Refugees from the Spanish Civil War, new film


This 2017 video says about itself:

Trailer: Un exilio: película familiar (In exile: a family film)

The wrongly-termed Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) left more than a million dead and over 500 thousand refugees, of which some 20 thousand are taken in by Mexico. Among them were the filmmaker’s grandparents, parents, aunt, and some of their friends. A tragedy of epic dimension that turned into the eventful stories of survival and venture the protagonists lived through and recall, intertwined with the shared history of Spain and Mexico in the XXth century –and beyond.

By Kevin Mitchell:

In Exile: A Family Film—Refugees from the Spanish Civil War

23 June 2018

Directed by Juan Francisco Urrusti

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), which ultimately resulted in the victory of Francisco Franco’s fascist forces, claimed the lives of over 1 million people and turned 500,000 more into refugees. Of these half a million, some 20,000 found refuge in Mexico under the left-nationalist government of Lázaro Cardenas. As the far-right gains strength in Europe and refugees scour the globe in search of asylum, the lessons of these past historical experiences today take on fresh urgency.

From Mexican documentarian Juan Francisco Urrusti (born 1954) comes In Exile: A Family Film, which traces the story of his grandparents and parents as they live and fight during the Spanish Civil War and later become political exiles in Mexico. It is an engrossing work, combining family home movies and photos with newsreel footage and contemporary interviews with the director’s family and their milieu in modern-day Mexico and Spain.

The viewer is left with an indelible portrait of not only the times but of the human beings who fought fascism and strove to create a better world in the first several decades of the last century. Though not without significant limitations, In Exile is a powerful reminder that the great questions of war and authoritarianism that defined the 1930s and 1940s are alive and well today.

In Exile starts with an overview of Spain in the early 20th century. In the words of one interviewee, “the heinous Spanish clergy” controlled everything. Heinous and wealthy. In the midst of the opulence of the clergy and the ruling elite as a whole, however, the vast majority of the Spanish population lived in extreme poverty. One interviewee observes that in Spain the rural proletariat “toiled in the fields from dawn till dusk.” In the factories, 12-hour shifts were commonplace.

By the 1920s Spain was ruled by Miguel Primo de Rivera, a right-wing general who dominated the country as a dictator. His authoritarian rule helped discredit the Spanish ruling class, and other figures and parties began to contest for power. We see footage of Francisco Largo Caballero who was the leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and later prime minister of the Second Spanish Republic.

Unfortunately, much more could have been said about these political figures and parties, and the viewer is largely left to fill in the blanks. What is one to think when one of Urrusti’s interviewees says “I believe the Socialist Party back then was a lot different from the Socialist Party of today”? This (under)statement is true enough when one considers the extreme right-wing trajectory of the PSOE, but, unhappily, there is no elaboration.

Also problematic is the use of the term “liberal democracy” to describe Spain’s Second Republic, which came to power in 1931 after the collapse of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship and the exile of King Alfonso XIII. Spanish capitalism, under the impact of the Great Depression and the fall of the dictatorship, faced a fiercely militant, socialist-minded working class. All the objective conditions existed for a massive social transformation.

In early 1936, the Popular Front, an alliance of the … Communist Party of Spain, radicals, anarchists, [Catalan and Basque] nationalists and liberals, narrowly won the national election.

In Spain, following the 1936 election, the landowners and other reactionary elements immediately begin sabotaging the Republic and carrying out repression. In the province of Seville, in southern Spain, trade unionists were rounded up and shot, as were people who simply didn’t go to church.

Franco and his fellow military leaders plotted against the Republic. A military coup was scheduled for July 18 (it actually broke out a day earlier). …

We see footage of popular militias. The working class in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia spring into action against the military and the fascists, blocking the coup from victory. …

Urrusti’s grandfather was in the Republican army and asked the militias to spare the lives of fascist troops. One interviewee explains that his father, a government telegraph operator, was shot for refusing orders from the fascists, and two of his uncles perished in this way.

