The making of a 1949 Hollywood film in the little town of Much Wenlock (Shropshire, England)

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It’s hard to imagine, but in 1949 Hollywood descended on my little home town of Much Wenlock. Both its locations and inhabitants featured in David O. Selznick’s screen version of Mary Webb’s 1917 novel, Gone to Earth. The film’s star, Oscar-winner Jennifer Jones, certainly looks the part, and in this respect she well conjures the book’s central character, the untamed but doomed spirit that is Shropshire lass, Hazel Woodus.

As an American, Jones of course had to receive specialist drilling in the Shropshire dialect, a form of speech which these days is scarcely heard, but would have been the norm during Webb’s childhood. She writes it very clearly in the book’s dialogue, and Jones makes a good stab at it, but it perhaps sounds overdone to modern ears. People in England do not speak like this any more.
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Mary Webb herself spent her adolescence in Much Wenlock, and for the rest of her too-short life lived in various parts of rural Shropshire. She knew country ways intimately. Her writing is rooted always in the landscapes of her own growing up – the upland wilds and rugged long-gone lead-mining and peasant farming communities, the small market towns. But although she observes the hardship and poverty with a keen eye, she has tended to be dismissed as a writer of the romantic and rustic, her work parodied in Stella Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm.

In her day, though, she had some very well known literary admirers including Rebecca West and John Buchan (Thirty-Nine Steps). I think her novels deserve a rediscovery. Her themes are still relevant today: male attitudes to women being one of them; human cruelty and wilful destructiveness for another.

In Gone to Earth, the central character, Hazel Woodus, is eighteen, motherless, and living in an isolated cottage with her coffin-making, bee-keeping father, Abel. Her only companion is a tame fox, Foxy, and her only guidance in life is dubiously received from her dead mother’s book of gypsy spells.

Two men want her: the Baptist Minister who marries her and tries to protect what he sees as her innocent spirit, and the fox-hunting landowner who wants only bodily possession. Hazel herself is torn between respectable conformity and her growing sexual awareness. And if I tell you that the term ‘gone to earth’ is the huntsman’s cry when a fox goes underground to escape the hounds, you will know that the story does not end well.

In other senses the book’s plot may be purely allegorical. Above all, it is about the pointless destruction of natural beauty and freedom. Webb was writing it at a time when three of her younger brothers were fighting in the World War 1 trenches.

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Much Wenlock 1949 in outside and inside the medieval Guildhall: scenes from Gone to Earth, director Michael Powell

100_6020_thumbThe making of the film did not run altogether smoothly, and there are perhaps some parallels between Hazel as an object of male possession and control , and the position of the film’s star, Jennifer Jones. She had had an affair with the executive producer, David O. Selznik, and by 1949 they were married. He wanted Gone to Earth to be solely a showcase for her, and he did not think the film’s makers, the fabulous storytelling team of director Michael Powell, and screenwriter, Emeric Pressburger, (The Red Shoes, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp) had done her justice. He even took them to court for not producing what was in the script. He lost the case, but he still had the right to make an alternative version.

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The upshot was that for the 1952 American release, renamed The Wild Heart , he chopped all the scenes that did not make the most of Jones, had new scenes shot, and to make sense of the makeover added a commentary by Joseph Cotton. The film was not well received, and so did not serve his purpose. Only recently has the original Powell and Pressburger version been fully restored.

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Hazel goes to the Devil’s Chair

For more on Mary Webb:
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“This year’s discovery has been Mary Webb, author of Gone to Earth. She is a genius, and I shouldn’t mind wagering that she is going to be the most distinguished writer of our generation.” — Rebecca West, review of Gone to Earth in the Times Literary Supplement, August 30, 1917

Mary Webb: neglected genius for the synopsis of Gone to Earth and also for details of her other works.

