Monday, 26 January 2009

Special Screenings of Stories on Human Rights in January and February


28.1/1.3.09 World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, A selection of Stories on Human Rights, such as the shortmovies of Hany Abu-Assad, Saman Salour, Francesco Jodice, etc, screened individually before each section. 


12.2/22.2.09  Istanbul Film Festival, TurkeyThe long feature film screened on Friday 13 at 1pm and  Saturday 21st at 3pm

26.2/1.3.09 Ankara Film Festival, Turkey, The long feature film screened on Saturday February 28

27.2/8.3.09 Sguardi Altrove Film Festival, Milan, ItalyScreening date: to be communicate soon.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Playgrounds & Toys






Playgrounds and Toys is a project started in 2000 and developed by ART for The World untill 2006. Now AFTW intends to get back to it and give it further attention.

In the pictures:
1) Fabiana de Barros, Fiteiro Cultural, John Kirakossian School in Yerevan, Armenia, 2003
2) Shirazeh Houshiary and Pip Horne, Playground, Gloucester Primary School, Daniel Gardens, Peckham, London, 2004
3) Martand Khosla, Playground, Deepalaya School, Gusbethi, Haryana, India, 2004

Time is the child's kingdom



Started in 2000 Playgrounds&Toys  is a fully sustenaible and  innovative contemporary art project that offers tangible support to existing schools, orphanages and local communities in order to improve the wellfare and upbringing of disadvantaged children and those with little or no access to such facilities, throughout the world. Art for The World provides these schools and communities with both indoor and outdoor playgrounds, that promotes the education of the children and assists in their personal rehabilitation, keeping them stimulated, encouraging the development of cultural and personal identity, and, most important, adding joy to their lives.
With great sensibility and in accordance to the project’s guidelines, over fifty contemporary artists, architects and designers – young or well know – have collaborated with Art for The World to create unique designs for playgrounds and educational toys for children, that are simple and inexpensive to construct and that strictly abide by standard safety requirements. These playground designs, in the form of 1:15 scale models, have also been shown in a travelling exhibitions around  the world, in order to increase awareness to the largest international public possible.
Playgrounds has been developed in schools and communities, so far, in India, United  Kingdom, Armenia and Greece as well as collective toys have been distributed in the refugee camps in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Tanzania with the help of UN Agencies.
In the picture: Edgard Soares, Goooooaaal!!!!, Deepalaya School , Kalkaji, New Delhi, India, 2002.

Mobile Men by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Interview with Apichatpong Weerasethakul on "Mobile Men"


