Stories from Quick Reads and Film
After years of promotion and reviews of documentaries devoted to social change, the site Films for Action released a list of what they consider to be the 100 most influencial and provocative. From critiques to manistream media to the corporate world, passing through the ideas and solutions proposed in and by the majority world, this list of films present a wide view of ideas that many consider crucial to discuss.
Documentaries have an incredible power to raise awareness and create transformative changes in consciousness both at the personal and global levels […] All of the films have been selected because they are either free to watch online, or can be rented online. There are several films we would have loved to add to this list, but they currently don't have an accessible way to view them. As that changes, we'll be updating this list over time. Enjoy!
“Mbeu Yosintha” was made to help farmers and rural communities cope with the effects of climate change, in particular the ever changing rain patterns in South East Africa. The film is a drama using local actors and was devised with Malawian writer Jonathan Mbuna following extensive research with various agricultural NGOs in Malawi.
The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo is a film by filmmaker Yaba Badoe:
The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, explores the artistic contribution of one of Africa's foremost women writers, a trailblazer for an entire generation of exciting new talent.
This feature-length documentary charts Ama Ata Aidoo's creative journey in a life that spans 7 decades from colonial Ghana, through the tumultuous era of independence, to a more sober present day Africa where nurturing women's creative talent remains as hard as ever.
According to MTN, ” MTN FrontRow, is a premium entertainment network that brings you all the TV series and movies you love, even if you’re not an MTN subscriber – and you could get the first month FREE.You won’t even have to install a dish, buy a box or take out a bank loan. From only R179 a month, you can sign up to MTN FrontRow Club and play our content instantly at any time via your browser on your computer or mobile device, or on our Android app (an iOS version is coming soon!). You can even stream to your TV via your devices, of course.”
Indigenous people from the Munduruku ethnic group are fighting against the construction of the São Luiz do Tapajós dam in the state of Pará, Brazil. The dam will mean the flooding of 700,000 km2 in their homeland.
The Brazilian Federal Government plans to build up to five dams in the Tapajós River, where dozens of indigenous communities live. Together with São Luiz do Tapajós, the Jatobá dam was due to begin construction in 2015, but socio-environmental difficulties may have postponed that deadline to at least 2020. The two dams will cost together US$7 billion.
The Munduruku claim they have not been consulted about the project. For years, the Munduruku people from the Sawré Maybu community, which will be directly affected by the construction of São Luiz do Tapajós dam, have pressured the federal government to demarcate their lands. The demarcation would create a legal obstacle for the continuation of the dam's project.
A documentary about the issue was produced by videomaker Nayana Fernandez.
UPDATE 09/12/2014: Together with other organizations, Nayana Fernandez has launched a crowfunding campaign to help the Munduruku pressure the government to demarcate their territory, officialize two associations, build a website and translate and dub the documentary into their native language (most Mundurku people do not speak Portuguese). Supporters can contribute with a minimum of US$10.
Carlos G. de Juan, blogging on Hacia rutas de cambio positivo (Towards routes of positive change), offers a reflection through a short mute film about the story of many homeless people in big cities, who had a normal life until life struck them so hard they just lost heart:
Esta puede ser la historia de muchas personas que hoy malviven en las calles de las grandes ciudades. Personas que como todxs, fueron niñxs, fueron jóvenes estudiantes, fueron padres o madres, fueron nuestrxs compañerxs de trabajo, fueron nuestrxs amigxs pero algo sucedió en sus vidas que les hizo arrodillarse, abandonarse.
This can be the story of many people that today just live badly in the streets of big cities. People like everybody, who were children, young students, parents, they were our coworkers, our friends, but something happened on their lives that made them kneel down, just let go.
With the question if it was you?, Carlos G. de Juan invites us to sympathize with those who live in the streets, that is, to put ourselves in their place and wonder about the stories of life that made them get to that situation, as well as question ourselves about possible solutions to get them back to the social fabric.
The video was written and produced by Portugues filmmaker Nuno Rocha.
You can follow Carlos G. de Juan on Twitter.
Talking Heads is a project of the Africa Centre, a non-profit cultural organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa. Talking Heads produces audio casts and short films, which are freely available on YouTube and iTunes:
The Africa Centre has designed an approach that identifies, showcases and creates opportunities for African “Thought Leaders”. Talking Heads profiles some of the extraordinary Africans making a meaningful and affirmative contribution to their communities, cities, countries, to the Continent and the world. Our approach provides a model that can be easily replicated anywhere in Africa and, with scale, may offer an alternative narrative of who and what we know about our Continent.
What better than the seventh art to mobilize? In another effort to push for Elections in Lebanon and prevent an extension of the Parliamentary term #NoToExtension, Lebanese NGO Nahwa Al Muwatiniya (meaning Towards Citizenship) held an “Election Film Week”.