A veteran of the International Brigades is also interviewed. This force was made up of 40,000 volunteers from 50 countries committed to the defense of the Republic, but was heavily composed of left-wing fighters … “At first there were only foreigners” in the brigade, a man tells the camera, “but as casualties mounted, they stopped coming.” We see the graves of the volunteers from England, America and elsewhere. …

With the Non-Intervention Pact, the Western “democracies” abandon the Spanish Republic, In Exile tells us. Even the League of Nations refuses help. For the uninformed viewer, this again needs elaboration, or correction. The bourgeois democracies were far more terrified of the Spanish working class and the possibility of social revolution than they were of a fascist victory.

Mexico and the Soviet Union were the only countries that provided any aid to the Republic, but this paled in comparison with the assistance, in the form of thousands of troops, modern military equipment and air power, that came from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy for Franco’s army.

The infamous Condor Legion, made up of German air force and army personnel, along with the Italian Legionary Air Force, bombs the town of Guernica, on a Sunday morning in April 1937 when the market is in full swing. Urrusti’s family members recall how they barely survived the bombing, in which some 50 tons of explosives were dropped in three hours. One interviewee remembers how “my mother was hanging clothes”, and the next moment, “she comes in with blood over her face.”

Urrusti’s mother is interviewed and she recalls her family’s flight into France. Hundreds of thousands of Spanish refugees would remain in what were essentially French concentration camps. While the authorities mistreated them, Urrusti’s mother remembers how “[French] people would bring us gifts, and adopt children.”

Urrusti’s family embarks on the ship Sinaia, bound for Mexico. Despite the perilous conditions, the exiles establish a daily newspaper on the ship and organize a band and dances to keep their spirits up. When they arrive in Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico, they are greeted with open arms by the local population, although demagogues, with ominous parallels to today, agitate against the “plague of Spanish refugees.”

With the fall of the Spanish Republic in April 1939 and the victory of Franco, the stage was set for World War II. Thousands of Spanish Republicans joined the French Resistance movement to fight the Nazis.

The first military units to liberate Paris were made up of Spanish Republicans, who expected to march on to their home country and overthrow Franco, but the Allied powers prevented them and ordered them to stay 150 kilometers from the Spanish border.

Urrusti’s mother remarks bitterly “I cannot forgive the liberal, democratic countries” for this treachery. With the advent of the Cold War in the 1950s, Franco’s Spain was regarded as an important bulwark against Communism and the US provided aid to the regime in return for military bases in the geostrategically critical Iberian peninsula. We see photos of Franco surviving into old age, posing with French president Charles de Gaulle and US presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

The Spanish people endure the bestial Franco dictatorship until 1975. Baltasar Garzon, the jurist who investigated Franco’s crimes and is today the head of Julian Assange’s legal team, observes, “The tragedy of Spain is that Franco’s trial and execution is still waiting.” …

In any case, the current political situation looms large in the conclusion of the film as we see Syrians in a refugee camp. Urrusti narrates, “As years go by, humankind becomes dehumanized and immigrants and refugees become marginalized, but this has always been a right-wing effort.”

The images of Urrusti’s family and their comments are especially moving. They strike one, especially by today’s standards, as personalities of substance. Urrusti’s achievement is that he attempts to place these individuals and their fates in an overall historical perspective. The film ends by dedicating itself “to the victims of fascism” and to those who “resist” it today.

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Jurassic World new film, comments


This video from the USA says about itself:

Thoughts on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (NO SPOILERS)

10 June 2018

Here’s how we felt about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the newest continuation of my favourite film of all time! This is a very subjective review as we’re talking about our opinions of the film, and you probably won’t agree with everything we say. We also don’t talk about any major plot points that haven’t been shown in trailers here, so don’t worry about spoilers!

BBC: The plot might be ludicrous and the CGI below par, but the latest dinosaur blockbuster is ‘good old-fashioned summer entertainment’, according to Nicholas Barber.

London Grenfell disaster, film by survivors


This video from London, England says about itself:

On the ground at Grenfell

8 June 2018

Made the week of the fire by 9 young people: survivors, local residents, and volunteers.

