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15/02/2019
by MediaExpert
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Regina Is Already a King, but What About President?

So, Regina King walked into a 99-cent store. And what’d she get? A prophecy on her life.

No joke. King was shopping around — “sometimes people will say, ‘You at the 99-cent store?’ I like a bargain too” — when a woman walked up to her with something of a prediction.

“She said, ‘You don’t know it but you’re going to run for president.’ And I was like, ‘President of a company?’ She was like, ‘No… of the United States,’” King recalled, adding that she thought the woman was a clairvoyant.

“She said, ‘Close your eyes. You are. I see it,’” King continued. “I was like, ’Girl, I appreciate that but no— that’s not happening. I like my life too much. I like my family too much. I like my friends too much.”

The idea of King, 48, running for presidency isn’t too far-fetched. Rather, it’s not a stretch for people to jokingly ask her to: The seasoned actress is one of the most likable and genial celebrities in the industry, and one fans and peers are constantly rooting for. Remember Taraji P. Henson happily screaming at the top of her lungs when King won her first Emmy in 2015?

King has picked up two more Emmys since — earning acclaim and praise for her riveting roles in John Ridley’s anthology “American Crime” and Netflix’s “Seven Seconds,” where King stunned on-screen as the mother of a son killed by police.

Now King is hitting new heights with her first big screen role since 2010: Her portrayal of a devoted mother in Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” already won her honors at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards. She’s up for best supporting actress at the Academy Awards, pitting her against Oscar winners Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz; Amy Adams, a six-time Oscar nominee; and first-time Marina de Tavira, who co-starred in “Roma.”

″(Regina) has been stalwart in this industry for so long. For a long time, she was doing the work to do the work and I think the industry sort of catches up to wonderful artists like Regina. She shows up and does the work, whether it be in front or behind the camera, and the industry is taking notice,” said Colman Domingo, who plays King’s husband in “Beale Street.” ″I think it’s not only an Oscar nomination for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk,’ I think it’s also for her body of work.”

King called the nomination “extra-special” since it’s her first; the film also is also competing for best adapted screenplay and best original score at the Oscars on Feb. 24.

King has shined on-screen since she appeared on NBC’s “227” in 1985. Her credits include films like “Jerry Maguire,” ″Friday,” ″Ray,” ″Boyz n the Hood,” ″Enemy of the State” and “Miss Congeniality 2.”

But King traded movie roles for TV ones so she could easily raise her son — her regular date at awards show — in Los Angeles: “I wasn’t interested in homeschooling my son.”

“I had the conversation with my team,” she said, “and they felt like TV was going to be the best space for me to live in.”

She landed a starring role in TNT’s “Southland” in 2009, playing Detective Lydia Adams — a part originally not written for a black woman.

“Everyone at the agency had been put on notice, ‘Do not treat Regina King like a black actor. She is an actor,‘” King said. “I hadn’t even quite seen it that way, but that’s what they felt. It kind of started with ‘Legally Blonde 2.’ That was the reach out, like, ‘You know what, why don’t you guys consider Regina King?’”

More TV roles came to her, including “The Big Bang Theory,” ″Shameless,” ″American Crime,” ″The Leftovers” and “Seven Seconds” — all while film stars turned to TV and found success, from Nicole Kidman to Matthew McConaughey to Viola Davis. Even Meryl Streep is heading to the so-called “small screen.”

“I think of myself as a trailblazer for film actors going to television,” King said.

But no matter the screen, King always comes through. She’s known for digging deep into her roles, giving a dramatic, stirring performance that leaves audiences wanting more.

“I’m doing my research. I’m talking to real life people who’ve had these horrific experiences,” King said.

One of the real people was Marion Gray-Hopkins, whose son was killed by police officers. King spoke extensively with Gray-Hopkins as she prepped for “Seven Seconds,” which also earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

While King is usually able to leave the drama on the set, she said it was hard to escape the madness of the TV series.

