Category Archives: Culture

Bjork releases new “Moon” music video

Bjork released her new single “Moon” along with a fresh music video straight from outer space. In this eccentric, performance-oriented piece, written and directed by Bjork herself, the eclectic pop star hangs out in the moon and seems to be singing to the universe. And we love it!

The single was released early and is part of her upcoming album Biophilia, which is due to come out on October 1oth.  This 7th album is a multimedia project “encompassing music, apps, internet, installations, and live shows”, Bjork explains. Once again, she dazzles her fans taking bold steps in her musical exploration, evermore exploring unbeaten trails and embracing the digital world.

Watch “Moon”:

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UpRise 2011 – London’s Anti-Racism Festival

UpRise is a multicultural festival in London celebrating anti-racism through poetry, debates, storytelling, art, talks and walks. The theme this year was about taking a look at “our community and our planet as Home”. As a grassroots one day event, UpRise was a colorful event spanning over 14 venues in the heart of the Dalston district in Hackney, Greater London. Here’s a glimpse of the festival…

The Garden Venue

With a map of the festival in my hands, I begin my journey by following a trail exploring various venues of the festival. My first stop brings me here at the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden and I'm welcomed by a colorful painted wall that fits with the spirit of the event.

The map in my hands tells me I shall find music and poetry performances on the top of this building.

In this green environment of Dalston's Garden, a disco shed plays host to music while kids and adults alike take part in face painting, soap carving and other joyful activities.

On one side of the roof, visitors of the festival enjoy drinks and converse.

On the other side of the roof, poetry and music delight the ears.

Beyonder performs a poetic act on the Lyrix Organix stage.

The London Jazz Orchestra played at The Patio, in the cultural center of Hackney in Greater London.

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Playing For Change – or how music and the web are being used to promote peace.

Can music change the world? The “Playing for Change” project proves how music can unite nations.

All over the world, musicians and singers express themselves in the only places that welcome them: the streets. Very few of these street artists get to be recorded, yet so many have undeniable talents.

Ten years ago, a small group of American documentary filmmakers set out on a musical road-trip to make a film with these musicians. They recorded various artists in different countries playing the same song and edited the footage together. Two independents films ended up being made, one of which appealed to audiences at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The young filmmakers then used the web as an instrument of distribution for their work. Their unique music videos, like the one for Stand By Me above, created a buzz on social media platforms like Youtube and Vimeo. Today, the videos have been seen by more than 10 million viewers.

Later, the project evolved into an incredibly inspiring website, which then became the “Playing for Change” Foundation. As explained on the website, the Foundation “was born and made its mission to ensure that anyone with the desire to receive a music education would have the opportunity to do so. The Playing For Change Foundation is dedicated to the fundamental idea that peace and change are possible through the universal language of music.”

Through “Playing For Change”, street musicians from all over the world unite to promote peace and positive changes.

For more info and to get involved, visit the “Playing For Change” Foundation’s website: http://playingforchange.org/

Mark Johnson, Co-founder of “Playing for Change”, explains the project in his own words:

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2012: why not think positive?

2012 is approaching. Visions of the end of the world, catastrophic events, or the apocalyptic doom may immediatly come to your mind when the year 2012 is mentionned. But 2012: A time for change is a documentary that will give you a different vision of the year that is coming.

Nostradamus, the Mayan prophecy, the Free Masons, and a number of infamous astrologers all point to 2012 as a defining moment of change. If the 90’s were characterized by a rising fear of the year 2000, the world has witnessed a rising fear of the date of December 21st, 2012. With the help of the “doomsday theories”, the media has been quite successful at dramatizing our future.

2012 – the hype about how the end is near?

Early in 2007, an article titled “Does Maya calendar predict 2012 apocalypse?” was published in USA Today. In it G. Jeffrey MacDonald wrote: “Since November, at least three new books on 2012 have arrived in mainstream bookstores. A fourth is due this fall.” Not only many websites have been created for the occasion but a great many videos on Youtube have been dedicated to these quite pessimistic predictions. Many movies have also been inspired by the theories. 2012 and I am Legend are just a couple of famous examples. Documentary series on The History Channel as well as on Discovery Channel have given a focus on this same issue: Decoding the Past (2005), End of days (2006), Seven Signs of the Apocalypse (2007), and  2012 Apocalypse (2009) [click on the links to view parts of these documentaries].

