Ferguson, USA, new documentary film


This video from the USA says about itself:

A Ferguson Story Short Film (theatrical trailer)

Directed by Award-Winning Filmmaker Lonnie Edwards, A Ferguson Story gives a unique perspective on police aggression and the events following the tragic death of Mike Brown. A meticulously orchestrated culmination of amalgamated footage and sound bites from various amateur photographers, videographers and media outlets narrates this unique documentation of a nation divided.

From Shadow and Act in the USA on this:

Watch Trailer for Powerful Upcoming Documentary, ‘A Ferguson Story’

By Sergio

May 13, 2015 at 9:46PM

It was only a matter of time before we would start seeing the first films about the response in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The images captured the attention of the entire world and brought a whole new wave of political activism, and a sense of urgency, especially to younger people who were, until then, falsely accused of being apathetic to current issues.

Here’s one of the first documentaries about Ferguson, by filmmaker Lonnie Edwards, titled “A Ferguson Story”.

A native of the notorious West Side Austin neighborhood of Chicago, Edwards calls himself “a self-taught director, cinematographer and writer with no formal training,” as well as an installation artist who works in mixed mediums.

His first film, a narrative short titled “Parietal Guidance,” played the film festival circuit last summer, and won several awards, including at the Chicago International Film Fest & New York No Limits Festival.

He is also a company member, playwright and curator at Collaboration Theatre, and a board member, artist and curator at Canvas Collective. If that isn’t enough, he is also a board member of non-profit Austin area based group, Chicago Art Beat Studios, an organization that works with youths suffering from PTSD.

With a “A Ferguson Story,” Edwards says that he was compelled to make it because, “I want the world to realize that the tragic events that transpired brought people together in a way in which we’ve never experienced before”.

He also adds, “I also wanted to bring attention to police aggression and how Ferguson was the pinnacle (in the public’s eye) of police aggression, all eyes were on that case. I just feel as a filmmaker, as an artist, it’s an obligation to create content that the world can see.”

Finally, he says his film is not “a formal documentary.” It is made up of numerous images, soundbites & footage from different media outlets, celebrities news anchors and just ordinary people..

To him, “it represents the amalgamation of the universe, it’s something that I want the viewer to get lost in and have their own perspective but also walk away feeling as if they’ve gotten something out of it. Whether that be motivation to want to make change or gaining knowledge on a subject that you may not even know anything about…At the very least it creates conversations.”

One single planet, new movie


This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

16 March 2015

This is not the whole One Single Planet movie! It should be online in a little while. We’ll keep you posted when the Party for the Animals has the film online.

Mike Leigh will make Peterloo massacre film


This video says about itself:

9 September 2012

A short video about the Peterloo Massacre. (Song starts at 0:32)

I’ve added the lyrics as annotations because a few people from outside the local area have expressed difficulty understanding parts.

For more information you could or visit the amazing People’s History Museum in Manchester or if that’s too much of a journey for you then you could just read the Wikipedia article, though I’d still recommend trying to make an effort to visit the museum,

I do not own the rights to the music or any of the pictures in this video, it has been created for educational purposes and is therefore protected under fair use.

Historical figures in the video:

1:22, 3:04 and 4:51 – Henry Hunt (British radical, advocator of free trade and Parliamentary reform; organiser of the meeting. He was imprisoned for thirty months for ‘inciting a riot’).

1:56, 2:38 and 3:47 – William Hulton (Chairman of magistrates who gave the order for the Yeomanry to charge the crowd).

2:00 – Thomas de Trafford (commander of the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry)

2:05 – Hugh Hornby Birley (local factory owner, captain of the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry and leader of the charge).

2:14 and 4:55 – Samuel Bamford (British radical, leader of the Middleton contingent of the march. He was imprisoned for a year for ‘inciting a riot’).

4:26 – John Bright (Quaker, radical and Liberal politician. He was one of the leaders of the Anti-Corn Law League and a strong critic of British protectionism and foreign policy).