“I called my son so much (for) just like random things. He couldn’t watch all of ‘Seven Seconds.’ He saw the first episode, and he tried to watch the second. He was like, ‘I can’t.’ He said, ‘It feels like that’s me,’” King said. “And he was like, ’Now I get why you were calling me with just like weird stuff, like, ‘Did you remember to put the clothes in the dryer? I’m like, yeah mom. I put the cleaning towels in the dryer. Did you feed the dog?’ I just wanted to hear his voice.”

King’s son, Ian Alexander Jr., will be by her side at the Academy Awards on Feb. 24 to cheer her on — just like so many others.

“I feel the love,” she said. “I can just be anywhere, from the grocery store to wherever. Sometimes, it’ll be the sweetest thing, I’ll get a woman that’s just like 70, 80-years-old say, ‘Just thank you. Thank you for just representing us.’”

“I’m just living my life and trying to remain a good person and give what I get and remain open so that what I get is good, so that’s what I can put back out. But you’re not thinking about how your walk always effects people that you don’t know,” she added.

But still, she’s not running for president.

“When you make the choice to be in the public’s eye, you are letting go of anonymity. You’re letting go of some things that you want to hold dear and protect. … For a president, that’s on level 9 million,” she said. “I am all here for sacrifices, but not that one.”

15/02/2019
by MediaExpert
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Native American Flutist Shares Authentic Sounds and Stories

These days, Native American Flute Players perform at music festivals across the globe. But few belong to any tribe or nation, something that troubles Darren Thompson, a member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in northern Wisconsin and an award-winning flutist.

This week, he is performing at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in New York, sharing stories and music that speak to the history, trauma and resilience of the Ojibwe people. And of course, to the instrument itself, which the Ojibwe call “bibigwan.”

“The Native American Flute’ is the name of the instrument, so anybody who picks one up and plays it can call himself a Native American Flute Player,'” said Thompson.

Technically, playing an inauthentic flute violates the U.S. Indian Arts and Crafts Act, passed in 1990 to ban the sale of goods falsely labeled “Native American. But there is nothing to stop non-Native performers from falsely claiming Native American heritage.

“It’s not so much the fact that they are playing the flute that bothers me. It’s the fact that a lot of them are non-Native and try to play the part of a Native, wearing what they think is Indian’ attire. It’s offensive, and it perpetuates the stereotype that Native Americans are still running around as they did in the past,” said Thompson.

‘Singing trees’

Thompson grew up hearing traditional Ojibwe music, but it wasn’t an important part of his life until he left the reservation.

“I went to Marquette University, where there weren’t any other Native kids,” he said. “I was still in Wisconsin, but it was a foreign environment.”

Homesickness led him to the music of Navajo/Ute flutist Raymond Carlos Nakai, which evoked memories of his childhood.

“One of the first stories I ever heard came from the elders, who talked about trees,” Thompson said. “I remember them saying trees sing to us and give us guidance.I think I was four, and that story came to mind 15 years later when I first heard Nakai playing.”

It was then, he said, he understood what the elders had been trying to tell him: Trees do sing — through flutes carved from their wood.

Each flute unique

Thompson bought his first flute from a non-Native vendor at a cultural festival. He taught himself to play, and as he learned, he felt moved to connect to the music of his ancestors — music that preceded government assimilation policies that nearly killed off the Ojibwe language, culture and religious traditions.

“I went out to museums to research actual instruments that were seized 200 years ago and taken into collections,” he said. “Store-bought “Native” flutes are similar in construction, but they are tuned to a minor Western music scale. But an authentic one would be tuned to the maker himself.”

Traditionally, players carved their own instruments from a single piece of wood — cedar, for example, or ash. Each flute would have two chambers, which allowed the player to breathe, Thompson explained. 

No two instruments would have been alike.

“The length of the instrument would be the distance from that person’s armpit to his first knuckle,” he said. “The width would be the same as the width of his thumb. Even the spacing of the finger holes is calibrated to the player’s body.”

