week 13: Ai Weiwei – Never Sorry

Wow Weiwei!!
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This Chinese artist is incredible, maybe one of my favorites from the artists we been looking at throughout the semester. It was not just his amazing large scale artwork that i liked, although the one show he had with the exhibition of the backpacks representing the children who lost their lives in the earthquake was awesome, I loved his role as an activist. His constant work to preserve free speech and bringing democracy to china. I really like how he used his art work to take a stand. To really commit to a cause. It is almost scary how little we (or at least I) know about china and their government and the country in general,.. it is so big and it has such influence yet we don’t give it much attention. I’m not surprised over the police brutality, every American should be pretty familiar with that. Its sad that it is such a thing that we have in common.
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Throughout the movie and the more we got to know Ai Weiwei, the more I felt that he is this really passionated artist with no limitations. He said in the end of the movie that he thinks there is a responsibility for any artist to protect freedom of expression, and I could not agree more. Our governments should hide things from the people and we shouldn’t have to be afraid of them, but if they do (and they do) thats when we need people like Weiwei, that can show us the secrets. This movie also emphasizes on how powerful social media ( in this case Twitter & his blog) is in our society, what impact it has on us, and what changes it can bring. Which is why the Chinese government shut down his blog.

I liked that Ai Weiwei didn’t call himself fearless but rather more fearful than others, and because of that he acts more brave then others, he then said that he knows the danger is and if we don’t act the danger becomes stronger, I thought that was powerful. Because if the danger increases, so will the fear in people, and people who is afraid are much much easier to control. Hence, government want frighten people because they won’t resist.

I really really liked this documentary about Ai Weiwei, so much so that I’m about to watch a second film about him that is also on Netflix, called Ai Weiwei; The fake case.

week 12: Te Ata

On Thursday night I attended California’s American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival. I decided to go and watch the movie Te Ata.
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Yet another movie that is based on a true story.. this time the story of an native American woman Mary Francis Thompson, also called Te Ata, after needing a better stage name. As a Indian name Te Ata of course has a meaning; barer of the morning. I liked that the movie had historical accuracy such as the Chickasaw nation where Te Ata was from, were unwillingly forced in to becoming part of Oklahoma state. Te Ata travelled America with a performance group, telling the stories of several different native tribes. The life as an artist opened her eyes to a life of meaning, spreading knowledge about the Indian culture, performing in front of both the presidents and royalties.

The more i learn about the native American culture the more interested I’ve become.. the injustice that that people have had to go through is disgraceful. We often forget about them due to all the other hatred that is going on both in this country and in the world. The white man has always seem to go wherever and taking whatever, with no thought of the people that will end up suffering. Because of that a lot of culture has been lost.
What i like best about indigenous people is the way they interact with nature, the way they make use of the naturally resources we got instead of the “man created” resources. I guess we could all learn a little something, caring for our nature is vital for our survival. Too bad not everyone believes in global warming and climate change.
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A couple of quotes from the movie followed me back home…
“People are afraid of what they don’t know” – Douglas Johnston (governor at the Indian territory).  This quote bares nothing but truth… the human race has always been afraid of what they don’t know, and that is why we’ve gotten divided because we chose not to listen to each other, we are to afraid of what the other one might say,… especially if that person looks or acting different from ourselves.

“being Indian is not a crutch, its an advantage” – Mrs Davis (also later said by Te Ata). I’m a little unsure if I got the quote completely right but it went something like that. I liked it because its so motivational, we shouldn’t see our differences as something bad, but instead use the advantage of knowing something someone else might not and being able to spread that knowledge..We are all different and we shouldn’t be ashamed of who we are.

“Make the unknown, known” – Dr. Clyde Fisher (i believe it was him who said it…) this one ties back to my first quote… and I keep liking these sayings because they are about spreading knowledge.. and it is so important that we do, because we need to fight ignorance, we need to stop fearing one another.

