Manchester International Festival: MM’s guide on what NOT to miss

Once every two years since 2007 the Manchester International Festival has pushed boundaries and changed perceptions yet this year, in the wake of May’s tragedy, there will be a special feel to it.

Here MM take you through some of the festival’s highlights on how you can embrace the Manchester spirit.


Double Academy Award winning film maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy provokes Pakistan’s Prime Minister to declare ‘there is no honour in honour killing” with her most recent film. Angelina Jolie celebrating her work shows the standard at which she delivers and her remarkable HOME1947 exhibition reflects on the largest mass migration ever witnessed, through a series of short drama and documentary films. With the relevance of the refugee crisis, this is designed to show us the eyes not through the historians and politicians but through the people who lived it.

Free Event – running from Sat July 1-Sun July 9 at the Lowry Theatre.


Yael Bartana’s ground-breaking performance project presents the scenario of putting women in charge of a world in need of a new vision. In a war room a group of 11 women will be confronted by some of the urgent crises of our time. Each night a professional cast will be joined by different female experts on everything from science to politics, solving the crisis as the clock ticks.

What if women ruled? – running from Weds July 5-Sat July 8 in Mayfield. Tickets are £25 or £12 for Greater Manchester residents on a lower wage.


This event by young artist Samson Young consists of a five-part radio series provided by actors, musicians and actors and is inspired by mythic tales of 17th-century Chinese travellers making their way to Europe on foot. You can enjoy on your commute or in the comfort of your own home, as the event is broadcast live throughout Manchester on FM. A small number of tickets for a live audience are available for £5. Following this is an installation at the Centre for Chinese temporary art to marking the 20th anniversary of Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China.

Radio drama: Fri June 30-Tue July 4

Exhibition: Fri July 7-Sun July 16

Box office: 0843-208-1840

4. Sampha+ PAULi (words by Max Ballin)

Having collaborated with Kanye West, Drake and Jessie Ware this is an act that must not be missed. Sampha’s debut album “Process” proved to be hugely successful peaking at number 7 in the UK charts as well as gaining publicity in the US performing the album on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Taking a break from his world tour, this is destined to be one of the hottest shows at the festival.

5. FlexN Residency

Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray directed one of the biggest successes of MIF15 and he returns – with a bang. FlexN Residency is a thrilling street dance collaboration with performers from both New York City and Greater Manchester.  Young dancers will be given the opportunity to explore new ways of telling stories through dance, something which is not to be missed.

6. Cotton Panic!

Telling the story of the Cotton famine as a result of the US Civil War, “Cotton Panic!” teaches the audience about prosperity, panic and poverty: all in the space of a couple of hours. Combining music, drama and film, Jane Horrocks, Nick Vivian and Wrangler (featuring Stephen Mallinder) seek to teach about the forgotten past and the strong links to slavery in the American South.

7. Late and First Men (words by Louis Kay)

This extraordinary new multimedia work, by Oscar-nominated Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, combines music, film and Tilda Swinton’s evangelic narration into a poetic meditation on memory, loss and the idea of Utopia. The BBC Philharmonic will be performing Jóhannsson’s score live with the film at The Bridgewater Hall.

8. No End to Enderby

Director Graham Eatough and artist Stephen Sutcliffe pay suitably ingenious tribute to one of Manchester’s most original minds in this unique installation, which blends visual art and film drama in homage to the great Anthony Burgess and his ‘Enderby’ series. This is a must for all fanatics of Burgess’ original work.

9. Machynlleth Comes To Manchester

Bringing a little bit of West Wales to Manchester, this Spring, 6,000 people will descend on the tiny Welsh town of Machynlleth for one of Europe’s most delightful and unusual comedy events. Machynlleth Comedy Festival encourages comics to experiment and have fun with their material in some very intimate venues, with shows staged everywhere from the local bowling club to the ancient Welsh parliament building. This event guarantees bucket of laughs for all the family!

Image courtesy of Manchester Airport via Twitter, with thanks.


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