аналіз українського медіапростору

by MediaExpert

King Tut Tomb Restored to Prevent Damage From Visitors

The tomb of Egypt’s famed boy pharaoh, King Tutankhamun, has undergone restoration to help minimize damage by tourists.

The work, done by the Getty Conservation Institute after years of research and officially presented Thursday, aims to minimize scratches, dust damage and microbiological growth from breath and humidity brought in by tourists.

The nearly intact tomb of King Tut, who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago, was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings, located on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor.

For many, King Tut embodies ancient Egypt’s glory, because his tomb was packed with the glittering wealth of the 18th Dynasty, which ruled from 1569 to 1315 B.C.


by MediaExpert

Chicago Police Still Looking for Video of Attack on Actor

Detectives have recovered more surveillance footage of “Empire” actor Jussie Smullett walking in downtown Chicago before and after he says he was attacked by two masked men, but they still haven’t found video of the attack, a police spokesman said Thursday.


Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said there are hundreds of surveillance cameras in the area, which is home to many high-end hotels and restaurants, and that the hope is that detectives will be able to piece them together to capture most if not all of Smollett’s trip from a Subway restaurant to his apartment at about 2 a.m. Tuesday, when Smollett said the attack occurred.


Guglielmi said piecing together the private and public surveillance video is tedious work that is made more difficult by the fact that the time stamps on various cameras may not be in sync, meaning detectives have to figure out the exact times of events.


“It’s like putting together a puzzle,” he said.


Guglielmi also said police have recovered video that shows the 36-year-old actor walking into his apartment, but that he hasn’t seen it and doesn’t know if Smollett appeared to be in any distress when he arrived home.


He said that Smollett and his manager told detectives they were talking on the phone at the time of the attack, but that Smollett declined to turn over his phone records to the detectives, who routinely ask for such information during criminal investigations.


Meanwhile, police are hoping to identify and talk to the two people who were walking in the area at the time of the attack and whose images police released to the public late Wednesday. Guglielmi stressed that the people are not considered suspects and that police want to question them because they were in the vicinity and might have information that could be useful to the investigation.


Smollett, who is black and gay and plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox television show, said the men beat him, subjected him to racist and homophobic insults, threw an “unknown chemical substance” on him and put a thin rope around his neck before fleeing. Smollett returned to his apartment afterward and his manager called police from there about 40 minutes later, Guglielmi said.

When officers arrived, the 36-year-old actor had cuts and scrapes on his face and the rope around his neck that he said had been put there by his assailant. According to Guglielmi, Smollett later went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital after police advised him to do so.


Reports of the attack drew a flood of outrage and support for Smollett on social media. Some of the outrage stemmed from Smollett’s account to detectives that his attackers yelled that he was in “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to the Trump campaign’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.


The FBI is investigating a threatening letter targeting Smollett that was sent last week to the Fox studio in Chicago where “Empire” is filmed, Guglielmi said. The FBI has declined to comment on the investigation.


Guglielmi said Wednesday that detectives, who are investigating the allegations as a possible hate crime, have looked at hundreds of hours of surveillance video from that section of the Streeterville neighborhood. But he said they still needed to collect and view more in the hopes of finding footage of the attack or of the men who match Smollett’s description of the suspects.


In addition to his acting career, Smollett has a music career and is a noted activist, particularly on LBGTQ issues. Smollett’s representative said his concert scheduled for Saturday in Los Angeles will go on as planned. Smollett has not spoken publicly about the attack, but his representative told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that the actor “is at home and recovering.”


Now in its fifth season, the hourlong drama “Empire” follows an African-American family as they navigate the ups and downs of the record industry. Smollett’s character is the middle son of Empire Entertainment founder Lucious Lyon and Cookie Lyon, played by Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, respectively.


Chicago has one of the nation’s most sophisticated and extensive video surveillance systems, including thousands of cameras on street poles, skyscrapers, buses and in train tunnels.