– Tish Farrell

© 2014, Tish Farrell, All rights reserved; photographs either as indicated above or in public domain

unnamed-6Unknown-951ts8NDtDUL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_TISH FARRELL (Writer on the Edge) ~  is an award-winning English writer of fiction and non-fiction for young adults. In the 1990s, after a career in Museum Education, she went to live in Kenya, East Africa. It was here that she began writing for the African Children’s Literature market. An anthropologist by training, she was dismayed at the lack of contemporary fiction that reflected young Africans’ lives in their increasingly urbanised world.

Her first short novel, Jessicah the Mountain Slayer, about a Nairobi street girl, and a picture book Flame Tree Market were published by Zimbabwe Publishing House, Zimbabwe and Phoenix Publishing, Kenya. Both books won awards at the 1996 Zimbabwe International Book Fair and have remained in print in both countries ever since.  In the United States her short fiction has appeared in the multi-award winning Cricket and Cicada Magazines. Now living back in England, she writes novelised short stories for reluctant teen readers for Ransom Publishing. The most recent title, Mau Mau Brother, tells the story of the 1950s Kenya uprising from the viewpoint of a Kikuyu boy. She has also just published a Kindle novella e-book, Losing Kui. This new edition was originally published by Cicada Magazine and is suitable for adults and young adults alike. Go here for more about her Books

Tish blogs about Africa, the ancient Shropshire town of Much Wenlock where she lives, writing, and much else besides at: http://tishfarrell.wordpress.com/   

John Muir, Patron Saint of the Backwoods

“The gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual.” John Muir (1838-1914), Scottish-American naturalist, conservationist and author

The Biography of John Muir

Enthusiasm and Optimism vs Entropy … Part 2

As the title of this post suggests, as referred to in Part 1 of this essay, it is not only about entropy and thermodynamics, but is also about enthusiasm for and optimism about life. It is, therefore, about human endeavour, from the smallest and least significant to the most admirable and life changing endeavours ever achieved by the human race. Whatever your accomplishments, however great or small they are, or however great or small a part you play in greater achievements, they still represent progress in both time and towards order and, according to Newton’s second law of physics, this tells us that matter can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only be converted from one form to another. Therefore, each breath we draw, each word we speak, each action we take, is never lost; it remains as a small quantum of energy, an echo of which will exist forever, somewhere in the cosmos.

I just love the mere thought of this concept, let alone that it could actually be true.

The other principle put forth by astrophysicists, which seems to be irrefutable, is that time is irreversible. Professor Cox referred to this as the arrow of time, always pointing and moving in one direction, never going back. He does give lip service to the possibility that this cannot be said to be true with absolute certainty, but that it is extremely unlikely or, in statistical terminology, there is a very low probability that time will reverse. So it must also be with human enterprise, in whatever field of endeavour it may be, there is need for us to accept that we will always move forwards, never backwards; onwards and, preferably, upwards in our understanding of life, our world and the universe. Otherwise, there is a tendency toward disorder, mentally, physically and maybe spiritually too. We can read about the past, we can look at pictures of it and we can learn from it, but we live for the future.

Trying to persuade a teenager to tidy their bedroom is impossible without a carrot; and even then it is still difficult. Maybe they could be persuaded by the thought of ‘black dwarves’ imploding and evaporating into nothingness as a consequence of not keeping their bedrooms in order and halting the ‘tendency toward disorder’. May be, may be not! But our every move, motivation and impulse is driven by the march of time as well as this tendency in our everyday lives – let alone what is happening in the world at large – toward disorder, whether that disorder has natural or man-made causes. But I don’t think we should feel any less relaxed about the march of time than we would otherwise feel. On the contrary, I suggest, as a result of this thesis, this comparison with the enormity of the universe, that, provided we can get our minds round the huge timescales, we should allow its perspective to comfort us: that there is no panic or rush. As much as we can sometimes enjoy the moment, life is really a journey into the future. Technically, we cannot stand still; we have to accept that even standing still and enjoying the moment is, still, moving and progressing into the future. It is deeply ingrained in our being.

