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An Election Film Week in Lebanon to Say #NoToExtension of Parliament Term

What better than the seventh art to mobilize? In another effort to push for Elections in Lebanon and prevent an extension of the Parliamentary term #NoToExtension, Lebanese NGO Nahwa Al Muwatiniya (meaning Towards Citizenship) held an “Election Film Week”.

Six works from Chile, Iran, China, Ghana and the US, varying between documentaries and fiction are being screened between August 28 to September 2 at Cinema Metropolis (a theater promoting indie movies)  in collaboration with the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE).

On the Facebook Page of the event, where the programme is listed, the organisers note:

We have been struggling with a fragile democracy in Lebanon, ever since its independence. Today, more than in the darkest days of the civil war, the foundations of our democracy are at risk. But we’re not alone in this. The world is full of stories about the human struggle for self-determination and democratic participation. Broadening our perspective serves our effort to improve the quality of the political system in Lebanon. 

The films we picked share stories from different countries, all which portray the election process. Collectively, they reveal a combination of human values and ideals and the efforts politicians make to win an election.

To see a glimpse of the movies, check out the trailer posted on Nahwa Al Muwatiniya Youtube Page.

The current parliament extended its four-year stay for the first time in May 2013. And like a year before, various parties are supporting the move this time around under the pretext of security conditions.

The end of the parliamentary term comes amidst a period of turmoil in Lebanon. The country has lacked a president since May 25 after parliament failed to elect a new head of state and top officials could not reach political consensus. A general strike by syndicates demanding to approve a new enhanced wage scale for civil servants has threatened to paralyze the entire country. Lebanon has experience instability on both Syrian and Israeli borders after soldiers were kidnapped by members of Islamic militant organization ISIS.

China Blocks Beijing Independent Film Festival

Beijing authorities blocked an annual independent film festival from opening on August 23, 2014. The move is seen as a sign that Beijing is tightening ideological controls. According to indie director Huang Wenhai, the shutdown was “the darkest day in the history of Chinese independent film.” Started in 2006 by independent art critic Li Xianting, the film festival is a place for indie filmmakers to share and discuss their work. Although the festivals like this had some trouble with the police over the years, it's the first time the whole festival has been blocked. The police also took away records of the Li's work for investigation. 

China Media Project has more details about happenings around the shutdown.

Indigenous Libraries As Social Venues

bib-mex

Library of National Autonomous University of Mexico. Image by Esparta on flickr (CC BY 2.0).

“One thing is that books satisfy users’ curiosity, and a very different one that is that it might represent the identity of the community them belong to”. Argentinian librarian Daniel Canosa questions the role and function of local libraries. On Infotecarios network he writes:

Las bibliotecas indígenas, [deberían] generar conocimiento desde la participación local y comunitaria, ofrecer un modo de entendimiento, que es a la vez una manera de construir identidad. El tema es si lo que ofrece la biblioteca representa lo que cada comunidad sabe y conoce, si lo que construye el bibliotecario con su comunidad permite una genuina afinidad con la memoria histórica del pueblo. No se tratan de ideas nuevas, pero es necesario avanzar interpelando las mismas.
[...]
Si las bibliotecas difunden la producción de la gente de su lugar de pertenencia, entonces no sólo las elites tendrán presencia en el mundo de la información.

Indigneous libraries [should] generate knowledge from local and community participation, provide a way of understanding, that in time is a way of building identity. The thing is if what libraries provide represent what each community knows, if what a librarian builds with their community allows a true affinity with people's historic memory. This is not about new ideas, but things should move forward questioning those ideas.
[...]
If libraries spread people's production from their own places, then not only the elites won't be then only ones in the world of information.

The author highlights the fact that burning libraries, as happened in the past, eliminates peoples’ memories and therefore their identity. He also highlights the works by Colombia Indigenous Peoples Basic Library, puts into question publications by Abya Yala Ecuadorian publishing house and presents an instance of “social inclusion” with Eloísa Cartonera Cooperative from Argentina.

Read more about this, visit Daniel Canosa's personal blog or contact him on LinkedIn.

This post was part of the fourteenth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on August 4, 2014.

A Documentary That Allows Transgender People's Voices to Be Heard

Though gays and lesbians are gradually gaining more acceptance in Puerto Rico, the same cannot be said yet of transgender people. That is why a film like Mala Mala, a documentary in which trans people speak freely about their stories, is so important. The film, directed by Dan Sickles (@dan_sickles) and Antonio Santini, is on the official selection of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

One of the people interviewed for the film is Paxx Moll, a chef who is also a transgender female-to-male. In an article published in La Respuesta, a digital magazine about the Puerto Rican diaspora, he talks to E. J. Dávila about who he is, his experience being part of the documentary, and about the lack of social and medical spaces for trans people in Puerto Rico, particularly for transgender men.

This is the teaser trailer for Mala Mala, which will premier in Puerto Rico in the coming months:

Artists Explore the ‘Melting Point’ of Art and Propaganda in Skopje

A not-for-profit, self-financed group of artists calling themselves Kooperacija (“Cooperation”, Macedonian slang for a general store in small villages) hosted an exhibition titled “Melting Point: Art as Anti-Hegemonic Propaganda” [en, mk, with photos] in Skopje recently.