Six works from Chile, Iran, China, Ghana and the US, varying between documentaries and fiction are being screened between August 28 to September 2 at Cinema Metropolis (a theater promoting indie movies) in collaboration with the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE).
On the Facebook Page of the event, where the programme is listed, the organisers note:
We have been struggling with a fragile democracy in Lebanon, ever since its independence. Today, more than in the darkest days of the civil war, the foundations of our democracy are at risk. But we’re not alone in this. The world is full of stories about the human struggle for self-determination and democratic participation. Broadening our perspective serves our effort to improve the quality of the political system in Lebanon.
The films we picked share stories from different countries, all which portray the election process. Collectively, they reveal a combination of human values and ideals and the efforts politicians make to win an election.
To see a glimpse of the movies, check out the trailer posted on Nahwa Al Muwatiniya Youtube Page.
The current parliament extended its four-year stay for the first time in May 2013. And like a year before, various parties are supporting the move this time around under the pretext of security conditions.
The end of the parliamentary term comes amidst a period of turmoil in Lebanon. The country has lacked a president since May 25 after parliament failed to elect a new head of state and top officials could not reach political consensus. A general strike by syndicates demanding to approve a new enhanced wage scale for civil servants has threatened to paralyze the entire country. Lebanon has experience instability on both Syrian and Israeli borders after soldiers were kidnapped by members of Islamic militant organization ISIS.
A Guerra da Beatriz (Beatriz’s War) is the first feature film from East Timor. It is about Indonesia's occupation of East Timor from 1975 to 1999 and its impact on the Timorese society.
According to the producers of the film, it was “made guerrilla style by the men and
women who fought in the armed resistance and the clandestine movement” against Indonesia's occupation.
Though gays and lesbians are gradually gaining more acceptance in Puerto Rico, the same cannot be said yet of transgender people. That is why a film like Mala Mala, a documentary in which trans people speak freely about their stories, is so important. The film, directed by Dan Sickles (@dan_sickles) and Antonio Santini, is on the official selection of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
One of the people interviewed for the film is Paxx Moll, a chef who is also a transgender female-to-male. In an article published in La Respuesta, a digital magazine about the Puerto Rican diaspora, he talks to E. J. Dávila about who he is, his experience being part of the documentary, and about the lack of social and medical spaces for trans people in Puerto Rico, particularly for transgender men.
This is the teaser trailer for Mala Mala, which will premier in Puerto Rico in the coming months:
“Too Black to Be French” is a documentary made by Isabelle Boni-Claverie, a French-Ivorian writer and filmmaker. Boni-Claverie's goal is to provide unexplored ideas and start a conversation on French society's inequalities and discrimination.
The documentary includes commentary and analyses from renowned Francophone thinkers such as Eric Fassin, Pap Ndiaye, Achille Mbembe, Patrick Simon and Eric Chalaye, along with testimonies from anonymous people of color. Some of the main arguments in the documentary are the conspicuous lack of minorities in the public media sphere, the lack of acknowledgment of colonial history in the fabric of the nation and the absence of quantitative data on discrimination at the workplace.
The documentary ignited a trending hashtag #TuSaisQueTesNoirEnFranceQuand (Translation: You know you are black in France when…) on Francophone social media.
Recovering Latin American historical memory and raising awareness of the atrocities committed in the past are crucial steps to take in order to ensure they are never repeated and that, instead, we continue to work towards strengthening our democracies. To that end, film can play a crucial role in compiling testimonies that constitute our collective memory, in this case the history of Peru.
Spanish filmmaker Luis Cintora unveiled his new documentary at the Latin American Film Festival and the Melbourne International Film Festival. It recounts the alleged crimes committed by the Peruvian army in their fight against the militant group Shining Path from 1983-84 in the Ayacucho region. The documentary “Wecome to Los Cabitos” features testimony from survivors, relatives of missing persons, academics and soldiers, who provide moving testimony about the alleged crimes against humanity perpetrated on the former military base.
— Jorge Weston (@JorgeMWeston) March 13, 2015
Documentary filmmaker reveals that young people in #Ayacucho are unaware of the era of terror.
It is not the first time that the Spanish filmmaker has focused on this dark period in Peru's history. In 2012 he made “The footprints of the Shining Path“, which explores the shadow cast by this violent organization on the country's collective memory, one which not surprisingly elicits conflicting emotions.
#sinperos a filomena sanchez desaparecida en huanta en 1988, la encontraron en el cuartel los cabitos cuando desenterraron los cadaveres
— jose edwin velasquez (@joseedwin69) March 1, 2015
Filomena Sanchez disappeared in Huanta in 1988; they found her body among the cadavers uncovered in the Los Cabitos barracks.
