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    Film, Media & Consciousness

    Poem : Green Unplugged

    Culture Unplugged  |  15.Jun.15
    human vision of ‘Green’,
    toned through traditions, trends, tempests.

    what hue do you imbue?

    do you see? the everGreen impulse of life –
    that infinite ground of being, in motion eternally,
    fomenting, fertilizing, flourishing for harmony,
    in atomic~cosmic world!

    do you experience? the pull upward into canopy –
    that organic, dynamic, ever-e... more

    Cosmopolitan Narratives. Documentary and the Global ‘Otherʼ

    Ib Bondebjerg  |  15.Dec.14

    First published in Nordicom Review, 35 (Special Issue), 2014, p. 53-67.

    Globalization is a phenomenon much discussed in contemporary society, and rightly so. But it is by no means just a dimension linked to modern societies and cultures. In fact, globalization as such is as old as civilization. Globalization is a complex phenomenon, both now and in a historical perspective. Therefore, a simple and descriptive definition is a good starting point:

    Globalization can be defined as the movement of objects, signs and people across regions and intercontinental space (...) Globalization can be located on a continuum with the local, national and regional. At the one end of the continuum lie social and economic relations and networks which are organized on a local and/ or national basis; at the other end lie social and economic relations and networks which crystallize on the wider scale of regional and global inter... more


    Just Images: Ethics and Documentary Film in China

    Ying Qian  |  31.Oct.14

    This article first appeared in CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY, No. 29, March 2012.

    A Forum and a Manifesto

    Over the past two decades, one of the most important developments in Chinese visual culture has been the flourishing of independent documentary film. Celebrated at international film festivals, and gaining a limited but growing domestic exposure in galleries, cafés, as well as at the small number of independent Chinese film festivals, this vibrant cinematic form has been admired for the resistance of its makers to state censorship, and a commitment to registering everyday experiences in a period of dramatic social transformation.

    The close bond between documentary cinema and real life, however, not to mention the complex relationship between filmmakers and the pa... more


    Documentary and Cognitive Theory: Narrative, Emotion and Memory

    Ib Bondebjerg  |  18.Sep.14

    Original publication:
    Bondebjerg,  I.  (2014).  Documentary  and  Cognitive  Theory:  Narrative,  Emotion  and  Memory.  Media  and   Communication,  2(1),  13‐22.

    This article deals with the benefits of using cognitive theory in documentary film studies. The article outlines general aspects of cognitive theory in humanities and social science, however the main focus is on the role of narrative, visual style and emotional dimensions of different types of documentaries. Dealing with cognitive theories of film and media and with memory studies, the article analyses how a cognitive approach to documentaries can increase our understanding of how documentaries influence us on a cognitive and emotional level and contribute to the forming of ... more


    Dissident Cinema: Defying the Logic of Globalization

    Tony Kashani  |  15.Aug.14

    This paper first appeared as a chapter in Global Studies Association 2007 Annual Book. The intent for its republication is to facilitate reflection on the continuation of same pattern/past in present times.

    You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.
    - Franz Kafka


    From Bombay to Zanzibar to Paris to Tehran to New York to San Francisco to Tokyo to Bangkok to Peking to New Delhi to Kashmir, virtually everywhere, people love cinema - or at least, in my romantically constructive way - I would like to think that is the case. Cinema is a complex art form. In the present age, the most dominant form of cinema is the kind that is generated by the machinery we often refer to as “Hollywood.”

    Hollywood manufactures narratives. ... more


    Teaching Cinema for Transformation

    Tony Kashani  |  18.Jul.14

    Teaching Cinema as a Transformative Medium: Towards a Pedagogy of Transformative Learning


    This paper is an inquiry into a transformative learning pedagogy. Can cinema be transformative? If so, is all of cinema transformative? What kind of cinema has the most potential for transformation? What pedagogical philosophy can mediate transformative learning of cinema? How can we teach cinema to be transformative?

