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24/03/2019
by MediaExpert
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Better Future for Victims of Gender-Based Violence

A business in Washington, D.C., is working to empower women who have been victims of gender-based violence by targeting the growing number of consumers who are socially and environmentally conscious. Handmade handicrafts are imported from countries where women are vulnerable. Access to a broader market gives victims more opportunities for a better future.

22/03/2019
by MediaExpert
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Tribes Call for Ban on Drilling Near Sacred New Mexico site

Native American leaders are banding together to pressure U.S. officials to ban oil and gas exploration around a sacred tribal site that features massive stone structures and other remnants of an ancient civilization but are facing the Trump administration’s pro-drilling stance. 

Creating a formal buffer around Chaco Culture National Historical Park has been a long-running issue, but tribes are pushing for further protections as U.S. officials revamp the management plan for the area surrounding the world heritage site as well as large portions of northwestern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

Federal officials repeatedly have denied drilling leases within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) radius of the park as tribes, environmentalists and archaeologists have raised concerns about the potential effects on culturally significant sites like ceremonial structures called kivas outside Chaco’s boundaries. 

A thousand years ago, the site was a ceremonial and economic hub for the Pueblo people, historians say. 

Solidarity among tribes

Tribes gathered Thursday at Acoma Pueblo, a Native American community about 60 miles (97 kilometers) west of Albuquerque, amid an All Pueblo Council of Governors meeting to reaffirm support for protecting the land.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, head of the largest American Indian reservation, sat among pueblo governors and said it’s only right that they support each other, just as their ancestors did.

“Navajo culture and tradition dictate respect for our relatives who have come before us,” he said. “As Native people, we are connected to the land, and it is important to preserve the dwellings and the belongings of the ancient ones.”

The tribes want specific language in a U.S. Bureau of Land Management plan that would prevent drilling near the park, instead of protesting four times a year when the energy industry requests lease sales on certain parcels.

 Pueblo council Chairman E. Paul Torres said the threat to Chaco, which he called the “heart of pueblo culture,” is financially driven. 

 

“On our side, it has nothing to do with money,” said Torres, who also is the Isleta Pueblo governor. “It has to do with where we come from. These sites, to us, are living sites because the spirits are still there.”

Communicating the importance of the sites to non-Native people is challenging because the stories are sacred knowledge not shared outside tribal communities, said Phoebe Suina, who is Cochiti and San Felipe.

She thinks about her young children who have visited Chaco Canyon and of future generations, mindful of the legacy she would leave if she didn’t work to protect the larger landscape. 

“We’re put in that role as living beings of our ancestors,” she said. “We have this time, this life, what are we going to do with it? At least we are trying.”

​Aggressive public land development

President Donald Trump’s administration has pushed aggressively to open more public lands to energy development. It also went against the wishes of tribes and others by scaling back two national monuments in Utah that protected tribal artifacts and other sensitive land. 

Lawmakers and tribal leaders said at a congressional committee hearing this month that a 2017 Trump administration review of lands protected nationwide by past presidents didn’t take tribal interests into account despite some of the lands being sacred to them.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico said Thursday that legislation will be reintroduced soon in Congress to safeguard the land around Chaco Canyon. He said he would not trust the Trump administration to include protections in the federal plan for the area.

“Let’s not leave Chaco to the whims of one administration or another,” he said. “We have a sense that this place is incredibly important and deserves protection.”

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard said an executive order from her office is expected next month that would make state land around Chaco off-limits to any new oil, gas and mineral leases. Most of the land surrounding the park is federal and tribal land. 

Accessible only by dirt roads, Chaco takes effort to reach, and supporters say they want to protect the sense of remoteness that comes with making the journey, along with the ancient features that remain.

Acoma Pueblo Gov. Brian Vallo sees Chaco in the way his pueblo is set up, with homes, ceremonial structures, ladders and lookout points in much of the same places. Growing up, he said he heard the migration story of the Acoma people who were at Chaco Canyon before settling in the present-day location. 

