Film parody of racist French National Front party

This 30 December 2016 French video is the trailer of the film Chez Nous, which will be in French cinemas on 22 February 2017.

The film is a parody of the racist French National Front party and its leader Marine Le Pen.

Jean-Marie Le Pen charged over apparent anti-Semitic pun. Father of far-right presidential candidate used word similar to ‘furnace’ to describe how he’d deal with criticism from Jewish singer: here.

Cultural icons who died in 2016

This 28 December 2016 video is called The Cultural Icons Left Behind in 2016. About Prince, George Michael, Afeni Shakur, Leonard Cohen and others.

The death of actress Carrie Fisher on Tuesday at the relatively young age of 60, several days after suffering a heart attack aboard a flight from London to Los Angeles, has evoked expressions of grief from her many fans. The sadness over Fisher’s passing is compounded by the sudden death, just one day later, of her 84-year-old mother, the well-known actress Debbie Reynolds: here.

Seasons, new wildlife film

This video says about itself:

Directed by: Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud

Seasons: Official Trailer 1 (2016) – Documentary

On 26 December 2016, I went to see the wildlife film Seasons.

The film aims at showing the history of wildlife and its interactions with humans from the last ice age till today.

The film says that in the northern half of Europe during the last ice age, the Weichselian ice age, there were not really seasons. There was winter for 80,000 years.

The film shows that with footage of animals adapted to cold: a snowy owl, reindeer and muskoxen, which still live in Norway.

About 12,000 years ago, the film says, the ice age was over, and the golden age of forests started. Now, there were clearly seasons.

These seasons meant migration of animals. The film shows flying cranes, flying grey lag geese, and thousands of bramblings landing in trees.

That ‘golden age’ is the longest part of the film. It shows many beautiful images of forest animals: lynx, wolves, pine marten, red foxes, moose, red deer, European bison, wild boar, edible dormice, red squirrels, blackbirds, owls, fire salamander and frogs.

The ‘golden age’ ended with the start of Neolithic agriculture.

Some wolves became dogs; and other wolves were exterminated.

Gradually, much of the forests was cleared to make it suitable for hunting.

Roads, at first for horse-drawn carts, later for cars, divided biotopes for animals; creating new dangers for, eg, hedgehogs.

Many forests changed to open fields.

That meant new chances for some wildlife: jackdaws, hoopoes, roe deer, little bustards.

However, humans divided animals in so-called useful and ‘noxious’ species. That meant killing ‘noxious’ animals; and animals which according to superstition brought bad luck, like owls.

Then industry arose in the eighteenth century and later. With its pollution. And ‘industrial’ wars like World War I. The film shows footage of a soldier in a trench using a lull in the fighting to draw a thrush in front of him. However, then the shooting starts again, killing the thrush.

The film then shifts to bees, killed by or dying from pesticides.

Then, as conclusion, the filmmakers say humans should rectify what they have damaged to animals’ biotopes. ‘It is not too late for that’.

The movie was recorded for a big part in nature reserves in France. However, it was also filmed in Poland, Romania, Scotland, Oostvaardersplassen national park in the Netherlands, and Norway.

There are two more or less problematic sides to this beautiful film. Sides which it has in common with Océans, the earlier film by its makers.

First: The images are joined together by relatively few spoken comments. This may be a weak point as many viewers will not know all the animal species in the movie, and hardly one of them is introduced by name. It may be a strong point as well, as it enables the viewers to concentrate more on the imagery.

Second: sponsoring of this fine film by not necessarily fine sponsors (named in the beginning of the movie). One of them is the French Fondation Bettencourt Schueller. Founded by millionaire Ms Liliane Bettencourt who also financed crooked French politician Nicolas Sarkozy.

African American women at NASA

This video from the USA says about itself:

14 August 2016

Watch the new trailer for Hidden Figures, based on the incredible untold true story. Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer & Janelle Monáe. In theaters this January.

