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Archive for April 14th, 2013

Norway: Exclusive meeting with Iranian film and Iranian filmmakers

Posted by African Press International on April 14, 2013

This year Kosmorama Trondheim International Film Festival is collaborating with the Department of Art and Media Studies at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) on a large Iran Symposium. A number of prominent filmmakers and leading international experts on Iranian film will be attending to discuss Iranian film.

The focus will be on the artistic business in a country with severe limitations when it comes to freedom of speech, but which also has been one of the most interesting film nations over the past twenty years.

The event aims to introduce Iranian film for the Norwegian audience, to discuss the terms for filmmakers in Iran today, especially after the 2009 election, freedom of speech and human rights, social and aesthetic aspects of the recent years Iranian film (e.g. women’s rights), and the terms for Iranian filmmakers working in exile.

The symposium will be a combination of short presentations with discussion and panel discussion on the topics outlined above. The cooperation between Kosmorama and NTNU enables the symposium to reach out to a film audience, not to mention an extensive portion actors in the Norwegian film industry. This will be an opportunity to learn about Iranian film, and to participate in discussions and contacts with Iranian film workers.

The responsible for the event is Ali Shirzadi and Eirik Frisvold Hanssen (NTNU) in collaboration with Kosmorama International Film Festival.

Guest of Honor: Mohsen Makhmalbaf

The Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf is this year guest of honor. The festival’s general program is strongly influenced by Iranian film and films about Iran. Iran is a cultural nation and has been a major supplier of great new talents and movies since before the revolution, but most impressive is the fact that Iranian filmmakers have found a way to make strong socially critic films within the state-controlled Muslim clergy who have ruled Iran since the revolution of 1979. Mohsen Makhmalbaf has since his debut in the early 80’s been a pioneer and inspiration for the later wave of filmmakers that came from Iran in the 90’s and the 2000’s. His films have explored the tension in the relationship between the individual and a larger social and political context. In that sense, his films have often been seen as a comment on the development of the Iranian government and its people.

During the festival, Mohsen Makhmalbaf latest film THE GARDENER (2012) will be shown together with our retrospective series consisting of THE SILENCE (1998), Gabbeh (1996), A MOMENT OF INNOCENCE (1996) and SALAAM CINEMA (1995).

Those attending the symposium are:

MOHSEN MAKHMALBAF, film director and producer

BAHMAN GHOBADI, film director and producer

HAMID DABASHI, Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature (Columbia University)  

HAMID NAFICY, Professor of Communication (Northwestern University)

SUSAN TASLIMI, actress and film director

MAYSAM MAKHMALBAF, film producer

Mohsen Makhmalbafs films

THE GARDENER: Mohsen Makhmalbaf announces in voice-over that he does not profess Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Bahai nor any other religion. Makhmalbaf and his son Maysam closely explore Bahai together. Bahai originated in Persia 170 years ago, and has more than six million members. In today’s Iran they are still exposed to systematic persecution. Makhmalbaf senior’s camera is on the hunt for the religion’s positive aspects, while Maysam, with his camera, is in the search for the negative aspects. Sometimes the two of them are observed by a third camera when they discuss their findings. Through their discussions about Bahai’s pros and cons, they actually discuss the religion’s general role in politics, war and peace. The gardens the film is set in deserve to be mentioned. The Bahai religion‘s headquarters in Israel, close to Haifa and Akka, have beautiful gardens full of colour and lines. These film sets are downright fantastic.

SALAAM CINEMA In connection with the 100th Anniversary of the film medium in 1995, Makhmalbaf posts an ad for an open screen test. More than five thousand hopeful candidates show up. They deliver personal testimonies where they share their reasons for participating and talk about what movies mean to them in their day-to-day life. But how far will they really go to get a chance to be in a movie themselves? The filmed auditions, which in many ways resemble TV-shows like American Idol, several years before the concept was invented, soon become a game of power where the director constructs an authoritative and manipulative version of himself. SALAAM CINEMA pays tribute to the film medium, but it also asks some critical questions. Interestingly, two of the candidates for the screen test show up in leading roles in Makhmalbaf’s next films: GABBEH and A MOMENT OF INNOCENCE.