The number of open holes carved into the flute varies.Thompson owns several flutes, some he made himself and others custom made. Some have only four holes, which can produce eight notes. Others have five and six holes, allowing for greater range in melody.

The result is a sound unique to each player — a deep and clear tone that Thompson says “touches a lot of people.”

He has wanted to perform at NMAI for at least a decade.

“NMAI has a program called The Art of Storytelling.” My performance is unique, in that I try to reintroduce stories and music from history. Songs I’ve learned that were recorded in the early 1900s, before our culture got erased,” Thompson said.

To hear a sample of Thompson’s work, click below:

The stories don’t just speak to what was lost, but what has survived. And some carry messages that are universal:

“If you take all the four-leggeds, those who walk on all fours, from the Earth, life on Earth would not be able to sustain itself. 

“If you take all the winged ones, those that fly in the sky, life on Earth would not be able to sustain itself.

“If you take away all the plants from the Earth, life on Earth would not be able to sustain itself.

“If you take away all the water, and those that live in water, from the Earth, life on Earth would not be able to sustain itself. 

“If you take away man from the Earth, life on Earth would flourish.”

 

 

15/02/2019
by MediaExpert
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Hopes High Before Kenya Ruling on Decriminalizing Gay Sex

Members of Kenya’s LGBT community are looking forward to a High Court ruling that might decriminalize gay sex. The impending ruling is raising hopes among LGBT persons across the region.

South of Nairobi, in a remote town, models are in training in a safe house tucked in a quiet neighborhood. These are not just any models. These are LGBT refugees from Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Most fled persecution from their home countries because of their sexual orientation.

Lubega Musa, 27, fled to Kenya in 2015. He, together with other LGBT refugees, started an economic empowerment program called Lunco Haute Cotoure, whose activities focus on fashion, design and music.

“There are things we would love to do as Lunco Houte Cotoure for the gay community openly, but we cannot do them because of the law,” Musa said. “So, if there is change in the law, if same-sex becomes legal in Kenya, we as artists, we work with the gay community. The situation will be much better for us to exhibit our talent, and you know the LGBT community is one that is most talented in the arts.”

 

WATCH: Kenya High Court Ruling on Decriminalizing Gay Sex Awaited 

High Court ruling

Kenya’s High Court will rule this month on whether to repeal Section 162 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes gay sex.

In Kenya, one can be sentenced to up to 14 years for violating the law.

Activists say the case is a milestone in the fight for LGBT rights in the region.

“This is an opportunity for LGBTI people to claim their spaces,” said Brian Macharia, a gay rights activist. “Whether we win this case or not, there is visibility that is coming by the fact that we managed to get this far at the courts, that we got a lot of Kenyans thinking and talking about this.”

Homophobic attacks are common in Kenya, as a majority of the population objects to homosexuality.

​Too soon, some say

Charles Kanjama, the lead lawyer representing the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum in the case, says Kenya is not ready to accept homosexuality.

“We think that it is in the interest of our country, as do most other Africans in this continent in which we live, to outlaw homosexuality. That is gay sex in particular, and any manifestations as promotion or propagandizing in favor of gay sex, so that we can try as much as possible to encourage and promote healthy sexual behavior,” he said.

Activists in Africa and elsewhere are campaigning against penal codes that criminalize gay sex, most of which date from the colonial period.

The laws in many countries are being overturned. India scrapped them last year. Angola in January.

Kenya might do it in a matter of weeks.

However the High Court rules, both sides are likely to appeal to the Supreme Court if they lose.

13/02/2019
by MediaExpert
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Donald Glover Gets 5 Nominations for NAACP Image Awards

Coming off a big night at the Grammys, Donald Glover and his alter-ego Childish Gambino have been nominated for five NAACP Image Awards.

