“For most children,” begins Strangers No More, “going to school is as simple as going around the block.” But for the students in the Bialik-Rogozin School in Tel Aviv, the journey has been long and continues to be difficult. Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon’s documentary, winner of last year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Short, premieres 5 December on HBO, tracks the experiences of several students, as examples of the many (from 48 countries) who have survived loss and trauma. Many are orphans, others have parents who are refugees, all are doing their best to remember their pasts and also to move on. According to principal Karen Tal, means to “open our arms to every student. Almost every student is running away from something.” Their relatives have been running too: Johannes’ father, from Sudan, confesses that his son was never able to go to school before; the boy’s new teacher observes, “You see the eyes of the father, you see that he is really tired from running from one place to another.”
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Bobby Flay’s name has become synonymous with great food, and that’s not just because of his numerous signature dishes. Through his Food Network TV shows, his books, and his various media appearances, he’s shown an out-and-out love for good food, and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, he’s ready to share some secrets with us. In the midst of promoting the turkey-prep database known as Hellman’s Turkey Challenge, Flay got in front of the camera to talk to PopMatters about preparing theoretical Entourage dishes, and having detectives search for a “missing ingredient”, and then submitting to interviewer Jesse Fox’s “lightning round” of turkey prep questions ...
Council House Movie Star is the up-coming screen and gallery debut of Gale Force, the drag persona of contemporary dance maker, performer and writer Mark Edward. This is Edward’s collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Rosa Fong (British Film Institute New Director’s award, Arts Council Black Arts Award and as Associate Producer: Best Feature at the Outfest Fusion Festival LA 2006, 2nd Prize Audience Award at Madrid International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival 2006 for feature film Cut Sleeve Boys) and award-winner Dr Mark Fremaux.
Gale Force’s plans are to be represented in all her glory in 3D and HD. She is nothing if not up-to-date; the original inspiration (in her own words) of the North of England ‘WAG’ culture, beloved of the British tabloids. Victoria Beckham had better watch out. Council House Movie Star will be premiered in Liverpool in 2012 and after that enjoy a national tour of galleries, cinemas, clubs – any venue that will have it if truth be told! Gale ain’t fussy! She will also provide interventionist and guerrilla art pieces (she can be very high-brow!) wherever they are needed. These will be documented and then reborn in major art galleries in Liverpool and Manchester as recreations of Gale’s multi-faceted, colourful life and encounters with her public. Move aside Tracey Emin and your ‘[Unmade] Bed’ (1998)! Gale’s installation will recreate her entire bed-sit apartment (beat that!) as well as her uninsured bling and her family relationships, as a single mum on welfare – with her kids and her ‘Anti’ Christy. If you’re really lucky Gale will appear in person at the gallery.
When Jessie Littledoe enrolled in MIT’s linguistics program, she was hoping to recover, or at least trace, the origins of her people’s lost language, Wampanoag. Here she met professor Ken Hale, a white man who turned out to be as invested in her aim as she was. Littledoe’s story forms the center of We Still Live Here (Âs Nutayuneân), the fascinating documentary premiering on Independent Lens 17 November. It’s a center from which multiple other stories emerge, traversing borders of time and place, communities and individuals.
The film traces the initial encounters between the Wampanoag tribes (which currently number five) and white settlers, in the area that would become Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, during the early 1600s. As Jessie and other Wampanoag individuals come together to learn, speak, and keep the language, they forge a new sense of community and also show how others can benefit from such recovery. For it’s not only the Wampanoag who learn about themselves in this ongoing process. Descendents of white settlers can also rediscover their history, as it is entwined with others, as all stories, communities, and histories are connected.
See PopMatters’ review.
“When I think about myself, I say, ‘But I didn’t want to the son of a master.’ That’s the high Tibetan Buddhist Master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, and his son is Yeshi Silvano Namkhai, born and raised in Italy by his father and Catholic mother. “As long as I remember,” Yeshi says in My Reincarnation, “my father was always traveling to teach Dzogchen.” Resisting the expectations that come along with being recognized at birth as the reincarnation of a famous spiritual master, Yeshi spends years finding other outlets for his energies, with Jennifer Fox’s camera in tow for nearly 20 years. Yeshi seems open about his doubts: “A person who doesn’t want to be what he is. And he ought to be something that he doesn’t like to be. Obviously for my father, I’m not a mistake. Because for him it’s right, for me it’s wrong.” His questions multiply as he grows older, marries and has his own children, and finds a “stable” career with IBM. Perhaps unsurprisingly, has job has him on the road frequently, and as he drives, he talks to the camera: “I live in a very common Italian way,” he says, “I’m happy to be a normal, common father.”
And yet he’s also restless. As Norbu’s fame expands, the film shows him with students in search of peace and wisdom: he offers cryptic comfort: “It’s how Buddha said,” he tells a young man in tears over his HIV positive status. “Everything is unreal, like a big dream. That is something real.” But as you come to understand Yeshi’s frustrations with his absent, much-adored dad, the film also suggests he’s leaning away from his secular life, thinking more about his father’s legacy. With sections divided by underwater scenes, making visible Yeshi’s own wondering at how his hesitation is turning into something like certainty. If the film can’t show his changing feelings, or even his decision to perform such changes, it can suggest how he fears and how he takes risks, even how he comes to appreciate the paradoxes of time, how his past can become his future, his memories his visions. And in these suggestions, the film might emulate Yeshi’s own process.