In reaction to this phenomenon and to calm people down, articles have been written about how largely over hyped the whole issue has been [read this MSNBC article for example]. However, as journalist Benjamin Radford wrote in an article published on FoxNews.com, “while many authors and 2012 ‘experts’ are playing up the doomsday scenario, others believe that the year will bring not disaster but a new era of global harmon”.

Think again, what if 2012 wasn’t what you’re always being told?

Indeed, behind this big wave of gloomy narratives being presented to us, hides a few who are trying to convey a more optimistic message. This was the subject of a book by author Daniel Pinchbeck who wrote  2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, published in spring 2006. Pinchbeck then collaborated with New york-based director João Amorim to turn this book into a Documentary Film titled 2012: A Time for Change, which is due to be released in festivals and selected venues throughout 2011.

I don’t mean to advocate that the views expressed in 2012: A Time for Change are completely original. As movie critic John Hartl wrote in The Seattle Times, it is indeed “a thought-provoking examination of some of the same issues explored in ‘Avatar’, ‘Crude’ and Hollywood’s bigger-budget 2009 disaster epic, ‘2012’. But while the negative theories about 2012  have largely populated our screens, 2012: A Time for Change does offer a refreshing take on what may (or may not) be coming to us.

Instead of scaring its audience, in his review of the film, Sander Hicks explains how 2012: A Time for Change offers “a vision that asserts that human creativity, scientific innovation and a new vision of spirituality are powerful forces creating a huge paradigm shift,  here and now, taking us off the path of death, into new life.” Emmy-award nominee João Amorim provides his audience with a lot of optimism for 2012.

Why not think positive for a change?

Neil Genzlinger gave a rather negative review of the film, which he published in the New York Times. He accused it of being naive and proclaimed that the interviewees, which included celebrities like Sting and David Lynch, don’t “seem to acknowledge that the planet has almost seven billion people on it or have room in their worldview for annoying facts of life like brutal dictators, ethnic hatred, entrenched poverty and plain old greed”.

I don’t totally disagree with this view but it seems to me that, in our modern societies, we are confronted with these “facts of life” in our everyday life through the news and other media that I have mentionned above. Instead of pointing out to all the problems in the world, 2012: A Time for Change offers a different perspective that provides a window to the viewer that is overwhelmed with doom.

See the trailer here. If you want to host a screening, buy the DVD or  see when the film is going to be screened in a theatre near you, go to the 2012: A Time for Change website.

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The Axis of Evil comedy tour

A group of Los Angeles-based comics with middle-eastern origins are taking the stage to overthrow the world image of where they come from.

What we hear from Middle-Eastern countries these days are stories filled with violence, pain, and conflict. Maz Jobrani, Ahmed Ahmed, and Aaron Kader come with stories that criticize the way we perceive what we now have come to call “The Axis of Evil”.

Like the blacks, the latinos, the jewish and gays, the three comics are americans. But their origin calls for an image which they have had to live with. A Los Angeles times article says “they hope to subversively cut through ethnic stereotypes that have labeled them violent, fanatical and, ironically, humorless”.

Sometimes it’s better laughing it out than responding with conflict. Sometimes, it even sheds light on what has gone wrong.

Check their website to see when they’re coming to a city near you. And here is a taste of Maz Jobrani’s show:

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MGM’s financial trouble causes delay in making of next James Bond

The sequel to James Bond’s “Quantum of Solace” will not hit the big screen before a while because of MGM’s financial difficulties at the moment. Worries about the company’s future arise.

Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said: “due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development of ‘Bond 23′ indefinitely.”

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But this raises questions over the future one of the biggest Hollywood production house. We are a long way for the 1950’s when MGM used to be called, as Nick Allen recalls in The Telegraph, “the most successful studio in the world”.

Lets not forget that it is MGM who created the Hollywood star system which flourished with Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Buster Keaton and all that followed.

What’s next for MGM?

Yesterday, the AP released a report announcing that “MGM put itself up for sale after a slump in DVD sales and a lack of hits left it unable to manage a $3.7 billion debt.”

On the verge of bankruptcy, MGM is now looking for a new owner.

Can such an elephant in the industry like MGM ever die? And if it does, how will it affect Hollywood?

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