First of all, we would like to ask you where the story that you tell in your movie comes from.
I have been interested in a topic of extinction for a while, the extinction of species, of voices, of tradition, and of cinema. Thai society on the surface looks peaceful, however, there are so many injustices going on that contribute to the elimination of “the other”. The government uses the terms such as “Preservation of the Thai Values” and “National Security” as pretexts to destroy different opinions, beliefs, and cultures. I come across too often news about discrimination and violence towards minorities. In 2006 and 2007, at the peak of the military-controlled regime, five provincial governors in Thailand have issued regulations that prohibits migrant workers from leaving their designated housing at night, prohibits them from using mobile phones, and from gathering together outside of their houses in groups of more than five. The decrees are specifically enforced on the workers from Burma, Laos, and Cambodia, despite the fact that Thailand has migrant workers from various countries. Even though there are strong protests from human right groups, until now the decrees have not been nullified. This decrees led to the unsightly episodes such as extortions by the police and the arrests of migrant workers who participated their cultural events at the temples.
In my recent short film, the main actor is played by a migrant worker from Shan state in Burma named Jaai. The shooting of this film provided me a great opportunity to learn from his stories. He is one of the lucky ones who have decent jobs and are contented with the new living condition. But there exist many others who are still living in the opposite circumstances. For this film project, Mobile Men, it is a portrait of Jaai. By the act of making the film, I would like to instill and capture his confidence and dignity. It is not about storytelling, but about a man who is full of life.
With regard to the topic that was given to you, which aspect struck you the most? Are there ways in which you were already addressing it in your work? 
Justice. After the censorship of my last feature, Syndromes and a Century, I along with my peers formed a group called Free Thai Cinema Movement to petition our government to put an end to the law that denies the basic right of filmmakers to express, and of the audience to receive unfiltered information. At the moment, a new law has been implemented with an introduction of a rating system, but it still gives the government power to arbitrarily cut and ban movies. The experience showed me the complex layers of a society that can be guided by a handful of people that operate on fear.
Human rights are real, something you can feel on your skin, and not something abstract. In a film, the artist and director – just like the poet – creates a personal universe that is drawn from his or her own life in one way or another. Can you help us understand the link between your short film and the experiences that led you to make it?
Making film is the most liberating act for me. I often work with the same crew and actors who become good friends over the years. So every time we are making a film, it is like a carnival. I would like to introduce Jaai into this world of ours. We are creating semi-parallel universes – of real life and of imagined life. These two lives are at times cross path. I put real people’s gestures and stories into a film. It is true that Human Rights are real, but the “presentation” of the topics is always subjective. I try to convey this idea of “no boundary” or at least “less boundary” between the making and what you see.   
We think that culture in general and cinema in particular can help people to better understand the importance of human rights in their own lives. What do you want to provoke in the wider public with your film?
In Mobile Men, the cinema is a tool to create self-awareness. It is important for one to be proud of one’s own existence and recognize it in the others. Here the situation is choreographed as a movie-making game to celebrate youth, beauty, and dignity. The film honors simple gestures that mark individuality through visual exchanges. I hope the viewers realize that, when the actors and a director are holding a camera and shoot, we are destroying a discriminating barrier. The pickup truck simulates a small moving island without frontiers where there is freedom to communicate, to see, and to share.
In most of the films created for this project, we see signs of clashes deriving from cultural diversity or caused by limitations imposed on individuals that curtail their freedom in different ways. What do you think is the reason for that?
Nature. Before films, there were, among others, words, drawings, even in architecture, that display resistance. In temples sometimes you see hidden paintings at obscure corners the images that were prohibited. We always find a way to express, especially when there is a pressure.
This project involves artists and directors, people who usually work with very different languages. What do you think are the differences between artists and directors in their approach to the creative process?
I have been labeled as both an artist and a film director, and I have nothing to complain. Even though in my kind of work, both practices deal with moving images, they are still different animals. While an installation is about space and interaction, a film is an immobile dream. In the cinema theater, I am a dictator, a hypnotist with the audience fixed to their seats. In the installation space I allow them to explore the work in their own path and time. However, I am learning from both kinds of work and I feel more and more the existence of a wall between the two. At the same time it is apparent that this wall is crumbling.    
Now let’s talk a bit about you. Who is Apichatpong Weerasethakul?
I am a person who is practicing art and film. I grew up in a northeastern town in Thailand called Khon Kaen, where there was nothing except the hospital (where I stayed with my doctor parents) and 4 theaters (where I got lost in other worlds). After my hospital years, there was a period when I indulged in Architecture and travel. A fortuneteller told me that I would constantly be on the move. But I survived 10 years in Bangkok. Now I have just moved to live in the north, in the city of Chiang Mai. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Memories of Dialogues de Paix


In the picture: Chen Zhen, Round Table, UN/ONU, Geneva

Friday, 9 January 2009

Interview with Pablo Trapero on "Sobras"


First of all, we would like to ask you where the story that you tell in your movie comes from.
I'm always surprised with the frequently and naturalness with which food is thrown away. Individuals, families, shops, companies, factories, producers, all throw away food. It is strange that we all easily accept the apparently reasonable grounds for convert food into trash.
With regard to the topic that was given to you, which aspect struck you the most? Are there ways in which you were already addressing it in your work?
Hunger is something simple, visceral, direct and clear. However, most of the time this scourge is dealt with modesty. Also solemnly. With fear and distance. It is the engine of political campaigns, humanitarian groups, business groups, social movements, films, peridodisctic and political essays. But none of these approach us to a direct solution to this urgent problem.

