October 2, 2009 at 12:03 am (Uncategorized)
“Submission” – the direct translation of the word ”Islam”
Somali refugee Ayaan Hirsi Ali had a message, and the Dutch film director Theo van Gogh was her herald. The collaborative effort resulted in the 12-minute fiction film “Submission” of a Muslim woman speaking out about her tortured life. Transparent garments veil the verses of the Koran painted onto the woman’s body. The actress chronicles her life’s adversities: she was forced into an arranged marriage, abused by her husband, raped by her uncle, then ruthlessly disciplined for her adultery.
“[The film is] intended to provoke discussion on the position of enslaved Muslim women,” said van Gogh in a television interview. “It’s directed at the fanatics, the fundamentalists.”
“We can still talk about it! Don’t do it!”
Dutch Moroccan Mohammed Bouyeri also had a message, and again, van Gogh was the chosen Herald. On November 2, 2004, van Gogh was riding his bike to work when Bouyeri shot the filmmaker to the ground. Ignoring van Gogh’s pleas for mercy, Bouyeri slit his throat and pinned a letter to his chest. The letter was directed solely at Ali, who served as a liberal parliamentarian for the Dutch government and had spent years fighting for women’s rights in Netherlands’ prevalent Islamic community.
Theo van Gogh: Michael Moore’s ideological Dutch cousin
Van Gogh’s murder was a psychological jolt to the Dutch nation. The outspoken film director thrived off of the Netherlands’ distinguished social tolerance.
“Theo and I amply discussed the possible consequences of Submission,” wrote Ali in a letter to a Rotterdam newspaper. She wrote that van Gogh told her, “The moment these considerations stop you from speaking out, that’s the moment freedom of speech stops and that is exactly what the fundamentalists want us to do.”
Genuinely spoken, van Gogh honored his moral convictions to his death.
September 24, 2009 at 10:17 pm (Uncategorized)
Lava flows from island peaks like giant rivers, huge billowing clouds fog the coastline and boil wildlife alive, and female iguanas rumble against one another for prime pockets of 130-degree volcanic ash to incubate their eggs. To live on the archipelago of the untamable Galapagos Islands is to travel through the mists of time back to an ancient landscape.
Following the migration patterns of Galapagos’ land iguanas, National Geographic filmmakers David Parer and Elizabeth Parer-Cook described these prehistoric creatures as “cat-sized monsters… like refugees of a lost world.”
Very little is documented on this species that wanders a “hazardous moonscape of lava as brittle as glass.” The land iguana’s home, Fernandina Volcano, sticks out of the sea like a belly button. Because it is one of the most active volcanoes on present-day earth, the pristine island remains among the world’s most untouched lands. For a land iguana, life is a carefully balanced mix of good planning, flexibility and the ability to respond instantaneously to the unpredictable.
As for the intrepid female iguanas, the jaws of this sleeping, but stirring giant are the ideal nursery for hatching their young. Nesting in volcanic fumaroles comparable to powder kegs presents the iguanas with a tightrope walk between budding life and all-consuming death.
To film this migratory life-cycle process is just as hazardous for the human documentarian. Merely scaling the seven blistering hours of lava rock to the volcano’s rim is taxing enough. The three-hour descent into an eruptible hot bed of magma, however, is work of the truly intrepid. Scrambling down the loose rock landscape could trigger avalanches of rocks. But as Parer weighed the possibilities of the perilous adventure, he decided that if Fernandina were to blow up in his face, he would enjoy the extraordinary spectacle while he could…
September 24, 2009 at 1:51 am (Uncategorized)
September 18, 2009 at 3:11 am (Uncategorized)
The adolescent outcast is always the one who eventually surpasses the bullies. Although Steven Spielberg grew up feeling alienated from his peers, he found solace in his boundless creativity that ultimately found him favor in Hollywood.
“Steven’s a guy who rewrites the book of cinema every so often,” said actor Tom Hanks in a Biography channel special chronicling Spielberg’s gradual ascendance to fame.
Spielberg built his entire cinematic career out of his own innovation. The director never quite fit into school academically or socially. Instead, his education came from home and his extra-curricular activities.
In his youth, Spielberg spent playtime telling his sisters elaborate science fiction tales. At family gatherings, the boy of Jewish heritage would listen to his relatives recount stories of the Holocaust, which would prove as useful knowledge later in Spielberg’s filmmaking career. In his teen years, Spielberg acquired a video camera, which he initially used to document camping trips with his father. Shortly thereafter Spielberg was creating all sorts of mini, low-budget features. His “Escape to Nowhere” won Spielberg a statewide competition and “Firelight” was his first draft for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Eventually, Spielberg made it to Universal Studios as an unpaid clerical assistant. While helping out at the studios, he created a 25-minute feature “Amblin’” that became Spielberg’s ticket to Hollywood.
Although Spielberg was described as a Jekyll and Hyde character in his youth, he proved to be a sweet kid in the director’s chair that won the affections of actors. His professionalism and ability to stay cool under excruciating stress earned him the highest grossing film of the time, Jaws, at the ripe age of 28 and merely two major feature films tucked under his belt.
Nevertheless, regardless of his phenomenal success as a film director, it has remained Spielberg’s artistic passion, not fame, that drives his work.
September 16, 2009 at 4:33 am (Uncategorized)
September 10, 2009 at 3:36 am (Uncategorized)
~Life inside a black hole~
Strands of slimy glowworms dangle from the ceiling, cockroaches blanket 100-meter mounds of bat droppings, and translucent crabs creep through an all-consuming night expanse… There is a good reason why caves remain among the least explored landscapes of the world.
Once again, the BBC’s Planet Earth triumphs in patience and intrepidity to illuminate an otherwise perpetually nocturnal environment. In “Caves,” viewers learn to appreciate the intricacies of surviving in this bleak habitat.
Within the ominous depths of cave shafts that could swallow the Empire State building whole and miles of caverns that could exhaust the most athletic marathon runner, a host of eccentric creatures carry out peculiar livelihoods. Flocks of sparrow-like cave swifts, for instance, rely on emitting loud clicks to navigate through the blind corridors of caves. Echolocation, a skill cave swifts share with bats, is a phenomenon that humans are still researching to better understand. Cave swifts may be just like any other bird with their aptitude for building nests; however, instead of knitting twigs, they spend upwards of 30 days sewing their saliva into cup-shaped receptacles. For 500 years humans have harvested these nests as an integral component of bird nest soup, valued gram for gram in equivalence to silver.
~Planet Earth’s production diary: “Into the Abyss”~
Living down in the cavernous depths of earth for one complete month was the ultimate culture shock for the Planet Earth film crew. Described as the most unpleasant of work environments, crewmembers adapted to life with fellow dwellers by taping their paper suit crotches to keep out cockroaches while waist deep in bat guano.
Not only was living amidst death and decay a multi-faceted challenge, but also descending into Lechuguilla Cave’s Chandelier Ballroom in New Mexico was a potentially fatal endeavor. The last broken ankle suffered while maneuvering this claustrophobic tunnel network required a rescue effort of over 100 expert cavers. The BBC crew spent 10 days living in and navigating the cave’s enduring pall of nighttime with 500 kilos of film equipment to keep in account. Although the crew eventually succeeded in its documentary undertaking, the caves prove to be a habitat only for the truly adaptable and adventuresome.