So, I suppose it depends on whether we are an optimist or a pessimist, an enthusiast or less eager, as to whether we find it easier or harder to push the outside of the envelope and re-order the disorder in our lives. But push we must. There is an enduring lesson that I take from this particular perspective. When I compare the huge amount of time that will have elapsed between the beginning and ending of the universe to the minuscule timescale of our own existence on Earth, our own small little part of the world, which is an even smaller (by a trillion, trillion, trillion, etc orders of magnitude) than the great big cosmos, then the feeling I am left with is that we have plenty of time. Did you know that, since our forebears first evolved on our earth, in Africa about two and a half million years ago, our own solar system has revolved around the galaxy (the ‘Milky Way’) by only one percent of a complete orbit of the galaxy; and the galaxy itself is only one of billions in the universe. So, hey, if things didn’t quite go to plan today, whatever; “am I bovvered’ as Catherine Tate would say!

I’m not sure to whom the quotation is attributed, but Professor Brian Cox, in the process of concluding the first episode, said that “Life is the means by which the cosmos understands itself.” Obvious on one level, but extraordinarily significant on another. There might be other, similar life in another solar system in our own galaxy or in another galaxy farther away, but we are unlikely to find out if they do exist. We truly cannot know even the probability of the human race co-existing along with another civilisation, somewhere else in the universe, because – as Vlad, The Astrophysicist tells us – the enormous distances and time scale that the universe represents, make this probability extremely low. This being the case – in spite of an imperfect world, which sometimes seems to be broken – perhaps we should stop trying to escape from our Mother Earth, stop trying to dream the impossible (or improbable) dream, and start trying to fix what we have broken; stop breaking what we have left.

Copyright 2012 John Anstie
Supermoon over Torquay [Copyright 2012 John Anstie]

To be the remarkable, intellectual, innovative and industrious animals that we are, where we are right now, is still very special and continues to give me hope that we can reverse the destruction of our very small part of the universe, that is our Mother Earth.  I hope that, in spite of sometimes awesome uncertainty and the depressing way in which some members of the human race behave towards her (not forgetting the entropy, of course), you will agree that we do still have the capability to meet our future together on this planet with optimism and enthusiasm?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer and poet, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

*****

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51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has also been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

 

The Man Who Planted Trees

If you haven’t read or heard the tale, “The Man Who Planted Trees” by French author Jean Giono, it is a wonderful story about how one person can have a tremendous impact on the world! It’s also a story of how everything in nature, including man, is connected.

"The Man Who Planted Trees" by Jean Giono.  Image borrowed from Wikipedia Commons, fair use agreement.
“The Man Who Planted Trees” by Jean Giono. Image borrowed from Wikipedia Commons, fair use agreement.

It tells about how a single, reclusive shepherd manages to successfully re-forest a barren and desolate area in the foothills of the Alps. Elzéard Bouffier, the shepherd, dedicates the latter half of his life to re-planting acorns, beech nuts and other tree seeds, one by one, patiently walking the land where nothing would grow and no water flowed, and the people who lived there were a hard, bitter folk.

When I first heard the tale, I thought that it was based on a true story. I later discovered that it is not. However, there have been real life counterparts! There is a man in Assam, India, named Jadav Payeng, who single-handedly managed to plant a forest covering 1,360 acres. Abdul Karim is yet another man in India who used the same method of planting trees as the shepherd in the story, and over a period of 19 years, created an entire forest from nothing. Another man, Ma Yongshun, was a forestry worker in China who planted more than 50,000 trees in his lifetime!

Tree gif from dragonkatet/photobucket.com
Tree gif from dragonkatet/photobucket.com

If you haven’t read or heard the story, may I suggest that you pick up a copy from your local library, or even better, watch the short, animated film below. It is an uplifting story full of hope and reassurance that no matter who or where you are, you CAN make a difference as only a single entity! Best of all, your actions may inspire others and create a ripple effect of good. 🙂

~ © Corina L. Ravenscraft 2014 ~

effecd1bf289d498b5944e37d8f4ee6fAbout dragonkatet Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post a lot of poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.

