A 2006 television documentary, ‘The Blue Buddha: Lost Secrets of Tibetan Medicine,’ introduces the Tibetan Buddhist medical tradition and the relationship between Buddhist teachings and medical knowledge, emphasizing that the founder of Buddhism considered himself as a healer, rather than as a god or a prophet, and that he presented his teachings not as doctrines but as remedies intended to heal the body and mind. These teachings form the basis of Buddhist oriented medicine today, with regional variations, and so the documentary begins by surveying its historical development in Tibet.
24 December 2013
12 December 2013
26 November 2013
In Europe, the 'racial film' accompanied what Pierre Leprohon has called 'a violent upsurge in exoticism' during the years 1920-25, a phenomenon also reflected in literature, in the triumph of Gauguin, and in jazz music (labeled in France 'la musique negre'). Probably the most famous French 'racial cruise' film was Leon Poirier's La croisiere noire (The Black Cruise; 1926), a long travelogue which followed a Citroen motorcar expedition traversing Africa from the north to as far south as Madagascar. An explicitly colonial film, La croisiere noire was a grand motorcar adventure designed to give witness to France's 'civilizing action.'
11 November 2013
The portrayal of Arabs and Arabic culture in American films changed to reflect broader sociopolitical contexts in recent U.S. history. In the early 1980s, the image of a Russian enemy served as a convenient articulation of foreign fear--a kind of xenophobia that makes for good film as well as for reinforcement of cultural boundaries. As U.S. foreign policy shifted from involvement with the Soviet Union following the end of the Cold War, the characterization of Arabs as a threat to American interests intensified. Though Hollywood movies have included anti-Arab sentiments throughout moviemaking history, the fall of the Soviet Union, corresponding roughly with the Gulf War in 1990-91, brought a rapid escalation of the demonization of Arabs in American film.
28 October 2013
08 October 2013
To write a Marxist history of an art form or a cultural process in a time designated as postmodern--or at least with the logic of postmodernism dominating cultural debates--is one of the central challenges of our time. In Europe, three responses from a Marxist perspective have been put forth as the dominance of poststructuralist theory begins to ebb. Italian architecture critic Manfredo Tafuri has argued convincingly that the essential task of today is not so much writing a history of modern art forms as writing a modern history of those forms. In his discussion of the politics of history writing, French philosopher Louis Althusser has theorised the imperative of producing a dialectical concept of the history of an art form rather than merely presenting a narrative account of its history. And in England, writing about the history of structure of the State, Perry Anderson has postulated that history writing should be theoretical and analytical as well as factual and descriptive in order to be adequately comprehensive.
24 September 2013
‘Ayurveda: Art of Being,’ a 2001 documentary film by Pan Nalin, opens with an elderly man collecting and washing plants by a riverside, begging pardon from the Lord for uprooting them, saying that they are necessary for medicine. That single scene encapsulates the main message of this film, echoing Hindu cosmology, that for Ayurveda ‘everything in and around us are one and single existence.’ Dr. G. Gangadharan of the Medicinal Plant Conservation Centre in Kerala, India, elaborates on this principle: ‘The microcosm, the body in which we are living, or that of all the living beings, and the macrocosm around us, are all part of one unit. And the role of the physician is merely the role of a conveyer belt between these two, where he may be processing something so that the body can easily assimilate it. Other than that, there is nothing. He is doing nothing other than substituting things which are lacking in the system by things which are available externally.’
09 September 2013
Trinh T. Minh-ha is a Vietnamese independent filmmaker, post-colonial theorist and feminist thinker whose work is widely shown internationally, and who has taught at various universities in the United States, and also in Japan and Senegal. Her work as an artist, teacher and writer consistently engages questions of hegemony, methodology and patriarchy. Her 1982 film 'Reassemblage,' made as part of her ethnographic research in Senegal, challenges the dichotomies of self/other, object/subject, and maker/viewer. Rather than reproducing the authoritative narrative voices and linear story lines of documentary film, for 'Reassemblage' she offered virtually no narration and employed a disorienting editing style of constantly shifting images, musical snippets and occasional silences that challenge the conventions of representation. In this essay, she uses her films as a point of departure for a discussion on the necessity of making films politically, the task of interrogating various forms of repression, and the ongoing struggle to move across and beyond boundaries so as to work, think and act differently.