    In this discourse “transformation” is seen as a process whereby the person who has the transformative experience achieves a higher state of consciousness. The author assumes that cinema can be transformative. If a film penetrates the learned (through transformative pedagogy of cinema studies) audience’s mind and compels her to think dur... more


    Poem : We Speak, Here

    Culture Unplugged  |  15.Jun.14

    POEM-We Speake Here 2014

    hear now,
    the voice of eros, 
    in cell, in organism calling the self ‘I’, ... more


    Poem : Spirit Enlightened

    Culture Unplugged  |  15.Dec.13

    Screen shot 2013-12-15 at 4.29.31 PM

    origins of ʻitʼ seen, in zone beyond the known, 

    the story of spirit -
    in evolution, in enlightenment, in experience, 

    our ancestors dwelled & dug to see ʻthatʼ, 
    that, transcending the ʻgodʼ of religions present... more


    Documentary Film as a Catalyst for Social Change

    Woodrow Bryant Hood  |  03.Oct.13

    This article was previously published in Cinemascope - Independent Film Journal, issue 17, here.

    In “Leaving It Up to the Imagination: POV Shots and Imagining from the Inside” in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticidsm, Jinhee Choi argues that, “The POV shot has taken a special place in film theories as a device that leads the viewer to identify with a character, by making the viewer replicate the perceptual state of the character” (17). In the article, Choi is referring to a single character POV. In filmmaking, we find three different types of POV: single, group, and omniscient. Often when we refer to a POV shot, we are referring to a single POV—the camera becomes the eyes (and ears) of a single (usually major) character in the story. In a group POV shot, the camera becomes the eyes (and ears) of a group of people usually watching the actions of a major... more


    This Is Your Brain on Movies: Neuroscientists Weigh In on the Brain Science of Cinema

    Rachel Nuwer  |  28.Jun.13

    First published in The Credits on 3 January 2013.

    In movies, we explore landscapes far removed from our day-to-day lives. Whether experiencing the fantastical adventures of Star Wars or the dramatic throes of The English Patient, movies demand that our brains engage in a complex firing of neurons and cognitive processes. We enter into manipulated worlds where musical scores enhance feeling; where cinematography clues us into details we’d normally gloss over; where, like omniscient beings, we voyeuristically peek into others’ lives and minds; and where we can travel from Marrakech to Mars without ever having left our seat. Movies reflect reality, yet are anything but.

    “Movies are highly complex, multidimensional stimuli,” said more


    Poem : Green Unplugged

    Culture Unplugged  |  15.Jun.13
    human vision of ‘Green’,
    toned through time, traditions, trends, tempests.
    unplugging the hue today,
    how do you see?

    do you feel Green to be infinite 
    ground of being, in motion eternally,
    fomenting, fertilizing, flourishing, for harmony, 
    atomic~cosmic world?

    do you experience Green as canopy,
    organic, dynamic, expanding presence,
    enveloping you, me, us, them & that, 
    in dark, deep & bright - loving, blissful light?

    do you see Gr... more

    Translating or transcending

    Mariam Karim-Ahlawat  |  05.Apr.13

    First published in The Hindu on 2 March 2013.

    We are a polyglot nation, and we have knowledge of at least two languages: we have a mother tongue and a language in which we have been educated at school and college, which is often different from the mother tongue. Often this second is English. Every language you learn has its own sensibilities and its own idiom. It has its own registers, value systems, class distinctions and levels of the acceptable and the unacceptable. Each language that we know sensitises us differently to different things, and develops in us different personalities with different sensibilities.

    Each time we switch to another language, we subtly shift to being another person. Our gestures and facial expressions also alter accordingly. A language is not simply about words and sentences, it is also about pauses, emphasis, intonation... more


    George Carlin, Muse of the 99%: The Legacy of a Truth Teller

    Nozomi Hayase  |  07.Mar.13

    George Carlin was one of America’s most beloved standup comedians. Even after his death, his great performances have lived on in the memories of many. There is now a whole new generation discovering his work on the cyber-stage. Some recorded performances have become hits on YouTube with waves of laughter going viral on social media.