“To me, it was the center of where the intelligence of our ancestors evolved,” he said. “It was the place where we observed solar and lunar cycles, all of that was tested at Chaco.”

22/03/2019
by MediaExpert
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UNESCO Campaign Tackles Racism 

The Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Thursday launched a campaign to fight prejudice. The move coincided with International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Begun with the French city of Bordeaux, the UNESCO billboard campaign features a variety of faces — old and young, men and women, and of many ethnic backgrounds. The tagline, “us different?” aims to make us think about who we are, and our prejudices.

 

“You would walk by it and hopefully react. … [Is that] person on the screen different?” said Magnus Magnusson, partnerships and outreach director at UNESCO’s social and human science division.

Mindful of stereotypes

“Ultimately, it’s about our own awareness of our own stereotypes, and we need to work, each one of us, on those stereotypes that could illustrate or be reflections on racism,” he said.

The campaign rollout comes at a time when experts say brazen forms of racism are resurging — in sports, on social media and in politics.

The initiative follows last week’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which a self-proclaimed white nationalist opened fire on worshippers at two mosques. Fifty people were killed. The suspect has been charged with murder.  

 

Migration is one factor behind the increase in racist incidents, experts say, but so is the power of social media in spreading and enforcing stereotypes.

 

Activists are fighting back. A round-table hosted by UNESCO featured imaginative ways to counter prejudice, including through chess. 

 

Cameroonian artist Gaspard Njock fights it with his pen. He’s the author of comic books and graphic novels sold in bookstores across France. 

Versatile medium

 

Njock said comics can be a powerful tool to fight racism, because it’s a medium that reaches all types of people and can tackle important themes. 

 

One of Njock’s graphic novels, Un voyage sans retour, is about the dangerous migration of sub-Saharan migrants to Europe. Njock arrived in Europe several years ago, making his way to France after a few years in Italy. 

Njock said he never considered himself a victim of racism — not because he never encountered it, but because he developed ways to fight it.

Magnusson of UNESCO said education is key to wiping out racism. So is being more aware of how we think and feel.

21/03/2019
by MediaExpert
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Germany: Michael Jackson Exhibit Opens Amid Revived Abuse Allegations

An exhibition of art about Michael Jackson is opening in Germany amid fresh controversy over the singer’s alleged abuse of children.

Curator Nicholas Cullinan said Thursday the show at Bonn’s Bundeskunsthalle was conceived long before the recent broadcast of HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which details Jackson’s alleged molestation of two boys.

Some radio stations in North America have since stopped playing Jackson’s music. Jackson died in 2009.

The show previously was exhibited in London.

Cullinan said it “was never celebratory. It’s about the complexity of Michael Jackson, how he means very different things to many very different people.”

Ellen Heimes, who heads a local branch of Germany’s largest child protection organization, said the show should prompt a debate about spotting and preventing child abuse.

21/03/2019
by MediaExpert
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Dubai Finds Itself Entangled in Case Against R. Kelly

Dubai found itself entangled in the sex abuse case against American R&B singer R. Kelly on Thursday after the performer asked a U.S. judge to allow him to come to the Arabian Peninsula sheikhdom to perform shows and “meet with the royal family.”

Officials in Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press regarding the singer’s request, which an Illinois judge could consider at a court hearing on Friday.

However, Kelly’s request highlighted the close political and security ties between the U.S. and the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms. It also comes as celebrities and even world leaders on the run have chosen Dubai as a safe haven.

Kelly was charged on Feb. 22 with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse for allegedly assaulting three underage girls and one adult woman, coming after the release of a documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.” He has denied ever abusing anyone.

In a court filing Wednesday, Kelly’s lawyer Steven A. Greenberg said the singer needed to raise money as “he has struggled of late to pay his child support and other child related expenses.”

“Before he was arrested Mr. Kelly had signed a contract to perform between 3-5 shows in Dubai, UAE, in April 2019,” the court filing read. “He requests permission to travel to Dubai for the shows. While there he is supposed to meet with the royal family.”