Police say the cameras have helped them make thousands of arrests. In one of the best-known examples of the department’s use of the cameras, investigators in 2009 were able to recreate a school board president’s 20-minute drive through the city, singling out his car on a succession of surveillance cameras to help them determine that he committed suicide and had not been followed and killed by someone else, as his friends speculated.



by MediaExpert

Doga — Doing Yoga With Your Dog

Some people take their pet dogs everywhere they can. One place where they are always welcome is at doga — yoga classes for dogs and humans. While the pet parents get into their yoga poses, like downward-facing dog, their pups get petted and held. VOA’s Deborah Block takes us to a doga class in Alexandria, Virginia, where people and pups are having a good time.

by MediaExpert

James Ingram, Grammy-winning R&B Singer, Dead at 66

James Ingram, the Grammy-winning singer who launched multiple hits on the R&B and pop charts and earned two Oscar nominations for his songwriting, has died, according to a close associate. He was 66.


Debbie Allen, an actress-choreographer and frequent collaborator with Ingram, announced his death on Twitter on Tuesday. Attempts by The Associated Press to confirm his death with Ingram’s family or representatives have been unsuccessful.


Ingram was born February 16, 1952 in Akron, Ohio.

Wins Grammy for ‘One Hundred Ways’


He appeared on Quincy Jones’ 1981 album, “The Dude,” which earned him three Grammy nominations and one win for best R&B male vocal performance for “One Hundred Ways.”


In a statement Tuesday, Jones called Ingram his “baby brother.”


“With that soulful, whisky sounding voice, James Ingram was simply magical … every beautiful note that James sang pierced your essence and comfortably made itself at home,” Jones said. “But it was really no surprise because James was a beautiful human being, with a heart the size of the moon. James Ingram was, and always will be, beyond compare.”


In 1983 Ingram released his debut album, “It’s Your Night,” which included the hit “Yah Mo Be There.” The song, which featured Michael McDonald, became a Top 20 hit on the Billboard pop charts and won the Grammy for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocal.

Reached top of pop charts


Ingram also reached the top of the pop charts twice with the songs “I Don’t Have the Heart” and “Baby, Come to Me,” a duet with Patti Austin. “Somewhere Out There,” Ingram’s collaboration with Linda Ronstadt from the 1986 film “An American Tail,” reached No. 2 on the pop charts.


Ingram was also a talented songwriter: Alongside Jones, he co-wrote Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing),” earning him a Grammy nomination for best R&B song. Ingram scored Oscar nominations for best original song with “The Day I Fall In Love” from “Beethoven’s 2nd” and “Look What Love Has Done” from “Junior.”


Both tracks also competed for best original song at the Golden Globes.

by MediaExpert

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Buys Her ‘Ritz Tower’ Painting

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum has purchased the American artist’s “Ritz Tower” painting, a rare work of her take on a New York skyscraper, the museum announced this week.

Officials at the Santa Fe, New Mexico, museum said it bought the 1928 piece in October from a private collector but declined to say how much it cost. 

Last year, the museum sold three of the artist’s lesser works for $19.5 million to add to its acquisition fund.

The slender painting is one of O’Keeffe’s rare depictions of skyscrapers in New York City.

Throughout the 1920s, O’Keeffe lived in New York with her husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz. 

Work fills museum gap 

O’Keeffe created the image after her male peers discouraged her from painting New York subjects. “The men decided they didn’t want me to paint New York … They told me to ‘leave New York to the men.’ I was furious!” O’Keeffe said years later.

Museum curator Ariel Plotek said the work fills a hole in its collection since O’Keeffe painted few New York skyscraper scenes.

“It is a dynamic, glamorous portrayal,” Plotek said. “O’Keeffe effectively rendered the spirit of the city by making it a night scene teeming with energy. She used the bright punches of electric light, the soaring architecture, and the glow of the moon to great effect.”

Painting will be on view March 1

Ritz Tower will be on view in the museum’s galleries beginning on March 1.

Wisconsin-born O’Keeffe, known for her modernist and surreal images of the American Southwest, lived and painted for decades in Abiquiu, New Mexico. 

She died in Santa Fe in 1986.

by MediaExpert

Trapped in Gaza, Star of Sundance Documentary Misses Film Festival

A new documentary called Gaza is hitting the screens at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival this week, providing a colorful glimpse of life in the blockaded Hamas-ruled territory. But one of its main subjects, Gaza actor and playwright Ali Abu Yaseen, won’t be attending the gathering due to the very circumstances depicted in the film.

Abu Yaseen had hoped to make his first-ever trip to the U.S. to take part in the festival. But the continued closure of Gaza’s border with Egypt, and Hamas’ bureaucratic inefficiency, made it impossible for him to reach Cairo in time to receive a visa from the American Embassy needed to travel to Utah.