    George Carlin had a way of revealing the truth. With his gift of irreverent satire, he softened the truth of his biting social commentary with a unique humor. He could for a short time cut through America’s collective consciousness and belief systems. His performances gave the audience enough distance to not feel offended when invited to look at the truth about their own lives. Truth can hurt, especially if one has long avoided confronting it. But Carlin’s truth-telling left the audience at ease. His words have become more and more relevant and seem to have a prophetic edge. Let’s take a look at one popular piece where more


    Tora Bora cinema

    Sobhi al-Zobaidi  |  07.Feb.13

    In Palestine, a new and independent cinema is emerging, and by independent I mean from the authorities of state, religion and commerce.[1] Independent filmmaking in Palestine is better understood as individual filmmaking because of the absence of the institutional base such as foundations, film collectives, film schools, groups, and most important censorship. In fact Palestinian filmmakers act competitively, most often incompatible with each other. Very rarely do they work with each other. An increasing number of filmmakers compete for the same resources. With no institutional bases whatsoever, the whole thing is left to individual improvisation. And maybe that’s a good thing, because if institutionalized, who knows what it would be like? The Palestinian cinema developing now is one driven by artistic impulses to resist, travel, and otherwise negotiate the world — a body of work sha... more


    Factual Format or Documentary?

    Edward Milner  |  11.Jan.13
    “I think it’s totally impossible to make a film with an audience in mind. I make a film to satisfy my own internal standards as to quality and integrity, and I try like hell to make it meet those standards”. – Frederick Wiseman

    The creative documentary made for major terrestrial television has virtually died in Britain, assaulted and left for dead by an industry that has jettisoned any serious interest in the world around it in an unsustainable chase after ratings. The idea of a discerning audience has been discounted. The very word documentary has almost been lost in the clouded waters of factual programming. ... more


    Poem: Humanity Explored

    Culture Unplugged  |  16.Dec.12
    the humanity,
    seeing divinity in truth, peace, beauty & benevolence,
    with beating beast beneath,
    awaits for elevation of nature.
    becoming divine,
    the prime feature, of being human,
    lost in front news headlines from countries, developed and not, v... more

    Lost in the Metropolis: City Culture in American Life

    Annie Brown  |  31.Aug.12

    He could probably afford to live in the sprawling suburbs of Washington, D.C., but James rejected that idea a long time ago. Although it might sound attractive to many Americans, James doesn’t want to live in newly constructed apartment building, in a neighborhood made up of identical brick and aluminum siding, with people just like him living next door. He didn’t want to be conveniently located in a shopping center, or ideally located 15 minutes outside of the richest city in America. James wants to live in the city.

    American city cultureImage Courtesy : Thomas Hawk�... more


    Poem : We Speak, Here

    Culture Unplugged  |  15.Jun.12

    We Speak Here

    hear now,
    the voice of eros,

    ... more


    The After-Life of Documentary: The Impact of You Are on Indian Land

    Faye Ginsburg  |  14.Mar.12

    Documentary realism aligns itself with an epistephilia, so to speak, a pleasure in knowing, that marks
    out a distinctive form of social engagement. The engagement stems from the rhetorical force of an
    argument about the very world we inhabit. We are moved to confront a topic, issue, situation or event
    that bears the mark of the historically real. In igniting our interest, a documentary has a less
    incendiary effect on our erotic fantasies and sense of sexual identity, but a stronger effect on our social imagination and sense of cultural identity. 1

    George Stoney's documentaries have moved generations of audiences, students, and communities
    because of their consistent, clear-eyed engagement with representing what Bill Nichols calls "the
    historically real." But the attraction to his work has always been based on more than the insights he
    offers by moving from wor... more


    The Stuff of Dreams

    Debbie Ouellet  |  17.Feb.12

    What is the stuff of dreams? Random flashes of subconscious bric-a-brac, discarded brain bits and pieces? Are they journeys to another plain of existence? Is it the brain’s way of sorting out problems — reaching deeper into our mental capacity to reason and create? The truth is: we really don’t know. How a person might answer any of these questions out of their own personal experience relies heavily on their cultural background and spiritual beliefs. Whether it’s a scientific or spiritual approach to these questions, there is a common thread of agreement: creativity and our dream life are often linked.

    The Scientific Explanation: Most dreams take place during REM sleep when our heart rate and breathing quickens and our blood pressure rises. We can't regulate our body temperature as well and our brain activity increases to the same level or even higher as when we are awake. The rest of the body, however, is all but paralyzed. This paralysis is caused by t... more


    Rhetorical Dimensions of Native American Documentary

    Steve Leuthold  |  12.Jan.12

    Since the advent of more affordable video technology in the late seventies and early eighties, various indigenous groups have recognized the potential of video for intragroup communication and as a means of gaining cultural and political recognition in the wider society. Video and film productions are used to "rethink history," even to address "the ignorance of the dominant culture" about past history and contemporary culture. In the United States, Native Americans have been actively making videos based on an initial focus of "helping to enhance the survival of their own communities," in their own production facilities and through coproduction arrangements with non-Native videographers and filmmakers (Weatherford 1990, 59).

