondered what I was getting into, but I wanted to be educated, and to learn as a man.”    

The theme for International Women’s Day is #BalanceisBetter, which targets body positivity and the gender pay gap. As a seasoned actor, Alan had never been exposed to the plights women face in various industries.

“I’ve never had an experience when I knew a fellow colleague was earning less than I was. Obviously, if they were the lead then they would earn more but for those of us in the ensemble, we’re all on a minimum wage. It’s only when you become more important that the gap becomes bigger.”

When I asked Alan what it was that men needed to learn, he chuckled,

“Everyone needs to learn, not just men. International Women’s Day and other events highlighting difficulties women face can make a difference and both sexes can walk away from this event learning something. However, the lads who lunch definitely need waking up when it comes to business industries- especially the older generation.”

Alan has been no stranger to body positivity, even confiding in me, a complete stranger, about the struggles he’s dealt with in the entertainment industry.

“I’ve been told I need to lose weight- and I know I do.”

I stare at him cynically as he continues,“But, if you’re going to change something about your body it should be because it makes you feel good not because society is telling you it’s something you should do. You should be able to look in the mirror and embrace who you are no matter what sex, religion, social class, or whatever your background. That to me equals #BalanceisBetter.”

Influencing future generations with events like International Women’s Day is the most important thing to Alan. When promotion for the event first began, himself and another cohort passed out flyers around Seven Dials, he says with a massive smile painted across his face. 

As Alan tells me about how passionate he is about closing in on the wage-gap or promoting body positivity, I can’t help but think what the world would be like if all men and women became as proactive about fighting social issues or even opening our minds to new information in the way he has.

“Everyone needs to be open to change,” he says, “especially elected officials”.

I pondered on what Alan had shared with me so far before I imposed my last question, contemplating how a white middle-class cis-gender British male could be sat before me saying everything he had, I probed.

“Are you sure you didn’t just sign up to this to meet girls?” After letting out an uproarious laugh he insists “No, I’m madly in love with a beautiful woman who makes me strive to become better than I am because she is just so strong, driven and wonderful,”

It was exactly at that moment when women all over the world were heard sighing, “ why can’t all men be like Alan?”

What is the Cannes film festival and why does it matter?

For decades, many have tuned in to watch stars walk the red carpet in the French Rivera in May for the biggest film festival. Cannes brings glitzy, glam, networking, and screenings to one place.

But most people, don’t know what Cannes is and why the festival is important.
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How do you pronounce “Cannes”?

Most people make the mistake of pronouncing it as “cahn” or “cahns.”

But it’s more or less like “can.”

With many French words, the trailing s is not pronounced. So, it’s not “cans” or “cahns”. It’s just like a can of beans.

How does the festival work?

A few dozen films are selected to show during the festival. More than often, from prestigious directors whose work has previously played at the Festival.

Twenty films premiere “in competition” to win the top Cannes prize; the Palme d’Or (“golden palm”). This is the highest prize awarded at Cannes and is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry.

Previous winners have included films such as Sex, Lies and Videotape; Pulp Ficition; and Apocalypse Now.

The festivals official programme is divided into several sections:

  • In competition: the twenty films competing for the Palme d’Or. Among this year’s competing films are Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman and Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Livre d’Image.
  • Un Certain Regard – Twenty films selected from cultures near and far, with an “original aim and aesthetic.” It is likely these films have limited theatrical distribution and are seeking international organisation.
  • Out of Competition: films that are not competing for the main prize but re projected in the Théâtre Lumière. The film committee just wants to recognise these films. Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is due to premiere out of competition.
  • Cinéfondation: fifteen short and medium-length films from students currently enrolled in film school.
  • There are Midnight Screening, Special Screenings, Tributes and other events, playing films during the festival.

Why is Cannes so important?
The festival is considered the most prestigious in the world, mainly because of its exclusivity. The festival also has a long history of premiering some of the greatest films of all time and has even launched the careers of many prominent filmmakers.