After missing Tuesday’s premiere, Abu Yaseen has all but given up hope of reaching Utah on time. The film’s final screening is Saturday.

“I’m seething with indignation,” he said in an interview at his home in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. “The dream that I had for the past three months has all but collapsed.”

Gaza, a 90-minute film, is among 12 contestants in the World Cinema Documentary competition at Sundance. Directed by award-winning Irish film makers Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell, the work takes a look at everyday life in Gaza, from wars and their traumas to young people’s pastimes and aspirations.

Plays written by Abu Yaseen and stage performances by his students appear in the film.

Abu Yaseen, one of Gaza’s most famous entertainers, said the film shows that Gazans “can sing, present an important theater and smile in the face of the unjust world.”

“The bizarre, wonderful fantasy of Gaza was our message of love to the world, which sees Gaza as Tora Bora,” Abu Yaseen said, referring to the stronghold of Taliban extremists in Afghanistan.

Closed borders

Israel and Egypt sealed their borders with Gaza after the Islamic militant Hamas group seized power there in 2007 following bloody fighting against forces of President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah. Abbas’ Western-backed Palestinian Authority has controlled parts of the West Bank since then.

Over the past decade, Hamas and Israel fought three devastating wars, and repeated attempts to reconcile Hamas and Fatah have all but faltered. Gaza’s economy is in tatters, electricity is supplied for half the day at best, tap water is undrinkable and the threat of renewed fighting with Israel is constant.

The blockade has made it virtually impossible for most Gazans to travel abroad. Israel allows only small numbers of Gazans, usually humanitarian cases, to exit through its Erez crossing. Instead, the vast majority of Gazan travelers must exit through Egypt, which only opens the border a few days a month.

Abu Yaseen said he was thrilled to receive an invitation to Sundance in December. Just as he was applying for a travel permit early this month, Egypt unexpectedly closed the border crossing for three weeks. Without notice, Egypt suddenly opened the crossing this week, giving Abu Yaseen little time to get to Cairo, receive a visa and board a flight to Utah.

More powerful than ‘a million bullets’

On Tuesday evening, he learned that his name was not on the list cleared by Hamas to travel.

“I don’t know how the system works here. There is something wrong,” he said, directing his anger at Hamas. “They should have pleaded with me to travel and represent Palestine because this film is more important than 1,000 or a million bullets.”

Iyad al-Bozum, spokesman for Hamas’ Interior Ministry, said he was unaware of Abu Yaseen’s case, but noted that the crossing can only handle a small fraction of applicants. He said 15,000 Gazans are currently in urgent need to travel, while only 200 can make it out on a single day when the crossing is working.

“There are patients who died in Gaza waiting to travel. There are students who missed their scholarships, and there are people whose residency permits in outside countries expired,” he said. “This is disaster for every Palestinian in Gaza.”

In 2017, the Palestinian Authority regained partial control of the Rafah border crossing in a deal with Hamas. But on Jan. 6, just when Abu Yaseen and a freelancer who worked on the film registered to travel to Cairo, the Palestinian Authority withdrew from the crossing to protest what it called Hamas’ “abuses and harassment.” The border only reopened Tuesday, under Hamas control for the first time in two years.

Abu Yaseen had one of his works participating in a major film festival in Cairo 25 years ago, calling the experience a “great achievement.” But he said that appearing at Sundance would have been “the most memorable of all.”

Speaking in a videotaped Skype interview from the festival, McConnell, the co-director, said the voices of Abu Yaseen and the freelance production assistant, Fady Hossam, would have been “hugely powerful here in Utah.”

“Who better to explain that than Gazans themselves? So, it’s disappointing,” McConnell told The Associated Press from Park City.

Abu Yaseen has visited Europe, but has never been to America. He was excited for the trip and was reading about Utah, learning, for example, that it’s almost half the size of Iraq. On his laptop, he flipped through pictures of snowcapped hills, canyons and lakes from the state. A longtime fan of Robert Redford, Abu Yaseen mostly regrets having lost the opportunity to meet the Sundance founder in the flesh.

