Screening – Sean McAllister Presents: The Minders

Screening Friday 17th April, 2009

As part of our successful ‘Presents’ strand, award-winning director Sean McAllister will introduce his 1998 documentary The Minders and take part in a post screening Q&A.

"This extraordinary film was made by Sean McAllister during the last Iraqi crisis (the one defused by the UN’s Kofi Annan in person *February 1998).

With air strikes averted, McAllister decided to carry on filming, making a double portrait of his two Ministry of Information minders, Kifah and Alla. The likeable and decent Kifah, a former English teacher enjoying a rare spell of paid work, is a football mad Anglophile: ‘I can’t forget Bobby Moore,’ he sighs. Alla, Head of Protocol, is a suave ladies’ man and pop fan (very taken with Chumbawumba). McAllister carries on filming Kifah after he is dropped as a minder and in doing so creates an illuminating and touching picture of the man and of everyday life in Iraq."

© Nigel Andrew, The Daily Mail

Sukhdev Sandhu has said about Sean –

"I love Sean McAllister’s work for its sly radicalism, and am bursting with admiration for the way he has managed to make films – warm, angry, emotionally involving – that run entirely counter to the dominant voice of today’s documentary mainstream. All his films show individuals who are in some ways hostages to geography. They’re strong people, a bit feisty, but who in different ways have become estranged from their friends or their communities. They put on a good public face, but underneath they’re slowly crinkling.

McAllister left school at 16, worked in a pea factory, before giving up to go on the dole for the best part of a decade. That time gave him a real feel for the rhythm of daily life, and an understanding of how easy it is for people to spin and drift, their lives dribbling away all the while. There’s no solipsism in his features, no cool stylisation: just a passionate commitment to the idea that a real world exists. His success in putting those people on screen is a triumph for anti-apathy, theirs and his own. He’s one of the best documentarians this country has right now."