Glover is nominated for his acting and directing on “Atlanta,” and Childish Gambino got three nominations on the music side. Glover won four Grammy Awards including record and song of the year on Sunday night.

The nominees were announced Wednesday at the Television Critics Association winter meeting in Pasadena, Calif.

“Black Panther” was nominated for 14 awards, with star Chadwick Boseman and director Ryan Coogler nominated for entertainer of the year along with Beyonce, LeBron James and Regina King.

The 50th NAACP Image Awards honoring entertainers and writers of color will be held March 30 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and aired live on TV One.

13/02/2019
by MediaExpert
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Michelle Obama’s Grammy Appearance Did Not Impress Mom

It appears Michelle Obama received a reality check from her mom following her appearance at the Grammys.

The former first lady took to Instagram Wednesday to share a text exchange with mom Marian Robinson. Obama had received a standing ovation opening Sunday’s awards show with Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Robinson wrote: “I guess you were a hit at the Grammys.” Her daughter asked mom if she had watched. Mom replied she saw it and then asked if her daughter had met “any of the real stars.”

Mother and daughter then quibbled over whether Obama had told her she would be on.

Obama ended the exchange by writing “And I AM A real star…by the way…”

Her mother replied, “Yeah.”

13/02/2019
by MediaExpert
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Indonesian Musicians Rally Against Music Bill

More than 200 Indonesian musicians have started a movement against a draft bill on music law (RUU Permusikan) being considered in the legislature that they say could limit freedom of expression.

Mondo Gascaro, a composer and music producer, and one of the people who initiated the National Coalition against the Draft Bill on Music, says most of the articles in the bill are problematic.

“These articles don’t address the problem about the welfare of people in the music industry. The government’s regulations should ensure a good ecosystem for music (industry), and instead the articles in the bill can potentially limit musicians’ freedom of expression,” he said at a press conference in Jakarta on February 6.

Gascaro believes the bill is also problematic because it is unclear what are the issues that the government wants to regulate because the bill only focuses on the musicians.

“They said this is about governance of the music industry, but there are terminologies that are missing from the bill when you talk about the industry, there’s production, creation, distribution, artists,” he continued.

The coalition is calling for the bill to be discarded. Arian Arifin, a vocalist of the Indonesian heavy metal band Seringai, said it is pointless to revise the bill because he said more than 80 percent of the articles are disorganized. 

Bill not yet finalized

Although the draft bill on music law has been included in the 2019 National Legislation Program (Prolegnas), which means it is one of the priority bills that can be passed this year, Representative Inosentius Samsul, a backer of the measure, said it is not final. 

“It can still be revised and reviewed,” the lawmaker said at a press conference on February 4.

“We make the framework and the main stakeholders (musicians) only need to fill it. If there are things that need improvement, we will be open to discuss it and revise the script,” he explained. 

The coalition is not convinced, however, because the bill is already in the Prolegnas, and revising a script with articles can be problematic. 

“Why bother revising, you might as well create a new one. Start from the beginning with transparency and credible sources,” Arifin said. 

One of the sources cited in the draft bill is a Blogspot page that was written by a student from a high school in Central Kalimantan. Rara Sekar Larasati, a singer and a researcher on Cultural Anthropology, questioned the sources that were used as a basis of the bill’s script. 

“The sources for the articles are irrelevant. How can you cite a Blogspot that was made by a high school student?” she told VOA.

Potential criminalization

Larasati said a major concern for artists is the possibility for musicians to be prosecuted and jailed under the draft bill.

“We see there’s Article 5 that can potentially be a ‘rubber law,’ ” she said, referring to the term used in Indonesia for a law with ambiguous wording that is open for broad interpretation. “This is like a pattern for the state to censor and control its citizens.”

The article states that musicians are not allowed to encourage the public to commit violence, make pornographic content, provoke dispute, commit blasphemy, bring the negative influence of a foreign culture, and demean people’s dignity.

Asfinawati, director of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), said Article 50, at the end of the script, states anyone who violates Article 5 can be punished with imprisonment or fines. 