Now that he realized he won’t make it to Utah, Abu Yaseen picked up his oud, the Middle Eastern stringed instrument, and played and sang a tune by Lebanese singer Marcel Khalife, starting with “they stopped me at the border, asking for my I.D.”

by MediaExpert

The Old Man and the Play: Friend Keeps Word to Hemingway

When the 1958 film adaptation of “The Old Man and the Sea” hit theaters, Ernest Hemingway happened to be in New York City to watch the World Series and invited his close friend A.E. Hotchner to go see the movie with him.

“About 12 or 13 minutes after we sat down, he turns to me and says, ‘Ready to go?”’ Hotchner said in a recent interview at his Connecticut home. The 101-year-old author and playwright recalls them walking out and taking off down the sidewalk, Hemingway ranting the whole time that the star Spencer Tracy was totally miscast, that he looked like a fat, rich actor trying to play a fisherman.

“He said, ‘You know, you write a book that you really like and then they do something like that to it, and it’s like pissing in your father’s beer’,” Hotchner said. (Hemingway reserved this particular turn of phrase for a handful of hated adaptations of his work, he said.) 

Later that night, sitting at Toots Shor’s restaurant – a hangout frequented by Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Gleason and Marilyn Monroe – Hemingway urged Hotchner to do his own adaptation someday. Hotchner said he promised he would try.

More than 60 years later, Hotchner has kept his word. His stage adaptation of “The Old Man and the Sea,” a brief novel published in 1952 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, premieres at the newly renovated Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse on Feb. 1.

“It wasn’t until I became an old man myself that I really got to a version that could transport itself beyond the book,” he said.

​Hotchner should be the perfect candidate to take the novel to the stage: he fished with Hemingway in Cuba, went to bullfights with him in Spain, hunted with him in Idaho and wrote the 1966 best-selling biography “Papa Hemingway.” 

He also helped edit Hemingway’s bullfighting classic “The Dangerous Summer.” He often served as his agent and adapted several stories for television, including “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” “The Killers” and “The Battler,” which led to his first meeting with Paul Newman. (The two became best friends and neighbors and started the “Newman’s Own” food company together. But that’s another story).

“Somehow that pledge to him haunted me, because he died not too long after that. For years I would think about “The Old Man and The Sea.” But I never could think in my head how you could take this very personal book, because the old man is really Hemingway himself, which is really a literary work,” he said. “How do you bring that to life on the stage?”

He tried maybe 10 times over the years to adapt it, starting drafts only to scrap them, until his latest effort.

To help reel the project in, he enlisted his son Tim Hotchner to collaborate on it and help transform his draft into what will run in Pittsburgh through Feb. 17.

“I’ve lived with Hemingway’s ghost for my whole life and there was something very profound about this story, even though it’s very simple,” said Tim Hotchner, 47, a documentary filmmaker and writer. “And to have a 101-year-old father who’s still going out for his marlin, and hopefully coming back with better results, there are a lot of themes that really resonate.”

Tim Hotchner also saw the project as a way to re-examine the work with a modern lens: to look at what it means to be a man in the world and to look at the environment.

​To make “The Old Man and the Sea” accessible on stage, the Hotchners crafted a kaleidoscope of the tale, and mined the text for a new approach. The boy has a bigger role, and Hemingway himself is a character, as is a cellist who evokes the moods of the play throughout.

It stars Tony Award-winning actor Anthony Crivello as Santiago, the aging fisherman, David Cabot as Hemingway and Gabriel Florentino as the boy, Manolin. Cellist Simon Cummings will perform original music for the show. The play is being directed by Ronald Allan-Lindblom.

Getting the draft to the stage happened unusually fast, as a result of a collaboration with New York City-based RWS Entertainment Group.

The Hotchners’ agent passed along the script to Joe Christopher, who heads up RWS’s theatrical division, who took it with him on vacation in June.

“I don’t know if it was because I literally read it while I was lying on the beach, but I could viscerally see the show working,” he said. He told RWS CEO Ryan Stana it would be the chance of a lifetime to work with someone who had been side-by-side with Hemingway.

The Pittsburgh Playhouse was looking for a new work to launch its first season in its renovated theater and Stana, an alumna of Point Park University, floated the idea to the school.

​”In less than 24 hours, they were in,” he said.

The production is unique in that students at Point Park University are working on the show alongside professionals in all aspects from set design to ticket sales. It’s something Stana sees as a circular moment – youth helping bring to life the work of a centenarian playwright.