Screened in Parliament to 170 MPs 12/12/ 2017.

‘On the ground was filmed at a time when things were still so raw, really helped capture the pain we all went through.’ – Shahin Sadafi, Grenfell United

Winner Best Film 2017, Portobello Film Festival

‘An incredible film’ Naomi Klein, ‘Remarkable’ Channel 4 News, ‘Powerful’ ITV

An urgent film that needs to be seen as widely as possible BFI

WARNING: This film contains traumatic footage and very graphic and prolonged imagery of fire.

Google wants film censorship to whitewash medieval Frankish monarchy


This video says about itself:

REDBAD Official Trailer (2018) Jonathan Banks Adventure Movie HD

During the year 754 A.D. the monk Bonifatius was killed in a Dutch town called Dokkum [in today’s Friesland province], according to history this was done by barbaric warriors. But was he indeed murdered in cold blood, or is that just the Christian take on the story?

Release Date: 2018
Genre: Adventure
Director: Roel Reiné
Writer: Alex van Galen
Stars: Jonathan Banks, Søren Malling, Renée Soutendijk

The film is about 8th century conflicts between the (polytheist) Frisian kingdom and the (Christian) kingdom of the Franks. The Frankish rulers used Christianity as a tool in their attempts to violently subject Frisians and other tribes.

The Frisian King Redbad is the hero of the film. According to tradition, Redbad was nearly baptised, but refused when he was told that he would not be able to find any of his ancestors in Heaven after his death, since he preferred spending eternity in Hell with his pagan ancestors than in Heaven with his enemies, especially the Franks. Reminiscent of a native Cuban in the 16th century. Captured by the Spanish invaders for opposing them, and about to be burnt alive at the stake. A priest asks the Indian to convert to Christianity; so, that after his horrible death he may go to heaven. “Do the Spanish soldiers go to heaven?” the Indian asks. “Yes, being Christians”. “Then, I do not want to go to heaven”.

As the trailer video says, now the film Redbad will soon be in the cinemas.

Unexpectedly, there was an attempt by Google corporation (its AdWords branch) to censor that trailer and that film. It is not that unexpected that Google corporation which censors critical sites, will do censorship: eg, their YouTube affiliate has censored German anti-nazis. The unexpected thing is that they now do not censor to save the ‘honour’ of United States President Trump, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, President Macron of France, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch or some other twenty-first century powerful person. The censorship attempt is to save the ‘honour’ of kingdom of the Franks autocrats who died 1300 years ago.

Google says they objected to the supposedly ‘offensive’ depiction in the trailer and the film of a Frisian princess being tortured by the Frankish rulers to force her to convert to Christianity. The censorship is in the name of defending Christianity. I doubt very much whether all twenty-first century Christians agree with early medieval Frankish autocrats abusing religion as a tool in their wars and oppression of Frisians and others.

Questions in the European parliament on this: here.

The producer of the film, Klaas de Jong, says about this (translated):

I really fell off my seat: it is bizarre that US Americans now want to determine what should be offensive to Dutch people.

Google corporation reminds me of the military dictatorship in Thailand. Which persecutes people for supposedly insulting a king. Not even the present king of Thailand (or the royal dog), but a king who died four centuries ago.

New German film Transit on refugees


This video says about itself:

Transit – Christian Petzold Film Clip (Berlinale 2018)

When a man flees France after the Nazi invasion, he assumes the identity of a dead author whose papers he possesses. Stuck in Marseilles, he meets a young woman desperate to find her missing husband – the very man he’s impersonating.

Director: Christian Petzold
Writer: Christian Petzold
Stars: Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer, Godehard Giese

By Stefan Steinberg in Germany:

Christian Petzold’s Transit: The condition of refugees as hell on earth

9 May 2018

Written and directed by Christian Petzold, based on the novel by Anna Seghers

A number of films at this year’s Berlin Film Festival dealt with the plight of refugees.