4:27 – Richard Cobden (Manufacturer, radical and Liberal politician. He was one of the leaders of the Anti-Corn Law League and a strong critic of British protectionism and foreign policy. He has been referred to as “the greatest classical-liberal thinker on international affairs”)

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Mike Leigh to make movie of Peterloo massacre

Veteran British director to return to 19th century for a film based on the 1819 Peterloo massacre in Manchester

Catherine Shoard

Friday 17 April 2015 09.45 BST

The director Mike Leigh’s next film will be Peterloo, a drama about the infamous 1819 massacre in Manchester, which killed an estimated 18 protesters and injured up to 700.

“There has never been a feature film about the Peterloo massacre,” Leigh told Screen International. “Apart from the universal political significance of this historic event, the story has a particular personal resonance for me, as a native of Manchester and Salford.”

The massacre occurred when government troops – including local yeomanry – charged a crowd of around 60,000 people gathered in St Peter’s Field in Manchester to demand the reform of parliamentary representation.

The rally was organised by the Manchester Patriotic Union, who commissioned radical orator Henry Hunt to speak. But he was arrested shortly before the rally begun, and cavalry drew their sabres to try to disperse the gathered crowds, leading to confusion and loss of life.

The massacre – christened Peterloo as a nod to the Battle of Waterloo, which occurred four years before – preceded further government crackdowns. But the outcry sparked was one of the key contributing factors to the establishment of the Manchester Guardian.

Leigh’s previous film, a biopic of the artist JMW Turner, was a much-acclaimed return to period drama. It took four Oscar nominations and made more than $10m (£6.65m) in the UK and $3m in the US.

Peterloo will be shot in 2017, with Leigh reuniting with cinematographer Dick Pope, producer Georgina Lowe and executive producer Gail Egan. Leigh is currently in rehearsals for an English National Opera production of The Pirates of Penzance.

Shakespeare’s play Cymbeline on film


This video says about itself:

11 March 2015

Official trailer for ‘Cymbeline‘ starring Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, Milla Jovovich, John Leguizamo, Penn Badgley and Dakota Johnson.

By David Walsh in the USA:

Cymbeline: Michael Almereyda returns to Shakespeare

11 April 2015

A decade and a half ago, Michael Almereyda, the American filmmaker, directed a modern-day version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with Ethan Hawke in the lead role. We wrote that “Almereyda…has seen the play as the tragedy of idealistic youth caught up and destroyed by official greed and corruption.” Hawke’s Hamlet, we commented, “is not a tour de force performance, but an element of a calm, serious approach to the play.”

Almereyda (born 1959), who has had an uneven filmmaking career, perhaps not all his fault, has now returned to Shakespeare, but to one of his lesser known and less frequently performed plays, Cymbeline. The work is not a complete success, but it has an urgency and seriousness that are unusual in American movies at present, and is certainly worth viewing (it is available online).

The original play is set in ancient Britain. The British king Cymbeline (a historical figure who lived around the time of Christ, although much of the play is based on legends and literary sources, or was simply invented by Shakespeare) has stopped paying tribute to the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus. War threatens. Complicating matters, Cymbeline’s daughter Imogen has secretly married a man raised in her father’s court, Posthumus Leonatus, infuriating the monarch, who wants her to marry Cloten, the brutish son of his second (and treacherous) wife.

Posthumus is banished. In Rome, he encounters the sinister Iachimo. The latter bets Posthumus that he can seduce Imogen and bring Posthumus evidence of his triumph.

When Iachimo later pays Imogen a visit at the British court, she angrily rejects his advances. Nonetheless, he manages to produce sufficient fraudulent “proofs” of her infidelity back in Rome to convince Posthumus. In a letter, he instructs his servant, Pisanio, to kill Imogen after luring her to Milford Haven, on the west coast of Wales. However, in the course of their trip there, Pisanio shows Imogen the fateful message and urges her to carry on to the Haven dressed as a boy.

Meanwhile, Cymbeline’s other two sons, believed to be dead twenty years previously, were actually kidnapped by an unfairly disgraced nobleman, Belarius, and live a relatively idyllic existence in the Welsh mountains. Their real sister, Imogen, calling herself Fidele (“the faithful one”) now stumbles on Belarius and the two youths in their lair and is welcomed as a member of their household. Cloten, having been unceremoniously rejected by Imogen, sets out after her with bloody, sadistic revenge on his mind.