The filing does not elaborate on where Kelly is supposed to perform. There was no immediately publicized event for which Kelly was known to be a performer, nor did anyone in the entertainment industry hear about one.

However, Dubai’s luxury nightclubs often host hip hop and other artists for days at a time to perform and be seen among the millionaires of this skyscraper-studded city that is home to the world’s tallest building. Rich families also pay for celebrities at their parties.

It is also unclear what is meant by “royal family.” The UAE’s seven emirates are overseen by hereditary rulers who hold absolute power. Dubai’s ruler is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 69. His 36-year-old son, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, serves as Dubai’s crown prince and is next in line to be ruler.

The state-linked Abu Dhabi newspaper The National, which has written several times about the case against Kelly, reported Thursday on the singer’s request to come to Dubai, without mentioning his claim of seeing its rulers.

The R. Kelly filing comes as some in Dubai questioned the decision to host a Michael Jackson tribute show there later this month, after another documentary aired allegations the late pop star sexually abused children. Dubai Opera, which will host that event, told the AP the show would still be performed and that the venue will “have no further comment.”

Dubai, home to the world’s largest manmade archipelago the Palm Jumeriah and an indoor ski slope in its desert climes, has long drawn celebrities craving both luxury and seclusion. Will Smith is a repeated visitor. Lindsay Lohan lives off and on in the sheikhdom. David Beckham, Shah Rukh Khan and others are believed to own property in Dubai.

Yet it also has drawn world leaders seeking to escape their own countries. Pakistani Gen. Pervez Musharraf, facing criminal charges back home, fled to Dubai in 2016. Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra came to Dubai to avoid a criminal conviction in 2017, following in the footsteps of her brother, the ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with the UAE. However, the U.S. stations some 5,000 troops in the country and Dubai’s Jebel Ali port is the biggest port of call for the U.S. Navy outside of America.

Kelly’s lawyer acknowledged that in his filing.

“The United States and the UAE have great relations and they (UAE) are not going to (jeopardize) that relationship to harbor R. Kelly,” the filing said.

21/03/2019
by MediaExpert
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Harvard Sued for Profiting From Images of Enslaved Ancestors

An American woman has filed a lawsuit against Harvard University, accusing the prestigious institution of “shamelessly” profiting from photos of her ancestors who were slaves in the 19th century.

Tamara Lanier of Norwich, Connecticut, is suing the Ivy League school for “wrongful seizure, possession and expropriation” of images of her great-great-great grandfather, Renty, and his daughter, Delia.

She wants Harvard to hand the images over to her family and pay an unspecified amount in damages. 

Early type of photography used

The lawsuit says the 1850 daguerreotypes, an early type of photograph, were commissioned by Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz who was seeking racially “pure” slaves born in Africa.

The father and daughter were stripped and photographed from various angles in an effort to “prove” Agassiz’s theory that black people are inferior and to “justify their subjugation, exploitation and segregation.”

“To Agassiz, Renty and Delia were nothing more than research specimens,” the suit says. “The violence of compelling them to participate in a degrading exercise designed to prove their own subhuman status would not have occurred to him, let alone mattered.”

The suit says Harvard has over the years exploited the images, including using an image of Renty to promote a 2017 conference called “Universities and Slavery: Bound by History,” which explored the relationships between universities and slavery, and as a cover of a book that explores the use of photography in anthropology. 

History shared by mother

Lanier said as a child she heard stories about Renty from her mother who made sure to pass down family history.  She alleges that in 2011 she wrote to then-Harvard president Drew Faust, detailing her ties to Renty.

At the time, she wanted to learn more about the images and how they would be used. In another letter sent in 2017, she demanded that Harvard relinquish the photos. In both cases, she said, Harvard did not address her requests.

The suit charges that “by contesting Lanier’s claim of lineage, Harvard is shamelessly capitalizing on the intentional damage done to black Americans’ genealogy by a century’s worth of policies that forcibly separated families, erased slaves’ family names, withheld birth and death records, and criminalized literacy.”