A MOMENT OF INNOCENCE During a demonstration against the Shah in the middle of the Seventies the 17-year-old radical Mohsen Makhmalbaf stabs a police officer and is condemned to five years in prison. Twenty years later the same police officer visits Makhmalbaf, who is now one of Iran’s best established filmmakers. He wants to know if he has a film role for him. As in Abbas Kiarostami’s CLOSE-UP from 1990, which is also based on a true story, Makhmalbaf plays himself. The police officer and Makhmalbaf decide to make a film where they recreate the incident that happened twenty years earlier. This entertaining meta play opens up for many questions. How can a film recreate a memory? They do auditions, they start filming and it is soon clear that the two men’s experiences of the incident are very different. How has the last two decades changed their own perceptions of what happened and their own parts in the matter?

GABBEH Gabbeh is the name of a traditional, hand-woven Persian rug. The film uses this as the starting point to tell a story that alternates between different threads: time schedule, memories, fantasy and reality. It is a film where colours not only are a part of the imagery’s sensual surface, but also structure the story and create meanings. The film is set in South-Eastern Iran, and Makhmalbaf really went there to make a documentary about a group of nomad’s way of life. But the project soon developed into a playful, fictional love story that also has a subtle gender theme. A young woman wishes to marry the man she loves, and he follows her and her people from a distance through the magnificent scenery that shifts character with every season. GABBEH is perhaps Makhmalbaf’s most beautiful film; alive and fascinating depictions of love and dying traditions. 

THE SILENCE Like GABBEH in many ways is a film about colour, THE SILENCE is a film about sound. It’s about understanding and orienting yourself in the world through listening, and even creating, an alternative reality. The film, which was shot in a small village in Tajikistan (and banned in Iran), follows Khorsid, a ten-year-old blind boy who tunes new musical instruments in order to support himself and his mother. Khorsid is obsessed with the first four tunes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. He hears new sounds, music or everyday sounds, on his way home from work. This awakens his interest and leads him to new places and situations. This is a film that both sharpens and pleases your senses; the rich landscape of sound is complemented by strikingly beautiful images. THE SILENCE is a film about living in the present – unlike how religion emphasizes existence after death.

Kosmorama also shows the Iranian films THIS IS NOT A FILM and CLOSED CURTAIN, both directed by the filmmaker Jafar Panahi. These are his two latest films, and both are mad in secret while the director was detained and placed under house arrest with 20 years of professional ban. THIS IS NOT A FILM was smuggled out of Iran in 2011 and joined the Cannes program. The Iranian-Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadis film RHINO SEASONS is this year’s closing film.

The Iran Symposium is funded by Fritt Ord, Oslo and NTNU.

Kosmorama Trondheim International Film Festival is held 15th – 21st April 2013


Introduction from the Press Manager: Anne-Lise Aakervik

 Kosmorama is a festival that shows non-commercial films from all over the world. This is the ninth time we celebrate Kosmorama with both international og local guests. The focus of the festival this year is Iran. We also want to focus on new and aspiring young film makers. Our main contest New Directors Awards is therefore open for film makers who have not made more than three films, and is in the process of making themselves a name in the world of films. Norwegian women got their right to vote 100 years ago this years, and we celebrate that too. It is shown in our selection of films. One of the curator series is devoted to strong female stories. It is called: The right to choose. We have our own Pitching competition – where 10 people are selected to pitch their idea live in front of the jury. This is great fun and very exciting. As the only film Festival in Norway we collaborate with 8 1/2 Foundation, founded by Scottish actress Tilda Swinton. This is a series of children that are 8 years old. This is a nice time to introduce them for films. We also have our own award – Kanonpris (Canon award) where the Norwegian film business picks their favorites.





