The Local View ? Neighbourhood Cinemas and Alternative Film Projects

Many small neighbourhood cinemas invested in the future. The digital options for showing films are opening up new vistas for alternative projects. Not all of them are legal.... more more

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07/12/2010

Magazine Roundup

Magazine Roundup, which appears every Tuesday at 12 p.m., is originally published by Perlentaucher.

Eurozine | The Economist | Elet es Irodalom | The Guardian | Polityka | Le point | HVG | openDemocracy


Eurozine 29.11.2010 (Austria in English)

The Lithuanian writer Tomas Kavaliauskas and his Bulgarian colleague Ivaylo Ditchev discuss what is still a burning issue in East Europe: identity. Or more precisely, they talk instructively at one another about it. Ditchev focusses on neoliberalism which East Europeans increasingly like to blame for all their problems of the past 20 years: "It is the rich who wanted to get rid of the poor in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, now this is happening with Belgium. The tensions between the rich municipality of Sofia and the rest of the country are telling. The disappearance of solidarity within the national territory is screened off by nationalist, even quasi-fascist discourses: this seems to me to be a general trend of neoliberalism."

Kavaliauskas on the other hand is more interested in the national-romantic construction of identity: "Czeslaw Milosz referred to Lithuanian statehood as 'a philological project'. In the nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries, Lithuanian intellectuals purified the Lithuanian language from slavisms and worked on the creation of new and modern vocabulary. This project has not ended: Lithuanian national identity is still maintained through the language. The language issue is even more important in the other two Baltic States, Latvia and Estonia, where almost half the population is Russian-speaking."

For Mute magazine (and put online by Eurozine) which Felix Stalder reads what Julian Assange had to say about the the Wikileaks mission. In a nutshell: it is there to put the squeeze on institutions who rule through their control over secret information. Stalder is sceptical: "The more an organisation has to protect against leaks, the more the internal contradiction between the requirement to share information (to operate efficiently) and that of controlling information (to keep it secret) will become prevalent and negatively affect its capacity to carry out its mission. Assange's objectives are likely to be realised in this more narrow respect, but it is unclear whether the 'tax' will be high enough to limit the power of organisations such as the US military, or whether it will simply need to invest more resources to carry on doing the same thing as before."


The Economist 04.12.2010 (UK)

Theoretical physicist Roger Penrose believes that our universe is the umpteenth incarnation in a series of universes which go from one Big Bang to the next. His theory implies that each universe eventually reaches a point when matter becomes weightless and time stops moving. The Economist explains: "It is well known that fundamental physics is full of ideas that defy what humans are pleased to call common sense. Even by those standards, however, Dr Penrose's ideas are regarded as a little eccentric by his fellow cosmologists. But they do have one virtue that gives them scientific credibility: they make a prediction. Collisions between black holes produce spherical ripples in the fabric of spacetime, in the form of gravitational waves. In the Penrose model of reality these ripples are not abolished by a new Big Bang. Images of black-hole collisions that happened before the new Bang may thus imprint themselves as concentric circular marks in the emerging cosmic microwave background." Apparently, though, the latest measurements indicate that these sort of marks could indeed exist.

A further articles sums up the situation at Google - in a not exactly exciting but nonetheless comprehensive and fair survey, which takes in the present and looks at future opportunites and risks for the company in the social network era.


Elet es Irodalom 03.12.2010 (Hungary)

Last week the Hungarian weekly papers Magyar Narancs and Elet es Irodalom as well as (on Friday) the Budapest Daily Nepszava, printed empty front pages in protest against the planned media law reforms. Viktor Orban's government wants to submit the printed press and Internet portals to the control of the NMHH, the powerful media regulatory board. The newly formed authority is staffed by Fidesz party cadres and will be allowed to pin fines of up to 90.000 euro on the press. This will hinder public debate, according to the editor-in-chief Zoltan Kovacs: "Former fierce defenders of press freedom are now sitting in party offices keeping a tight hold on the press; there is no way of saying any longer whether their beady eyes are clouded by political firewalls or the sheer arrogance of power [...] Of course it is possible to appeal a fine from the media regulators in court. But if you take into account the general financial situation of the Hungarian press, the mere inclusion of this legal process in the wording of the law is pure legislative cynicism. For the few newspapers that are particularly unpopular with the government and who have no solid cash reserves, even a minimal fine can mean bankruptcy, particularly because the fine has to be paid immediately."