Through a Lens Darkly: How African-Americans Use Photography to Shape Their Cultural Representation

Another post in our celebrations of interNational Photography Month.

The Ultimate Grace of Gratitude

The heart of this little gem is the gift of the very dear Br. David Steindl-Rast. If you are familiar with Br. David’s philosophy, writing, and voice, you will have immediately recognized who wrote and delivered the narrative though for some strange reason he is not credited.

BROTHER DAVID STEINDL-RAST (b. 1926)

Viennese, Catholic Benedictine Monk

Br. David is notable for his work fostering dialogue among the faiths and for exploring the congruence between science and spirituality. Early in his career he was officially designated by his abbot to pursue Catholic-Buddhist dialogue. He studied with several well-known Zen masters. He is the author of feature articles, chapter contributions to collections, and books. Among the most notable are Belonging to the Universe (with Frijof Capra) and The Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey Through the Hours of the Day (with Sharon Lebell). Br. David is the co-founder of A Network for Grateful Living, dedicated to the life-transforming character of gratitude.

THE FILMMAKER

Louie Schwartzberg, the film-maker, is an American and well-known for his time-lapse photography. The short-film here is one of several – each with a different theme – which you can find on YouTube.

THE MUSIC

The mood music background is by composer Gary Malkin. “He is founder of Musaic and Wisdom of the World™, a media production company and web site. He is also the co-founder of Care for the Journey, a care-for-the-caregiver initiative for healthcare professionals.” MORE

Video uploaded to YouTube by 

Photo credit ~ Br. David Steindl-Rast, courtesy of Verena Kessler. She has released the photograph into the public domain.

Life Lessons from the Oldest Living Pianist, 109 year-old Alice Herz-Sommer

Our thanks to Laurel D. for contributing this film clip.

http://theladyinnumber6.com
https://www.facebook.com/theladyinnum…
The Lady in Number 6 is one of the most inspirational stories ever told. 109 year old, Alice Herz Sommer, the world’s oldest pianist and oldest holocaust survivor, shares her views on how to live a long happy life. She discusses the vital importance of music, laughter and having an optimistic outlook on life. This powerfully inspirational video tells her remarkable story of survival and how she managed to use her time in a Nazi concentration camp to empower herself and others with music. See the entire documentary at:
https://twitter.com/AliceTheFilm

“Poetry” . . . captivated by this 2010 South Korean film (English subtitles) directed by Lee Chang-dong

Poetry_WebBase

“The apricot throws itself on the ground. It is crushed and trampled for its next life.”  Yang Mija “sees” while walking through an orchard and takes notes in her poetry notebook

This movie speaks quietly about life and art, devastation and redemption. Like the most refined poetry, it is nuanced, honest and dramatic without being melodramatic or manipulative. It is a spare work, whittled down to essentials. It whispers. It never shouts.  Its pacing is leisurely and thoughtful. There is no suggestive music here to help you grasp the story’s progression. There are no stars who have been nipped, tucked, brushed, trussed and boosted. These people are real. They could be me or you or our next-door neighbor.  The story could be  anyone’s story anywhere in the world. Indeed, Director Lee Chang-dong got the basic idea for the screenplay from a news report..

… this story was finally born from a combination of different elements: the sexual assault case, the suicide of a girl, and the lady in her 60s writing a poem.” Lee Chang-dong in an interview HERE

Yoon Jeong-hee stars in the leading role (Yang Mija) and it is the lean script (though the movie is over two hours long) and Jeon-hee’s exquisitely understated acting that transfix us. Watch her face. Watch her body movements.  These also are a kind of poetry.

“I’m quite a poet. I do like flowers and say odd things.” Yang Mija

Yang Mija is a sixty-six year-old grandmother charged with the care of a teenaged grandson, Jongwook – or Wook – whose mother is divorced and living in Busan. Wook is lazy and ungrateful and shows no respect for his grandmother or sensitivity to her age and her loneliness.