The entire show was put together in six months.

At 101, A.E. Hotchner is sharp, funny and surprisingly energetic. During a four-hour interview at his home, he needed only a 10-minute break to get a glass of water. Last year, his Depression-era detective novel “The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom” was published and he’s still writing daily. His routine: breakfast, write, lunch, write, nightly news, dinner, gin and tonic, and maybe a movie.

As for “The Old Man and the Sea,” he’s satisfied with having finally followed through on a half-century-old promise to his friend, and he’s pleased with how it turned out.

“This is going to be a version that Hemingway would never have walked out on,” he said.

by MediaExpert

John Malkovich to Play Disgraced Movie Mogul in New Mamet Play

Actor John Malkovich will take the starring role in a new play by Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet about a disgraced Hollywood studio head, a story he said was written partly in reaction to the scandal engulfing film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Speaking to BBC Radio on Tuesday, Malkovich described “Bitter Wheat,” which opens in London in the summer, as “a black farce about a very badly behaved movie mogul,” who he said was “not particularly” Weinstein. The producer will go on trial in New York in May on charges of sexually assaulting two women.

“It’s a great deal about that business and a great deal about how people in that business, in positions say as studio heads have behaved really for more or less a century now. So many of them were so notoriously badly behaved,” he said.

“The idea…maybe started as reaction to all the news that came out last year, in particular about Harvey Weinstein but actually about many many people, some of whom were also higher ups in various studios. I think David kind of took the idea from there and went with it.”

More than 70 women, mainly young actresses and others working in film, have accused Weinstein, 66, of sexual misconduct, including assault, dating back decades.

Weinstein, who pleaded not guilty after his arrest last May, has denied all the accusations, saying any sexual encounters were consensual.

The scandal helped kick off the #MeToo movement, in which dozens of powerful men in Hollywood and beyond have been accused of sexual misconduct.

“Of course it might upset people who’ve experienced the kind of treatment that the play contains and shows and describes and that we watch but what can I do about that?” Malkovich said.

“I am sure a lot of people will laugh and a lot of people will be upset and a lot of people may not like it. Personally I think it’s a terrific piece of writing.”

Malkovich, most recently seen on screens in Netflix thriller “Bird Box” and on British television as legendary detective Hercule Poirot in “The ABC Murders”, said he met Weinstein when making 1998 drama “Rounders” but “didn’t really have any connection with him”.

In “Bitter Wheat”, the 65-year-old actor will play Barney Fein, described in a press release as “a bloated monster- a studio head, who, like his predecessor, the minotaur, devours the young he has lured to his cave.

“His fall from power to shame is a mythic journey which has been compared to ‘The Odyssey’ by people who claim to have read that book.”

Mamet, known for plays such as “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” and “Glengarry Glen Ross,” has written about sexual misconduct before, namely in “Oleanna” about a female student and her professor.

by MediaExpert

America’s First Muslims Were Slaves

In 1807, a wealthy 37-year-old scholar was captured in West Africa, in what is now Senegal, and transported to the United States to be sold into slavery.

That man, Omar Ibn Said, lived the remainder of his life enslaved in the American South, and his story might have been forgotten if not for the handwritten autobiography he left behind.

Written in Arabic and recently acquired by the Library of Congress, “The Life of Omar Ibn Said” is not only a rare handwritten personal story of an American slave, but it’s also one of the first intimate accounts of the early history of Muslims in the United States.

Ibn Said was among the approximately one-third of American slaves who were Muslim. While the exact number of enslaved Muslims is unknown, up to 40 percent of those who were captured and enslaved came from predominantly Muslim parts of West Africa.

“It challenges this notion of this being a Christian nation,” says Zaheer Ali, an oral historian at the Brooklyn Historical Society and project director of the Muslims in Brooklyn project. “It opens us up to understanding that there were non-Christians present at the founding of this nation, and not only at the founding of this nation, but that helped build this nation…It challenges the idea that this was a quote ‘Christian nation’ from the beginning.”

America’s first Muslims were slaves

The subsequent erasure of the black Muslim identity among the enslaved people in the United States was part of a strategy to strip enslaved Africans of their individual identities and reduce them to chattel both legally and in the public imagination.

