Dogs barking in the distance. Birds chirping nearby. A man walking through the mist, surrounded by lush vegetation. A distinctive vibrato singing “Speak Softly, Love” over it all.
There are several means to make profitable use of other human beings, an endeavour that tends to turn others into tools by depriving them of their roots and self-respect. This happened in concentration - and work camps, where individuals were reduced to mere numbers.
Human existence includes dreams, thoughts, ideas, music, stories, religion, and other immaterial ”things”. They constitute an important part of our habitat
, i.e. the dwelling place of any living organism, consisting of both organic and inorganic surroundings. I learned this when I many years ago found myself among the undulating heights of Cordillera Central
, which rise diagonally across the island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The catastrophic fire in Notre Dame produced a massive emotional reaction. In a Paris famous for its secularism tearful people knelt on the pavement, sang the Ave Maria and prayed to God to save their cathedral. Several stated that it was not only a church burning, but the soul of Paris passing away. What did they mean to say?
The Academy Awards
, i.e. The Oscars
, may occasionly award a worthy movie as Best Picture
, though it is far from sure they select films with a unique artistic vision, enduring cultural influence and/or innovative qualities. Take for example the plain family drama Kramer vs. Kramer
, which in 1979 won Best Picture
and Best Director
, while Francis Ford Coppola´s by now classical epic Apocalypse Now
was awarded for best sound.
Some memories stay with us forever. From my childhood I remember above all a few extraordinary moments – when I suddenly, after many failed attempts, found that I could swim and the same happened when I could ride a bicycle on my own. Since then, these skills have stayed with me throughout life, becoming part of my existence. However, towering above these instances of bliss is the moment when I realised that I had read an entire novel, one without pictures. One of those books that grown-ups were reading. From that moment the gates of paradise on earth were flung wide open. Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote that without music life would have been a mistake. He was probably right, but for my part I assume that without reading, my life would have been much more difficult, empty and boring. I cannot imagine a life without books. As a teacher my wish has always been to convey to my pupils the happiness and wealth books may bring to you.
Amid the morass of Brexit and continuous debates on immigration, a French museum has launched a thought-provoking exhibition about music and migration.
, a 2018 Mexican film written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, is currently on a triumphal journey through the world. It won the Golden Lion
at the Venice Film Festival
, the best director and best foreign language film at the Golden Globe Awards
, best director and best picture at the Critics´ Choice Awards
, best film, best direction and best cinematography at the British Academy Film Awards
. Furthermore, Roma has a record high ten nominations for the upcoming Academy Awards (The Oscars)
. Not at all bad for a black-and-white movie, which appears to have been directed by a sophisticated cineaste and custom-made for an art-house audience. Moreover, Roma deals with a highly controversial and seldom treated theme – the plight of poor, women domestic workers.
A documentary about a Cuban family facing an uncertain future had its world premiere Feb. 12 at the Berlin International Film Festival, one of the world’s most prestigious cinema events. “La Arrancada” (On the starting line) is a debut feature by Brazilian director Aldemar Matias, focusing on a young athlete who is having doubts about her role in national sports in the Caribbean country. The narrative follows her as she considers her future, which may well lie abroad, she reluctantly realises.
The Mediterranean Sea is currently a sea of death. On the 20th of June every year, i.e. The World Refugee Day
, an organization called UNITED for Intercultural Action
publishes a “List of Deaths”, summarising information on where, when and under which circumstances a named individual has died due to the “fatal policies of fortress Europa”. The data are collected through information received from 550 network organisations in 48 countries and from local experts, journalists and researchers in the field of migration. The list issued in 2018 accounted for 27 000 deaths by drowning since 1993, often hundreds at a time when large embarkations capsize. These deaths account for 80 per cent of all the entries,1
there are probably thousands more dead, corpses that were never found and/or not accounted for.
Between silence and music lies imagination. The unspoken rule should apply to every realm of human art. Consider the quandary of a painter who could stare endlessly at his easel in absolute seclusion. But if he or she hadn’t walked the busy street or the green or arid field to get to the studio, there would probably be a blank canvas, with nothing to stir the brush.
When Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings were shown in France a few years ago, a visitor overheard a teenager remarking that the artwork seemed to have come from “a very angry little boy”.
During the past recent years, the city of Rome has experienced a rise in the presence of musicians in its streets and in particular those playing traditional sounds. It does not take a long time, while walking in the streets of Rome, to see a band playing joyful traditional sounds in Piazza Navona. The group renamed itself “Colosseo Band” but they are all from Eastern Europe. A double bass, violins, guitars and a xylophone: this unique assortment gives rise to an explosion of pleasant sounds that make people dancing in the same square.
The usual big-name directors were absent this year from the Cannes Film Festival in southern France, creating space for cutting-edge films from Asia, Africa, small European states, and the Middle East.
Africa has long been one of the world’s most beleaguered continents – singled out mostly for its conflicts, political and economic instability, rising poverty and hunger, inequalities and its environmental challenges.
And in international circles, it is described as “Afro-pessimism.”
Cultural diplomacy is a soft power that promotes the exchange of ideas, information, art, and culture to strengthen friendship and cooperation among nations and communities.
A new exhibition that opened April 5 at London's famous Victoria and Albert museum of ancient treasures looted from Ethiopia has revived debate about where such artifacts should reside, highlighting the tensions in putting Western imperialism in Africa and the past to rest.
Fashion is meant to be trendy. It’s fast-paced: in one season, out the next. If you want to keep up, you had better update your wardrobe - that top you bought last summer is already outdated. While things may have been built to last a life-time a generation ago, today they don’t even last a year.
This year, we will have 3 million tourists each day wandering the world. This massive phenomenon is without precedent in human history and is happening (as usual), with only one consideration in mind: money. We should pause and take a look at its social, cultural and environmental impact and take remedial measures, because they are becoming seriously negative if things are left as they are.
At the Bioscope Independent Cinema in Johannesburg’s trendy, gentrifying Maboneng neighbourhood last week, the two-day HER Africa Film Festival showcased films and web series from across the globe, including Mali, the U.S., Burkina Faso and elsewhere.
A literature professor at Cornell University in upstate New York, Nick Admussen, has recently published an online literary essay about writing novels in the Anthropocene Age.