    Similar developments in indigenous video production have occurred in Canada, South America, and Australia, and alternative video has grown as a communication tool for political movements throughout the world. Video's d... more


    Poem : Spirit Enlightened

    Culture Unplugged  |  16.Dec.11


    origins of ʻitʼ seen, in zone beyond the known,

    the story of spirit -
    in evolution, in enlightenment, in experience,
    continues. ... more


    “Reception in a state of distraction”: Mindfulness and Media.

    Viola Lasmana  |  24.Nov.11



    What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more.                 - Susan Sontag



    Theory and Practice of the Peruvian Grupo Chaski

    Sophia A. McClennen  |  27.Oct.11

    The Peruvian cinema collective Grupo Chaski was formed in 1982 by María Barea, Fernando Barreto, Fernando Espinoza, Stefan Kaspar, and Alejandro Legaspi. Growing to over sixty members by the late 1980s, the group joins a long history of collective filmmaking in Latin America. Beginning with the work of the Argentine Fernando Birri who founded the Santa Fe documentary school in the 1950s and who made a number of socially significant documentaries that traced the lives of the lower classes, the Latin American practice of collective filmmaking incorporates two main features: a commitment to making films with and for a marginalized community and a desire to alter mainstream commercial filmmaking practices. Such a concept of the collective, then, meant that these filmmakers wanted to collaborate with the communities they were filming, asking for their input and avoiding as much as possible the imposition of their ideas on the subjects of their films. Similarly, these film collectives wer... more


    Creating New Spaces in Third Cinema: Trinh T. Minh-Ha Rewrites the Narrative of Nationalism With Love

    Loran Marsan  |  29.Sep.11

    What interests me is not the love story – which I differentiate from the story of love – but the state of being in love: a state in which our perception of the world around us radically changes. Love can awaken our senses in an intense and unpredicted manner. It can open the door to an other world never experienced before, while literally blinding us to the familiar world of reason, of common logic and of everyday practicalities. (Trinh 1999, 253)
      Trinh T. Minh Ma
    Unlike hierarchal and linear histories of nationalism, there is no plan of linearity within Trinh Minh-Ha’s film A Tale of Love. The shifts in narrat... more


    The Good, The Bad, and the Documentary: On Deontology of Representation and Ethics of Interpretation

    Kees Bakker  |  31.Aug.11

    In The Five Obstructions (Denmark, 2003) Lars von Trier is asking Jørgen Leth to remake his own 1967 short film The Perfect Human. Not once, but five times, and each time following von Trier’s bizarre obstructions. It should be considered a crime to ask a director to make a remake of his own film, but Leth accepts to play the game. The Perfect Human is a stylish but ironic, poetic film about human behavior, inspired by the world of advertising. When Leth returns from his first assignment – with the obstruction not to use more than 12 frames per shot – von Trier’s disappointment is visible: despite the outrageous obstruction, and having lengthy shots as one of the characteristics of his film style, Leth has succeeded in delivering a beautiful film. As a revenge von Trier is going to put Leth’s ethics to the test by imposing him the following obstructions: to film in “the most miserable place of the world” (to which Leth is quite used…), but not to show it; ... more


    Natural Seeds and Land Reform: A Look at the Film Ciclovida in Context

    Annie Brown  |  04.Aug.11

    Lands once barren
    Swallow seeds of revolution
    Help my children grow

    Balance on two wheels
    Earth feels more like home
    We've travelled far and wide,
    To heal the wounds of time

    When I die of exhaustion
    Bury me without my tools
    Without wasted land

    Monsanto killed my countryside
    My village was poisoned with lies
    Flood the land with farmers
    To heal the wounds of time

    I stumbled upon the film, Ciclovida (in English, Lifecycle) by chance. Recently I decided to go read and write at my local alternative library, The Flying Brick. Quite often The Flying Brick will host speakers and screen films. This particular Thursday I was pleasantly surprised to walk-in on the beginning of Ciclovida, an independent film about two Brazilians, Inacio do Nacimento... more