20/03/2019
by MediaExpert
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Labrador Retriever Most Pup-ular US Dog Breed for 28th Year

Labrador retrievers aren’t letting go of their hold on U.S. dog lovers, but German shorthaired pointers are tugging on the top ranks of doggy popularity, according to new American Kennel Club data.

Labs topped the list for the 28th year in a row. Yet there’s been plenty of movement over time on the purebred pup-ularity ladder. 

Here’s a look at the 2018 rankings being released Wednesday. 

Top top 10

After Labs, the top five breeds nationwide are German shepherds, golden retrievers, French bulldogs and bulldogs. Rounding out the top 10 are beagles, poodles, Rottweilers, German shorthaired pointers and Yorkshire terriers.

Labs smashed the record for longest tenure as top dog back in 2013. Fans credit the Lab’s generally amiable nature and aptitude in many canine roles: bomb-sniffer, service dog, hunters’ helper, dog-sport competitor and patient family pet. 

At No. 9, the German shorthaired pointer notched its highest ranking since getting AKC recognition in 1930. These strikingly speckled hunting dogs are also versatile — some work as drug — and bomb-detectors — and active companions. 

“I think people are learning about how fun the breed is,” says AKC spokeswoman Brandi Hunter. 

The suddenly ubiquitous French bulldog remains the fourth most popular breed for a second year, after surging from 83rd a quarter-century ago.

The numbers

The rankings reflect a breed’s prevalence among the 580,900 puppies and other purebred dogs newly registered in 2018 with the AKC, the country’s oldest such registry.  Some 88,175 of these dogs were Labs. 

AKC says registrations, which are voluntary, have been growing for six years.

Estimates of the total number of pet dogs nationwide range from about 70 million to 90 million.

The consistent fave

Beagles, now No. 6, can boast they’re uniquely beloved. No other breed has made the top 10 in every decade since record-keeping began in the 1880s. 

Why? “They’re a good general family dog,” lively, friendly, relatively low-maintenance and comfortable with children, says breeder Kevin Shupenia of Dacula, Georgia. Beagles also work sniffing out contraband meat and plants at airports, detecting bedbugs in homes and doing their traditional job: hunting rabbits. 

“They have a sense of humor, and they’re just characters,” Shupenia says. 

The rarest of them all

The most scant breed was the sloughi (pronounced SLOO’-ghee). The greyhound-like dog has a long history in North Africa but garnered AKC recognition only three years ago. It replaces the Norwegian lundehund in the rarest-breed spot. 

How did doodles do?

Wonder where goldendoodles, puggles, or cockapoos stand? You won’t find these and other popular “designer dogs” among the 193 breeds recognized and ranked by the AKC.

That’s not to say they never will be, if their fanciers so desire. New breeds join the club periodically, after meeting criteria that include having at least 300 dogs nationwide and three generations. 

Meanwhile, designer and just plain mixed-breed dogs can sign up with AKC to compete in such sports as agility, dock diving and obedience. 

The whys, pros and cons of popularity

Many factors can influence a breed’s popularity: ease of care, exposure from TV and movies, and famous owners, to name a few. 

Popularity spurts can expand knowledge about a breed, but many people in dogdom rue slipshod breeding by people trying to cash in on sudden cachet. 

Elaine Albert, a longtime chow chow owner and sometime breeder, is glad the ancient Chinese dog is now 75th in the rankings, after leaping into the top 10 in the 1980s. Albert recalls that she and other chow rescue volunteers were swamped as people gave up dogs with temperament and health problems, which she attributes to careless breeding.

“I certainly wouldn’t want (chows) to be number one, ever,” says Albert, of Hauppauge, New York. “They belong where they are…. They’re not for everybody.”

On the other hand, aficionados of rare breeds sometimes worry about sustaining them.  

The purebred debate 

Some animal-welfare groups feel the pursuit of purebred dogs puts their looks ahead of their health and diverts people from adopting pets. Critics also say the AKC needs to do more to thwart puppy mills.