“But the wordings are problematic, must not encourage the public to commit acts against the law. In law, the word encourage is ambiguous. For example, a musician can sing on stage, but in one corner there are people gambling. The authority can say the performance encourage gambling, or be connected to a violent act in the same place,” she explained. 

In addition, the bill mentions the negative influence of foreign culture. Asfinawati is unsure whether it refers only to the negative things that may be adopted from another culture or deems all foreign cultures negative.

“When we talk about foreign (culture), the problem is there is not a single country in the world that is authentic. We have been influenced by other cultures. Should we muzzle all of it? And musicians must not demean one’s dignity? What if they wrote a song about rape or domestic abuse. They may need to portray the act of demeaning another person to highlight the social issue,” she said.

Moreover, Article 32 states that to be acknowledged in the profession, musicians must take a competency test.

Gede Robi, a member of an Indie band Navicula, believes this can be used to silence independent musicians who are critical of the government. 

“They may not find negative elements in the songs, but it’s possible we can simply be dismissed from the profession, and no longer acknowledged as a musician,” he added. 

Robi said that a poorly drafted bill will hurt the music industry in Indonesia, especially the smaller independent bands. “We want the state to make our lives easier by not diminishing our efforts,” he said. 

13/02/2019
by MediaExpert
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‘Piranhas’ Explores Emotional Lives of Neapolitan Child Crime Bosses

“Piranhas,” a film about children wrapped up in the violence of the Neapolitan drugs trade, was inspired by crime journalist Roberto Saviano’s desire to understand the emotional lives of teenagers who knew they were heading for violent early deaths.

The film, based on his novel of the same name, is one of 16 in the running for the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear award, and shows the naive beginnings and breakneck escalation of the criminal career of a young boy named Nicola.

“For the first time in international criminal history young kids have got to the highest levels of a criminal group,” said Saviano, author of the best-selling account of organized crime “Gomorrah,” ahead of the film’s premiere on Tuesday evening.

“There have always been children in these organizations but never as bosses. This is a unique case in history and that is what got me to work on it,” added the author, who lives under 24-hour guard because of his organized crime reporting.

Set in Rione Sanita, a deprived area near the center of Naples, the film startles the viewer with each sudden escalation in Nicola’s level of criminality.

The use of amateur actors recruited in the neighborhood itself lends authenticity to the drama, directed by Claudio Giovannesi.

Nicola (Francesco Di Napoli), first sells weed for the local gang so he can ask them to stop demanding protection money from his mother’s laundry shop. Before long, he is torching cars and murdering rivals, even while pursuing a quintessentially teenage romance with neighborhood waitress Letizia (Viviana Aprea).

“What does a 12-year-old or a 15-year-old feel when they make millions of euros, above all when they know they are heading for their death,” asked Saviano. “People are dying at 19 or 20, thinking they have lived a full life.”

Di Napoli said children like the one he portrayed were driven by a sense of having no alternative.

“If you come from an extremely poor family and have nothing at all, you have a hunger within you,” said Artem Tkachuk, who plays another gang member. “The alternative is to have a dream, to be able to fight for something they love.”

Saviano was critical of Italy’s political class for having “given up” trying to offer something for children, leaving them to take their fate into their own hands.

13/02/2019
by MediaExpert
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Watergate Movie Was Meant to Be Funny. Then Came Trump

The makers of “Watergate,” a film about the scandal that brought down Richard Nixon, first intended to make a lightly humorous study of the affair. Then came Donald Trump.

The movie, having its European premier at the Berlin Film Festival, recounts the fall of President Richard Nixon, starting with the break-in by thieves seeking material to help his election campaign at the Democratic Party’s offices in Washington’s Watergate complex.

It blends interviews with participants in the affair with original footage and dramatized re-enactments of Nixon’s conversations, using tape recordings from the listening devices the Republican president installed in the Oval Office.

