Frank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood

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300 film still and writer frank miller

‘A mindless, propagandistic storytelling medium’ ? The film 300, left, and its writer Frank Miller. Photographs: Allstar/AP
A sturdy corollary emerges in the wake of?the graphic artist?Frank Miller‘s recent diatribe against the?Occupy Wall Street movement (“A pack of louts, thieves, and rapists ? Wake up, pond scum, America is?at war against a ruthless enemy”), available for perusal atfrankmillerink.com). That corollary, of which we should be reminded from time to time, is this: popular entertainment from Hollywood is ? to greater or lesser extent ? propaganda. And Miller has his part in that, thanks to films such as?300 and?Sin City.
Perhaps you have had this thought before. Perhaps you have had it often. I can remember politics dawning on me while watching a?Steven Seagal vehicle, Under Siege, in 1992. I was in my early 30s.?The film was without redeeming merit ? there’s no other way to put it ? and it was about a “ruthless enemy” and the reimposition of the American social order through violence and rugged individualism. Why had I paid hard-earned money for it? Good question. Before Under Siege, I had a tendency to think action films were?funny. I had a sort of Brechtian relationship to their awfulness. And I was?amused when films themselves recognised the level to which they stooped, as Under Siege assuredly did. Continue reading “Frank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood”

Khaled Hasan wins 2011 Dart Center Ochberg Fellowship

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Ten journalists from around the world have been awarded the 2011 Dart?Center Ochberg Fellowship.
 The 2011 Dart Center Ochberg Fellows will come from around the world to attend a week-long s ...

The 2011 Dart Center Ochberg Fellows will come from around the world to attend a week-long seminar to improve coverage of traumatic events.

The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University?s Graduate School of Journalism announces the recipients of the 2011?Dart Center Ochberg Fellowships for coverage of violence and trauma.
The Ochberg Fellowships were established in 1999 by the Dart Center for journalists seeking to deepen their reporting of traumatic events. Fellowships are awarded to outstanding mid-career journalists in all media who have dedicated much of their work to covering violence, conflict and tragedy, including street crime, family violence, natural disasters, war and genocide.
The week-long Ochberg Fellowship offers journalists a unique opportunity to learn about the many dimensions of psychological trauma and to forge relationships with colleagues who share their interests. Fellows attend seminars with leading experts in trauma science and journalism practice, and participate in the annual conference of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
The 2011 Dart Center Ochberg Fellows are (detailed biographies are below):

  • Elizabeth Aguilera, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego, California
  • Natasha Gardner, 5280 Magazine, Denver, Colorado
  • Aaron Glantz, The Bay Citizen, San Francisco, California
  • Khaled Hasan, Independent Photojournalist, Bangladesh
  • Kateryna Ivanova, Rivne Investigative Reporting Agency, Ukraine
  • Kathie Klarreich, Independent Journalist, Haiti
  • Beth Macy, The Roanoke Times, Roanoke, Virginia
  • Joe Raedle, Getty Images, Miami, Florida
  • Dan Shortridge, The News Journal, New Castle, Delaware
  • Marcela Turati, Revista Proceso, Mexico

Pop Tech 2011 interview

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Shahidul Alam on photography for change

Shahidul Alam
Shahidul Alam walked on stage on Thursday wearing a marigold-colored salwar kameez, a camera over his left shoulder, and a beltpack slung around his hips. There was no mistaking his calling. The Bangladeshi photographer, activist and social entrepreneur has almost single-handedly rebalanced the world of photojournalism, long dominated by Western photographers and their worldview. He has shifted its lens eastward and southward by training legions of photographers in his homeland, creating an award-winning photo agency to sell their work and founding a prestigious international photography festival to showcase their talent. And this fall, he published a book,?My Journey as a Witness, telling the story of Bangladeshi photography as an instrument of social justice. He serves as an ambassador of this movement, in the words of PopTech?s executive director, Andrew Zolli, ?travelling the world leaving new cultures of art makers in his wake.? We sat down with Alam backstage in Camden, Maine. Continue reading “Pop Tech 2011 interview”

USA events: Book launch, artist's talk, lecture

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Book launch at Rizzoli Book Store