HIDDEN FIGURES is the incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

In Theaters – January 6, 2017

From Science News:

Hidden Figures highlights three black women who were vital to the U.S. space program

Despite racism and sexism, female “computers” put John Glenn into orbit

By Emily Conover

6:00am, December 23, 2016

Hollywood space flicks typically feature one type of hero: astronauts who defy the odds to soar into space and back again. But now a group of behind-the-scenes heroes from the early days of the U.S. space program are getting their due. Black female mathematicians performed essential calculations to safely send astronauts to and from Earth’s surface — in defiance of flagrant racism and sexism.

These “computers” — as they were known before the electronic computer came into widespread use — are the subject of Hidden Figures. The film focuses on three black women — Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) — and their work at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., during the run-up to John Glenn’s orbit of the Earth in 1962.

A mathematics virtuoso, Katherine Johnson calculated or verified the flight trajectories for many of the nation’s space milestones. The film showcases her work on two: the first American in space (Alan Shepard), and the first American to orbit the Earth (John Glenn). But Johnson also had a hand in sending the first men to the moon, during the Apollo 11 mission, and when the Apollo 13 astronauts ran into trouble, Johnson worked on the calculations that helped them get home safely.

Mary Jackson worked on wind tunnel experiments at Langley, where she tested how spacecraft performed under high winds. The film follows Jackson as she overcomes obstacles of the Jim Crow era to become NASA’s first black female engineer. Though the movie focuses on her triumphant rise, after decades in that role, Jackson grew frustrated with the remaining glass ceilings and moved into an administrative role, helping women and minorities to advance their careers at NASA.

Johnson and Jackson got their start under the leadership of Dorothy Vaughan, who led the segregated group of “colored computers,” assigning black women to assist with calculations in various departments. As electronic computers became more essential Vaughan recognized their importance and became an expert programmer. A scene where she surreptitiously takes a book from whites-only section of a public library — a guide to the computing language FORTRAN — is a nod to Vaughan’s prowess with the language.

Electronic computers were so unfamiliar in the 1960s that everyone from engineers to astronauts felt more confident when a human computer calculated the numbers. After a room-sized IBM mainframe spits out figures for his trajectory, John Glenn requests, “Get the girl to check the numbers” — meaning Johnson. In the film, that request culminates in Johnson running a frantic last-minute check of the numbers and sprinting across the Langley campus while Glenn waits. In reality, that process took a day and a half.

For spaceflight fans, Hidden Figures provides an opportunity to be immersed in a neglected perspective. The women’s stories are uplifting, their resilience impressive and their retorts in response to those who underestimate them, witty.

But viewers should be aware that, although the main facts underpinning the plot are correct, liberties have been taken. Some of the NASA higher-ups in the film — including Johnson’s supervisor Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) — are not real people. And presumably because number crunching tends to be a bit thin in the suspense department, the filmmakers have dramatized some scenes — Johnson is pictured in Mission Control during Glenn’s flight, but in reality she watched it on television — which seems a shame because the contributions of these women don’t need to be exaggerated to sound momentous.

Dutch wildlife film in Japan

This September 2016 video is the Japanese trailer for the Dutch wildlife film De Nieuwe Wildernis (The new wilderness), about Oostvaardersplassen national park in the Netherlands.

Translated from Dutch regional broadcasting organisation Omroep Flevoland:

New Wilderness in Japanese cinemas

December 20, 2016

Wildlife film “The New Wilderness” on the Oostvaardersplassen is popular abroad. After, eg, having been shown on TV in Germany and Belgium, the film is now in Japanese cinemas. So says producer Ton Okkerse.

In ten Japanese cities The New Wilderness recently started at the cinemas. A special event according to Okkerse. Not often European films are shown in Japanese cinemas. Certainly not wildlife films.

Japanese interest for the Oostvaardersplassen is according to Okkerse because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster five years ago. This disaster still causes much debate in the country. Thus, inter alia, ‘rewilding’, meaning returning areas to nature, is considered.

What the Japanese exactly think about De Nieuwe Wildernis is guesswork. Okkerse does get reviews and reports on visitors’ numbers, but he can not read them because of the language barrier and Japanese characters.