The club says it encourages responsible breeding of healthy dogs, not as a beauty contest but to preserve traits that have helped dogs do particular jobs. 

 

 

                

20/03/2019
by MediaExpert
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Tokyo Unveils ‘Cherry Blossom’ Olympic Torch

Organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Wednesday unveiled a cherry-blossom shaped torch for the Games as the city prepares for the famed flower season to begin in coming days.

The top part of the torch is shaped in the traditional emblem of the sakura, or cherry blossom using the same cutting-edge technology as in production of Japan’s bullet trains, the organizers said.

The shiny rose-gold torch, which is 71 centimeters (28 inches) long and weighs 1.2 kilograms (2 pounds 10 ounces), uses aluminum construction waste from temporary housing built for victims of the 2011 quake and tsunami.

“Cherry blossoms drawn by kids in the disaster-hit area (in Fukushima)… inspired me,” designer Tokujin Yoshioka, whose works are known internationally, told reporters.

Fukushima was chosen as the starting point for the Olympic torch relay.

The passing of the flame is scheduled to start on March 26, 2020, and the torch will head south to the sub-tropical island of Okinawa – the starting point for the 1964 Tokyo Games relay – before returning north and arriving in the Japanese capital on July 10.

The designer added the torch is designed to ensure the flame will not go out even during the typhoon season.

The March 2011 tsunami, triggered by a massive undersea quake, killed around 18,000 people and swamped the Fukushima nuclear plant, sending its reactors into meltdown and leading to the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

More than 50,000 people have not returned to their home towns.

Japan has dubbed the 2020 Games the “Reconstruction Olympics” and wants to showcase recovery in regions devastated by the disaster.

 

20/03/2019
by MediaExpert
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In End of 20th Century Fox, a New Era Dawns for Hollywood

The Fox Studio backlot, first built in 1926 on a Culver City ranch in Los Angeles, was enormous. Before much of it was sold off in the 1960s, it was four times the size of its current, and still huge, 53 acres.

 

Shirley Temple’s bungalow still sits on the lot, as does the piano where John Williams composed, among other things, the score to “Star Wars.” A waiter in the commissary might tell you where Marilyn Monroe once regularly sat.

 

When the Walt Disney Co.’s $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox is completed at 12:02 a.m. Wednesday, the storied lot — the birthplace of CinemaScope, “The Sound of Music” and “Titanic” — will no longer house one of the six major studios. It will become the headquarters for Rupert Murdoch’s new Fox Corp., (he is keeping Fox News and Fox Broadcasting) and Fox’s film operations, now a Disney label, will stay on for now as renters under a seven-year lease agreement.

 

The history of Hollywood is littered with changes of studio ownership; even Fox Film Corporation founder William Fox, amid the Depression, lost control of the studio that still bears his name. But the demise of 20th Century Fox as a standalone studio is an epochal event in Hollywood, one that casts long shadows over a movie industry grappling with new digital competitors from Silicon Valley and facing the possibility of further contraction. After more than eight decades of supremacy, the Big Six are down one.

 

“It’s a sad day for students of film history and I think it’s potentially a sad day for audiences too,” said Tom Rothman, former chairman of Fox and the current chief of Sony Pictures. “There will just be less diversity in the marketplace.”

 

Disney’s acquisition has endless repercussions but it’s predicated largely on positioning Disney — already the market-leader in Hollywood — for the future. Disney, girding for battle with Netflix, Apple and Amazon, needs more content for its coming streaming platform, Disney+, and it wants control of its content across platforms.

“The pace of disruption has only hastened,” Disney chief Robert A. Iger said when the deal was first announced. “This will allow us to greatly accelerate our director-to-consumer strategy.”

 

The Magic Kingdom will add 20th Century Fox alongside labels like Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm. But film production at Fox, which has in recent years released 12-17 films a year, is expected to wane. Due to duplication with Disney staff, layoffs will be in the thousands.

