February 2006

Trouble in Paradise

Palestinian Oscar contender, Paradise Now has already run into problems over its country of origin. And now a campaign has been launched to disqualify the film altogether.

At issue is the fact that the film - about a pair of would-be suicide bombers and made from their point of view - portrays Israel as being an agressor.

It is the subject of how to resist Israel - jihadists Said and Khaled say violence is the only way, while Suha, the daughter of a martyr, argues for peaceful protest - that allows for the grey area. In the end violence wins for numerous reasons - most explained by the bombers back story. But the Hollywood looks of Said, played by Kasi Nashef, who is matinée idol handsome, are also causing discomfort.

According to director, Hany Abu-Assad, the film is intended to open a discussion, hopefully a meaningful discussion. However, this discussion is too much for some an internet campaign against the film has been launched.

The nomination probably wont be rescinded, but with 70 being the median academy voter age, and Judaism the predominant religion, it is something of a surprise, even to insiders, that the film has been nominated at all, let alone that it is a strong prospect to win.

Paradise Now won a Golden Globe in January.

Livingstone gets Quangoed

In yet another case of religious sensitivities taking precidence over freedom of speech, London Mayor ken Livingstone was suspended on Friday for four weeks for comparing a London Evening Standard journalist to a concentration camp guard.

The Adjudication Panel for England ruled Ken Livingstone had brought his office into disrepute when he acted in an unnecessarily insensitive manner.

Jackie Ashley pretty much hits the nail on the head:

Many people will be offended by what he said. Many people are offended by what lots of politicians say. He may have been unnecessarily offensive to a journalist; but what would the right and necessary amount of offensiveness have been? Some will feel the dignity of mayoral office has been compromised. Others will laugh. The point is: what do we feel about an anonymous, unknown little clique of unelected bureaucrats removing from power for a month (and their powers are far wider) a man who has twice been elected by Londoners?

Londoners voted for Livingstone and now Londoners have to live with him. He hasnt been convicted of any crime so the question of whether he was unnecessarily offensive or whether he brought the Mayors office into disrepute is one for the London electorate.

Now documentaries are a danger to democracy

After returning from the Berlin Film Festival last week, four actors were detained under anti-terror laws by the police at Luton airport.

They were returning last Thursday after the premiere of the film, The Road to Guantánamo. It depicts the life of three men from Tipton in the West Midlands, who go to Afghanistan and end up being held for two years by the US at its military base on Cuba before being released without charge.

They were returning last Thursday after the premiere of the film, The Road to Guantánamo. It depicts the life of three men from Tipton in the West Midlands, who go to Afghanistan and end up being held for two years by the US at its military base on Cuba before being released without charge.

According to a spokeswoman for Bedfordshire police, which patrols Luton airport: Part of the counter-terrorism act allows us to stop and examine people if something happens that might be suspicious.

Like attending a film festival, for example.

Another cartoon competition

The Muhammed cartoons controversy is becomming increasingly surreal.

First we have an Iranian newspaper expressing anti-Danish sentiments by calling for anti-Semitic cartoons which, as Jeff Weintraub observes, is a bit of an odd target.

Then we have the Israeli response that, if anyone is going to be anti-semitic, they can do better.

And now a group of progressive Muslims have launched another contest, this time calling for images of Muhammed and Islam.

As islamic reformers and progressive muslims, we believe that people should have legal right to express their opinion or dissent without fear of governments or mobs. In that regard, we applaud the people of Denmark for not censoring their media. History has proven that truth and justice cannot flourish in an environment of suppression and oppression. Though the cartoonists depicted and insulted our beloved prophet Muhammad, a figure that we consider dearer to us than our fathers and mothers, we stand by the rights of cartoonists to express their views.

Ignoring, for the moment - as do many others - the rules on depicting Muhammed, we wish them luck.

(via Pickled Politics)

Jessica Rabbit banned in China

In one of the more Bizarre bans to come out of China, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television has announced that TV shows and films featuring human actors with animated companions will be banned.

These human live-action, so-called animation pieces will not receive distribution or distribution licenses, read the order, issued Feb. 15.

Their reasoning:

CGI and 2-D characters alongside human actors jeopardize the broadcast order of homemade animation and mislead their development.

This is from the same country that banned Babe because animals cant talk and some viewers would be confused.

(via Twitch)

Cinemaxx pulls Wolves

I mentioned last week that Conservatives in Germany are calling for Turkish film, Valley of the Wolves - Iraq to be banned.

On Wednesday, Germanys Cinemaxx chain responded by announcing that it would strike the film from its program immediately.