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Nyanza church leaders are urging President Kenyatta and his Deputy Ruto to implement devolution

Posted by African Press International on April 14, 2013

Nyanza Council of Church Leaders say that the New Government under President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto should fully support the devolved system of Governance.
They are also saying the new Administration should enable the County Leaders in the 47 Counties across the Country to carry their Constitutional mandate without interferences from any external forces as was pledged during the swearing-in on Tuesday of the new leaders in the Presidency.
They further appeal to the new Administration to embrace Nyanza Region in his Development plan despite its political affiliation because it is also part and parcel of this country.
They pledge that they will support and work with the new Administration since it is the Government of the day.
What is now important in the Country is for the new President and his team to fully help in uniting the Country so that it to be one Nation especially after the just concluded intense political campaigns witnessed in the recent past in various parts of the Country.
They urge the new Government to strive to deliver and fulfill its various pledges to Kenyans which they made when they were campaigning as contained in the Jubilee Coalition manifesto.
The Country now needs the element of Peace and tranquility so as to help it prosper under the new system of Government, hence the need to promote peace in various parts of the country
There is also need to heal and reconcile various communities after those vigorous political campaigns prior to the just concluded General Elections and this therefore calls on the New Government to ensure the Country is united while it takes shape.
The group fear that the new government may ignore Nyanza region because the voters there did not show support for President Uhuru and Deputy President Ruto during their campaigns and the voting. The people of Nyanza voted overwhelmingly for their own “crown prince Raila Odinga“, as believed by them,  a man who failed to win the presidency after so much thirst to take over the Presidency, – and now failing in his third attempt.. All his critics believe that he will never be president because the next presidential elections will be in August 2017, and that time will find him clocking 73 years old. This was his last chance. He is was prime minister during the Kibaki’s last term in office. He got the job due to pressure on Kibaki by the International community after the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

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The Coup in CAR will not stop the hunt for Kony

Posted by African Press International on April 14, 2013


KAMPALA, (IRIN) – The search for the Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the rainforests of the Central African Republic (CAR) will continue despite the ouster of President François Bozizé by rebel group Séléka, officials say.

Séléka overran the capital, Bangui, on 24 March, putting Bozizé to flight. The rebels named their leader, Michel Djotodjia, the new head of state.

“I don’t think the overthrow of President Bozizé by Séléka will change our mission and position in the hunt down of LRA rebels. We are in CAR with the mandate from [the] AU [African Union] and UN [United Nations],” Uganda’s state minister for international relations, Henry Okello Oryem, told IRIN, adding that his country is committed to capturing LRA leader Joseph Kony.

Uganda has some 2,500 soldiers deployed around the border areas of CAR, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, where Kony and his fighters are thought to spend most of their time. The Ugandan troops are joined by 500 Congolese fighters, 500 South Sudanese and 350 CAR troops, all operating under the auspices of the AU. In late 2011, the US deployed 100 special forces to the region as military advisers to the effort.

Ploughing on

According to Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa project director for the think tank International Crisis Group (ICG), “the fall of Bozizé will not change much the situation on the ground, except if the Séléka leaders insist on the departure of the foreign troops as stipulated in the Libreville agreement [a peace agreement brokered in January and breached by the latest fighting? but never successfully implemented].”

Potential problems

Some analysts say, however, that the AU’s decision to suspend CAR from the organization following the coup could have negative consequences for the hunt for the LRA.

“The AU’s suspension of CAR poses a great challenge and will slow down the hunt for Kony and his rebels. Uganda has to re-negotiate with Séléka rebels… in order for its troops to have the mandate to operate in their territory,” Ronald Ssekandi, a regional political analyst based in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, told IRIN.

Angelo Izama, a political affairs analyst at the US-based Open Society Foundation, said the hunt for Kony and the LRA would largely depend on Séléka’s control of the country.