    The Last Taboo on Television

    Duane Elgin  |  01.Jul.11

    Virtually every forbidden topic imaginable has been covered on television, except for one. The last taboo on television is television itself -- and how it is profoundly biased toward high consumption lifestyles that the earth cannot sustain. In the U.S. the average person sees more than 25,000 commercials a year on TV. Commercials represent far more than a pitch for a particular product; they are also advertisements for the attitudes, values and lifestyles that surround the consumption of that product. Mass entertainment is being used to capture a mass audience that is then appealed to by mass advertising to promote mass consumption that, in turn, is devastating the Earth's biosphere. By programming television for commercial success, the television industry is also programming the mindset of civilizations for ecological failure. ... more


    Transforming the Script

    Ken Butigan  |  26.May.11
    Reframing — an important tool for nonviolent change

    TRANSFORMING_THE_SCRIPTS_01 Image Courtesy : B.S.Wise(above left), (above right)

    Imagine we are sitting in a theater watching William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  After the lights go down — and the Danish Prince first meets his father’s regal but forlorn ghost on the grounds of Elsinore — the rest of the world gradually and imperceptibly begins to fade away.  For the moment, we forget the hassles at work, the... more


    Terrible Beauty

    Erica Shindler Briggs  |  30.Apr.11

    I grew up by the sea, so close I could taste the salt of her sweat in every breath. The Pacific coast cradled my childhood and early adolescence, easing many moments of melancholy. I learned early to respect her like a good mother. She can carry life and take it away in a single wave. Her storms make a Florida hurricane look like a baby shower.  From her I glimpsed God’s nature: awesome power with depths beyond our knowing. The mightiest of men are but grains of sand in comparison. At least with God, all things work together for good to them that love Him.  With the sea, there is no such thing as mercy. I learned her tendency for indiscriminate ruin while walking along the beach: rusted ship beams, massive trees, trunks stripped down to their rings. At the age of nine, I discovered a dead body. A man, topless, pants tattered, lips blue, flies crawling in the corner of his mouth. His lifeless body marked my memory, affirming the number one rule all children from my coasta... more


    Roses, too

    Elena Borghi  |  24.Mar.11

    “We want bread, but we want roses, too!," their signs read.

    The march was made mostly of women, who had organized the strike and asked for decorous salaries, but wanted poetry, too.

    It was 1912 and a three-month textile strike was taking place in Lawrence, Massachusetts, with dozens of immigrant communities demonstrating to obtain decent wages, shorter working hours, freedom of strike.

    The slogan was borrowed from James Oppenheim’s poem, “Bread and Roses," written a year before.

    As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
    A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
    Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
    For the people hear us singing: "Bread and roses! Bread and roses!"
    As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
    For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
    Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until... more


    Rituals for Lover Earth

    Charles Eisenstein  |  03.Feb.11

    The medicine man enters the outer vestibule of the sacred healing chamber. He dons the ceremonial vestments and performs the ritual ablutions, purifying himself for the healing ritual that is about to commence. Putting on identical masks, he and his acolytes enter the chamber, to which all others are forbidden entrance. The man they are healing is ready, having been ushered into a deep trance by another shaman using a magical elixir. Within the chamber are the ritual implements, which have themselves been purified, and which none but the initiated are allowed to touch. The medicine man calls for each implement in turn, handed to him by an acolyte. He uses these in a ritual scarification procedure that removes a small part of the ill man's body. When he awakens from the trance, the man is magically healed, though some further ceremonies are required before he is able to leave the grounds of the temple of healing.

    To even be allowed to perform this complex healing ritual, ... more


    The Ubiquitous Matrix of Lies

    Charles Eisenstein  |  04.Jan.11

    Let's begin with beer. Every day I drive past a billboard for Coors Light with the slogan, "Coors rocks Harrisburg." Now, does anybody actually believe that Coors does in fact "rock Harrisburg"? No. Does the Coors corporation itself believe it? No. Does anyone believe that Coors believes it? No. It is a lie, everyone knows it is a lie, and no one cares. Everyone automatically writes it off as an ad slogan, an image campaign.