“You’re sprouting a mustache but acting like a child.” Yang Mija to Wook

Wook is part of a “gang” of male friends, fellow students, who over the course of six months repeatedly rape a young woman who subsequently drowns herself. News of this comes coincident with Yang Mija’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and her first poetry class. It is her poetry classes and effort to write a poem that provide the through-line for this story.

“The most important thing is seeing.” the poetry instructor to the class on the first day

img1-lgWe walk alongside Yang Mija as she struggles with these multiple challenges – not without some humor – and sorts through her emotions regarding her grandson’s actions, her sympathy for the drowned girl, and the desire of other parents to hide the boys’ culpability by buying off the drowned girl’s mother. While Yang Mija may be suffering the early stages of memory loss, she hasn’t lost her moral compass.

As she moves from one experience to the next, Yang Mija questions: How do you write a poem? Where does the poetry come from? When she decides how she is going to handle her grandson, she is finally able to write her poem.

Agnes’s Song

How is it over there?
How lonely is it?
Is it still glowing red at sunset?
Are the birds still singing on
the way to the forest?

Can you receive the letter
I dared not send?
Can I convey the confession
I dared not make?
Will time pass and roses fade?

Now it is time to say goodbye,
Like the wind that lingers
And then goes, just like shadows.

To promises that never came,
To the love sealed till the end,
To the grass kissing my weary ankles,
and to the tiny footsteps following me,
It is time to say goodbye.

Now as darkness falls
will a candle be lit again?
Here I pray nobody shall cry
and for you to know
how deeply I loved you.

The long wait in the middle
of a hot summer day.
An old path resembling my father’s face.
Even the lonesome wild flower
shyly turning away.

How deeply I loved.
How my heart fluttered at
hearing your faint song.
I bless you
before crossing the black river
with my soul’s last breath.

I am beginning to dream…
A bright sunny morning again I awake,
blinded by the light and meet you
standing by me.

– Yang Mija

“It is not difficult to write a poem. It is difficult to have the heart to write a poem.” the poetry instructor on the last day of class. Yang Meja is not in attendance but has left a bouquet of flowers and her poem

Both thumbs up on this one.
There are probably a lot of places you can go to rent or buy this, but I streamed it from Amazon.   

Photographs, poem, quotes courtesy of and property of the filmmaker and used here under fair use.
© 2013, review, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Photo on 2012-09-19 at 20.00JAMIE DEDES ~ My worldly tags are poet and writer. For the past five years I’ve blogged at The Poet by Day,the journey in poem, formerly titled Musing by Moonlight.  Through the gift of poetry (mine and that of others), I enter sacred space.

THE ULTIMATE GRACE OF GRATITUDE

GRATITUDE

Introduction to a Short Film

by

Jamie Dedes

I am so charmed by this six-minute moving-image film – you will be too – that I had to post it on Into the Bardo. I first shared it some time ago on at my primary playground, (Musing by Moonlight), where it was well received. If you can’t access YouTube or this specific video from your country, this film and The Hidden Beauty of Pollination are both on the TED talks site.

THE WISE AND GRACE-FILLED NARRATIVE

THE HEART OF THE FILM

The heart of this little gem is the gift of the very dear Br. David Steindl-Rast. If you are familiar with Br. David’s philosophy, writing, and voice, you will have immediately recognized who wrote and delivered the narrative.

BROTHER DAVID STEINDL-RAST (b. 1926)

Viennese, Catholic Benedictine Monk

Br. David is notable for his work fostering dialogue among the faiths and for exploring the congruence between science and spirituality. Early in his career he was officially designated by his abbot to pursue Catholic-Buddhist dialogue. He studied with several well-known Zen masters. He is the author of feature articles, chapter contributions to collections, and books. Among the most notable are Belonging to the Universe (with Frijof Capra) and The Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey Through the Hours of the Day (with Sharon Lebell). Br. David is the co-founder of A Network for Grateful Living, dedicated to the life-transforming character of gratitude.

