Canadian film on songbirds, crowdfunding


This video says about itself:

Please support: The Messenger Documentary

9 February 2015

The Messenger is a visually thrilling ode to the beauty and importance of the imperiled songbird, and what it means to all of us on both a global and human level if we lose them.

From British Bird Lovers:

Film About Songbirds Launches Crowdfunding Bid

Sunday, 01 March 2015

A Canadian independent film production company has turned to crowdfunding to help them finish a documentary about the plight of songbirds and the remarkable research work being done to help solve the problems they face.

SongbirdSOS Productions, which is based in Toronto, is asking the public to help them raise $50,000 CAD to enable them to finish The Messenger and support its distribution. The Messenger is described as a visually thrilling ode to the beauty and importance of songbirds, and what it will mean to all of us on both a global and human level if we lose them.

SongbirdSOS Productions is owned by award-winning director Su Rynard and producers Joanne Jackson and Diane Woods. They teamed up with a French documentary production company, Films a Cinq, to make the film.

Director Rynard captured some beautiful slow motion footage of songbirds in flight during the production process. You can get a small taste of what to expect in the film in the fundraising video.

Travelling from the northern reaches of the Boreal Forest to the base of Turkey’s Mount Ararat to ground zero in Manhattan, the documentary team meet the people who are examining the threats to songbirds exposing the very real concerns behind their declining numbers.

Work began on the film almost 5 years ago. The first three years were devoted to creative development and raising money to shoot. In 2012 it won the Best Feature Documentary Pitch Award at Sunnyside of the Doc in La Rochelle, France. Shooting began in 2013 and most of 2014 was spent in the edit suite.

The money raised from the crowdfunding appeal will cover professional post production costs, including completing the sound mix, picture editing, colour grading, and mastering followed by an educational and social outreach campaign.

There has been an alarming decline in the global populations of songbirds in recent years. Destruction of habitat, increased urbanization and industrialization, climate change and the use of toxic chemicals as well as an unnatural abundance of predators and scavengers have all contributed to the loss.

Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, the author of Silence of the Songbirds says, “We may have already lost half the songbirds that filled the skies only 40 years ago. Within a few generations, many species may be gone forever.”

Scientific data from the 2012 European Bird Census Council shows that farmland birds have declined over 50% since 1980. The Eurasian Skylark has declined 51% since 1980. The State of the UK’s Birds 2012 also reported a loss averaging 50 House Sparrows per hour, and 835 Winter Wrens each day.

The North American Breeding Bird Survey indicates massive declines since the annual bird counts started in 1966. Bobolink 64%; Canada Warbler 66%; and the Wood Thrush 62%. This is just a small fraction of similarly disturbing statistical data.

The potential impact of this loss of important ecosystem services like pest control and pollination from diverse bird species is troubling and has far reaching implications.

The Messenger is aiming to change not only the way people think about bird conservation but also the natural world and wildlife in general.

You can support The Messenger by donating to their campaign here.

Finnish punk rockers with disabilities to Eurovision Song Contest


This video from England says about itself:

21 December 2014

Finnish punks Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (PKN) at the Lexington, London.

After Finnish hard rock band Lordi, who participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, and won (dressed like dinosaurs) …

From the BBC:

1 March 2015

Finland punk band PKN set for Eurovision

A punk band made up of men with learning disabilities is to represent Finland at the Eurovision Song Contest.

The quartet, named PKN, was chosen by Finnish viewers on Saturday and has now been ranked by bookmakers as among the favourites for the contest.

The group, whose members have Down’s syndrome and autism, will perform their 85-second song Aina Mun Pitaa (I Always Have To) at the event in Vienna in May.

“Every person with a disability ought to be braver,” singer Kari Aalto said.

“He or she should themselves say what they want and do not want,” he told Finnish broadcaster YLE.

The group – full name Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat (Pertti Kurikka’s Nameday) – will also become the first punk band to compete at Eurovision.

They first got together during a charity workshop and appeared in an award-winning 2012 documentary called The Punk Syndrome.

This Finnish video says about itself:

The Punk Syndrome – Kovasikajuttu

12 February 2015

A Finnish punk-rock band formed by four mentally disabled guys.