On the contrary, everything seems to continue to encourage the same inequality machine.

Human rights are real, something you can feel on your skin, and not something abstract. In a film, the artist and director – just like the poet – creates a personal universe that is drawn from his or her own life in one way or another. Can you help us understand the link between your short film and the experiences that led you to make it?
I never understood the real reasons leading to a supermarket, restaurant, factory or airline to throw food. 

Harvests not sold on time are thrown away. Food is discarded before its expire date while others are destroyed due to packaging defects or due to the arrival of a new product. Food that became cold in its tray is thrown away in restaurants, planes, buses or homes.

Why all this waste when with only minimal action these foods could be relocated or redistributed? Why so much denial?

All these questions and their implausible answers pushed me to pick this topic for my segment Sobras.

We think that culture in general and cinema in particular can help people to better understand the importance of human rights in their own lives. What do you want to provoke in the wider public with your film?
I hope that this little story will bring closer this hidden reality and that it becomes a starting point for debate. And I strongly desire the parties capable of articulating a change feel the urge to do so.
This project involves artists and directors, people who usually work with very different languages. What do you think are the differences between artists and directors in their approach to the creative process?
I believe in diversity.
Film is a celebration of differences. 

Therefore, I think that creative processes should be different to reach greater expressiveness.

Now let’s talk a bit about you. Who is Pablo Trapero?

He’s someone fascinated by the moving images, by sound and colours, by films that have moved and still move him, and by the need to tell stories. 

I also think that cinema is a powerful and touching tool that can help us come up with ideas for this world, in a time not so far ahead, to be better. And for all this, he is someone who deeply loves film.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Interview with Abderrahmane Sissako on "Dignity"



First of all, we would like to ask you where the story that you tell in your movie comes from.
The idea was born from the complexity of the theme proposed: dignity. I think it’s very difficult to deal with such sweeping concepts as justice and dignity in the allotted two or three minutes, so I looked for an idea that actually asked the question ‘What is dignity’ rather than answering it.
With regard to the topic that was given to you, which aspect struck you the most? Are there ways in which you were already addressing it in your work?
I think the most stimulating aspect of the theme is that dignity should be a worldwide question. Anyone can speak about it, no matter where they come from. I’m an artist and part of my identity includes being universal. As a film-maker I’ve always wanted to tell the story of people who have really difficult lives and deep down resent injustice, but still manage to keep going, to keep living, perhaps that’s dignity.
Human rights are real, something you can feel on your skin, and not something abstract. In a film, the artist and director— just like the poet—creates a personal universe that is drawn from his or her own life in one way or another. Can you help us understand the link between your short film and the experiences that led you to make it?
My origins and my life give me strong links to Africa. Injustice and suffering under many guises are endemic in Africa today and this drives me. I’ve always wanted there to be monuments to ‘worthy anonymous people’ in the world, along the same lines as the tombs to the unknown soldier, because I find them more interesting than the people whose names we know.
This is why I film people passing by, people I may never see again....  but who leave their mark on me and on others, immortalized on film.
We think that culture in general and cinema in particular can help people to better understand the importance of human rights in their own lives. What do you want to provoke in the wider public with your film?
"Like water that nourishes the land to feed men", someone said, "culture nourishes their souls to reconcile them".
With this film I wanted to make the statement that there can only be peace in the world, that words like ‘rights’ and ‘hope’ can only have meaning, if the world’s wealth is more evenly distributed.
In most of the films created for this project, we see signs of clashes deriving from cultural diversity or caused by limitations imposed on individuals that curtail their freedom in different ways. What do you think is the reason for that?
This is certainly due to the failure to solve the important issues we face every day around the world. Our role as spokespeople obliges us to take a stand.
Now let’s talk a bit about you. Who is Abderrahmane Sissako?
I was born in Kiffa, in Mauritania. I studied film-making in the Soviet Union and now I live in France. I’ve lived in Africa and I think I’m a citizen of the world.