Talk at Busboys & Poets

Skira, Bengal Foundation and Busboys & Poets cordially invite you to a book signing for:?Shahidul Alam “My Journey as a Witness” edited by Rosa Maria Falvo
Friday, November 11, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Busboys & Poets
1025 5th Street Northwest
Washington D.C. 20001
+1(202)789-2227
Dr. Alam will be delighted to sign copies purchased during the event
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Lecture at Georgetown University

Cultural Diplomacy
Monday November 14th 11:30 am
St. ?Mary?s ?120. ?Best ?access is ?Reservoir ?Road, ?hospital ?entrance ?#1. ?St. Mary?s is on the left. ?You ?can ?park on the street, ?or ?go to the ?Georgetown ?parking lot in the Leavey Center. ?Just ?keep ?going ?from ?entrance ?one to ?the ?garage.

Interview at NPR:

Every weekday for over three decades, NPR’s Morning Edition has taken?listeners around the country and the world with two hours of multi-faceted stories and commentaries that inform, challenge and occasionally amuse. stories and commentaries that inform, challenge and occasionally amuse. Morning Edition is the most listened-to news radio program in the USA. Shahidul Alam will be interviewed by Morning Edition. Contact Salma Hasan Ali for details:

CPW 2011 Vision Award Tribute

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FotoFest visionaries Fred Baldwin and Wendy Watriss honored by Center for Photography at Woodstock


It was the early nineties when I first met Fred and Wendy at their home in Houston. I continued to be awed by the phenomenal energy and passion of this wonderful couple. The award was long deserved.

PopTech 2011 Interview:

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PopTech 2011 Interview: Shahidul Alam on photography for change

Lindsay Borthwick?(?BIO / ??POSTS )??|??Friday, October 21, 2011 UTC
?
Shahidul Alam walked on stage on Thursday wearing a marigold-colored salwar kameez, a camera over his left shoulder, and a beltpack slung around his hips. There was no mistaking his calling. The Bangladeshi photographer, activist and social entrepreneur has almost single-handedly rebalanced the world of photojournalism, long dominated by Western photographers and their worldview. He has shifted its lens eastward and southward by training legions of photographers in his homeland, creating an award-winning photo agency to sell their work and founding a prestigious international photography festival to showcase their talent. And this fall, he published a book,?My Journey as a Witness, telling the story of Bangladeshi photography as an instrument of social justice. He serves as an ambassador of this movement, in the words of PopTech?s executive director, Andrew Zolli, ?travelling the world leaving new cultures of art makers in his wake.? We sat down with Alam backstage in Camden, Maine.
PopTech: You founded?Drik, a photo agency, and the?Chobi MelaInternational Festival of Photography. Why did you feel it was important for Bangladeshi photographers, as well as their peers, to have these outlets for their work?
Shahidul Alam: Firstly, it was a question of addressing this very distorted perception people have of what I call the ?majority world? countries. Our poverty is a reality, but that is not the only identity that we have. Secondly, I wanted to challenge a very unidirectional form of storytelling that has — to a large extent — been propagated by the West. The richness and diversity of human life gets lost in a very agenda-led information distribution system. So that was the beginning.
We also wanted to celebrate our own culture. It?s not that I am against white, Western photographers producing work in Bangladesh — I think our ideas need to be challenged just as much. It?s the monopoly of dissemination that I was against. So we wanted to create a space for diversity — for both Western work and our own work. That?s where the Chobi Mela festival came in — to facilitate that cultural infusion.
Continue reading “PopTech 2011 Interview:”

Medellin Talk

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My talk at Museo D Antioquia in Medellin on 21st Oct 2011:

From the Lions Point Of View

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By Peter Marshall

From the blog >Re Photo

?Isn?t it a thrill to have him here in London? said the woman behind me to a friend as we we all waited, hardly an empty seat in the small lecture area of National Geographics?s Regent St first floor, and the next hour or so listening to Shahidul Alam talking, showing pictures and answering questions certainly justified her anticipation.
? 2011, Peter Marshall
Probably most of us in the audience had some idea of the incredible transformation Dr Alam has made to the world of photography, not just in his native Bangladesh but worldwide, although so much still remains to be done, but I think all of us found there was even more to him – and his family – than we had been previously aware.
Alam?s mother in particular was a formidable woman; determined to get a university education despite the opposition of her mother-in-law to the education of women, she left home every morning in a burkha ?going to visit friends? and went to study. Armed with her degree she dedicated herself to the education of women, and having found little backing for her project, bought a tent and used it to set up her own school for girls.
Later too we heard that his father had dared to evade the ?invitation? sent to him along with the other leading intellectuals of the country to take tea with the occupying Pakistani generals in 1971 just a few days before the end of the war. It was a story accompanied by a picture by Rashid Talukdar of a severed head in rubble, from the killing fields of Rayerbazar. Altogether more than a thousand teachers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, artists, writers and engineers were massacred.
Continue reading “From the Lions Point Of View”