Director Charles Ferguson started making the film before Trump became a candidate. But once the real estate magnate and former reality television star won the White House, Ferguson felt he had to adjust the tone.

“The original film had more humor in it and was more of a real-life political thriller,” he told Reuters on Tuesday. “As all these parallels unfolded … I came to realize that just wasn’t appropriate and I had to make a very serious film.”

Trump’s presidency, like Nixon’s, has been conducted in the shadow of an investigation by a special prosecutor. In Trump’s case, Robert Mueller is investigating Russian influence in the election. Several of the president’s top campaign aides have been indicted or convicted. Trump calls it a witch hunt.

“Watergate – Or: How We Learned to Stop an Out of Control President” shows scenes of tense conversations in the Oval Office between a Nixon who is by turns charming, bullying, paranoid or furious, and associates including Henry Kissinger and Bob Haldeman. Nixon is played by the Tony Award-winning British stage actor Douglas Hodge.

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporters who first revealed that the Watergate break-in was more than a simple burglary, are also interviewed.

12/02/2019
by MediaExpert
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Actor Dreams of Second Chance as Somalia Rebuilds its Theater

Abdulle Abdi Mohamud stands outside Somalia’s National Theatre seven years after a suicide bomb attack shut it down, and dares to dream of an unlikely second act for the venue – and his own acting career.

Around him, builders heave loads of cement, saw at wooden scaffolding and shift piles of rubble as they prepare to reopen the building in May, even as the Islamist insurgency rages on.

Organisers say they will premiere a classic Somali musical extravaganza titled “Caretaker Government”, though precise details of the production are still under wraps.

Mohamud is hoping to get a role – a comic role.

“Although I grew old, I am still strong … I will act better than before,” says the greying 59-year-old, who performed in the theatre several times before its dramatic closure.

“In the past, we have been fleeing and thinking about survival. Now people want entertainment and plays … We have hope now.”

Hope is a precious commodity in Somalia, which has been mired in turmoil for decades – as has its national theatre.

The building opened in 1968, eight years after independence from Britain, and treated its first audience to a comedy called “Womanizer”.

Productions took on a more patriotic tone during war with neighbouring Ethiopia in the 1970s. Bellicose musical shows featured songs such as “Oh my land, if I do not wash your face with blood, I am not Somali,” says current director Osman Abdullahi Gure.

“Wisdom and entertainment”

After the overthrow of president Siad Barre in 1991, clan-based warlords blasted each other with anti-aircraft guns and fought over the theatre, which they used as a base. The building was hit so many times that the roof collapsed a year into the conflict.

Islamist militants who seized control in 2006 took over the building. They banned all forms of public entertainment – from concerts to football matches – that they considered sinful.

African Union peacekeeping troops clawed back control of the capital in 2011 and the new Western-backed Somali government reopened the venue the following year. But just three weeks after that, a suicide bomber from the Islamist al Shabaab insurgency struck during a ceremony, killing six people.

Today, Somali soldiers still use the theatre as a base, guarding the city and the nearby presidential palace from al Shabaab, which launches sporadic attacks.

But, if all goes well, the soldiers will be replaced by thespians in the next three months.

The government and local businesses have clubbed together to raise $3 million for the restoration. State workers have offered cash and their own labour, said livestock ministry official Mohamed Omar Nur, who is on site helping out.

“We hope that the theatre will … be a place that will provide wisdom and entertainment, and hopefully it will also regain its reputation,” says director Gure.

The soldiers will move out once the work is finished, but they will still be nearby to protect audiences and actors, he adds.

“Security at the theatre will be assured just like it is in any building in Mogadishu. God willing, we shall secure the theatre.”

12/02/2019
by MediaExpert
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George Clooney’s ‘Catch-22’ Reflects on ‘Insanity’ of War

George Clooney, who returns to TV for the first time in 20 years with an adaptation of the classic novel “Catch-22,” said on Monday the Hulu series set in World War II aims to tell a timeless story about the “insanity” of war.