“The black classification was devised to mark enslaved Africans as property. So, if you were black, you were no longer a human being,” says Khaled Beydoun, an author and law professor at the University of Arkansas. “If you acknowledge some of these religious identities, then you’re in turn acknowledging their humanity.”

During the antebellum period in the South, the Muslim identity took on very different identity from the stereotype of an African slave.

“When people thought of a Muslim at that time, they thought Arab, they thought Ottoman, they thought Middle Eastern,” Beydoun says. “Enslaved Africans did not fit within that racial ethnic caricature or form.”

This narrow understanding of both Muslims and Africans led to the widespread belief that the two identities could not overlap and helped hasten the erasure of Muslim African slaves from the historical record. In addition, the names of enslaved Muslims were often anglicized, which further obscured them from the history.

Writing themselves into history

Enslaved Muslims who left behind a written record challenged the idea that enslaved men and women were a brute workforce solely capable of physical labor because they lacked the intellectual capacity that would make them deserving of independence and freedom.

“These were people who were essentially writing themselves into existence both in terms of leaving a record of their life but also in terms of challenging the racist assumptions about people of African descent,” Ali says.

What we know about the masses of African Muslim slaves who left no written record can be garnered from the remembrances of their descendants and their names on bills of sale or runaway notices.

How long they adhered to Islam is unknown. Some converted to Christianity while others pretended to convert in order to satisfy their captors. But there are signs that some enslaved Muslims held onto the religion of their homelands.

Ali points to burial grounds on islands off the southern state of Georgia, where slave tombstones bear Islamic markings, and churches that were built facing the east, the direction Muslims face while praying. And there are descendants who recall seeing their elders using prayer rugs and Islamic prayer beads.

These recollections suggest that despite any coercion, some enslaved Muslims held onto their religious practices for life.

Leaving their mark 

While the existence of a sizable number of African Muslim slaves might not be well known to most Americans, they are believed to have left their mark on American culture.

Author and scholar Sylviane Diouf has suggested that slave work songs are related to the vocal pattern of Koranic recitation and the call to prayer. Those work songs — such as “Levee Camp Holler” a century-old song that originated in Mississippi — eventually gave birth to the blues.

And Ali says it’s possible that the banjo and guitar came from a traditional West African instrument.

Perhaps the most lasting legacy of Muslim slaves is the modern movement among some African Americans to embrace what they believe to be the original religion of their people.

“The movement towards Islam in the African American community in the 20th century was in part understood by its adherents as a reclaiming of a lost heritage, that this was not a new religion,” Ali says. “Islam is not new to the United States; it was here before the country was founded; it was present among the people who helped build this country; and it has very much been a part of the thread of America’s story.”

Beginning with the period of American slavery until today, black Muslims continue to comprise the largest segment of the Muslim community in the United States.

by MediaExpert

At Baghdad Workshop, Search for Iraq’s Looted Artifacts Gets Serious

Before Islamic State militants were dislodged from Iraq in 2017, they stole thousands of ancient artifacts. Most are still missing, and an international team of archaeologists is turning detective to recover as many as possible.

In 2014 and 2015, during its occupation of most of the country, the jihadist group raided and wrecked historical sites on what UNESCO called an “industrial” scale, using the loot to fund its operations through a smuggling network extending through the Middle East and beyond.

“We’re trying to recover a lot of artifacts and need all local and international resources to work. Iraq cannot do this on its own,” said Bruno Deslandes, a conservation architect at the U.N. cultural agency.

He spoke at a workshop at Baghdad’s National Museum convened to coordinate international retrieval efforts.

Video that went viral after it was released by Islamic State in 2014 showed militants using bulldozers and drills to tear down murals and statues the 3,000-year-old Assyrian site of Nimrud near Mosul. What they did not destroy they smuggled and traded.

Deslandes was the first international expert to access the site in early 2017 while Islamic State was still being driven out.

With the battle raging just kilometers away, he and his team had to work quickly to assess damage to the site, using 3D scanning and satellite imagery. Within minutes, they gathered a trove of data he says will be critical in tracking lost items down.

“When an artifact has been taken, we can document the footprint left,” Deslandes said.

“We document this very precisely… so we can recover it… When we have an artifact in Europe or somewhere matching this specification we can… yes!” he added, clapping his hands together for emphasis.