Forced to abandon their homelands—and everything familiar to them—to escape war, famine or the lack of any economic prospects, refugees are rendered stateless for at least the period of their flight. In transit they are deprived of the rights due to them as citizens of a nation. They are at the mercy of the state or maritime waters they are crossing, and are then equally at the mercy of the state they have chosen as their new home, and its repressive apparatus. They also run the risk of becoming the targets of right-wing demagogues seeking to divert attention from the disastrous state of life under capitalism.

The fate of refugees is the subject of the latest film by German director Christian Petzold, Transit, which screened at the Berlinale and is now on public release in Germany. This is Petzold’s third historical film, following Barbara (2012), set in East Germany in 1980, and Phoenix (2014), about a concentration camp survivor in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Born in 1960, Petzold has made eight feature films in total since 2000. One of his mentors was Harun Farocki, the left-wing German filmmaker and theorist.

Transit is based on the novel of the same title by German author Anna Seghers (1900-83). Seghers joined the German Communist Party (KPD) in 1928. Her novels were subsequently burned by pro-Nazi students in the notorious action in the middle of Berlin in May 1933. Like many other left-wing intellectuals, Seghers was forced to leave National Socialist Germany and fled with her family through several countries. Her novel Transit appeared in 1944 and mirrors her own flight from the Nazis through France to Marseilles and then eventually on to Mexico.

In her book, Seghers describes the refugee’s feeling of helplessness and frustration with bureaucracy: “Everything was on the move, everything was temporary, but we didn’t know whether this state would last until tomorrow, a few weeks, years or even our entire lives.” The fictional character in the novel wonders if the Nazis in Paris “a tough and dreadful enemy (…) were in fact better than this invisible, almost mysterious evil, these rumours, this corruption and fraud.”

Petzold decided to locate his film adaptation of Transit in the present day. Germany is run by Nazis, who have also overrun most of France. The main character, Georg (Franz Rogowski), a Communist, is sent by a comrade with an important letter to the writer Weidel. In a hotel, Georg finds a few belongings of the writer who has killed himself. Georg takes the papers of the deceased, including visas and a ship’s passage to Mexico, and travels to Marseilles.

In Marseilles, he encounters and becomes friendly with a small boy and his mother. Having assumed the identity of the dead writer, Georg begins the laborious process of securing his passage to South America. At the embassy, he chances to meet and is captivated by an enigmatic woman, Marie (Paula Beer), who is waiting for her husband. She proves to be the wife (or widow) of the very man whose identity Georg has assumed. Trapped between states, she is also unable to choose between the husband she left behind, her current companion, Richard (Godehard Giese), or her new acquaintance, Georg.

There are moments in both film and novel that recall Franz Kafka’s novels, The Castle and The Trial —flight and transit as a permanent, meaningless, incomprehensible state. In one memorable section of her novel, Seghers writes: “He waited in the hereafter to learn what the Lord had decided about him. He waited and waited, one year, ten years, one hundred years. Then he finally begged for the decision. He was told: ‘What are you waiting for? You’ve already been in hell for some time.’”

While Seghers essentially preserves the historical context of the massive exodus from Nazi-dominated Europe, Petzold unsettles the viewer with abrupt changes of perspective and mysterious encounters (and failures to encounter).

In his film Barbara, Petzold effectively portrayed the oppressive nature of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany). His Phoenix dealt with the consequences of the fascist mass murder of the Jews. Nazi rule in Transit remains nebulous, but Petzold’s film transmits the coldness and cruelty of the French bureaucracy, which insists that all protocols are adhered to before further passage is possible.

Observing the growing disorientation and despondency of Transit ’s central characters, one is reminded of the fate of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig—who committed suicide with his wife in 1942 after reaching South America—and that of German philosopher and critic Walter Benjamin who—convinced he was in danger of immediate arrest by the Gestapo—killed himself on the French-Spanish border in 1940.

Petzold was motivated to make his new film by his sympathy for the plight of refugees and uneasiness at the growth of far-right radicalism in Germany and Europe. In an interview, the writer-director noted that he played badminton regularly in a sports hall close to the large refugee camp in Berlin that features in the documentary film Central Airport THF (2018, directed by Karim Aïnouz).