THE FILMMAKER

Louie Schwartzberg, the film-maker, is an American and well-known for his time-lapse photography. The short-film here is one of several – each with a different theme – which you can find on YouTube.

THE MUSIC

The mood music background is by composer Gary Malkin. “He is founder of Musaic and Wisdom of the World™, a media production company and web site. He is also the co-founder of Care for the Journey, a care-for-the-caregiver initiative for healthcare professionals.” MORE

© 2011, Jamie Dedes All rights reserved

Video uploaded to YouTube by 

Photo credit ~ Br. David Steindl-Rast, courtesy of Verena Kessler. She has released the photograph into the public domain.

TRADING IN TRASH: garbage collecting, growing up, and multi-nationals in Egypt

Video posted to YouTube by massify.

Documentaries about impoverished communities around the globe — in Latin America, Africa and Asia — feature heart wrenching images of children picking their way through garbage dumps to gather food to eat or material goods to sell. But nothing quite compares to the story of Cairo‘s Zaballeen, a community of Egyptian Coptic Christians who have for generations survived by scouring their city for trash, carting it off to their ‘garbage neighborhood’ and recycling it. MORE [About.com Documentaries]
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TRADING IN TRASH
documentary review
posted by Jamie Dedes (Musing by Moonlight)
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The short story: Given the stunning events in Egypt over much of the past year, it seems appropriate to cover this documentary film that illustrates life for one of Egypt’s minority groups. GARBAGE DREAMS follows three teenage boys born into the trash trade and growing up in the world’s largest garbage village, on the outskirts of Cairo. It is home to 60,000 Zaballeen (or Zabbaleen), the Arabic for “garbage people.” Far ahead of any modern “Green” initiatives, the Zaballeen survive by recycling 80% of the garbage they collect.  Face to face with the globalization of their trade, each of the teenage boys is forced to make choices that will impact his future and the survival of his community. Released in 2009, the list of screening venues around the world is HERE.
A Donkey at Moqattam Hill in Cairo
courtesy of Matthias Feilhauer under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License via Wikipedia.
A Group of Boys at Moqattam Village
courtesy of Ayoung ShinAyoung0131 licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License via Wikipedia.
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Expertly weaving personal fears, family tensions and political action, GARBAGE DREAMS records the tremblings of a culture at a crossroads. Jeannette Casoulis, New York Times.
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Courtesy of Iskander Films, Inc. under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Stunning debut . . . Tech credits are aces. As fascinating as [Iskander’s] anthological revelations are, it’s her lensing that grants her subjects immense dignity (they never appear “other” in their poverty) and her film its curious beauty. Ronnie Scheib, Variety

With a population of 18 million, Cairo, the largest city in the Middle East and Africa, has no sanitation service. For generations, the city’s residents have relied on 60,000 Zaballeen, or “garbage people,” to pick up their trash. The Zaballeen collect over 3,000 tons a day of garbage and bring it back to their “garbage village,” the world’s most effective and successful recycling program.

Paid only a minimal amount by residents for their garbage collection services, the Zaballeen survive by recycling. They have transformed Mokattam, their garbage neighborhood, into a busy recycling and trading enclave. Plastic granulators, cloth-grinders and paper and cardboard compacters hum constantly. While Western cities would boast of a 30% recycling rate, the Zaballeen recycle 80% of all the waste they collect.

The Zaballeen, who mostly belong to Egypt’s minority Coptic Christian community, were originally poor and illiterate farm laborers. Driven out of the rural south due to a lack of work, these disadvantaged farmers saw Cairo’s trash as an economic opportunity. They have created a recycling model that costs the state nothing, recycles so much waste and employs tens of thousands of Cairo’s poorest.

The Zaballeen earn little, but in a country where almost half of the population survives on less than $2 a day, it is a livelihood. Or has been.

