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by Cynthia Fuchs

21 Feb 2012


When she first meets Queen Farah, filmmaker Nahid Persson Sarvestani remembers her own past. One of the revolutionaries who took to the streets to cheer the banishment of Farah Pahlavi and her husband Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, in 1979, Sarvestani was then targeted by the Ayatollah’s regime. She escaped to Sweden, where she pursued a career as a documentary maker, and now, in an effort to understand her own journey—from a child who admired the queen on television to revolutionary to an exile—Sarvestani asks Farah if she might film her. “Something about her still intrigues me,” she says. Their evolving relationship is revealed in their film, The Queen and I, available on Link TV and online beginning 21 February. As they become what she calls “friends,” Sarvestani comes to appreciate Farah’s complicated life and admire her persistence under duress, even to like her. She finds that they “share a profound longing for the Iran we both love and dream the same dream, to touch its soil again.” The trick here is parsing the “Iran we both love.” While both women deplore the ongoing rigid religious rule and efforts to keep citizens—especially women—ignorant, they remain split on the efficacy and benefits of a monarchy.

See PopMattersreview.

by Jessy Krupa

20 Feb 2012


Despite his many talents, George Harrison was arguably the most underrated member of the Beatles. He wrote, played, and sang “Something”, one of the group’s biggest hits, yet many (including Frank Sinatra) erroneously attributed it as a Lennon/McCartney composition. He was also the first Beatle to release a No.1 solo hit single. “My Sweet Lord”, “Got My Mind Set on You”, “Give Me Love, Give Me Peace on Earth” are some of his most well-known songs, but he released even more great music.

Harrison would have been celebrating his 69th birthday this week, so let’s look at seven of his most under-rated songs.

by Cynthia Fuchs

20 Feb 2012


“Please excuse the bother,” says Yamauchi Kazuhiko. As he stands in a train station in Kawasaki, Japan, passengers make their ways past him, most not even looking at him—that is, not looking bothered at all. “Welcome home after a hard day’s work,” he keeps on, “We can change politics through elections.” This as the camera pulls out, the wider shot showing the candidate, “from Liberal Democratic Party LDP of Prime Minister Koizumi,” as he explains, looking very small and very alone. A “parachute candidate,” brought in by the party to run for city council, Kazuhiko pitches himself as a good team player, with his wife Sayuri dutifully by his side. Their 2006 campaign is the focus of Kazuhiro Soda’s superb documentary, Campaign, which is screening at the DocYard in Boston on 20 February, followed by a Q&A with Soda. (The film is also available for viewing online at POV until 29 July 2012.)

by John Garratt

20 Feb 2012


Guitarist Bryan Ward has a very simple website, so it gets right to the point. The first sentence of his short bio tosses out terms like “folktronica” and “acoustic trance”. The second paragraph begins with this audacious claim: “Part tribal reverie, part ecstatic folk, the sound is unlike anything you’ve ever heard.” The unlike-anything-you’ve-ever-heard tag is an oft used but seldom justified marketing phrase that actually applies to Ward’s music. The track “Lost, Lost”, available for free on his website, is a swirling construction of studio alchemy that gets its tribal kicks from hypnotic repetition.

“Lost, Lost” appears on Bryan Ward’s debut album Bone Anthems, which can be purchased here.

by Comfort Clinton

20 Feb 2012


Erika M. Anderson, also known as EMA, is a singer/songwriter originally hailing from South Dakota. She began her musical career in 2006 as part of a Drone Folk band called Gowns, and marks her album debut with the recently released Past Life Martyred Saints. With her brassy vocals and fine tuned guitar plucking, EMA has garnered the praise of critics like Rolling Stone, Time Out New York, Village Voice, and was named one of NRP’s “Favorite New Artists of 2011”.

Anderson’s video for her single “Take One Two” recently debuted on Pitchfork. The video, shot by Anderson and featuring the artist herself, comes in the form of a compilation of footage she took in a trailer park during her teenage years. The video is visually interesting, but also meaningful, given it’s anti-bullying message. EMA said of the footage of she and friends being goofy in the mid ‘90s, “This is especially remarkable as I know what was going on outside those plywood walls: getting called names, shoved into lockers, and threatening to get our asses kicked for being queer or punk or just plain weird. But despite all that, there is a joy, strength and self-acceptance in our faces that I find inspiring and wanted to pass on.” Taking the cause one step further still, EMA has pledged to donate the net proceeds from sales of “Take One Two” to the Jamie Isaacs Foundation for Anti-Bullying.

So, enjoy the soulful vibe of “Take One Two”, set to a snippet of life as a South Dakota teen facing opposition. As EMA said “This one’s for all the weirdos out there: cherish your friends, f—k the haters and let your freak flag fly.”

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