Transit is clearly an attempt to provide some context for the dire situation confronting refugees in Germany and Europe today. At the same time, it points to the real dangers of the re-emergence of fascist movements in Europe. Far-right governments and coalitions involving neo-fascist forces are already in power in Poland, Hungary and now Austria.

In a recent interview with the Berliner Zeitung, Petzold made a number of interesting and correct points regarding the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which emerged at the last general election as the main opposition party in the German parliament.

Commenting on the organisation, Petzold countered those who argue that the racist AfD reflects the views of ordinary workers. He said: “I don’t think the AfD can be regarded as a party of the working class. It is also not a party of the betrayed working class, as some people say…. There are judges and former CDU [Christian Democratic Union] members in it.” Petzold went on to refute claims that the party has its base in regions of heavy working class representation. Instead, he notes: “The AfD stems from the petty bourgeoisie and the professional middle class.”

Petzold is undoubtedly one of the most significant directors active in Germany today and Transit is well worth viewing. At the same time, his new film lacks the same degree of urgency and concrete immediacy that characterised a number of other films at the Berlinale dealing with refugees, such as Styx and El Dorado.

The weakness of Petzold’s approach was indicated by a comment he made in another recent interview in which he described flight “as a normal condition.”

The problem with this is that the flight of refugees today, and at any time, is not normal. Flight is not some sort of existential dilemma affecting all of humanity. Rather millions of people have been forced to flee their homes and often their own families in past years due to poverty, hunger and wars fueled by unparalleled levels of economic and political inequality, as well as definite government policies. The rottenness of the official “left” in Europe and elsewhere, which has facilitated or led the anti-refugee campaign, is at the heart of this situation.

If flight and its consequences are viewed as a universal characteristic of the human condition, then we can do little about them. This is not Petzold’s position, but the disorientation of the characters in his film, combined with a passive readiness to accept their fate, leaves open the door for those seeking to interpret the current refugee crisis as an irresolvable, inevitable state of affairs.

Religious bans on films, dancing in Germany


This video from South Korea says about itself:

18 August 2017

Kpop Banned Dance: MV vs LIVE

Korea’s biggest broadcasting companies have strict rules and standards on what lyrics and dance moves can be performed. If they feel a dance move is too explicit idols groups must change it in order to perform. The following dances listed below were deemed inappropriate for live stage, therefore they changed it. In some cases they don’t change everything but the camera will focus elsewhere during those moves. It’s important to note that not all channels banned these dance moves, each broadcasting company is different to the others.

‘Kpop vs’ playlist: here.