It has propelled the success of many films during award season and months later; The Artist is just one of many that show that.

Beyond the recognition, Cannes affects which films make it in front of audiences. Some of the most influential people in the film industry attend, from distributors to financiers and publicists. Filmmakers can network with the hope to find funding and distributors for their films.

Who gets to go to Cannes?
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Cannes is an industry-only festival. Credentials are given to directors, producers, actors, publicists, distributors and journalists, who have applied for a badge. Attendees have to flash their badge to get into all screenings and events.

The festival also plays a selection of films for the public on the beach, every night at 9 o’clock.

Cannes has and will retain its position at the top of the festival hierarchy for years to come.

How will you indulge on this year’s ‘National Eat What You Want Day’?

Not many people know that the 11th May holds the title for National Eat What You Want Day.

In a society where people are becoming more health conscious, we really do need a day to stuff our faces full of whatever we want. But, it doesn’t have to be all bad.

Always wanted to try that new restaurant but couldn’t justify spending £30 on brunch? Well, use today as your excuse.

Eating what you want doesn’t have to entail endless amounts of sugar or bursting at the seems from eating far too much. We are intelligent creatures after all.

That isn’t to say you can’t indulge in your favourite snacks at maximum proportion, without being judged.

But if you verge on the more health conscious side of life, use this day to broaden your palette by trying something new. Never tried fried chicken and waffles? Well, today is your lucky day.

Luckily, this year it falls on a Friday – the perfect day to stuff our faces and lull about on the sofa.

If you’re struggling to find ways to celebrate this glorious day try some of these:

  • Go all out by gathering your friends, order pizza with extra toppings and finish with snacks
  • Get down to Creams for a milkshake and some sweet food
  • Splash out a bit – it’s not everyday you’re given a free pass to spend loads on take-out food
  • Head out in search of your favourite foods from your favourite restaurants
  • Try something new

Read more on junk food here

The ‘most unlucky production in screen history’ will premiere at Cannes film festival

Former Monty Python member and London director Terry Gilliam was discharged from hospital after suffering a minor stroke and the day before a French court ruled on a long-standing rights battle affecting the world premiere of his new film.

The judge ordered that “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” could go ahead as the closing gala of the Cannes Film Festival on 19 May.

The film, which has been in the making since 1989 and has a reputation as one of the most unlucky production in screen history, has been the subject of a distribution rights disagreement.

Gilliam began filming in 1998, with Jean Rochefort as Quixote and Johnny Depp playing Toby Grisoni. However, the shooting had to stop after Rochefort became ill.

In addition, riddled with financial difficulties and insurance problems, filming couldn’t continue.
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The director tried to restart the picture on several occasions, with the likes of Jack O’Connell, Ewan McGregor, John Hurt, Michael Palin and Robert Duvall. But due to mounted delays and funding falling through, production was halted.

In 2015, Amazon signed on to distribute the film. However, following the allegations against Roy Price, the man who approved the deal, in the Hollywood sexual harassment scandal, the company decided to drop U.S. distribution of the film.

Amazon has been reviewing the types of movies it makes and distributes in his absence.

Last month, producer Paulo Branco launched a legal challenge to stop the screening of “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”, claiming that his company Alfama Films owns the right.

However, the court ruled in Gilliam’s favour, dismissing Branco’s attempt to stop the premiere.

According to The Guardian, before the court ruling came through, the festival said it would back Terry Gilliam and planned to proceed with the premiere.

University VC: We are going to be the very best

Dr Peter Bonfield, the new Vice Chancellor of the University of Westminster, is pledging that the London university will be the very best.

In his first interview since taking the reins eight days ago he told students: “We have to make sure we are clear where we are the best or where we are going to be the very best.

“On diversity we are outstanding… tremendous areas of research and then we’ve got this wonderful track record of teaching and educating an array of diverse students who are very relevant to the employer market place. That connection and that way of doing things is very important.”

