Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shake The Dust

"For me, my real language, the language of my heart... is hip-hop".  This is the first post we've made on the blog featuring a project looking for funding.  Its not something we are in the habit of doing, but after watching the Kickstarter promo for Shake The Dust there was no doubt this was a project worth supporting.

Documentarian Adam Sjoberg spent three years, on his own dime, exploring the sub culture of hip-hop in some of the most impoverished war torn countries on the globe.  Now he is looking for funding to finish his project.

"Upon returning from a trip to Uganda in 2006, I exhibited (along with another photographer) a series of images from my time backpacking through this volatile yet beautiful African country.  Although the exhibit was relatively well-received, one newspaper article claimed the show “lacked honesty.”  Their assertion was that very few of the images seemed to actually represent the reality of the suffering that was happening in Uganda.  “Where were the M16’s, the child soldiers, the poverty, disease, despair?

The honest truth was this:  Suffering was indeed there, but it was not the majority of what I found.  Many filmmakers enter into a place of crisis, and, with a multitude of motives good and bad, endeavor to capture nothing but agony and despair.  Now, I believe there is certainly a place for that.  But if that is the only story that is told, then the subjects of our words, photos, and videos, are deprived of their humanity.  I believe we are called to empathize with suffering people– not just pity them.

When we are able to glimpse the whole of their experience– to taste their daily life, and seek to understand their culture– we will then begin to truly be moved to compassion for them– because we will not simply be looking at disturbing images– we will be looking at our brothers and sisters who are in peril.  People need to see the full truth– both the suffering, and the humanity.  This, I believe, will be the catalyst that truly stirs us to action".

Heres a cool little bonus video of Adam explaining how he got his glide cam working on the fly in Kampala.

Friday, August 24, 2012

This Is Not a Film

Cinema is reported to have come to Persia in the early 20th century. The first Persian film maker was Mirza Ebrahim Khan Akkas Bashi, the official photographer of the Shah at that time, Muzaffar al-Din Shah. In July 1900, while the Shah was visiting Europe, Akkas was able to acquire a film camera to record the events of the trip. From the time of Muzaffar al-Din Shah until present day, over 100 years later, the Iranian film community has flourished.
The events of the Islamic revolution in 1979 have served to create two distinct time periods in Iranian film. Pre-Reveloutionary Cinema and Post-Revolutionary Cinema.  Although subsidies for Iranian made films continued post-revolution, many great film makers were forced into exile as Khomeini altered the focus of feature film, imposed strict censorship and banned any western made films from entering the country. It can be said that one of the main reason Iranian film makers have developed such a distinct style of story telling, one that has become internationally celebrated, is this ban on western made films, as is the case in China. Although unlike Iran, which seems to be retreating more and more into extreme religious and cultural intolerance, China has been gradually easing bans while retaining their own district style.
To see a current example of the Iranian regimes extreme fear, bigotry and intolerance one needs look no further than Iranian Director, Jafar Panahi's, latest film This Is Not a Film.  Panahi is a highly regarded director around the world but his films are banned in his home country.  After years of conflict with the local government over the content of his films, in March 2010, the authorities stormed into his house and arrested him along with his wife daughter and 15 of his friends.  In December 2010 Panahi was sentenced to six years in jail and a 20 year ban on directing, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media and from leaving the country.
This film takes place over the course of one day in the life of a director who is being artistically suffocated.  Under house arrest and clearly feeling like his purpose for living has been taken away from him he does the only thing he knows how to do .....make a film..... and smuggle it out of the country inside a cake.
Using clips from two of his earlier films Panahi shows us that his favourite moments were unscripted, undirected and took their cue from the real world.  To capture moments like these you need freedom, which is exactly what he doesn't have.