Intro and outro song: D.Holic – Chewy

1. AOAMiniskirt
【During live performance when they had to dance that part they only did the hand gesture because the skirts were pre-unzipped】
2. AOA – confused
3. HELLOVENUS – WiggleWiggle
【Instead of twerking they moved their butts side to side. Also in their dance practise video they lift their shirts up, this didn’t make it on live performances】
4. Dalshabet – Be Ambitious
【Korean broadcasting companies must view girls revealing skin as stripping because it’s not the exposure that’s the issue it’s the action of taking a cloth off or revealing more skin that gets banned. Dalshabet had to drop the tear away dance and only do the hand action】
5. Dalshabet – BBB
6. Dalshabet – Joker
【Joker had many controversies, first the Korean pronunciation for joker sounds an awful like a Korean cuss for big ‘you know what’ and the dance didn’t help when they were touching their crotch area】
7. Tara Jiyeon – never ever
8. Rania – DR Feel Good
【the up and down movement while they were kneeling down was banned they end up just holding the downwards move awkwardly】
9. Sunmi – full moon
【1 second of a female idol spreading her legs is enough to ban it and force then to change the dance】
10. Rainbow – A
11. Rainbow Blaxx – Cha Cha
12. Stellar – Marionette
【Stellar is no stranger to bans and their company is partly at fault there. Their butt rub was changed to a more tamed butt lift move】
13. Stellar – Vibrato
14. L4 – move
【these girls didn’t perform this on broadcasting at all but when they did at a live performance everything was changed】
15. Fiestar – One More
【this song also caused controversy for their suggestive lyrics about a threesome as for the dance, they removed the kneeling in front of the guys】
16. Fiestar – You’re pitiful
【no dance move goes unseen, the quick dance where they go down and bounce was banned】
17. Gain – Paradise Lost
【so much was changed in this and its looks evident as the original dance was perfectly matched to the song】
18. Sistar – how dare you
【this song is old because if they danced it now it would be accepted however the standard for what appears on TV was more strict back then. A simple butt rub wouldn’t pass】
19. Sistar – so cool
20. Exid – up down
【the famous hip dance was banned for being sexually suggestive, instead they move their hips sideways】
21. Hyomin – nice body
【most of the butt dance was accepted surprisingly, however the ending had to be done facing the camera】
22. Girls day – something
23. After school – first love
【surprisedly most broadcasting companies allowed the pole dancing to be aired, however not all but they did allow them to dance with chairs】
24. Hara – Choco chip Cookies
25. 4minute – mirror mirror
26. Hyuna – roll deep
【there’s no surprise hyuna would be on this list, after all her song bubble pop had to end early due to it being banned and it was no different for roll deep, luckily she changed the dance rather the stop promotions】
27. Brown eyed girls – Abracadabra
【not only did the MV get banned for having a lesbian theme but so did the dance as it was too explicit for TV】
28. Secret – poison
29. Cross gene – amazing/bad lady
【The crotch rub just too sexual even for a male group】
30. VIXX – VOODOO DOLL

Germany is a secular country, where there is separation between state and (Christian) church? Think again …

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Dancing and watching New Kids Nitro is illegal in Germany today

Who goes to the cinema on Good Friday in Germany will have to do with a film that fits the Christian holiday. In addition to the ban on dancing, which applies in some federal states, there is also a film display ban on more than 700 films. Among the illegal films are King Kong, Terminator and the Dutch film New Kids Nitro. Two years ago, a cinema in Bochum was fined 100 euros when The Life of Brian

a Monty Python comedy, considered ‘blasphemous’ by fundamentalist Christians

was screened.

The ban on dancing and films in Germany stems from the idea that the passion of Jesus Christ must be commemorated in peace. …

Since 1952, a list of prohibited films has been kept. According to the FSK [censorship organisation], the films on the list contain a storyline that is ‘unsuitable’. What is not appropriate about them remains vague. The German watchdog does not use a fixed list of criteria. However, ‘blasphemy‘ and ‘immoral behaviour’ are mentioned as a reason to ban a movie ….

There has been discussion about the ban on dancing on Good Friday. For a violation of the ban you can get a 1000 euro fine. Two federal states deal with this flexibly. In Berlin, for example, the ban applies only between 4 am and 9 pm and also in Hamburg partying at night is not illegal.

Wildlife in Amsterdam city, film review


This December 2017 video is the trailer of Dutch film De wilde stad.

The Internet Movie Data Basa says about it:

The city [Amsterdam] from the unique perspective of the many wild animals and plants that inhabit it. Seen through the eyes of the adventurous urban cat, Abatutu.

I went to see that film on 25 March 2018.

The movie shows, eg, red squirrels in parks. They can cross dangerous streets between parks by wildlife bridges. When the squirrels eat nuts, some nuts fall down from the trees. We then see how a wood mouse eats such nuts.

Many swifts nest in Amsterdam. Swift couples nest together for life. The film records how a male and a female swift meet again at the nest after migration from Africa, and warmly greet each other.

We also see young ring-necked parakeets at their nest in a hole in a tree.

And young Egyptian geese. And coots, building nests in the Amsterdam canals with twigs, plastic and flowers. And peregrine falcons nesting on high rise buildings.

And red swamp crayfish, invasive animals from North America.

Red foxes, rats and gulls profit from garbage. So do grey herons, which have a big colony in local Artis zoo.

There are many bees in Amsterdam, as there are more flowers now in the city than in ‘agribusiness’ countryside.