    The next sign advertises Miller Beer with the phrase, "Fresh beer tastes better." Does anyone actually think Miller is any fresher than Budweiser, Coors, or Pabst? No. Does anyone at Miller Brewing think that? No. It is another obvious and unremarkable lie, beneath the threshold of most people's awareness. But it contributes to a feeling of living in a phony world where words don't matter and nothing is real. ... more


    Humanity Explored

    Culture Unplugged  |  16.Dec.10

    Img_humanity_explored the humanity,
    seeing divinity in love, benevolence & truth
    with beating beast beneath,
    ... more


    Bearing Witness

    Debbie Ouellet  |  02.Dec.10


    A voice is a gift; it should be cherished and used… Powerlessness and silence go together; one of the first efforts made in any totalitarian takeover is to suppress the writers, the singers, the journalists, those who are the collective voice.   —Margaret Atwood

    Margaret-atwood2There has been much debate over the years as to the role that literature and art in all its prism facets should play within a cultu... more


    The Wizard of Oz: The Man behind the American Dream

    Nozomi Hayase  |  11.Nov.10

    Enchanting, joyful and magical are the words that describe the film, the Wizard of Oz. After its release in 1939, it became a classic and one of America's most beloved films. Based on the 1900 novel by Lyman Frank Baum, in some ways it seemed to have shaped the cultural consciousness of America. It is now even more significant, not only for revealing the development of theatrical fantasy within American life, but also for shedding light on a hidden narrative behind major current events around the world.

    The story starts with a nostalgic sepia-colored farmland in Kansas. A young girl named Dorothy played by Judy Garland wished to find a place where there is no trouble. One day, a tornado swooped down and transported her into the land of Oz. Dorothy embarked on a journey to meet the great Wizard of Oz with a hope that that he could help her find her way back home. Dorothy's journey can be seen as mirroring America's over the last century. ... more


    Heima (Home)

    Annie Brown  |  16.Oct.10

    Sing with me
    My sister calls
    Remember your roots
    Learn the songs of days
    Gone by

    Make music with us
    The mountains whisper
    Let us inspire you
    Strum beside our
    Ancient peaks

    Dance with me
    The West wind blows
    Chase my melodies
    I will stop to listen
    As you play

    Sing with your family,
    Make music with mountains,
    Dance like the wind, yet
    Never forget –
    Your home

    I choose a radio station, I pick a CD from the local store, I download a song from iTunes. My musical choices are my own. At least, that is what I thought until I watched a film that made me reconsider the meaning of choice, specifically musical choice. The film was 'Heima,' a documentary about indie band Sigur Ros who became famous in 2007 for rejecting the rules of the music industry. 'Heima' is one example of the power of independent music to reject and reimagine the possibilities of musi... more


    Is Art Political?: Wafaa Bilal

    Annie Brown  |  30.Sep.10
    During a recent speech at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, artist Wafaa Bilal stated “all art is political.” As an activist and amateur illustrator, I found this statement interesting, especially coming from one of the most controversial artists in America. Bilal’s speech recently made me reflect on the Iraq war, and the pain it has caused. I was moved by his art, words and commitment to the anti-war effort.

    Countless numbers of people have debated the definition of art. Still, I ponder the question. What is art? A logical qualifier could be, “Art is the expression of the artist(s).” The artist’s expressions are able to draw deep emotions from viewers. Politics is convincing someone to act, or think differently. It is about the ability to control another person. It is about power and the body. I am a political being. My body is a part of the world and governments and laws manipulate that world. Art seems to be an expression of this intersection of politics... more

    The Tone of Hearts

    Erica Shindler Briggs  |  09.Sep.10
    Of all the relationships we decide to enter into, only one is beyond our power to choose. Paradoxically, the one relationship we have no control of initiating has the greatest influence in our lives and can very often affect all other relationships we do choose to create. The depth of intimacy we have with others, the esteem we hold for ourselves, even the all important relationship we develop with God - all are rooted in and stem from the mother/daughter bond that was made outside the realm of our free will.  

