Arts and Entertainment

VENEZUELA: Putting (Mothers’) Faces to the Violence

These women are not fashion models, nor are they advertising any product, yet their images look down on passersby from giant black-and-white posters in the Venezuelan capital. There are 52 of them, and they are all mothers who have lost one or more children to the criminal violence that is plaguing the country.

"I think my mural is the best," says Caridad Acosta.  Credit: Patricia Grogg/IPS

CUBA: Mural-Lined Street Transforms Neighbourhood

Forget about finding Cantarrana on a map or travel guide to Cuba. "Nobody knew about us; we didn't exist," said one resident of this working-class neighbourhood on the west side of Havana.

COLOMBIA: Worse than Fiction

A teenage love story is the fictional plot device in a new Colombian film, Silence in Paradise, about the all-too-real phenomenon of the "false positives" – the euphemism used to describe army killings of young civilians passed off as guerrilla casualties.

CUBA: Violence against Women Out of the Closet

The story of Saúl, a violent husband, and Odalys, an abused wife, has been on Cuban TV screens for several weeks now, bringing the touchy and often silenced issue of violence against women into millions of homes. It may cause shock or repulsion, but few can escape the controversy or discussion.

The Screen Speaks for Suu Kyi

Twenty years after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and a year after being released from house arrest, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is the subject of a sweeping film that may increase international pressure on Burma’s ruling regime to speed up tentative reforms.

A scene from "Infinite Incompleteness". Credit: Hjalmar Joffre-Eichhorn/AHRDO

Afghan Theatre Group Lets War Victims Tell Their Stories

On a small stage, a woman appears, grief written on her face as she wanders through the streets of Kabul, searching for her missing child. Suddenly, she stops by a scene of ruins and stares.

 Credit:  Astroturfer/CC BY 2.0

BALKANS: Who’s Afraid of Serbian Violins

The path of reconciliation in former Yugoslavia has taken a musical turn, as the philharmonic orchestras of Ljubljana, Zagreb and Belgrade team up for their first joint season since 1991.

A music shop in Peshawar being restored after a Taliban attack last month. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS.

PAKISTAN: Singing Against the Taliban

"In the last few years, I have sung more than a dozen songs against the Taliban," award-wining singer Khyal Muhammad tells IPS. "I got threatening messages on the mobile phone. But I will continue to sing because it gives me strength."

Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch, Jeanne Marie Hallacy, director of "Into the Current", and Thet Moo, former Burmese political prisoner Credit:  Christian Papesch/IPS

FILM: Political Prisoners Are Burma’s Unsung Heroes

In a move that highlighted its sub-par human rights record, the government of Burma announced Oct. 11 that it would release 6,359 prisoners, but how many of these will be drawn from the country's estimated 500 to over 2,000 political prisoners remains uncertain.

Chinese Film Festival Forced Underground

A Chinese independent film festival showcasing the work of some of the most daring Mainland directors has been forced underground following a police visit to the event’s launch last Saturday.

BOOKS: “The End of Loser Liberalism” and the Free Market Myth

The top one percent of earners in the United States now controls over 40 percent of the nation's wealth, their income steadily rising while much of the country earns less than what it did a decade ago and an all-time high of 46 million Americans now live below the official poverty line.

The filmmakers with real-life interrupters after a screening of "The Interrupters" in New York. Credit: Christian Papesch/IPS

FILM: Former Criminals Turn to Preventing Crime

With 432 murders reported last year, Chicago's homicide rate is over 50 percent higher than that of New York City or Los Angeles, according to the 2010 crime report of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Las Positivas performing at the Riviera theatre in Havana.  Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

CULTURE-CUBA: Women Rappers a Vocal Minority

Women are still a small minority on Cuba’s hip hop scene. "If the situation is hard for us nationwide, imagine what it’s like in the eastern region, where this genre has very little recognition," says Yaneidys Tamayo, leader of the group Las Positivas.

Book Plots J Street’s Coordinates on Map of U.S.-Israel Politics

The "pro-Israel, pro-peace" lobby group J Street has drawn a lot of attention in its short lifetime. Despite decidedly moderate politics, its leader, Jeremy Ben-Ami, has repeatedly been the centre of controversy, and the group's very existence has stirred debate in the U.S. Jewish community about the boundaries of acceptable discourse on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Film Revisits Abuses by U.N. Peacekeepers in Bosnia

"The Whistle Blower", a feature film inspired by actual events that occurred in 1999, follows the story of Kathy Bolkovac (Academy Award-winner Rachel Weisz), a U.S. police officer who takes a job working as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia.

PAKISTAN: Troubled Karachi Finds a Happy Enclave

The long boardwalk, balmy sea air and ebb and flow of water under the bridge, but most of all the festive carnival-like atmosphere of people enjoying the Karachi sunset, are images that stand in deep contrast to the violence this metropolis recently witnessed.

INDIA: Kashmir Dreams of Bollywood

If films are the voice of society, then Indian Kashmir is mute, with a virtually non-existent film industry and the subsequent inability to nurture local talent.

Victims

COLOMBIA: ‘Impunity’ – Keeping the ‘Black Hand’ Anonymous

The film "Impunity" has only just now arrived in Colombia, although the filming was completed a year ago and it was first shown to the public in Geneva in January. But the wait was apparently worth it because the documentary contributes key elements to the heated debate on the so-called "black hand" behind many of the atrocities committed in this South American country.

Manuel Martínez wrote the book, and he and his family opened up the house and yard to the community.  Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

CULTURE-CUBA: The Coco Solo Social Club, Open to All

The family history of writer Manuel Martínez rises up in large, black letters on the walls and ceilings of his house in a low-income neighbourhood of the Cuban capital. Photos and objects from times past complete this different kind of a book, which you can start reading from any point.

In an unusual scene, a university student performs before fellow students in Srinagar. Credit: Athar Parvaiz/IPS.

INDIA: Kashmir in Search of Lost Culture

While the conflict in Indian Kashmir and the destruction it has caused often makes the news, its impact on culture has hardly gotten any attention.

Filmmaker Andrew Okpeaha MacLean whose film "On the Ice" stood out at Message Sticks Film Festival in Australia.  Credit: Maura Anderson

AUSTRALIA: Indigenous Say It on Film

From the Australian bush to Alaska’s Arctic wilderness, indigenous peoples’ stories and perspectives take centre stage at the Message Sticks Film Festival, the only annual event of its kind in Australia.

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