Amoeblog

People Power in the Maghreb - Celebrating the Culture of the Maghreb and the Possible Awakening of Democracy

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 15, 2011 01:00pm | Post a Comment

Map of Maghreb
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of the Maghreb

The term Maghreb comes from Arabic المغرب العربي (meaning "place of sunset") and, as a foreign term is disliked by some of the region's indigenous Berbers, many who prefer "Tamazgha." However, as "Maghreb" is much more widely used internationally, I'm using it here, without meaning to offend. On the same note, many Berbers also don't like the term "Berber," as it comes from the Greek bárbaros or "barbarian." Many prefer a variant of "Imazighen" but no one term is agreed upon by the the Tuareg, Moors, and other Berber people so, similarly, I'll use "Berber" in this entry for the sake of familiarity.


Berber family

 

In the Maghreb, press freedom is almost nonexistent. Mauritania, which enjoys the highest Press Freedom rating, comes in at 95 out of 178 according to Reporters sans frontières. State-sanctioned coverage of political unrest in the region is usually restricted to demonstrations against Israeli apartheid or the occupation's supporters. But recently, a wave of protests against Maghrebi's own corrupt governments threatens to bring progressive political change to the region, one of the least democratic on Earth. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Mauritania is also the most democratic state in the region, scoring 3.86 on a scale of 1 to 10 (115th out of 167 countries). By comparison, the United States scores 8.18 and ranks 17th. 

Little Ethiopia - Loving Would Be Easy If Your Colours Were Like My Dreams...

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 3, 2010 01:30pm | Post a Comment

Little Ethiopia neighborhood sign

This blog entry is about the Midtown neighborhood of Little Ethiopia. To vote for more LA neighborhoods, click here. To vote for LA County communities, click here. To vote for OC communities, click here. I was accompanied on my adventure to the hood by Aussie filmmaker, Diana Ward.

Little Ethiopia - looking south down Fairfax

LOCATION OF LITTLE ETHIOPIA
Little Ethiopia is a small, one block stretch in Midtown's Carthay district. It's situated along Fairfax between Olympic Boulevard and Whitworth Drive. It's the smallest of the Southland's' many ethnic enclaves. It exists within the borders of Carthay Square with Picfair Village to the southeast, Carthay Circle to the north, Miracle Mile to the northeast and Wilshire Vista to the east.

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Celluloid Heroines - Fearless Filmmaking Females

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 20, 2010 01:28pm | Post a Comment
Kathryn Bigelow Lina Wertmüller Jane Campion Sofia Coppola
Every female director who's been nominated for an Oscar

On January 31st, The Guardian published an article titled “Why are there so few female filmmakers?” Less than a month later, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the director’s prize at the 62nd Directors' Guild of America Awards. Then, in March, she repeated that feat at the 82nd Oscars, where only three women (Lina Wertmüller, Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola) have previously even been nominated. Although membership of the Academy remains secret, it’s probably fair to assume that it’s disproportionatly male. What is known is that, when it was founded in 1927, there were 33 male members and three females (Mary Pickford, Jeanie MacPherson and Bess Meredyth) – or 8%.

Vicky Jenson Nancy Meyers Catherine Hardwicke Anne Fletcher Phyllida LloydThe money-makers

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Los Angeles' Pan-African Film Festival ...a year heavy on Nollywood and South African films

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 12, 2010 03:46pm | Post a Comment
Pan African Film and Arts Festival
Los Angele
s’s Pan-African Film Festival is currently in effect (February 10-17). I have a long-lasting love-hate relationship with it. On the one hand, their website (despite improvements this year) remains hard to navigate, is rife with typos, incomplete information and omissions. In other words, it’s inexcusably bad. How about a calendar, folks? 

In addition, every year I take issue with the selection of films. The programmers have a very odd definition of “Pan-African.” Last year was the worst, with the focus on the African diaspora coming at the expense of even a single African feature. Thankfully, this year there are several African features but still some questionable choices. It’s nice to see films about Africa’s many-but-usually-ignored non-black people, such as Finemachiyamoché, about Moroccan Jews, and Florida Road, starring members of South Africa’s sizable south Asian population. On the other hand, Forgotten Bird of Paradise, about Papua is, regardless of its possible merits, an embarrassing example of the organizers' colorist, transracialist equation of African-ness with pigmentation rather than actual African ancestry. The inclusion of an Iranian film, The Stoning of Soraya M., is a real head-scratcher. Are they equating Islam with African-ness now? Another odd choice is Darfur, directed by German hack Uwe Boll (BloodRayne 3, House of the Dead, Postal Zombie Massacre and other garbage).

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District 9 Movie Review

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 16, 2009 08:53pm | Post a Comment


I will admit, I was very wary of seeing District 9 for a variety of reasons. For one, my exposure to South African films had led me to the conclusion that the South African film industry is the worst in Africa. Armed with relatively large budgets, South African films seemed technically solid but at best, soulless and at worst, odious. On a continent where countries like Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali make amazing, artistic and entertaining films with a uniquely African voice, why would I want to see another glossy piece of crap from what seems like an ersatz Hollywood? Critical Assignment was one long and comically awful Guinness ad, Boesman and Lena an unwatchable minstrel show, Stander stultifying bland, Wooden Camera a ponderous examination of racial politics, and The Gods Must Be Crazy (I & II) ponderously racist. When Tsotsi was praised by the Academy, I wrote it off without giving it a chance. Only Richard Stanley's Hardware and Dust Devil did much for me. Also, I find South African accents (and all non-rhotic accents) rather unpleasant.

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