 

Disney will also take over FX, NatGeo and a controlling stake in Hulu, which has more than 20 million customers. It will gain control of some of the largest franchises in movies, including “Avatar,” “Alien” and “The Planet of the Apes.” Fox’s television studios also net Disney the likes of “Modern Family,” “This Is Us” and “The Simpsons.” Homer, meet Mickey.

 

Some parts of Fox, like the John Landgraf-led FX and Fox Searchlight, the specialty label overseen by Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley, are expected to be kept largely intact. Searchlight, the regular Oscar contender behind films such as “12 Years a Slave,” “The Shape of Water” and “The Favourite,” could yield Disney something it’s never had before: a best picture winner at the Academy Awards.

 

Nowhere is the culture clash between the companies more apparent than in “Deadpool,” Fox’s gleefully profane R-rated superhero. While Spider-Man still resides with Sony, Disney now adds Deadpool, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four to its bench of Marvel characters. How they will all fit with Disney’s PG-13 mission remains to be seen, though Iger last month suggested in a conference call with investors that there may be room for an R-rated Marvel brand as long as audiences know what’s coming.

 

The question of how or if Disney will inherit Fox’s edginess matters because Fox has long built itself on big bets and technological gambits. It was the first studio built for sound. It was nearly bankrupted by the big-budget Elizabeth Taylor epic “Cleopatra.” It backed Cameron’s seemingly-ill-fated “Titanic,” as well as Ang Lee’s “The Life of Pi” and the Oscar-winning hit “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

 

“We were a studio of risk and innovation,” says Rothman, who also founded Fox Searchlight. “It was a very daring place, creatively. That’s what the movies should be.”

 

But will the more button-down Disney have the stomach for such movies? “Deadpool” creator Robert Liefeld, for example, has said Fox’s plans for an X-Force movie have been tabled, a “victim of the merger.”

 

Some were surprised regulators gave the deal relatively quick approval. The Department of Justice approved the acquisition in about six months, about four times less than the time it took investigating AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. The New York Times editorial page suggested the deal benefited from President Trump’s relationship with Murdoch.

 

“Disney will have probably north of 40 percent market share in the U.S. That’s one area where a deal does suggest that the market influence is going to be outsized,” says Tuna Amobi, a media and entertainment analyst with investment firm CFRA. “Having one studio control that much is unprecedented. And it could increase from there given the pipeline that we see.”

Disney is about to have more influence on the movies Americans and the rest of the world see than any company ever has. Last year, it had 26 percent of the U.S. market with just 10 movies which together grossed more than $3 billion domestically and $7.3 billion worldwide. Fox usually counts for about 12 percent of market share.

 

Fewer studios could potentially mean fewer movies. That’s a concern for both consumers and theater owners, many of whom already rely heavily on Disney blockbusters to sell tickets and popcorn.

 

“Certainly, consolidation poses a challenge in some respects to the supply of movies,” says John Fithian, president and chief executive of the National Organization of Theater Owners. “The fewer suppliers you have, the chances are we’re going to get fewer movies from those suppliers.”

 

But Fithian believes other companies are stepping into the breach, and he holds out hope that Netflix might eventually embrace more robust theatrical release. More importantly, Fox was bought by a company in Disney that is, as Fithian said, “the biggest supporter of the theatrical window.”

 

Still, Disney has been willing to throw its weight around. Ahead of the release of “The Last Jedi,” the studio insisted on more onerous terms from some theater owners, including a higher percentage of ticket sales.

 

More experimentation in distribution is coming. Later this year, WarnerMedia, whose Warner Bros. is regularly second in market share to Disney, will launch its own streaming platform. Apple is ramping up movie production. Amazon Studios is promising bigger, more attention-getting projects.

 

Ahead of a blizzard of new streaming options, Fox — and a giant piece of film history — will fade into an ever-expanding Disney world. Film historian Michael Troyan, author of “20th Century Fox: A Century of Entertainment,” has studied enough of Hollywood’s past to know that relentless change is an innate part of the business.