The BBC article continues:

The song deals with the frustration of the rules of daily life, like having to eat healthily and doing chores like cleaning and washing up.

‘Changing attitudes’

“We are rebelling against society in different ways, but we are not political,” bassist Sami Helle told The Guardian.

“We are changing attitudes somewhat, a lot of people are coming to our gigs and we have a lot of fans.

“We don’t want people to vote for us to feel sorry for us, we are not that different from everybody else – just normal guys with a mental handicap.”

They are 5/1 to win the contest, according to Betfred, making them third favourites behind Italy and Estonia.

Heavy metal band Lordi gave Finland its only Eurovision win to date with Hard Rock Hallelujah in 2006.

The UK’s Eurovision entrant will be named on Saturday.

Film Selma on Dr Martin Luther King, review


This video from the USA says about itself:

12 January 2015

Film director Ava DuVernay, nominated for a Golden Globe for the critically acclaimed “Selma,” joined host Melissa Harris-Perry Sunday for an extensive interview.

On 28 February 2015, I saw the film Selma.

There have already been many reviews of Selma, including the ones of this blog post, and of this blog post.

So, I will try to avoid making the same points of these reviews all over again.

The subject of this film is the civil rights movement in the USA; especially the struggle for equal voting rights in Selma, Alabama in 1965.

One of the first images is of girls, aged 11-14, in a church in Birmingham, Alabama. They have a happy conservation about hairstyles. Would a hairstyle like Coretta Scott King‘s during the 1964 March on Washington, fit them, or are they still too young for that? Then, exploding Ku Klux Klan dynamite makes the church a bloody ruin. Four girls die, many others are wounded.

Another scene in the film shows a local official demanding that a prospective voter recite the preamble to the United States Constitution. The African American woman wanting to vote recites it correctly. Next, she gets a question about the number of county judges in Alabama. When this question is answered, it is followed by the demand to name every one of these judges. Oprah Winfrey in the role of Annie Lee Cooper cannot name them all. The racist official then triumphantly marks “DENIED” on the voter registration form. There might have been many more scenes like that in the film. I once read that one prospective African American voter had replied correctly to lots of questions on United States constitutional law. Then, the official showed him a Chinese language newspaper. ‘Now, doggone you, what does that mean?’ The prospective voter replied: ‘It means that you white folks don’t want me to vote.’

An effective part of Selma is that again and again, typewritten texts appear on the movie screen. They show the spying on Dr Martin Luther King by the FBI. The FBI bugged the telephones of Dr King and of many other ‘uppity’ African Americans, of Nelson Mandela, and of many others; and spied on them in other ways.

Another ‘intelligence’ service spying on Martin Luther King was the NSA (not mentioned in the film). Today, infamous for spying on millions and millions of people. Living proof that the ideals which Dr King stood for still need to be fought for today. Thinking also about all the other agencies, still violating civil rights and spying today, more than ever during the 1960s. Including domestic spying by the CIA: illegal, but the CIA even spies on the committee of the Senate which is supposed to prevent illegal CIA activity.

Some of the scenes of the film are around the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. To get in or out of Selma, civil rights marchers needed to cross that bridge (named for Edmund Winston Pettus, who was a Confederate brigadier general in the 1861-65 civil war, U.S. Senator from Alabama and Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan.)

As the marchers approach that bridge, they see heavily armed Alabama National Guard troopers at the other end. Cinema audiences then hear the song Masters of War by Bob Dylan.

This music video from the USA is called Bob Dylan – Masters of War – with lyrics.

The film indicates the struggle for voting rights was part of broader issues. Dr King and other activists linked it to opposition against the Vietnam war and against poverty.

After the Selma marches, the Voting Rights Act was at last signed by President Lyndon Johnson under pressure of the massive civil rights movement, including, as the film says, protesters outside the White House stopping First Lady Lady Bird Johnson from sleeping. That Voting Rights Act is undermined today in several states in the USA; like by ‘driving while black’ penalties for minor traffic infractions, especially if by African American motorists, making these motorists ‘felons’, threatening their rights to vote.