'Fear makes the world go round' by Ines Efremova. Photo by Kooperacija, used with permission.

‘Fear makes the world go round’ by Ines Efremova. Photo by Kooperacija, used with permission.

As reported [mk] by several news outlets that cover culture [mk], including Belgrade-based SEE Cult [sr], the event presented works by several individuals and groups of world renowned artists. Among them were pieces by Vitaly Komar, IRWIN, Santiago Sierra, DETEXT, as well as by some of the most vibrant artists from the region, like Nemanja Cvijanović, Ibro Hasanović, Igor Toševski, Kristina Gorovska & Jure Lavrin, Ines Efremova, Filip Jovanovski, O-P-A, and others.

The group of artists who put together the exhibition described it on their pages as:

Kooperacija is an initiative whose purpose is artistic activity outside the inert institutional frameworks, thus suggesting an exceptional approach to the creation and experience of contemporary art [...]

[Its] basic strategy is the occupation of temporarily free space dispersed throughout the urban landscape and exhibiting through a chain of blitzkrieg events. The desired effect is a constructive dialogue regarding the re-questioning of the critical positions in art and producing a favorable environment for a free exchange of ideas, experience and freedom of expression.

In Defense of the National Gallery of Jamaica's Director

Over the last month, the National Gallery of Jamaica's executive director's leadership was the target of criticism, first via an anonymous letter written to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, and then in a blog post written by blogger Annie Paul, which she prefaced by saying:

I’ve been closely involved with the Gallery, serving on its Exhibitions Committee for the last few years and before that its PR Committee. In these capacities I’ve been privy to some of the internal workings of the institution and have experienced at first hand some of the problems I will be detailing in this post.

Now, a different perspective has come to light, in the form of a letter to the editor from Jamaican artist Jacqueline Bishop, who writes “about the Veerle Poupeye I know”:

I have never known anyone to champion Jamaican art and Jamaican artists as tirelessly as Veerle Poupeye does.

Consequently, I have watched with growing alarm and dismay as her name has been maligned, and someone of great integrity and generosity is consistently caricatured in, among other places, The Gleaner.

The ‘Concerned Visitor’ of the July 19 letter is right to point out the lack of financial and other support to the National Gallery of Jamaica. And I, too, wonder about the alignment of ‘youth’ and ‘culture’ under a single government portfolio. However, there is more than enough for Jamaicans of all shades, stripes and kinds to discuss and critique and try to understand and work against and through and towards in Jamaican art and visual art culture, without resorting to name-calling and character assassination.

The National Gallery of Jamaica will launch an exhibit to celebrate its 40th anniversary on August 31.

Digital Reconstruction of Cambodia's Angkor Wat

The Smithsonian Channel has uploaded a video showing a digital reconstruction of Cambodia's Angkor Wat using 3D image technology. Angkor Wat (Temple City) is a popular tourism destination in Cambodia which used to be the capital of the Khmer Empire in the 12th century. It is also a massive religious monument, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia.

Second Biggest Arts Festival in the World Taking Place in South Africa

Live reports from the National Arts Festival taking place in Grahamstown, South Africa:

Every winter, for 11 days in early July, the sleepy South African college town of Grahamstown comes alive with art. Artists from all over the world swarm to the tiny town, and every nook and cranny is packed with theatre, dance, performance art, film, comedy puppets and face paint with the sweet sounds of jazz spilling onto the streets. The National Arts Festival, that celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, is the second biggest arts festivals in the world. For the last couple of years, a group of journalism students at Rhodes University cover the festival through a pop-up newsroom called CueTube, where they interview a variety of artists, choreographers and directors. Here’s some samples of the work.

The Art Nouveau Windows to Belgrade's Soul

Aleksandar Lambros, a Serbian-born photographer currently living and working in Monaco, has been snapping photos of tell-tale details of Belgrade's architectural history and collecting them on his blog.

A detail on a building in downtown Belgrade. Photo: Aleksandar Lambros ©.

A detail on a building in downtown Belgrade. Photo: Aleksandar Lambros© 2014.

While the city still retains snippets of Roman and Ottoman architecture, as parts of the city were under both Roman and Ottoman rule throughout history, most of what is today downtown Belgrade expanded during the 19th century, under the still very visible influence of the highly popular European Art Nouveau movement of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Lambros has captured some of the most interesting decorative details on Belgrade's older buildings in a set of 18 photographs that depict the quaint, unique mixture of Serbian culture with a well-known European architectural style. The full set, along with Lambros’ other work, is available on his blog.

This Video Parodies What a Government-Approved Sex Education Class in India Would Look Like

Stand-up comedian Sourav Pant‘s comedy company East Indian Comedy has uploaded a YouTube video lampooning what a government-approved sex education class in India would look like. The video has gone viral, with more than 1 million hits in three days.

The video mocks a suggestion made by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan a few weeks ago that sex education should be banned in Indian schools (he later claimed his comments were taken out of context) as well as parodies how teachers shy away from discussing the issue in the class.

“Sex Education in India” created a buzz on social media. Santosh Kumar wrote on the East Indian Comedy's Facebook page: “The same thing happened with me when i was in school!”

Some like Sravan Kumar did not like the video: “Dont forget India is the country which gave Kaama sutra to the world.”

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