At a preview for reporters, Clooney said he initially resisted the idea of taking on Joseph Heller’s 1961 book about member of a U.S. bomber squadron fighting the higher-ups in the military bureaucracy.

“It’s a beloved novel,” Clooney, who also served as executive producer and directed two episodes, said at a Television Critics Association event. “I didn’t want to get into the middle of that.”

He said he was drawn in because the writers “did an amazing job unspooling these characters” for the six-episode series that will be released on Hulu on May 17.

That allows the series to expand on Heller’s story, which Clooney said was meant “to make fun of all the red tape and bureaucracy of war and the ridiculousness of war.”

“I think it still plays,” he added. “All of us spend our days and nights worrying about those situations. This story is just reflecting on the insanity of it.”

“Catch-22” follows a U.S. bombardier named Yossarian who is infuriated that the army keeps raising the number of missions he must fly to be released from duty. Yossarian’s only way to avoid the missions is to declare insanity, but the only way to prove insanity is a willingness to embark on more of the highly dangerous bombing runs, thus creating the novel’s absurd ‘catch-22.’

It was made into a 1970 movie directed by Mike Nichols with Alan Arkin as Yossarian.

“I think we all wake up every morning these days in this kind of shared global anxiety condition, and this novel is a beautiful distillation, or a prophetic distillation of that,” said co-writer Luke Davies.

Christopher Abbott stars as Yossarian and Kyle Chandler plays his commander, Colonel Cathcart. Clooney originally planned to play Cathcart but instead took a supporting role as training commander Scheisskopf.

Clooney, 57, last appeared on television 20 years ago as Dr. Doug Ross in hit medical drama “ER.” He then built a successful film career with movies including “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Gravity” and “Up in the Air.”

The actor said he was happy to come back to television. “I don’t care about the medium,” Clooney said. “I just care about the quality of the work and what we’re able to do.”

12/02/2019
by MediaExpert
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Bezos Probe Concludes Mistress’ Brother was Enquirer Source

Private investigators working for Jeff Bezos have concluded that the brother of the Amazon CEO’s mistress leaked the couple’s intimate text messages to the National Enquirer, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Monday.

The person wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

The findings add to the intrigue surrounding the clash between the pro-Trump tabloid and the world’s richest man. Bezos’ investigators have suggested the Enquirer’s coverage of his affair was driven by dirty politics. Trump has been highly critical of Bezos over his ownership of The Washington Post and Amazon, and the Post’s coverage of the White House.

The brother, Michael Sanchez, is a supporter of President Donald Trump and an acquaintance of Trump allies Roger Stone and Carter Page. He is also the manager of his sister, Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor. The investigators have not said how they believe Michael Sanchez came into possession of his sister’s intimate messages.

Michael Sanchez did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Monday. In a Jan. 31 tweet, he said without evidence that Bezos’ longtime security consultant, Gavin de Becker, who is leading the private investigation, “spreads fake, unhinged conservative conspiracy theories.”

An attorney for the tabloid’s parent company did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

On Sunday, an attorney for the head of American Media, which owns the Enquirer, said that the information for the story had been provided by a “reliable source” well-known to Bezos and Lauren Sanchez. The source had provided information to the company for at least seven years, Elkan Abramowitz, an attorney for American Media Inc. chief executive David Pecker, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

He was asked if Sanchez was the source and he said: “I’m not permitted to tell you or confirm or deny who the source is.”

But the Daily Beast, citing people inside American Media, Inc., reported that Sanchez was the Enquirer’s source.

Bezos ordered the investigation after the Enquirer published a story about the affair last month. The investigators have since turned over the results of their probe to attorney Richard Ben-Veniste for review and possible referral to law enforcement. Ben-Veniste had served as special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal.

Bezos has said AMI threatened to publish explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private exchanges, and publicly declared that the Enquirer’s coverage of him was not politically motivated.