‘Tip of the Iceberg’

The workshop, which brought together Iraqi and foreign police, customs officials and archeological experts, was the second in two years organized by the European Union Advisory Mission in Iraq.

Law enforcement officials said they can help Iraqi police track down the objects using databases of seizures and other information, including smuggling routes.

Mariya Polner of the World Customs Organization (WCO) said reports of cultural heritage seizures by customs officials worldwide were “only the tip of the iceberg,” and that better coordination between the WCO’s 183 members states had helped increase recoveries.

In 2017, the WCO said customs officers recovered more than 14,000 items looted worldwide including antiquities, paintings and statues, 48 percent up from the previous year.

Eckhard Laufer, a participating police officer from Germany, said many private collectors and some museums often did not question the provenance of artifacts. “It is one of the biggest problems in crime.”

Deslandes said sites inside Iraq were still at risk. “When a site is liberated, it doesn’t mean the looting has finished.”

by MediaExpert

Before It Hits Netflix, Sundance Previews ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’

Dan Gilroy’s satirical contemporary art world thriller “Velvet Buzzsaw” will be available to Netflix subscribers worldwide this Friday, but he and his team gave audiences at the Sundance Film Festival a sneak peek at the film Sunday night where the most-common word used to praise it was “weird.”

“Dan is crazy,” Rene Russo, who is married to Gilroy, said in Park City, Utah. “He’s got this crazy imagination and he’s just kind of outside the box.” 

The film reunites Gilroy with Jake Gyllenhaal, who starred in his directorial debut “Nightcrawler.” That dark thriller about an ambulance chasing journalist went on to become a box office hit and, so, when Gilroy landed on the idea for “Velvet Buzzsaw,” which would star Gyllenhaal as a snobby critic and Russo as a savvy gallery owner and art dealer, there were a lot of film studios who wanted to put their name behind it. Netflix was one of them. 

Gilroy was unsure at first about Netflix, though, so he started reading a little more about the company. He came across a quote where someone said that Netflix was going to destroy the theatrical experience, but following it were 50 comments about how that person must live in New York or Los Angeles or Chicago where, “You can see everything.” 

”I suddenly thought, wow, democratization,” Gilroy said. “It is an elitist point of view to think that everybody in the world has access to the things that New York, LA and Chicago have. That really was the deciding factor. If you really want to reach the widest possible audience, here’s this technology that can do this … And what is the theatrical experience? 500 people in a theater? 100? Does 50 count? Does four people on a Friday night on my 50-inch widescreen count? It does to me.” 

Films that defy genre

Producer Jennifer Fox, who has been behind films like “Michael Clayton,” said Netflix made it, “At a level that it should have been made at. They got it. And it’s really out there.” 

Out there is right, for the ensemble film that co-stars John Malkovich, Toni Collette, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen and relative newcomer Zawe Ashton in which the discovery of a dead artist’s works ends up taking its own body count. But that’s Gilroy’s operating mode for his own films which aren’t bound by traditional genre or constraints. 

It’s why “Velvet Buzzsaw” is about everything — the pretentiousness of the contemporary art world, the fluidity of criticism and even sexuality, and, you know, a demon art spirit out for blood. 

“If I follow one rule in any form of entertainment it is, ‘Do Not Bore.’ You cannot bore,” Gilroy said. “My (playwright) father pounded that into my head.”

‘Fearless’ actor​


Gilroy wrote the critic character Morf, who is as fluid in his sexuality as he is in his art opinions, specifically for Gyllenhaal who he said is, “One of the most fearless actors alive right now.” 

“He’s always pushing himself with the craziest ideas that often end up in the movie,” Gilroy said. “I like working with people who want to take a sledgehammer to all this and Jake is that person.” 

The feeling is mutual for Gyllenhaal who said their connection is, “Sort of inexplicable.” 

Netflix believer

“But I’m not asking any questions about it,” Gyllenhaal said. “I just show up when he asks.” 

After the “Velvet Buzzsaw” experience, Gilroy himself is a Netflix believer. 

“I couldn’t speak highly enough about Netflix. The traditional studios in some way have created Netflix. The traditional studios have gone from making a broad range of films to doing branded IP and franchises and it has left a void for original, range of films to get made,” Gilroy said. “And Netflix is making them en masse and it’s a very exciting time. I think history is being written right now.”