Delhi Photo Festival 2011

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The biennial Delhi Photo Festival 2011 is an initiative of the?India Habitat Centre &?Nazar Foundation to bring photography, the real democratic art form, into the public space, thereby creating awareness of photographic arts and initiating dialogue amongst its many practitioners and lovers.

Children's Art and Children's Rights

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Published on Saturday, September 24, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

by Claudia Lefko

We?ve been here before, confronting this question of children?s art, and why it creates such a stir. I wrote about it in May 2006 when Brandeis University cancelled an exhibit of Palestinian children?s art. This cancellation seems even more egregious because the museum in question is specifically a children?s museum.
Who objects to children?s art in a children?s art museum? And, what should we make of a children?s museum that allows the concerns of those constituents to censor the views of children, denying their right to expression? I?m talking about the Oakland Children?s Museum (MOCHA) and its decision to cancel the exhibit A Child?s View of Gaza, which was to have opened there this week, on September 24.
One can only conclude that those who have objected to this exhibit are troubled by the content. For whatever reason they want it buried, out of site and out of mind. They must be a powerful group. They succeeded in convincing the museum?s board to ignore its stated goal of ?…advocating for the arts as an essential part of a strong, vital and diverse community?. And, they have put the museum in the uncomfortable position of denying Palestinian children their rights as guaranteed by Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC): the right of every child to express his or her views and to have those views given due consideration.
?The artist’s job is to be a witness to his time in history.? said the artist Robert Rauschenberg, and so it is with our young artists. Seeing, as we know, comes before words. A child looks and recognizes people, places and things before she or he can speak; ?views? are developing from the moment of birth. So, imagine the views taken in during the long, wide-eyed hours of childhood in Palestine or in Baghdad on in Afghanistan. Imagine the tension, worry and preoccupation on the faces of the adults; imagine the looks on the faces of the of soldiers as they patrol the streets, or search homes. Imagine the hundreds upon hundreds of violent scenes that could and do play out in front of children living in war zones. This is their world. It surrounds them day in and day out. And oftentimes, they have not only no words, but no opportunity to tell us what they think and feel about this.
Taking crayon or pencil in hand, a child speaks out on his or her own behalf: this is me, my situation, this is what my life looks like. It isn?t easy for adults to bare witness to these stories. I?ve seen exhibits of children?s art from Hiroshima, from Spain during the Civil War, from Viet Nam, from Darfur, from the concentration camps in WWII and from Iraqi children. What we see in some of this art is the human cost of war, the terror and agony of being a child in an unpredictable, dangerous and violent world, a world gone inexplicably mad. A world where you are not safe, where even your parents cannot protect you.
This art is not about politics, it is about the human condition. If we cannot look at it, if it is too painful, it is because the world we have created, full of violence and conflict, is not one that is good for children. The famous 60?s poster with one giant flower said it all: War is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things.
We have a legal as well as a moral obligation to let Palestinian children, and all children express their views freely and to give those views our due consideration. If we are disturbed by children?s images from war zones, we should work on their behalf to create a better, more just and peaceful world , a world where children are truly valued and where their care, protection and overall well being is a social, economic and political priority. To do anything less is to deny the significance of children as the future of our planet.
Aldous Huxley wrote this, in his introduction to ?They Still Draw Pictures! A collection of 60 drawings made by Spanish children during the war? (1938): The most that individual men and women of good will can do is to work on behalf of some general solution of the problem of large-scale violence and, meanwhile to succour those who, like the child artists of this exhibition, have been made the victims of the worlds collective crime and madness.
The museum, in canceling the exhibit has dealt yet another blow to children and their rights; surely a children?s museum, of all institutions, can do better than this.
To see examples from this exhibit: mocha.org
Claudia Lefko is the founding director (2001) of The Iraqi Children’s Art Exchange in Northampton MA. She is a long-time educator, activist and advocate for children.