Otra mas de los PROTERRORISTAS, basándose en el informe de la CVR. http://t.co/Z50AMjgyZ6
— El Majin (@Majindice) March 13, 2015
One more from the PROTERRORISTS, based on the CVR [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] report.
‘Kacaan: The Untold Stories‘ is an upcoming hard-hitting documentary film that will objectively look at the background to the Somali conflict and its causes with special emphasis on events after 1969. It will closely look at the last functioning Somali government headed by late Mohammed Siad Barre; its inception to its downfall. Kacaan (Revolution in Somali) was the self-designated name of the 1969 bloodless coup d’état in Somalia. The documentary will contain key interviews with assorted people, ranging from former senior government officials to opposition (rebel) leaders to prominent members of Somalia’s pre-199 civil society — unseen footage and will revisit key subjects in order to develop a clearer picture; separate fact from fiction and attentively look at what went right, wrong and what we can learn from it.
Rough Studios, a small Swedish production company, has released the first episode of a documentary series about being transgender in Uganda:
We enter the life of Cleopatra Kambugu, a Ugandan transgender girl who was forced to flee to Kenya after being “outed” as homosexual in one of Uganda's major tabloids. It is a story about love, hate and being transgender, in one of the worlds most homophobic places.
Our goal with this film has always been to make a difference. Whether it is to change peoples hearts, their perception of a transgender person or the prejudice people have towards the LGBT community.
Uganda is a country which for long have been criticized for the discriminations against the LGBTI community.
Raúl Morales, blogging on El Blog de Don Ush, brings us a review of recently launched science fiction movie “Interstellar,” where director Christopher Nolan creates a non-encouraging future for the planet that can only be overcame if human beings defeat the prevailing ignorance. Although Morales is critic of box-office earnings and the action plot of the movie, he highlights that this is how the world will be if we go on just as we are:
Me gustan los mundos distópicos, en particular los que tratan de mostrar cómo sería el nuestro si seguimos como vamos. No lo dicen con claridad en la película, pero es obvio que hubo algún tipo de cataclismo que jodió a la Tierra, sin duda el calentamiento global. En segundo lugar, la película da un ejemplo claro de uno de los elementos más graves que nos orillan a ese nivel de autodestrucción: la ignorancia científica.
I like dystopian worlds, particularly those who try to show how would ours be if we go on as we are going. The movie isn't clear about it, but it's obvious there was some kind of natural catastrophe that screwed the Earth, undoubtedly the global warming. In second place, the film is a clear example of one of the most serious that pushes us to that level of self-destruction: scientific ignorance.
Ahí algunas de las razones por las que me gustó Interstellar. Un día los viajes espaciales a otros planetas podrían ser tan cotidianos como viajar en avión a otros continentes. Ese futuro solo será posible si no nos matamos entre nosotros y, por tanto, si superamos la ignorancia que conduce tantas de nuestras acciones.
There are some of the reasons why I liked Interstellar. Some day, travelling to other planets could be so frequent as taking a plane to other continents. That future will be possible only if we don't kill each other and, therefore, if we overcome the ignorance that leads so many of our actions.
According to Morales, Nolan uses science fiction as a lens to view different possible worlds.
You can follow Raúl Morales on Twitter.
Njeri Wangari highlights 9 amazing animation videos for African children:
1. Jungle Beat
Jungle Beat is a fun, family friendly series of CGI animated self-contained, dialogue-free, 5 minute episodes focusing on different animals and the bizarre situations they encounter in nature. From the firefly who is afraid of the dark to the giraffe with a stiff neck, this wholesome series aims to entertain, inspire and ignite children’s curiosity!
2. Kirikou and The Sorceress
In a little village somewhere in Africa, a boy named Kirikou is born. But he’s not a normal boy, because he knows what he wants very well. Also he already can speak and walk. His mother tells him how an evil sorceress has dried up their spring and devoured all males of the village except of one. Hence little Kirikou decides, he will accompany the last warrior to the sorceress. Due to his intrepidity he may be the last hope of the village. Kirikou et la Sorcière or Kirikou and the Sorceress is a french animated film based on Western African folklore directed by Michel Ocelot.
The story has been translated to English and into Kiswahili.
Beijing authorities blocked an annual independent film festival from opening on August 23, 2014. The move is seen as a sign that Beijing is tightening ideological controls. According to indie director Huang Wenhai, the shutdown was “the darkest day in the history of Chinese independent film.” Started in 2006 by independent art critic Li Xianting, the film festival is a place for indie filmmakers to share and discuss their work. Although the festivals like this had some trouble with the police over the years, it's the first time the whole festival has been blocked. The police also took away records of the Li's work for investigation.
China Media Project has more details about happenings around the shutdown.