Federal prosecutors are also looking into whether the Enquirer violated a cooperation and non-prosecution agreement that recently spared the tabloid and top executives from charges for paying hush money to a Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with Trump, two people familiar with the matter told the AP. The people weren’t authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

12/02/2019
by MediaExpert
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Oscar Nominees in Foreign Picture Category Tackle Political Oppression, War, Social Injustice

Totalitarian regimes and their mark on the human psyche, nostalgic depictions of life in Mexico City riddled with socio-economic and racial divisions, and the toll of poverty and war on children and families are themes of this year’s Oscar nominees in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.

‘Never Look Away’

The epic drama Never Look Away focuses on the personal journey of Kurt, a young artist from East Germany who tries to find meaning through art after experiencing the murder of family members and the destruction of his country during the Nazi regime and political oppression under Communism.

Academy award-winning filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck says dictatorships first try to control art.

“Because it can truly change minds, it can change hearts. But the problem is, as soon as the dictatorship gets its hands on the art, it’s no longer art.”

The filmmaker says he also wanted to show how the Communist regime in East Germany harbored Nazis.

“Unfortunately, the very characteristics that allow you to rise to the top in a dictatorship like the Nazis will allow you to, in a way, hide your crimes in the next system and rise to the top again,” Donnersmarck said. “The sad truth is that a lot of the people who commit the terrible crimes throughout history will go unpunished.”

That’s why, he says, many survivors of war and political oppression find redemption through artistic expression. In his film, Donnersmarck says, Kurt is the hero who never looks away, who stares crimes in the face and struggles to find a way to express them on canvas.

The filmmaker, who tapped into his personal experiences and his family history for the story, shows how the main character’s self-exile to the capitalist West also shaped him.

“The sudden freedom is something very scary. It’s very messy. You feel like at least there was a certain solidarity or someone who was supposed to look after you. But I’ll take the chaos and the despair of freedom any day over just the death that is slavery,” Donnersmarck said.

‘Cold War’

Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War echoes Donnersmarck’s message about how totalitarianism imprisons the human psyche. It takes place in Communist Poland, and like Kurt in Never Look Away, the main characters in the Cold War — musicians Zula and Wiktor — are stifled by the communist regime. They, too, flee to Western Europe in the 1960s. Cold War also shows the alienation and identity crisis Eastern European exiles often felt in the West.

‘Roma’

Critics consider Roma the front-runner of the group, with 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Roma also won the Bafta award for Best Picture. Bafta, the British film awards and the equivalent of the American Oscars, often forecasts the Oscar winners.

Director Alfonso Cuaron’s film is a nostalgic depiction of 1970s life in Mexico City, inspired by personal memories of middle-class life and racial and class divisions. In order to make the story as authentic as possible, Cuaron used people who had never acted before, including Yalitza Aparicio, who plays the lead character, Cleo, a tireless and caring domestic worker.

Aparicio, an indigenous woman, has received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. In an interview with VOA, she credited Cuaron for throwing a light on the indigenous domestic workers in Mexico.

“Domestic workers play a very important role at households and are not being recognized,” she said. “He showed the world that they are human beings, that they have rights. They need to be respected.”

‘Capernaum’, ‘Shoplifters’

The other Oscar contenders in this category are Capernaum and Shoplifters. Set in Lebanon, the main character in Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum is a child suing his parents for bringing him into a chaotic war-torn world.

In Shoplifters, director Hirokazu Kore-eda shows the heartbreak of a Japanese family in extreme poverty.

Regardless of which film wins the coveted award, all of them depict love, freedom and personal honesty as the antidote to political brutality and injustice.

Donnersmarck told VOA that film, like other forms of art, can help wide audiences learn history in a visceral way.

“You are telling the story through the plot,” he said. “You are telling the story through the dialogue. You are telling it through the costumes, the production design. It’s such a multilayered simultaneous experience. I love movies.”