art of resistance, Pakistan

Humans of New York: Pakistan.

11227558_1041123395961760_1916040798956359579_n“When I’m bored, I call up Radio Pakistan and request a song, then I start dancing. I’ll even dance on a rainy day. It’s my way of expressing how grateful I am. I am the happiest man in Pakistan.”

I just love Brandon Stanton’s work. His latest series from Pakistan makes me so happy. Here are some of my favourite HONY Pakistan moments. Be sure to follow HONY for more.

11143463_1048123161928450_2900847522199128811_n“I take her everywhere I go.”

11212775_1042542305819869_1831513739907898347_n“I just found out we’ve been evicted. Right after you leave, I’m going to start packing up. I’ve got to find my family a new place to live by tonight. The landlady is a good woman. She’s just in a tough situation. Her disabled son lost his home. I’ll handle it. I’ve been through worse.”

11253734_1045192165554883_4561212694742836236_n“Education changed the lives of my entire family. Before education, we knew only how to work. It was always very quiet in our home. My grandfather was a laborer, but he paid to send my father to a tutor so that he could learn to read. He told my father that, if nothing else, he should begin by learning how to read and write his name. When I was born, my father taught me how to read. I started with local newspapers. I learned that our village was part of a country. Then I moved on to books. And I learned that there was an entire world around this mountain. I learned about human rights. Now I’m studying political science at the local university. I want to be a teacher.”

11800081_1044027352338031_2417244874136593443_n“We lost their mother to a heart attack recently. And their father is overseas trying to find a job. So I’m currently Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, and Dad. Luckily I have five children and eighteen grandchildren, so I’m very experienced. There’s actually one more child at home—he’s eight years old. And none of them can fall asleep unless they are lying next to me. So I have to put the oldest one to sleep first. Then I get up quietly, and lie down between the other two. The only problem is sometimes they fall asleep on top of me.”

11800584_1042810375793062_1969535597646343972_n“He’s a very respectful husband. He’s different from a lot of the men in this region. He never stops me from voicing my opinions. And if he ever notices me walking down the road, there’s always hot tea and apricot cake waiting when I arrive.”

11822683_1043936682347098_3403049766620861594_n“I was born paralyzed from the waist down. But this community is so tolerant that I never had to worry about fitting in. I only had to focus on improving myself. Everyone treated me as normal. I got everything my older brother got, including punishment. I never once escaped a spanking. I dove off cliffs. I swam. I played cricket and badminton. I climbed trees. The only thing my family told me not to do was play music, because they thought it would distract me from my studies. But eventually I got so good, they couldn’t even tell me to stop that.”

11825142_1050699768337456_5888639465022407760_n“He’s my only grandchild. Every time he does anything, I enjoy it. The other day he pulled down the TV set. I didn’t even mind.”

11825946_1045079645566135_6485553779658191350_n“My father passed away a year before I got married. I wish he could have lived to see me start my own family. After God, he was my god. There was no infrastructure here when I was growing up, so we lived through very hard times and often there was no food. But he’d do whatever he could to make us forget. One night he organized an entire musical. We couldn’t afford instruments so we pretended that we had them. Every one in the family had a role. I was the star.”

11873401_1051802934893806_7888020601027564304_n“I was never educated because I began working when I was a child. I was always envious of the boys who got to wear uniforms and go to school. This is her first month of school. She comes home and tells me exactly what happened, everyday. I love it. If I’m not home for a few days, she’ll save up all her stories, then tell them to me all at once.”

 

//all photos © Brandon Stanton/HONY//

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art of resistance, Iran

Five For Friday: 90’s Iranian Cinema.

If you haven’t discovered marvelous Iranian cinema yet, you better get to it! To offer you a good start, here are five Iranian films from the 90’s. 90’s were good times for Iranian cinema – providing us with so many gems, so much diversity and originality.

1. The Wind Will Carry Us by Abbas Kiarostami

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The film’s title is a reference to a poem written by the great Forough Farrokhzad  – which is already a promising start. The story follows a city engineer Behzad (with two other men) who comes to a rural village in Iran to keep vigil for a dying relative.

We see him trying to fit in with the local community and witness the way he changes his own attitudes with time. The main theme here is life and death, and approach to it is highly poetic. The beauty of the landscapes is captivating and serves the film so well. Great piece of art by Kiarostami – one to take in slowly, to dissolve into.