    This relationship’s power in our lives is like the heart in our bodies. If the heart is strong and healthy, it’s repeated and rhythmic patterns pump our life force into all other parts of the body. It’s make-up is comprised of cells interconnected by bridges and is responsible for the current that stimulates a single cell and all its neighboring cells. While reading the encyclopedic description of the heart, I was looking for words that related to the uni... more

    Synergy: Going with God

    Leyla Haidarian  |  26.Aug.10
    “Vaya con dios,” said my husband’s manager, when we had decided to leave Los Angeles in 2003. And that’s what we’ve tried to do for the most part – if going with God means going with that, which is bigger than us. One of the crazy projects we’ve embarked on in recent times is a web soap opera aimed primarily at Iranian audiences, both within Iran and in the Diaspora. Being part Persian, the developments in Iran have been very close to our hearts and we’ve had a desire to contribute to more understanding between the various, incredibly diverse and rich cultural backgrounds that make up “Persianness”. It’s another one of those projects that yields no financial gain and is, for the most part, sapping our resources and time if you think of it from a purely commercial perspective. But that’s the price you pay, when you try to “vaya con the dios” in your life.

    You can’t get programs like ours on to official Iranian television, because the content would probably be deemed as anti-Isla... more

    Big Brother’s Watching: When we become the narrative

    Leyla Haidarian  |  06.Aug.10
    These days everyone seems to be a film-maker. We have a lot of great technology that enables us to skip film school and delve right into our first movie. I have a friend who is a dentist by profession and makes movies as a hobby. His latest flick, “Mocha Frapuchino” just premiered at a Hungarian cinema and attracted an actual crowd and a fair bit of publicity from the local media. He shot it between dental appointments and edited it at home using mostly common sense and little bit of help. Yes, it’s made for a small audience with insider references and no proper micing, but hey it’s a genre of its own!

    Even for those of us who’ve taken film-making on as a focused vocation, there are more possibilities for us today than ever before. Mostly because of the available technology – which keeps getting smaller. I’ve been writing and co-producing a no-budget soap opera for Persian television/web and I can’t tell you how unimpressive our tiny high-def handycam looked atop our massive... more

    Embracing The Unknown

    Leyla Haidarian  |  22.Jul.10
    When good, films have a way resonating with universal truths within us. There seems to be a basic rhythm that is reflected in stories, which is deeply intrinsic and which you will find in nature or in music for example. In its simplest form, this rhythm usually begins with an initial condition or “direction”, a subsequent “crisis”, a “climax” of some sort and finally an ending or new beginning and direction.

    A seed will be lying dormant until a crisis cracks open its shell in a powerful and tumultuous way that eventually brings about a flower, the blooming of which is the culmination of that seed’s life. But it doesn’t end there. That flower, sunning nonchalantly in the summer warmth will suddenly undergo a change in the form of autumn, which dries its leaves and robs it of its petals, only to reappear in brand new splendor the following spring.  Consider how brutish trimmed roses look in the winter. You’d think someone’s surely butchered them. But it isn’t until the garde... more

    We Speak Here

    Culture Unplugged  |  08.Jul.10
    hear now,
the voice of eros,

    in cell, in organism named ‘I’,
in all that jazz playing ‘We’

    spoken here,

    the language of love,

    for life, from life,
deep within the form human.

    expressions multicolored,

    subconscious to conscious,

    seen from the eye,

    o... more

    Stepping Out

    Leyla Haidarian  |  24.Jun.10

    His voice sounded like it came from the other end of a long, endless pipeline that was located in another universe – far, far away. He asked us whether we would film the community play at the local center. Cute, we thought. My husband was directing network TV shows and shadowing on Alias and CSI. We heard him out and then suggested he get one of the volunteer youth to do the filming. Anyone can operate a handy-cam these days.

    We were filmmakers and this was Hollywood. In those days, before coming to South Africa, we were signed with big agencies that represented big names. We took meetings with big people and drank coffee from big cups at industry venues in town. We went to sleep to the image of our names on the silver screen and woke up with the hope of receiving that call or making that deal that would take things to the next level. A video at the local community center was not part of the picture.

    And could you blame us? I have seen some of... more


    I, Too: Too Much, Too Soon

    Erica Shindler Briggs  |  27.May.10

    Having lived on the edge for most of my life, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I fell off the cliff. My family was alerted, friends tried to help, my ex-husband tried to check me into an asylum. In the end, it was only by the grace of God that I managed to return from the fall without any permanent damage to myself, and my relationships.  This “time away,” as I have come to call it, only lasted seven days, but it was the longest, most terrifying period of my life.  It was also the most transforming.  I have not been the same since, nor do I want to be. I have yet to write about it, mostly because I have no words to describe the experience, but also because I am afraid.  