In 2005, following the international trend to privatize services, the city of Cairo sold $50 million in annual contracts to three private companies (two from Italy and one from Spain) to pick up Cairo’s garbage. Their giant waste trucks line the streets, but they are contractually obligated to recycle only 20% of what they collect, leaving the rest to rot in giant landfills. As foreign workers came in with waste trucks and began carting garbage to nearby landfills, 60,000 Zaballeen saw their way of life disappearing.

Laila, the teacher at The Recycling School, the garbage village’s local school, sighs with despair, “They don’t see that we are poor people living off of trash. What are we suppose to do now?”

An evocative examination of the clash between tradition and modernism . . . Championed by Oscar winner Al Gore and the spur for a million-dollar donation by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ‘Garbage’ could ride its sociological importance to Oscar recognition. Andrew Schenker, Village Voice

Two thumbs up on this one. See it if you can …

Video posted to YouTube by garbagedreams.
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THE LAST PASSENGER PIGEON

“This is a fundraising promo video for The Last Passenger PigeonSpecies Extinction and Survival in the 21st Century. This documentary will recount the total destruction by humans of the most abundant bird species in North America, and possibly the world.

2014 will mark the centennial of the birds’ extinction. The film will explore how this event occurred and put it in context of today’s conservation challenges and accelerated species extinctions. We are planning a multi-media event: a television documentary broadcast, the publishing of a book, River of Shadows: The Life and Times of the Passenger Pigeon, by Joel Greenberg, and a national educational outreach campaign known as Project Passenger Pigeon. The outreach component is led by Greenberg and David Blockstein, Senior Scientist at the National Council for Science and the Environment, and a diverse consortium of over 20 American and Canadian institutions, scientists, scholars and authors, with the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum/Chicago Academy of Sciences as the lead sponsoring institution.

The promo includes roughed out scenes such as a storyboard for a live action and computer animation depiction of the pigeons as experienced by John Audubon, preliminary interviews and scenes that begin to tell the story of the pigeon.

For more information contact: dmrazek@sbcglobal.net”  video and narrative courtesy of David Mrazek 

MARTHA

The Last Passenger Pigeon

“In 1857, a bill was brought forth to the Ohio State Legislature seeking protection for the Passenger Pigeon. A Select Committee of the Senate filed a report stating “The passenger pigeon needs no protection. Wonderfully prolific, having the vast forests of the North as its breeding grounds, traveling hundreds of miles in search of food, it is here today and elsewhere tomorrow, and no ordinary destruction can lessen them, or be missed from the myriads that are yearly produced.”[28]

Fifty-seven years later, on September 1, 1914, Martha, the last known Passenger Pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo,Cincinnati, Ohio. Her body was frozen into a block of ice and sent to the Smithsonian Institution, where it was skinned and mounted. Currently, Martha (named after Martha Washington) is in the museum’s archived collection, and not on display.A memorial statue of Martha stands on the grounds of the Cincinnati Zoo.” Wikipedia

Photo credit ~ Public domain photograph (1914)  via Wikipedia

STUNNING, SOBERING, SANE

Video uploaded to YouTube by 

This is a non-commercial attempt to highlight the fact that world leaders, irresponsible corporates and mindless ‘consumers’ are combining to destroy life on earth. It is dedicated to all who died fighting for the planet and those whose lives are on the line today. The cut was put together by Vivek Chauhan, a young film maker, together with naturalists working with the Sanctuary Asia network (www.sanctuaryasia.com). 

Content credit: The principal source for the footage was Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s incredible film HOME. The music was by Armand Amar.

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We were introduced to film by Amy Nora Doyle (SoulDipper) and knew we had to share it. The cut is from Call of the Wild Sanctuary Asia. The film, HOME, was produced by French filmmaker, Uann Arthus-Bertrand, with narration by American actor, Glenn Close. The film has reportedly been viewed by 400 million people world-wide.