LIVE: Watch more on this story on Westminster TV

According to the University of Westminster website, he has “chaired four independent reviews for the Government, on Forests and Woodlands, Public Sector Food Procurement, Property Flood Resilience, and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies. He is currently a member of the Grenfell Advisory Panel, and a Non-Executive Director for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.”

When asked about comments that the VC of Middlesex University made regarding the value of the local study experience higher, Dr Bonfield said: “Students come here to Westminster because of who we are and what we stand for, so that’s very international, and that will continue to grow.

“And when students come from around the world or from London or other parts of the UK, they of course have the local experience as well, and the trick now is to blend the two.

“Local learning is also becoming on your phones and if you are travelling on the Tube or if you are one of our students at home, having access to and connection with who we are and what we stand for in the learning through digital means, it gives you a feeling of local even though you might not be there. So, the trick is to be international and to provide a feeling and a connection which works for people locally as well.”

Indeed, diversity and an international appeal has been the forte of the University of Westminster, but it is also now leading its way to incorporate a more cherished local feel to its institutional values.

But even though London being named as the best city for students across the globe, the fact that it is also an expensive city to live in casts a big shadow on students’ will to come and study here.

Dr Bonfield told WNOL about the motivation and support that the University can and hopes to provide to its students.

We have to think very carefully about how we provide the right sort of quality of service and also how we provide accommodation that helps with the affordability side,” he said.

“But that’s the balance if you want to study in a fabulous city and in a fabulous institution that’s ranked number one the world [London], it often comes with some price.”

When asked how getting higher education is nowadays costing students their mental health balance, Dr Bonfield told WNOL:

“My top priorities are wellbeing, health and safety of all our students, all my colleagues and everybody that’s been associated with us. That’s always been my priority as well in my last organisation and others, so this is, without question the top priority and we’re going to work hard and make sure that we support mental wellbeing and physical wellbeing.”

But how is the University going to fulfil its promises when it is also undergoing a 10% staff cut? In response, Dr Bonfield said: “We’re just getting at the end of what’s called a transformation programme, and it’s doing a couple of things. One is it’s really looking at what our students need going forward, in term of different types of courses and how they’re delivered, and how we make an offering that integrates areas that give the best experience that’s the most relevant to employers — and that’s a structuring things.”

“The other thing we’ve been looking at is our cost base, which is how much we pay to employ our colleagues. We’ve taken it down a little to align with the number of students we are getting in, just to make sure … there is a small amount of profit that we can invest to grow with.

“And so the main part of what we’re doing is about reorganising to make sure we are giving the students the very best experience that they can have, that gives them great careers, and aligned with that it’s just making sure that our costs are in line with our revenues so we can be fit for purpose going forward.”



Who will design Meghan Markle’s wedding dress?

Millions across the world will watch as Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle get married in Windsor Castle on May 19.

Since its announcement, bookies began taking bets on everything related to the wedding. They cover everything from the location of Harry’s stag-do, Prince William’s choice of buzz-cut or shaved head and the designer of the dress of the soon-to-be Duchess of Sussex.

A roster of names have been predicted, from Victoria Beckham to Ralph and Russo and Stewart Parvin – one of the Queen’s dressers. But there have been no clear frontrunners.

Until now. Alexandra McQueen’s absence at the Met Gala may suggest he’s designing Markle’s dress for the big day.

McQueen often references art historical works in his garments. His fine art samples often depict figures of salvation and moments of extreme religious pathos. So why was no one wearing Alexandra McQueen at the Met?

Alexandra McQueen founded his label in 1992 and remained the creative director until he committed suicide in 2010. Since then, Sarah Burton has been at the creative helm.
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Burton designed Kate Middleton’s wedding dress and meets all requirements for a royal wedding dress designer.

Although many aren’t sure as to whether the designer would be bestowed with creating another royal wedding dress, the chances are the fashion house is busy designing the former actress’ dress. Explaining why no one was seen to be wearing McQueen at the perfectly themed Met Gala this year.

Watch more on this story on Westminster TV  at 2pm.

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