2. The Color of Paradise by Majid Majidi

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When I see a film is made by Majid Majidi, I know I am gonna go through falling in love and having my heart broken in 90 minutes. But I also know my heartache will not be a bitter one – yes, it will hurt, but it’s nice to be hurt by such beauty, nice to know you’ve been able to love the way you love(d). It was the same with this film.

This is a story about Mohammad, boy at Tehran’s institute for the blind, who waits for his dad to pick him up for summer vacation. His father finally comes and takes him to their village where his sisters and granny await. Mohammad adores nature and longs for village life with his family, but his father is ashamed of him and doesn’t want him around. Over granny’s objections, dad apprentices Mohammad far from home to a blind carpenter. This is heartwarming, heartwrenching, beautiful film.

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3. The Apple by Samira Makhmalbaf

the-apple-movie-poster-1998-1020202597This is a true documentary/drama gem. The story goes like this – after twelve years of imprisonment by their own parents, two sisters are finally released by social workers to face the outside world for the first time (it is a true story, by the way). Neighbors were signing a petition for social workers to investigate a home where their blind mother and out-of-work father have locked up two girls. The parents claim they were only protecting their children but the papers tell stories of children chained up and kept like animals.

The film crew follows the parents and children as they come to terms with the new, enforced freedom. Everything about this film is so subtle and so vibrant at the same time – it doesn’t punch you in the face with the moral, it allows you to come to it on your own. Beautiful and moving – watch it.

4. Salaam Cinema by Mohsen Makhmalbaf

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It was such a joy watching this. The director Mohsen Makhmalbaf put up an advertisement in the papers calling for an open casting for his next movie. However, when thousands of people showed up, he decided to make a film about the casting and the screen tests of the would-be actors.

Some of those would-be actors are almost crazy, some are utterly shy, some are there for different reasons (like getting out of the country), and some just might be great for acting. Makhmalbaf asks them all why they came and insists that they act and show what they can do. He even demands of them to laugh or cry within 10 seconds because that’s what actors can do or should be able to do. Funny, interesting, moving – this is just a great little film!

5. The Taste of Cherry by Abbas Kiarostami

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Another slow, beautiful, contemplating life and death film by Kiarostami. It is a story of a man (Mr. Badii) who drives his truck in search of someone who will quietly bury him under a cherry tree after he commits suicide. Nobody wants to help him – until he crosses paths with an old Turkish taxidermist, who has a sick son (needs the money) and has previously attempted suicide himself, so he agrees to assist Badii.

We never find out Badii’s motifs for suicide, no explanation whatsoever is offered. Many critics have disliked that fact, but I think that is what makes this a good story. I was still able to relate to Badii and feel his sorrow. It shows how we must take such conditions seriously – if we were to find out his reasons, we might judge him, we might say “oh, c’mon, that’s not a good reason to kill yourself”. That is wrong and wouldn’t change the way he feels. And the way he feels is illustrated in the wastness of the landscape he passes through – dry and dusty, endlessly empty. Watch this film.

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Previous Five For Friday:

Postcards From Syrian Refugees

Costs of War

Conversations With History

Iraq War Documentaries

Graphic Novels on Israel & Palestine

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art of resistance, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Palestine

Ali Ashour: Daily Life in Gaza (II).

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Ali Ashour is a young Palestinian photographer. I’ve already introduced his lovely work and written about his way of capturing beauty in Gaza and his happy-go-lucky perspective on things.

I am happy to be able to continue to present Ashour’s work and his new images of daily life in Gaza. Enjoy the photos, and for more – follow Ali on facebook.

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//all photos © Ali Ashour//

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art of resistance, Egypt

Ahmad El Abi: Oh Happy (Duckie) Day!

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Ahmas S. El Abi is an Egyptian artist who finds his truest passion in conceptual arts and photography. He manages all his projects by himself – from the inital stage to the finish line – trying to offer a fresh view of everyday life.

His perspective is a colorful one, and it is almost always spiced up with an enormous love towards rubber duck(ie)s, which means – it will probably make you smile, even if your heart’s a little bit rough around the edges.

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//all photos © Ahmad S. El Abi//

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For more, check out El Abi’s facebook page.

 

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