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GoetheInstitute

17/02/2006

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Die Welt, 17.02.2006

It is not the caricatures that are making Europe the "hate object of the Islamic world", writes Mariam Lau. It is also Europe's growing self-confidence. "But for the despotic regimes, the biggest danger comes from all that increasingly permeates across their borders in the form of 'Euro-Islam': the insistence that Islam and democracy are not irreconcilable opposites, that the sharia and the Koran are separate realms, that women with drivers' licenses and ballots do not mean the decline of the Orient, and that the educational deficits and economic backwardness of many Muslim countries are just as much a blemish for the ummas as torture, corruption and superstition. Even if European friends of the Third World don't want to admit it: what is all too often labelled cultural imperialism by self-hating Westerners has in fact long been standard fare for an increasing number of Muslims: individual freedoms, personal integrity and political legitimation."

Claude Chabrol has not reinvented the French film but Matthias Heine still has plenty of positive things to say about "L'ivresse du pouvoir", which premiered last night at the Berlinale film festival and stars Isabelle Huppert. "This film, among many other things, is an appeal for smoking. It shows what a treasure of social and psychological signs cinema will lose when it no longer shows people smoking. The cigarette which Jeanne refuses one of her interrogation subjects is just as dramatic as the one she demonstratively lights to humiliate another."


Der Tagesspiegel, 17.02.2006

The Iranian film director Mani Haghighi, whose film "Men at Work" is showing in the Forum section of the Berlin Film Festival (more in our Berlinale diary here), says in an interview that he does not think much of the criticism from exiled Iranians that he and his colleagues are tacitly supporting the regime: "Nonsense. All the Iranian films showing at the festival show in one way or another the social and political reality: the horrors of patriarchy, poverty, official executions. But what we filmmakers don't do, and for good reason, is spit out slogans. That's what the opposition here would have liked, but we have a more subtle way of working. We're the ones who live in Iran, and we're the ones who know what's going on there. I lived in Canada for 17 years and then went back, because Iran is where I want to make my films."


Die Tageszeitung, 17.02.2006

Jürgen Gottschlich and Daniel Bax are baffled by all the uproar over the chauvinistic Turkish film "Valley of the Wolves". The film is not a "cinematic sermon of hate" as the FAZ yesterday described it, but an "unrestrainedly anti-American answer to Abu Ghraib". "It's sad that such a stupid film has to be a box office hit and for many people it will be perturbing. But it's hardly difficult to explain. Anyone who saw the Abu Ghraib horror images yesterday from the Australian TV network cannot be surprised when people who identify with the victims of this very real violence want to have a chance at winning – even if it's just in the cinema.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 17.02.2006

Literary scholar Hannelore Schlaffer surveys a number of new magazines aimed at the "older woman". "At forty-ish, the ageing woman enters the new magazine market as a medical case. The new magazines hardly spare a thought for the further development of her intellect or character. 'Why are you actually still working?' is the question put to a saleswoman of 58, the sympathetic 'still' drawing particular attention to her age, the insightful 'actually' making it clear that she has never had any vocation anyway. Setting the employability age limit at 58 is rather early in a day and age when women academics complete their doctorates at 35, and in which women – even in the opinion of the daily papers – at the age of 40 and beyond, should still be having children. The low limit signals that the female life moves seamlessly from child-bearing youth to marginalised senior citizen."

Author Christoph Peters has been working "for almost ten years" on a novel about Islamic fundamentalism. He explains in an interview that what he finds most fascinating about the subject is "that something spiritual can have so much power that it can move people to sacrifice their lives – and if necessary also to kill... I think people have an dire need for more than just philosophical, social or political opinions. Something that can give us a bearing in life." But Peters declines to state his own position on the matter, because "that would come down to making a judgement call, and I'd like to stay as far away from that as I can."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 17.02.2006

On the media page, "H.Sf" presents the British Christian online magazine Ship of Fools, which sees its loftiest mission in the production of religious jokes. "Ship of fools calls itself 'the magazine of Christian unrest, and considers itself a journalistic barb against religious complacency, bigotry and the authority of the church." In its announcement for a religious joke contest, the magazine writes: "Poking fun at religious convictions, criticising religious practices and insulting religious people is certainly a divine mission. Not in all cases, but in some. It's not so much a freedom as a responsibility."

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