Apocalipsis de nuestro tiempo (Apocalypse of Our Time)

Ishtar Yasin’s film about the work of the Chilean painter Julio Escámez.

Film de Ishtar Yasin sobre la obra del pinto chileno Julio Escámez.

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Cuba in Nottingham

A short note on the Cuba Research Forum conference which has just taken place at Nottingham, which suggests that international research on Cuba is in good health. Under the as-ever cheerful helm of Tony Kapcia, we heard from speakers of various nationalities, either based in the UK or abroad, and several Cubans, ditto, including, from Havana, the redoubtable Fernando Martínez Heredia, who spoke about the diverse origins of Cuban socialism. We also enjoyed a special lecture delivered with great verve by the distinguished Cuban-American historian, Louis Pérez, outlining his current work on the nineteenth century Cuban middle class and the figure of the coquette, a suggestive rethinking of cultural history. As always the forum was multidisciplinary and covered an impressively wide range of topics: Continue reading

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Remembering Richard Attenborough

 

Attenborough shooting OWALW

This is how I remember Richard Attenborough—setting up a shot for Oh! What a Lovely War, in a photo I took myself. He’s the one in the hat. The news of his death takes me back to where I started, because that first film of his as director was also the occasion for my own first effort at filmmaking, and I’m eternally grateful to him for the chance (rare in those days) to have made a film of the filming.

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Best Docs?

When Sight & Sound sent out their invitation to contribute to their best documentaries poll, I’m afraid I bottled out, and sent this response.

Dear Nick,

Thanks for inviting me to contribute to Sight & Sound’s best documentaries poll. I’m afraid the task has defeated me. There are certainly some films which come to mind immediately, starting with classic titles like Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera, Ruttmann’s Berlin, Symphony of a City, and Vigo’s A propos de Nice—if you’ve written about documentary history, you start thinking chronologically, but the result would be ten or a dozen films for each decade. I’ve already got a list like that—I give it to my students—but it’s not what you want. Yet it includes a good number of little known gems—for example, Les Raquetteurs by Groulx and Brault, Marisol Trujillo’s Prayer, Jorge Furtado’s Island of Flowers—which for me encapsulate essential aspects of documentary. Should these be dropped in favour of bigger numbers, like, I don’t know, Pennbaker’s Don’t Look Back, Jean-Pierre Gorin’s Poto and Cabengo, Paul Leduc’s ABC del Etnocidio, or Moretti’s Dear Diary? OK, that’s ten titles already, and I haven’t even started. Continue reading

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Chile: Divided Generations

This is drawn from from a longer project, ‘Interrupted Memory’, an inquiry into the character of political memory filmed in Chile and Argentina in 2013.

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Loneliness of the Long Distance Propagandist

A remarkable discussion has taken place on Meccsa, an academic mailing list for media, communications and cultural studies, sparked off by my previous blog, Behind the News from Gaza. With more than 150 messages in three days, very little of it had anything to do with what I actually wrote, and I’ve no complaint about that—it’s just one of the dynamics at work on the internet, and that’s what made it so interesting. The discussion was kicked off almost immediately by a doubting response from a list member in Israel, which gave me the feeling that she hadn’t read the full blog on Putney Debater but reacted impulsively to the snippet which appeared on the list. Thirty-six messages later, a correspondent posted the information that Elina Bardach-Yalov is listed on Linked In as a former Political Communications advisor for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Continue reading

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Behind the News from Gaza

When the issues become too sharp and the contradictions too blatant, the news media are severely challenged to contain them within normal bounds. They generally try to keep stories apart in order not to have them contaminate each other, but just recently this became impossible. The events in Gaza and Ukraine are not directly connected, yet in the mediasphere they became coupled by their coincidence in time and their jostling day by day for the top story slot. As a result, it was impossible not to see, for example, the shameless hypocrisy of the British Prime Minister berating France for selling warships to Russia while everyone’s military support for Israel continues unabated. In Britain’s case, it has emerged that the value of all British military exports to Israel currently being processed stands at £7.9 billion, including a single deal last year worth more than £7.7 billion for cryptographic technology. Continue reading

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