22 August 2013
08 August 2013
23 July 2013
10 July 2013
19 June 2013
Jorge Preloran (1933-2009) was an Argentinian-American filmmaker who developed a unique style of ethnobiographical documentary film during the 1960s. One of his most well known works in this genre is Hermogenes Cayo, the Spanish language version of which he made in 1969. A year later, Preloran collaborated with American Anthropologist Robert Gardner to produce an English language version of the film under the title Imaginero. In this film we have the sensitive and human portrayal of a folk artist living on the puna of Northwestern Argentina. The subject of the film, Hermogenes Cayo, is a self made man with a deep dedication to both folk Catholicism and the plastic arts. His creativity and ingenuity reveal a self confidence rarely found in descriptions of Andean lifeways.
06 June 2013
Toho, Shochiku, Daiei, Toei, Shintoho, and Nikkatsu, and new talent seemed to burst out of every studio. Nagisa Oshima had made his first film in 1959. In 1960, Toei, the box-office leader, launched New Toei, a second production and distribution arm, and the following year, Kinji Fukasaku made his first film.
20 May 2013
09 May 2013
24 April 2013
In 'Kinderculture: The Corporate Construction of Childhood,' educational theorists Joe Kincheloe and Shirley Steinberg assemble a collection of essays on children and the commodification of identity. They bring together a number of contemporary scholars of education, psychology and sociology into an interdisciplinary study of children’s popular culture and its implications for schooling and child development. Steinberg and Kincheloe introduce the essays with a chapter entitled ‘No More Secrets: Kinderculture, Information Saturation, and the Postmodern Childhood.’ The basic premise in their introduction is that the ‘information age’ has radically altered childhood, especially in the US but also in places adopting the American way of life, to the point that even the most basic assumptions underlying education and psychology are hopelessly outdated.
26 March 2013
Historically, African cinema and Afro-American cinema can and should be located within the same social space of the Third Cinema-Third World Cinema. In broad terms, however, the former can be characterized by the search for and interrogation of origins, while the latter can be defined by its fight for positions and identity. African cinema seeks to establish methods and systems of production, distribution, and viewing, while Afro-American cinema is produced within diverse political and cultural national contexts. Afro-American cinema is situated within a particular national culture, albeit one governed by complex and nuanced historical, social, and economic factors. The movement of historical events is the primary--although not the only--preoccupation of African cinema, while the examination of social mechanisms is central to Afro-American cinema. In both cinemas, however, oppression, liberation, struggle, and hope inform thematic structures and references.
13 March 2013
18 February 2013
To the filmmaking community, Trinh T. Minh-ha is best known as the Vietnamese-born director of a number of experimental documentary films: 'Reassemblage,' 'Naked Spaces-Living Is Round,' and 'Surname Viet, Given Name Nam.' Visually stunning, poetic, and highly idiosyncratic, these works radically question and reopen ethnographic and documentary film languages. Her films represent one part of a much larger project, loosely organized around the 'problem' of how to represent a Third World, female Other. As well as making films, Trinh studied ethnomusicology and West African vernacular architecture, composes music, and has written a number of books. Many of these trends in her work are represented in the 1989 book, Woman, Native, Other.
10 February 2013
At the height of its military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and concurrent with its ongoing 'war on terror,' the US government launched a public diplomacy campaign in the Arab world. It was ostensibly intended to project a cooler, kinder, and gentler image of the USA, even as American policies continued to wreak havoc in the region. Utilizing a variety of media, including news and entertainment in audio, video, and print, the efforts were linked by what appeared to be a common goal of attempting to win the hearts and minds of Arab youth.