I also came to realize that the native American culture seem to have had very strong and confident women, something we really don’t see in a lot of cultures.. it was inspiring to see how devoted and determined Te Ata were in her life journey, she was a female figure we should highlight and let other girls be inspired by.
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(required selfie.. really need a new phone.. my front camera is taking way to blurry photos)

A world free from hate may be far off, but a world a little less mean is a goal we should all work for.. our future generations depend on it.

week 11: The Sapphires

Based on a true story, doesn’t that sentence always make you a little more intrigued?

The Sapphires is a film that shows a lot of mixed cultures. I’ve enjoyed most of the movies we’ve watched so far and this one is no exception. I really like soul and jazz music. Sad fact tho that the aboriginal girls had to sing that genre because of their skin color. Even sadder fact that we still have such strong racism going on in our world. (of course keeping the u.s election in mind).
Back to the movie,  I liked the history part, you got to see part of the war or troops that you don’t normally see in all these war movies that has been made on the Vietnam war. The performance part, and the non fighting part I mean. The happy times in those violent times, kind of give it a nice contrast. Although I rather see a world without any war anywhere. What else.. love love love the accent of the Aussie aboriginals, just as Whale Rider it brought me back to when I lived down under. Crazy how the aboriginals got treated too, with the light skinned ones being taken from their families and raised as “white”, like what does that even mean? How can people have been so cruel, how is it that some have it so hard to accept people who doesn’t act or look like themselves. I just don’t get it. And that so much hatred is put on the people who originated on those lands makes it all more crazy… Another thing I liked was all the love stories in the movie, like the one between Dave Lovelace and Gail.. don’t want to spoil too much there so I’ll leave it at that. Last but not least is that I actually liked that they sang white western music first, I thought it was a cool contrast, sad that our stereotypes are the way they are. sapphires-movie-review_05212012_103139.jpg

week 10: Whale Rider

First of all I can’t even imagine how many different tribes and individual cultures there is around the world… most of them we won’t ever hear of… How crazy is that? I had no idea that New Zealand had their own tribes.. I mean I never thought about it… Im not surprised tho as different ways of practice life and/or religion is inevitable in our huge world.

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(Photo from the movie, Paikea the Whale Rider)

This movie pays a lot of attention to the fact that the chosen one is a girl… at first glance it is like its no surprise that the gender is the topic.. cultures as many as there is it seem to always have a problem with the females. So it must be cultural that the girl could not be the savior/prophet.
I found it sad that the grandfather or “Paka” couldn’t see that all that he wanted in the first born boy was right there in front of him, the whole time.. in the first born girl… and then blame all the things that went wrong on the poor girl.

With the grandpa’s intense connection to his tribe and his beliefs I think he should have noticed her abilities earlier… I find it a bit strange that he didn’t see it or feel it as he was the chief. It almost felt like the grandma and uncle could see Paikea for what she was, way before she swam down to catch the whale tooth. Maybe they choose to not say anything to “Paka” because everyone needs to find their answers in their own way, and in their own phase. We can’t rush epiphanies.  And sometimes we push to hard on what we believe in that we forget to open our eyes to what is right in front of us… and in this case that is what “Paka” did, he believed so strongly in the male leader version that he got blinded towards the potential of a female chief.

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(Photo from movie, Paikea)

I learned through this movie that our native tribes are everywhere, even if we don’t hear about them, even if they are not widespread or turned in to movies there is so much going on in our world that we do not know about, that we to be honest have not a single clue about.
That is what makes this world interesting and scary all at the same time.

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(My photo from Aussie 2009, Manly Beach in Sydney)

On the end note… How nice isnt the New Zealand english language? I love their accent, and couldn’t help but wanting to move back to Australia where I lived 7 years ago, with the very similar accent. And not to mention the scenery… I loved the nature!
Now I gonna spend some time reminiscing my 7 months Down under.

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(Myself posing with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background)