According to film festival: Green Unplugged (view the entire film on their site):

HOME takes you on a visually stunning, spectacular voyage around the world. It is a unique film that approaches the current debate about climate change from a whole new angle, giving viewers the opportunity to see for themselves how our earth is changing. Going well beyond the scientific reports, charts and graphs, this film is an inspiration that speaks to our hearts and touches our souls. Spanning 54 countries and 120 locations, all seen from the air, the film captures the Earth’s most amazing landscapes, showcasing its incomparable beauty and acknowledging its vulnerability. “Home” is a compelling emotional reminder of what is at stake: Earth, in all its beauty, and the people who live on it. “Home” is the first major film about climate change that has been made using only aerial photography. The film marks artist and activist, Yann Arthus-Betrand’s feature film directorial debut. “Home” is a non-for-profit film project, produced by the French film director and producer Luc Besson (Europacorp), Denis Carot (Elzevir Films) and supported by the PPR group.

INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE FOREST, 2011

At the behest of the United Nation, Arthus-Bertrand also produced a short seven-minute film for International Year of Forest, 2011. It can be viewed HERE.

The International Year of Forests 2011 (Forests 2011) … is designed to convey the theme of “Forests for People” celebrating the central role of people in the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of our world’s forests… forests provide shelter to people and habitat to biodiversity; are a source of food, medicine and clean water; and play a vital role in maintaining a stable global climate and environment. All of these elements taken together reinforce the message that forests are vital to the survival and well being of people everywhere, all 7 billion of us. MORE [U.N., International year of Forests, 2011]

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INTO THE BARDO

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ULTIMATELY DIRT

DIRT, THE ECSTATIC SKIN OF THE EARTH , THE BOOK

The front The Cathedral of St John the Divine  in New York. After services, writer Bill Logan stepped out the front door with a young woman he was trying to impress.  The Very Reverand James Morton greeted them and asked Bill what  he would like to write about.  Bill said “Well… about Dirt”, On the spot the prelate offered him a room in which to write such a book.  Which he did… (as well as wed the earthy young woman who came to services with him.) When published the book was graced by loud praise.   One reviewer wrote,  “A gleeful, poetic book…. Dirt is kind of a prayer.”   And Bill Logan went on to marry the young woman … MORE

Video posted to YouTube by lifechangingdocos.

Four billion years of evolution have created the dirt that recycles our water, gives us food, provides us shelter, and that can be used as a source of medicine, beauty and culture. However, people have become greedy and careless, endangering this vital living resource with destructive methods of agriculture, mining practices, and urban development. The Movie uncovers the surprising ways we can repair our relationship with dirt and create new possibilities for all life on earth. You may never look at the ground beneath your feet quite the same. MORE

Video posted to YouTube by getdirty2009.

Our film adapted the spirit of the book:  we filmed with pilgrims going to The Sanctuario de Chimayo to feel the hand of God by touching dirt, and taking some home with them.

Our film suggests that our connection to dirt and the natural world goes beyond stewardship to interconnectivity and a deep spiritual connection.  As Okenagan writer, artist and teacher Jeannette Armstrong puts it: “ I am that river, I am that mountain, I am that dirt. I could pick a hand of dirt and that’s, that’s what my grandmother used to say.  She, she’d pick up a hand of dirt and she’d say, “this is my flesh.” MORE

DIRT! THE MOVIE, DVD

Directed by Gene Rosow and Bill Benenson, Dirt! tells it’s environmental call-to-action tale with interviews, stirring cinematography, and googly-eyed or storybook animation (images of fertile fields swaying with plants, giddy spade-holding babies, cracked deserts, third-world slums, and giggly, poo-shaped and -colored cartoon blobs posing as dirt particles; the latter are most disturbing when wielding knives to kill other dirt particles or lobbying with gavel and pickets to vote humans off the planet). Ultimately Dirt! does what a good environmental documentary should: enlighten, galvanize, and entertain audiences, and in this case, make them want to get dirty. Chrisine Champ, Seattle PI.com, review MORE