Fidesz politicians defended the new law in parliament last week and talked about a "healthy balance" between freedom of the press and "public interests". Istvan Vancsa remembers this phrase from the old days when freedom of the press was guaranteed by the constitution in the People's Republic of Hungary but was required to orient itself to "the interests of the working class": "In those days the party state dictated to the papers what they were allowed to write. It could order little songs from anyone it had paid. And that was everyone. An editor-in-chief neither didn't have to worry about printers' bills, edition numbers, unsold copies or the like, all he had to deal with were ideological orders from above – and everything else was taken care of by the assignor of the media regulatory body. Wages were good and there was an anticipated bonus once a year. Of course this was all quite expensive but a dictatorship is a costly undertaking. It's actually a shame that the state today doesn't want to establish a dictatorship but is concentrating its efforts on securing freedom of the press instead. In the draft law it says, for example, that the regulatory media body 'will control and guarantee freedom of the press'. This is as if the defence of the accused were to be taken on by the most competent authority, namely the state prosecutor. The result will surely be the same."


The Guardian 04.12.2010 (UK)

"The End" is "an outstanding work in all the right ways". Annie Proulx gives a resounding stamp of approval to Salvatore Scibona's literary debut about Sicilian immigrants making lives in America. "This is not another dysfunctional-contemporary-American-family novel. It is instead a jackstraw tangle of dysfunctional not-yet-American families. The characters are mostly Sicilian immigrants living in Ohio in the early 20th century, their lives caught in the fly-paper of their pasts, their language a combination of the private dialects of their native villages, a laboriously correct Italian and unsure English. There is a foreign feel to the book, as though it is a not quite fluent translation - crabbed, refolded, flecked with archaic phrases and beliefs, shot through with Joycean obscurities, all of which give the reader a strong sense of standing just inside the door of the characters' shifting worlds."

There is also a review of Robert Darton's book "Poetry and the Police" about singing and sedition in the streets of 18th century Paris and, particularly, the "Affair of the Fourteen" that led to the exile of the Comte de Maurepas. "Fortunately, the Departement de musique of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France contains keys to the titles, which give the musical annotation. Helene Delavault, a cabaret artist in Paris, kindly agreed to record a dozen of the most popular songs connected with the affair of the Fourteen." They can be heard online here.


Polityka 03.12.2010 (Poland)

As Russia's President Dmitri Medvedev pays his first state visit to Poland, Marek Ostrowski calls for more (here in German) Polish-Russian dialogue. Indeed he is as sceptical about the situation with the gas pipelines and Nato accession as he is about coming to terms with the massacre in Katyn. "In this matter which is holy to the Poles – the memory of the crimes of Katyn – Russia talks with many voices. Yeltsin said one thing when he asked for forgiveness a and shed a tear before the monument in the Povaki cemetery. Medevev said something else, openly condemning the Stalinist crimes. Wajda's film 'Katyn' was even shown on prime time Russian TV, and the Duma has drafted a resolution on Katyn. But at the court in Strasbourg (more here), the Russian Chief Military Prosecutor's Office refused to rehabilitate the murder victims, acting as if they had no idea what had happened to the Polish POWs, as if they saw no reason to pay the matter any particular attention. How do you explain this?"


Le point 02.12.2010 (France)

Will there ever be an end to the demonisation of Israel?" asks Bernard-Henri Levy in his Bloc notes, and lists two current examples: the Israel boycott in France and the success of the documentary film "Tears of Gaza", by Norwegian filmmaker Vibeke Lokkeberg, which shows the Israeli bombardment of the territory in 2008 to 2009. Levy accuses her of not sticking to the most basic rules of the difficult genre of the war documentary and of taking images out of context. But worst of all, that "the film team never even set foot in Gaza and contented themselves with the film footage shown to them under strict supervision by Hamas militias. A film like this which unfortunately is about to do the rounds at festivals across the world – is not a documentary, but a propaganda film. A film, which by demonising Israel, promises war not peace."


HVG 27.11.2010 (Hungary)

The exchange programme for children from Hungary and its neighbours which was passed at the end of October in the Hungarian parliament, bears only a superficial resemblance to similar programmes started by Germany and France and Poland, writes Ivan Bedö. Whereas those programmes were intended to create friendships that would reconcile the nations, the Hungarian programme is all about visiting Hungarian minorities: "The idea behind it is different from the one set up by the Germans, Poles and French - all countries which have been through their fair share of historical trauma. The Hungarian schoolchildren are not being sent abroad to get to know their neighbours. One – if not the central - objective behind the state-funded friendship programme which is underpinned by the Trianon Memorial Days in schools, is the preservation of a 90-year old trauma. Instead of bringing Hungarians closer to Romanians, Slovaks, Serbs and Ukrainians it will probably only cement the conflict."

openDemocracy 01.12.2010 (UK)

This story barely got a mention in the German press last year. Historian Michail Suprun and police colonel Alexandr Dudarev were arrested for printing a book charting the fate of Russian-Germans and Russian-Poles in the Gulag, on charges of violating the victims' rights, under Article 137 of the Russian Criminal Code, for "exposing the personal or family secrets" of victims without their consent. Catriona Bass looks more closely at this case which continues to drag on. Memorial researchers "had faced increasingly restrictive access to information on Soviet repression. Indeed, in Magadan, in the far east of Russia where many of the Gulags were situated, Article 137 has also for the first time been cited as a reason for refusing access material on Soviet deportees. "

Further articles: Grigorii Golosov tells a terrifying crime story from the Krasnodar region in southern Russian which is controlled by big land owners – it is here that the Olympic winter games in Sochi are due to take place. And Bill Thompson responds to an article by the editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, on the future of journalism.