“The deterioration of government in CAR is a significant complication for the hunt against Joseph Kony. The LRA’s asymmetrical, low-tech survival strategy thrives in conditions of lawlessness and violence, especially in the hinterland,” he told IRIN.

The LRA continues to cause death, displacement and damage in the region (file photo)

“Already the geographical terrain, as well as the size of CAR, has been a practical constraint against the forces hunting Kony. If Séléka is unable to consolidate control, it would further the physical and tactical net within which LRA can seek opportunities to rebuild weapons caches,” he added. “The Séléka rebels do not have the capacity [to limit LRA activities]… In addition, Kony is not their problem; there are much more important emergencies to deal with.”

According to Lt Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, commander of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces’ (UPDF) Land Forces, Kony’s fighters currently number about 400, and they continue to roam around CAR, DRC, Sudan and South Sudan. He said some LRA defectors recently reported that Kony was in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, while his senior commanders, Dominic Ongwen and Okot Odhiambo, are thought to be in CAR.

Kony, Odhiambo and Ongwen are wanted by the International Criminal Court(ICC) for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Uganda.

LRA still a threat

“The LRA no longer pose a big threat, but there are still [a] few pockets of LRA rebels operating in CAR under Odhiambo and Ongwen. They are a nuisance. They have continued to abduct, maim and kill unarmed people,” Katumba told IRIN.

“It is important to recall that, despite [the] relatively small number of remaining elements, the LRA continues to pose a serious threat to civilians, with dire humanitarian consequences, in the affected areas in CAR, DRC and South Sudan,” Abou Moussa, head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), told IRIN via email.

In February, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairsreported that in the country’s southeast, “there has been an increase in the LRA attacks against communities and hostages being taken.”

According to LRA Crisis Tracker, the LRA was responsible for 13 civilian deaths and 17 abductions in CAR February 2013. UNOCA says an estimated 443,000 people are currently displaced in LRA-affected areas, many of them depending on international assistance for food, shelter, health care, water and sanitation. This includes an estimated 347,000 people in Province Orientale’s Haut-Uélé and Bas-Uélé districts in DRC.

Fatou Bensouda, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, recently sent a message to the LRA, assuring them that, should they be arrested, they would not be “tortured or killed” and would receive a fair trial.

Commitment to the cause

Analysts say if the LRA threat is to be laid to rest once and for all, countries in the region must show more commitment to finding Kony.

“It requires committed governments to arrest Kony. The ICC can only base its optimism in this practical possibility. There is no government in CAR, soft states in South Sudan and Chad, and support for LRA from Sudan. It’s plausible that the situation above favours the LRA and not the ICC,” said Open Society Foundation’s Izama.

“Kony’s continued existence, and that of his entire group, is part of a much larger problem in the Great Lakes region: failure by governments to resolve internal political problems and to work together in a concerted way to bring to an end cross-border insurgencies in the region,” said Frederick Golooba-Mutebi, a political scientist and senior research fellow at Makerere University’s Institute of Social Research. “Their proliferation points to the existence of problems or grievances that ought to be addressed – questions to do with citizenship and nationality, land ownership, access to services and opportunity.”

so/kr/rz source



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Anthony Chinedu of Nigerian origin arrested in Nairobi accused of drug trafficking

Posted by African Press International on April 14, 2013

The Kenya Police arrested Nigerian Anthony Chinedu on Saturday after he was found in possession of substances suspected to be narcotics.

Anti Narcotic Unit (ANU) boss Dr Hamsi Massa said that the substances the police found in Mr Chinedu’s house in Kileleshwa will be tested on Monday in Nairobi in order to establish the type.

This is the Nigerian man, Mr Chinedu who was in the past accused of being a drug trafficker but the Immigration Department were unsuccessful in getting him deported since they had no proof.

He was in the limelight in 2009 in a property row with Joyce Akinyi, who was his wife at the time over control of Deep West Restaurant in Nairobi. He won the dispute and acquired court orders that barred Akinyi from running the restaurant with him.




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