The film starts off by retelling an actual event that happened in Sulaymaniyah, northern Iraq, in July 2003; American forces arrested and held in captivity 11 Turkish soldiers, who were later released. The film then quickly turns to its fictional action hero, Turkish intelligence officer Polat Alemdar. He sets out to avenge his humiliated countrymen. In the process, American troops massacre civilians at a wedding party, firebomb a mosque during evening prayer and carry out summary executions — not to mention the abuses depicted at the Abu Ghraib prison. But perhaps the films most evil villain is the American Jewish military doctor (played by Gary Busey), who extracts Iraqi prisoners organs to sell to rich buyers in New York, London and Tel Aviv.

Given that the film has been running for two weeks in Germany and that it is more violent than an average action film, its unlikely that it can be banned. But some German politicians and Jewish leaders are calling on cinemas to stop running it.

Michael Kohlstruck, doctor of political science at Berlins Technical University and a specialist in right-wing extremism and youth violence acknowledges that the film has a divisive and harmful message, but observes: Its not right for a liberal society to forbid these films. Its better to leave them open and to discuss them.

(via Cinematical)

Catholics bullied by Bloody Mary

Bishops in New Zealand have called for a boycott of a TV network over an episode of South Park which features a bleeding statue of the Virgin Mary.

The proposed boycott will come as a surprise to many Christians around the world who are big fans of the series in which Jesus Christ often appears.

Anti-abortion campaigners, Family Life International, however are not fans of the show and have even set up a website to complain about being bullied by the programme.

(via MediaWatchWatch)

Brokeback Jamaicans

Brokeback Mountain was passed for release yeterday by the The Jamaican Cinematograph Authority and is now playing at two cinemas on the island. But some people arent happy.

Im very distressed about it, said Major Neil Lewis of the Family Life Ministries. We are allowing Hollywood to swamp us with the wrong things. It is dragging us down into the maelstrom of immorality.

According to Elder Allan Russell of the Emmanuel Apostolic Church, Lees film is an attempt to indoctrinate the world to a most sinful act. He called for it to be banned before any further damage can be done to the minds of our young people.

Maybe Elder Allan Russell should be banned before he can do any further damage to the minds of Jamaicas young people.

Netherlands blast Solana for craven attitude

As mentioned earlier, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has been touring the Middle East in an attempt to soothe tensions over the Muhammed cartoons controversy. Apparently, his apologetic tone has proved too much for the Dutch.

Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot has put in a protest to Mr Solana objecting to remarks he made last week during his tour around muslim countries, a Dutch spokesman confirmed.

Among other things, the EUs top foreign policy official said after meeting the leader of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIS), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu I expressed our sincere regret that religious feelings have been hurt, vowing to reach outto make sure that people’s hearts and minds are not hurt again.

Dutch daily De Telegraaf quotes the Dutch state secretary for European Affairs Atzo Nicolai as characterising the tone used by Mr Solana as shocking.

Speaking at a political debate on Monday (20 February) Mr Nicolai said He has toured around in order to offer apologies. On behalf of whom, I ask. You and me? We havent drawn those cartoons.

The Netherlands is also deeply unhappy with a joint statement issued on 7 February by Mr Solana on behalf of the EU together with the OIS leader and UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

One passage of the statement says that The anguish in the muslim world at the publication of these offensive caricatures is shared by all individuals and communities who recognise the sensitivity of deeply held religious belief.

After meeting Ihsanoglu last week, Solana signalled that the EU might be supportive of the OICs push for the UN to adopt a reference against blasphemy in the tenets of a new human rights body.

Chinese paper reopened but muzzled

Reuters reports that the official China Youth Daily decided on Thursday to revive a provocative weekly section closed by censors last month but only after removing the editors who had made it a provacative journal in the first place.

Communist Party officials in charge of the newspaper, the mouthpiece of the partys youth wing, bowed to an outcry and decided to resume publishing the weekly Freezing Point section from March 1, the weeklys editor Li Datong said by telephone.

But Li and Lu Yuegang, a famed investigative reporter, will be removed as editor and deputy editor respectively of the weekly and shunted to the newspapers news research office, Li said.

This exterminates the soul of Freezing Point, leaving an empty shell, Li told Reuters. Lu also said he was extremely disappointed before his telephone was abruptly cut off.

Freezing Point was closed on January 24th after publishing an essay by Chinese historian, Yuan Weishi, criticising what he said were dangerous nationalist distortions in Chinese history textbooks. The first edition of the reopened paper will publish an essay attacking Yuan.