Ultimately, a battle takes place between the invading Romans and the native forces, which goes badly for the Britons until Posthumus, Belarius and the king’s two sons (although they are still ignorant of their royal birth) make a stand. Everything unravels and unfolds in a lengthy final scene, with relatively benign results. Forgiveness and reconciliation are the order of the day. In fact, it is one of Shakespeare’s few plays about “tumultuous broils” that end on a harmonious note, so much so that even King Cymbeline seems surprised: “Never was a war did cease…with such a peace.”

Almereyda has transposed the action to contemporary America. Cymbeline (Ed Harris) is the head of a motorcycle gang at odds with corrupt police, i.e., the Romans. Posthumus (Penn Badgley) is a somewhat unlikely, skateboarding member of the gang hopelessly but immaturely smitten with Imogen (Dakota Johnson, daughter of Melanie Griffith and grand-daughter of Tippi Hedren). The scheming Iachimo (Hawke) shows Posthumus apparently compromising photos of Imogen on his iPad. And so forth.

The director has retained the general outlines of the play, although the national-patriotic British element is obviously downplayed. The language is still Shakespeare’s, but Almereyda has edited it down perhaps by half and also re-arranged portions of it.

Like all such modernizing attempts perhaps, this Cymbeline has its ups and downs. The greatest strengths of the film, as they were of Almereyda’s Hamlet, are its simplicity and directness. The filmmaker does without special effects, bombast or much effort to explain his choices. The film simply begins near a baseball diamond at night, with Imogen’s lines to Posthumus from Act I, Scene II, or a slightly amended version of them: “Look here, love; / This diamond was my mother’s: take it, heart; / But keep it till you woo another wife, / When Imogen is dead,” and proceeds from there.

The scene between Iachimo and Imogen in which he attempts to seduce her, by slandering Posthumus, and then changes tack, pretending that his effort was merely a test of her loyalty to her husband, is well done. Johnson is not always up the challenge, but her sincerity in playing Imogen—one of Shakespeare’s great female characters—wins one over, here and in other sequences. She is effective and moving when she tells Iachimo early on in the scene: “You do seem to know / Something of me, or what concerns me: pray you, — / Since doubting things go ill often hurts more / Than to be sure they do; for certainties / Either are past remedies, or, timely knowing, / The remedy then born—discover to me / What both you spur and stop.”

Milla Jovovich, who has generally been stuck in stupid films, is a revelation as the scheming queen, a would-be Lady Macbeth. Her version of Bob Dylan’s “Dark Eyes” is also memorable. Delroy Lindo as Belarius stands out, as do Vondie Curtis-Hall, as Caius Lucius, the leader of the Romans, Peter Gerety as the doctor, and Kevin Corrigan, in a small part, as the hangman. The others are generally adequate or better.

Almereyda told an interviewer: “I’m very grateful to actors who will work for low budgets because that shows true commitment. So everyone who was involved in this movie was working because they wanted to collaborate with William Shakespeare.”

The imagery is relatively creative and thoughtful, the score is disturbing, melancholy. This is a film without a wide range of emotions, they remain mostly on the somber side, but those explored are seriously explored. The overall mood is one of sympathy for the young, the marginalized, the rebellious.

And one has Shakespeare, which is an advantage. There are beautiful and powerful lines in the play that Almereyda has kept. Imogen, in agony over her separation from Posthumus, laments: “O, that husband! / My supreme crown of grief!” Iachimo, perhaps laying the basis for his eventual change of heart, tells Imogen that “the Gods have made you unlike all others,” and after sneaking into her bedroom at night and snatching compromising images of her while she sleeps, exclaims to himself and about himself, “Though this a heavenly angel, hell is here.” When Imogen imagines that the decapitated Cloten is her beloved Posthumus, she cries: “O Posthumus! alas, / Where is thy head? where’s that? / … And left this [her own] head on.” And in the final moments, when a happy Posthumus lifts Imogen off her feet and holds her in mid-air, he tells her lovingly: “Hang there like a fruit, my soul, / Till the tree die!” And Cymbeline, finally: “Pardon’s the word to all.”