 

“It’s sad when any historical empire like that comes to end,” says Michael Troyan. “You can record in other places but when you’re on a lot like Fox, you feel the gravitas, you feel the history.”

 

Rothman says he will pause for a “wistful moment” Wednesday, but he believes consolidation doesn’t mean obsolescence.

 

“I don’t think it remotely arguers the end of the glories of the film business overall,” says Rothman. “I believe there remains eternal appetite for original, vibrant, creative theatrical storytelling.”

20/03/2019
by MediaExpert
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Growing Pains in Ethiopia: Film Spotlights Hidden Cost of Urban Growth

Living in a tool shed on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, 10-year-old Asalif Tewold straddles a unique space between modernity and tradition.

In his short life, he has lived on a rural farm and in the shadows of a towering condominium complex — learning how to dodge dangerous hyenas and land developers — as he and his dispossessed family try to find a place to call home.

The young boy and his mother are the subject of the film “Anbessa,” meaning “lion” in Amharic, one of Ethiopia’s main languages, that tracks their displacement off farmland to make way for a block of flats on the fringes of Addis Ababa.

The playful protagonist, Asalif, takes center stage of the documentary by U.S. filmmaker Mo Scarpelli, premiering in London on Wednesday at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival — as he lives and plays in the looming shadow of the buildings.

“Asalif is the perfect person … he lives literally on the rift of old and new,” Scarpelli told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Anbessa” follows Asalif over two years as he seeks to ward off roaming hyenas both literally in the forest and in the form of lurking land developers.

As he carves out a space to call home, he and millions of others globally are learning that “progress” is not for them, said Scarpelli, as the film analyses universal themes of gentrification and urbanization.

Ethiopia, a nation of 105 million and an economic power in East Africa, is grappling with a housing crisis and new developments are leaving millions like Asalif out of the picture, Scarpelli said.

About 40 percent of Africa’s 1 billion people live in towns and cities and the urban population is expected to double over the next 25 years, the World Bank predicts.

“I do feel like there’s this kind of sweeping narrative about the future and about a better way of life that for sure has been exported from Europe and North America to the rest of the world,” said Scarpelli. “That this is the way we should live – bigger is better.”

But the film is concerned with what gets lost along the way, from storytelling to family structures, steam-rolled by modernity, she said.

In Ethiopia, all land is formally owned by the state, making security of tenure rare and dispossession easier, said Felix Horne, senior Ethiopia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Recourse to courts is often difficult, making forced displacement a major social issue, he said.

Lions and Hyenas

The contested edges of Asalif’s home also shed light on wider issues in Africa’s second-most populous nation, and a country in the midst of social and economic change.

Unrest spread in Ethiopia in 2015 and 2016, sparked initially by an urban development plan for the capital.

Anger over land expropriations and unfair compensation, in particular, drove protests, leading eventually to a new reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in 2018.

“Most residents of the city do feel stretched because there isn’t enough supply of decent housing for many of them,” said Mekonnen Firew Ayano, an Ethiopian legal expert at Harvard University in the United States.

“Rural dwellers have been pushed away from their land without any meaningful alternative.”

Ayano said the government’s housing policy targeted the middle and upper social classes and that the pace of growth was leaving many behind, which could stoke ethnic and social tensions.

Asalif’s story does not, however, present a clear division between good and evil, as the new tower blocks offer treasures and adventures for the child.

“Everybody living on either side is connected to each other, they can’t not be, and that’s the way that the world is,” said Scarpelli.

The film ends with Asalif, the metaphorical lion, besting the hyenas, and his future remains promising, said Scarpelli.

“I don’t know how things will unfold, but I do have a hope that the average Ethiopian will have more of a say on what happens to their land and their family moving forward.”

19/03/2019
by MediaExpert
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Warner Bros.’ Chief Tsujihara Steps Down Following Scandal

Warner Bros. chief Kevin Tsujihara, one of the highest ranking Hollywood executives to be felled by sexual misconduct allegations, stepped down from the studio Monday following claims that he promised roles to an actress with whom he was having an affair.

