Tuesday, February 24, 2009

more Sean McAllister


BBC Four: What was it about Samir that you felt was worth your attention?
SM: It takes a long time to make my films and I don't really want to do them with people I don't want to be with. So first and foremost I enjoyed his company. Secondly, he spoke very good English, which was important, especially as I don't speak Arabic. But ultimately there was a story. It seemed an interesting premise that at the point of Iraqi liberation here was a man who was anti-Saddam and said quite up front, "My country is finished now. I'm leaving". As soon as I met his daughter Sahar and realised that she was pro-Saddam then I knew that this was a great area of conflict which brought in the whole political sphere, but through the family rather than in any contrived way

...BBC Four: A lot of documentaries have come out of Iraq. How do see yourself as a documentary filmmaker within the context of all the media covering Iraq?
SM: I don't know. In a way it would be interesting for others to judge. You always think that you're not really making a film when you're hanging out with someone for so long. A lot of what I shot with Samir is the same mundane sort of stuff I would do making a film in Britain with somebody. But that's what I think is important because it ends up being a human story within a political context rather than a political film. In a funny kind of way it didn't do well at certain festivals because it wasn't hammering America like Fahrenheit 9/11. But Sundance has taken it - they enjoy that more subtle kind of approach.

BBC Four: What is Samir's current situation?
SM: He's in Amman with his son and daughter. I was on the phone to him yesterday. He was having difficulty getting a visa to come to the premiere at Sundance. But he was also crying because his neighbour, who I knew, had been killed. He was driving through an area where the resistance had tried to attack the Americans. The Americans just spray around everybody. He got a bullet in his head and a bullet in his petrol tank. Thirty years old with three kids. He burnt away in his car.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Voice Was Lying. The Face May Have Told the Truth. - NYTimes.com

The Voice Was Lying. The Face May Have Told the Truth. - NYTimes.com

another rehashing of physiognomic techniques, in the stream of contemporary culture...

On the Fox network's new show "Lie to Me," a deception expert sees, not just hears, a cascade of fibbing via the liars' minute gestures and expressions. The show was inspired by the work of Dr. Paul Ekman, a psychologist who has long studied what such expressions mean.

Last week, the sports world was abuzz after Alex Rodriguez, the costly Yankee infielder, admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. Dr. Ekman, not a sports fan, nonetheless felt compelled to watch a 2007 interview of Mr. Rodriguez by Katie Couric in which he flatly denied using drugs. He was looking for signals that revealed the player's lies.

He reviewed the Couric video twice last week and found plenty of evidence...

I Have Cancer on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I Have Cancer on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

this is the photo blog of a friend of a friend, started with his diagnosis of lymphoma cancer. wow.

Friday, February 13, 2009

culiblog � Episode 1, emergency food distribution and the role of the cameras

culiblog � Episode 1, emergency food distribution and the role of the cameras

In an open market destroyed no more than thirty minutes ago by Russian Federation soldiers with tanks and heavy artillery, a woman recounts how she and the other market women formed a human shield to halt the execution of a group of Chechen boys. Speaking to the camera, in an oddly well-rehearsed role of who stands where and who says what to the camera, the woman is still shaking from the experience. The scene ends with Martens staring shamefaced at the ground, unable to gather enough gumption to ask her what she thinks of him.

At a food distribution centre, Martens addresses a group of women lined up to receive rations of oil and flour. ‘I just want to ask you what you think of me!’ and this time there is an answer. The grim situation of lining up to receive basic foodstuffs, fades in the face of humanising laughter and warm sparkling eyes, women just being women. For a moment the food queue has all but disappeared. ‘Boy, I think you’re handsome, with your blue eyes!’ ‘What’s your theme?’ ‘Are you a journalist?’ ‘No, he’s an artist.’ ‘I think he’s a journalist.’

Ultimately Martens ‘act’ of showing up with his camera and popping the question brings humanity to every situation that he creates. When he meets a young woman in a refugee camp (who bears an uncanny resemblance to his true love back in Belgium), his question changes, ‘How should a man let a woman know that he loves her?’ the woman’s answer, delivered with beaming smile and sparkling eyes, dissolves the miserable tent landscape and suddenly it’s just two people (and their translators) talking about love and life.

Of course Martens created this film for an art context, and the film articulately addresses contemporary art issues. Quite possibly Martens would be appalled that I consider his film to be ‘useful’, not just for artists and an art public, but as a tool to talk about the causes of war, hunger and the politics of emergency food distribution. And the question that Martens dares to ask amidst flying bullets, UN press conferences, annoyed Russian soldiers, women in food queues and refugees living in tent camps, the initial struggle that it initiates in the interviewee and in me, the audience, as I am simultaneously embarrassed by this question, but know that it is a question that can air-lift all of us actors out of the immediate and into a larger, more important discussion. Complexity is not complicated. Episode 1 brings us to the next tier, where a complex situation can be discussed with the nuance it deserves.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I LEGO N.Y. - Abstract City Blog - NYTimes.com

Monday, February 02, 2009

World Cinema, Harutyun Khachatryan, One of the foremost filmmakers Armenia

World Cinema, Harutyun Khachatryan, One of the foremost filmmakers Armenia

I saw Khachatryan's film Border at Rotterdam last week... and it was one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. No dialogue. Supposedly it's a meditation on Armenian history, transposed into the life of a family and a water buffalo over the course of a year.