Almereyda has limited himself to relatively elementary ideas about the play’s content. He told an interviewer that the movie is “about a family and broken trust. It’s a kind of a blighted love story, and almost every man in the story has some imbalanced relationship with a woman. And that intrigued me. It seemed, in some ways, a very modern set of relationships.”

Nonetheless, as noted above, his imagery suggests something more critical about the wider, contemporary world, and more threatening, in the spirit of the play itself. Harold C. Goddard, in his well-known The Meaning of Shakespeare (1951), writes that while “Shakespeare was no Jacobin,” the play paints a picture of “The Power of the English throne wedded to Corruption, who is slowly poisoning it.”

Goddard, writing of the queen’s vicious son, observes: “Nor does Cloten stand alone. He is merely the dark consummate flower of a nobility and court society that is rotten to the core. The Queen is villainous, the King pusillanimous, the British lords cowardly and panicky in battle.” Shakespeare’s Cymbeline provided an intensity that the director had sufficient intellectual wherewithal and integrity to have absorbed and passed along to his audience.

“Here’s what we do know: This is the 399th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and his outsize importance to Western culture looms as large as ever. Christopher Marlowe would be lime-green with envy over the popularity of his one-time rival’s plays; there are entire theater troupes devoted to performing Shakespeare, and the finest actors jockey to commit their portrayals of Hamlet and Lady Macbeth to film. Oh, and then there are the remixes.” (Read more here)

Will extra-terrestrial life be discovered soon?


This video is from the film War Of The Worlds (2005)– The First Tripod.

The film is about an invasion of the USA by dangerous Martians. In the original book by H.G. Wells, the dangerous Martians invaded England.

Very probably, extra-terrestrial life, if any will be discovered soon, will be very unlike that.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

We will have definitive evidence of alien life in 20 years, Nasa chief scientist believes

Strong indications of life beyond Earth could be found within a decade

Christopher Hooton

Wednesday 08 April 2015

The discovery of extra-terrestrial life, probably the most exciting event in human history, may well take place within most of our lifetimes, a high-ranking Nasa scientist has predicted.

“I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years,” Nasa chief scientist Ellen Stofan said on Tuesday, during a panel discussion focusing on the space agency’s search for habitable environments outside of Earth.

“We know where to look. We know how to look,” Stofan added, “In most cases we have the technology, and we’re on a path to implementing it. And so I think we’re definitely on the road.”

Nasa believes such discoveries could happen so soon as they will not take place in deep space but in our own solar system and others in the Milky Way.

Sharing Stofan’s optimism, associate administrator for Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld said: “I think we’re one generation away in our solar system, whether it’s on an icy moon or on Mars, and one generation [away] on a planet around a nearby star.”

If life, in whatever form it takes, is found in orbit of the Sun, it could well be on Jupiter’s moons Europa and Ganymede or Saturn‘s satellite Enceladus, which hold seas beneath their icy surfaces.

The Milky Way is “a soggy place,” Paul Hertz, director of Nasa’s Astrophysics Division, explained.

“We can see water in the interstellar clouds from which planetary systems and stellar systems form.

“We can see water in the disks of debris that are going to become planetary systems around other stars, and we can even see comets being dissipated in other solar systems as [their] star evaporates them.”

These estimates don’t even take into account the fact that alien life may be able to prosper in conditions different to those required by humans, e.g without need for water.

NASA SUPER-TEAM TO LOOK FOR HABITABLE PLANETS, EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE The news comes a week after NASA’s chief said we’d have strong evidence of extraterrestrial life in a decade. [Ed Mazza, HuffPost]

New Iraq film, trailer


This video shows the trailer of the new film on Iraq being made now, which I wrote about in an earlier blog post.

The film asks Iraqis about possibilities of a post-war future.

See also here.

Worst than ISIL: Iraq’s US-caused public health catastrophe: here.