WarnerMedia chief executive John Stankey announced Tsujihara’s exit as chairman and chief executive of Warner Bros., saying his departure was in the studio’s “best interest.”

 

“Kevin has contributed greatly to the studio’s success over the past 25 years and for that we thank him,” said Stankey. “Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the company’s leadership expectations and could impact the company’s ability to execute going forward.”

 

Earlier this month, WarnerMedia launched an investigation after a March 6 Hollywood Reporter story detailed text messages between Tsujihara and British actress Charlotte Kirk going back to 2013. The messages suggested a quid pro quo sexual relationship between the aspiring actress and the studio head in which he made promises that he’d introduce her to influential executives and she’d be considered for roles in movies and television.

 

In a memo to Warner Bros. staff on Monday, Tsujihara said he was departing “after lengthy introspection, and discussions with John Stankey over the past week.”

 

“It has become clear that my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success,” said Tsujihara. “The hard work of everyone within our organization is truly admirable, and I won’t let media attention on my past detract from all the great work the team is doing.”

 

Tsujihara’s attorney, Bert H. Deixler, earlier stated that Tsujihara “had no direct role in the hiring of this actress.” He declined further comment Monday.

 

Tsujihara, who has headed the Burbank, California, studio since 2013, earlier pledged to fully cooperate with the studio’s investigation and apologized to Warner Bros. staff for “mistakes in my personal life that have caused pain and embarrassment to the people I love the most.”

 

The scandal unfolded just as Warner Bros. was restructuring on the heels of AT&T’s takeover of WarnerMedia, previously known as Time Warner. Tsujihara’s role had just been expanded on Feb. 28 to include global kids and family entertainment including oversight of Adult Swim and the Cartoon Network.

Kirk appeared in Warner Bros.’ “How to Be Single” in 2016 and “Ocean’s 8” in 2018. She has denied any inappropriate behavior on the part of Tsujihara or two other executives, Brett Ratner and James Packer, who she communicated with. “Mr. Tsujihara never promised me anything,” Kirk said in an earlier statement.

 

But the details of the leaked text messages between Tsujihara and Kirk immediately put his future at Warner Bros. in jeopardy. Kirk wrote in one 2015 message to him: “Are u going to help me like u said u would?” Tsujhara responded, “Richard will be reaching out to u tonight,” referring to Richard Brener, president of Warner Bros.’ New Line label.

 

Other exchanges suggested the kind of give-and-take of Hollywood’s “casting couch” culture. Kirk was introduced to Tsujihara by James Packer, the Australian billionaire. Warner Bros. was then finalizing a $450-million co-financing deal with Packer and Brett Ratner, the director-producer. In a message to Ratner, Kirk said she was “used as icing on the cake.”

 

WarnerMedia, the studio’s parent company, said Monday that its internal investigation into the situation, carried out by a third-party law firm, will continue.

 

Tsujihara’s exit follows other high-profile executive departures in the post-Harvey Weinstein (hash)MeToo era. CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves was pushed out after numerous women accused him of sexual harassment. Walt Disney Animation chief John Lasseter was ousted after he acknowledged missteps in his behavior with employees.

 

The 54-year-old Tsujihara, the first executive of Asian descent to head a major Hollywood studio, presided over a largely positive Warner Bros. era with little fanfare. A former home video and video game executive at the company, Tsujihara focused on franchise creation, some of which have worked, some of which haven’t.

 

After poor marks from fans and critics, the studio’s DC Comics films have recently been retooled and found their footing in hits like “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman.” Other franchises — like “The Lego Movie” and the “Harry Potter” spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” — have seen diminishing returns on their latest incarnations. The studio has also fostered its connection with filmmakers like Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”) and Bradley Cooper (whose “A Star Is Born” was Warner Bros.’ top Oscar contender). Warner Bros. last year amassed $5.6 billion in global ticket sales, its best haul ever.

 

The studio will now begin a search for a new chief as it also prepares to launch a streaming service designed to compete with Netflix.