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Tuesday 27 March, 2012

The Republicans are waging a war against women, the New York Magazine declares. Perhaps it's because women are so unabashed about reading porn in public - that's according to publisher Beatriz de Moura in El Pais Semanal, at least. Polityka remembers Operation Reinhard. Tensions are growing between Poland and Hungary as Victor Orban spreads his influence, prompting ruminations on East European absurdity from both Elet es Irodalom and salon.eu.sk. Wired is keeping its eyes peeled on the only unassuming sounding Utah Data Center.
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Tuesday 20 March, 2012

In Telerama, Benjamin Stora grabs hold of the Algerian boomerang. In Eurozine, Slavenka Drakulic tells the Venetians that they should be very scared of Chinese money. Bela Tarr tells the Frankfurter Rundschau and the Berliner Zeitung that his "Turin Horse", which ends in total darkness was not intended to depress. In die Welt, historian Dan Diner cannot agree with Timothy Snyder's "Bloodlands": National Socialism was not like Communism - because of Auschwitz.
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Tuesday 13 March, 2012

In Perfil author Martin Kohn explains why Argentina would be less Argentinian if it won back the Falklands. In Il sole 24 ore, Armando Massarenti describes the Italians as a pack of illiterates sitting atop a treasure trove. Polityka introduces the Polish bestseller of the season: Danuta Walesa's autobiography. L'Express looks into the state of Japanese literature one year after Fukushima.
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In Merkur, Stephan Wackwitz muses on poetry and absurdity in Tiflis. Outlook India happens on the 1980s Indian answer to "The Artist". Bloomberg Businessweek climbs into the cuckoo's nest with the German Samwar brothers. Salon.eu.sk learns how to line the pockets of a Slovenian politician. In the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Navid Kermani reports back impressed from the Karachi Literature Festival.
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Tuesday 28 February, 2012

In La Vie des idees, historian Anastassios Anastassiadis explains why we should go easy on Greece. Author Aleksandar Hemon describes in Guernica how ethnic identity is indoctrinated in the classroom in Bosnia and Herzogovina. In Eurozine, Klaus-Michael Bogdal examines how Europe invented the Gypsies. Elet es Irodalon praises the hygiene obsession of German journalists. And Polityka pinpoints Polish schizophrenia.

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Tuesday 21 February, 2012

The New Republic sees a war being waged in the USA against women's rights. For Rue89, people who put naked women on the front page of a newspaper should not be surprised if they go to jail. In Elet es Irodalom, historian Mirta Nunez Daaz-Balart explains why the wounds of the Franco regime never healed. In Eurozine, Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev see little in common between the protests in Russia and those in the Arab world.
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Tuesday 14 February, 2012

In Letras Libras Enrique Krauze and Javier Sicilia fight over anarchy levels. In Elet es Irodalom Balint Kadar wants Budapest to jump on the Berlin bandwagon. In Le Monde Imre Kertesz has given up practically all hope for a democratic Hungary. Polityka ponders poetic inspiration and Wislawa Szymborska's "I don't know". In Espressso, Umberto Eco gets eschatological.
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Tuesday 7 February, 2012

Poland's youth have taken to the streets to protest against Acta and Donald Tusk has listened, Polityka explains. Himal and the Economist report on the repression of homosexuality in the Muslim world. Outlook India doesn't understand why there will be no "Dragon Tattoo" film in India. And in Eurozine, Slavenka Drakulic looks at how close the Serbs are to eating grass.
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In the French Huffington Post, philosopher Catherine Clement explains why the griot Youssou N'Dour had next to no chance of becoming Senegal's president. Peter Sloterdijk (in Le Monde) and Umberto Eco (in Espresso) share their thoughts about forgetting. Al Ahram examines the post-electoral depression of Egypt's young revolutionaries. And in Eurozine, Kenan Malik defends freedom of opinion against those who want the world to go to sleep.
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Tuesday 10 January, 2012

Are books about to become a sort of author-translator wiki, asks Il Sole 24 Ore. Rue 89 reports on the "Tango Wars" in downtown Buenos Aires. Elet es Irodalom posits a future for political poetry. In Merkur, Mikhail Shishkin encounters Russian pain in Switzerland. Die Welt discovers the terror of the new inside the collapse of the old in Andrea Breth's staging of Isaak Babel's "Maria". And Poetry Foundation waits for refugees in Lampedusa.
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Tuesday 13 December, 2011

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