The end of the film shows Dr King’s speech in Montgomery, capital of Alabama. Dr King then said that rich racist white people deceive poor white people into becoming racist. They say, lying: even though you are poor, you are still beter people than blacks. Here, I think of a link to Bahrain today: Bahraini pro-democracy political prisoner Ms Zainab Al-Khawaja, inspired by Martin Luther King. The Bahraini dictatorship plays similar divide and rule games as United States southern rich racists in the 1960s; it promotes sectarian conflicts between Sunni and Shia Muslims in order to continue its autocracy.

Among the last words of Dr King’s speech in the film is: ‘His truth is marching on!’ Dr King meant God. But many people in his audience may also have thought of John Brown, to whom this tune and lyrics were applied as well. John Brown, fighting in the nineteenth century against supporters of slavery like General Edmund Winston Pettus. And I thought about Dr King himself. 47 years after he was murdered, his truth still needs to march on.

At the end, the film shows (white) Ms Viola Liuzzo from Detroit in the northern USA, murdered by the Ku Klux Klan just hours after her participation in the march from Selma to Montgomery.

The theme song of Selma mentions the present civil rights issues in Ferguson, Missouri at the very end of the film.

Dancing is illegal in Japan


This video says about itself:

Real Scenes: Tokyo

10 February 2014

Read more about this film here.

For our latest Real Scenes films, we journey to the Japanese capital to meet the DJs, promoters, campaigners and producers who have been affected by the Fueiho. We hear how a rapidly aging population and the negative public perception of nightclubs have meant that fighting for reform is just part of the problem.

Despite these extraordinary challenges, Tokyo is home to passionate, dedicated dance music community, who have responded with campaign groups like Let’s DANCE, and the establishment of small, underground music spaces. There is a collective understanding that if they want to affect change it will have to come from within.

From The Newsletter, #70, spring 2015, of the International Institute for Asian Studies:

The politics of dancing in Japan

Dancing is illegal in Japan. That does not mean it doesn’t happen, and indeed nightclubs regularly stay open into the early hours. However, since 2010 police have begun reanimating Japan’s old fueiho cabaret law, dubiously used to crackdown on nightclubs.

This has been a disaster for Japan’s vibrant underground music scene, an affront to freedom of expression, and evidence of a growing authoritarianism by elites who rely on vague legal and institutional practices.

With a push back from Japan’s civil society in the form of the Let’s Dance Campaign, and a simultaneous alignment between domestic and international elites worried about the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, things may be beginning to change. This article explores the structures of power underlying this issue and speculates on the degree to which recent developments may be cause for alarm or cheer.

Read full article here.

Thailand military dictators abolish elections


This video says about itself:

Protesters in Thailand invoke Hunger Games

4 June 2014

Protesters in the Thai capital Bangkok have adopted a hand gesture from the film series The Hunger Games to express dissent against the military junta.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Voters to have no say in selection of junta‘s new senate

Thursday 26th February 2015

A COMMITTEE appointed by Thailand’s military rulers said yesterday that the country’s new 200-member senate will be nominated and not directly elected by voters.

The new senators will be chosen from pools of candidates including former premiers, ex-military leaders and representatives from different professions, committee spokesman Lertrat Ratanavanich told reporters on Wednesday.

Drafting the new constitution is being carried out by the 36-person committee hand-picked by the junta after it overthrew the civilian government and abolished the last charter in last May’s coup.

Under the last constitution, half of the 150-member senate was directly elected and the rest appointed. Now, there will be no place for election.

The new senate structure has been designed to limit the power of elected politicians in the parliament.

It follows years of landslide electoral triumph by political parties allied with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party.

The power struggle between the military-backed upper and middle class and Thaksin’s pro-democracy supporters has fuelled the sometimes violent political conflict over the past decade.

“There’s a likelihood that the Pheu Thai Party will win again once there’s an election, so they are designing the constitution to do whatever it takes to limit the power in parliament of the elected politicians,” warned Kan Yeunyong, executive director of the Bangkok-based think tank Siam Intelligence Unit.

Completed, the constitutional draft will be reviewed by the military-appointed national reform council, the cabinet and the junta leaders.