    Madness is liberating in that there are no confines to limit stretches of the imagination, but it is for this same reason that madness is so hazardous.  Extremes extend beyond ends, breach sensibilities. There is no balance, no logic, no order.  Chaos reigns and ... more


    Beyond Doublespeak: True Lies in the Battle for the Word

    Nozomi Hayase  |  29.Apr.10
    Since the dawn of history there have been wars. In the present the United States is involved in at least three: Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan with military presence in many other countries. It seems that the patterns of violence and empires that rise and fall haven't changed much since before Roman times. Should this cycle of violence simply be accepted as the way of the world? Historian and activist Howard Zinn wrote:

    In modern times, when social control rests on "the consent of the governed", force
    is kept in abeyance for emergencies, and everyday control is exercised by a set of
    rules, a fabric of values passed on from one negation to another by the priests and
    teachers of the society. (1970, p.6)

    Unfortunately, such consent of the govern... more

    The Power of Belief

    Debbie Ouellet  |  18.Mar.10

    I believe in the power that comes 

    From a world brought together as one

    - Nikki Yanofsky, “I Believe”

    I've always believed in the power of belief. There is a synchronicity, a connectivity to the universe we inhabit. A thread that pushes, pulls, sets us free, binds us. Motivational speakers call it positive thinking. Scientists have studied its effects for years. Theologians call it faith. However you describe it, whether spiritually or with cold hard scientific data, it is based on a simple premise: it is your chosen belief in a purpose, whatever it might be, that is the determining factor to whether (or not) you are able to accomplish it.

    The Ripple Effect of Shared Belief: It's one thing to have a firmly rooted belief system in your personal life and to see its effects. It's quite another, however, to see it in action when a large group of people combi... more


    Changing Places, Losing Time

    Erica Shindler Briggs  |  18.Feb.10
    The concept of time has always been relative. Whether you’re having the time of your life or bored to death, time can fly by or beg to be killed. Time is so fluid, it can be changed at whim, by any moron in power. The former Bush administration managed to get me up an hour earlier weeks in advance of when daylight savings was suppose to be, a time established back when American farmer’s planted crops in season. There are those who argue against the notion that there is a past or future time; there is only now. Differing philosophies aside, change (painfully slow or quite suddenly,) can only happen in time. Change is measured against the wheel of time, by comparing what was with what is. Yet, the essence of what matters – the nature of man – remains constant through time. There are no new stories, only new players acting out the same conflicts that have plagued humanity since before stories were told. 

    Place, however, is precise. Our experience of a certain place may b... more

    The Fallen Nature

    Erica Shindler Briggs  |  14.Jan.10
    There is a part of me that revels in stories about the fall of prideful men. It is no small consolation to witness the cocky jock humbly serving the geeky goof he used to torment. This smugness is not vindictive, rather mere appreciation for any account that righteously scores one for the underdog. Not often told, however, are tales of humble men who rise to power and are then challenged to remain true to their character. Such narratives are discomforting. On one hand, we want humble men in higher positions so that their righteousness might be wielded against corruption, and yet we are aware, whether consciously or instinctually, that no man is righteous; no, not one. The setup creates apprehension; we fear for the humble man, worry he will fall. Pride is a powerful adversary. In the film Takva: A Man’s Fear of God, I found myself grow increasingly concerned for Muharrem, a simple man called to face this tempting power. 

    Muharrem is a devout Muslim, ... more

    Sampat Pal Devi sings the blues

    Elena Borghi  |  07.Jan.10


    The only thing they seem to have in common is their look: long black hair and a bright pink dress.
    And destiny, too: because, if Sita – the holy wife of Sri Rama – is undoubtedly a deity, Sampat Pal Devi (“goddess”)’s name imposes a sort of duty on her, too.

    But if the former has always been a metaphor for womanly perfection, the latter could arouse some suspicions. Despite her pink sari, in fact, Sampat Pal is anything but docile.

    The daughter of a shepherd, married off to an ice cream vendor at the age of eleven and mother of five, Sampat Pal Devi has never stopped fighting and is not used to defeats.

    She started when she was a little girl: she wanted to go to school like her brothers and, since her family wouldn’t let her, she would teach herself how to read and write, gleaning information from the boys who attended school and practicing on her house’s walls and floor and her village’s dusty streets, until she finally ended up b... more