All posts by mara.ahmed

obama and the liberal movement

What I find most harmful about [Obama’s] embrace of things like preventive detention, concealment of torture evidence, opposition to investigations and the like is that these policies are now no longer just right-wing dogma but also the ideas that many defenders of his — Democrats, liberals, progressives — will defend as well. GLENN GREENWALD

film review: the house of sand

directed by andrucha waddington, “the house of sand” was shot in brazil’s northern state of maranhão with its pristine beaches, lagoons and sand dunes. the landscape is so stunning and otherworldly that it conflates into mood, theme and character. the film’s soundtrack is a constant lament of howling wind, washing over ever-shifting sand. it is overwhelming.

the characters in the film could have been dwarfed by the beauty and vastness of their surroundings but real life mother and daughter fernanda montenegro and fernanda torres are superb. in a tale that extends over 60 years they move seamlessly from youth to old age, playing three generations of daughters and mothers. dragged from the city into this remote part of brazil by her husband, a pregnant young woman and her mother are left to fend for themselves after the husband dies in a freak accident. they turn for help to the runaway slave community that inhabits a tiny fishing villages nearby.

throughout the film, antithetical forces are at play – the urge to leave and change one’s destiny vs the acceptance of one’s fate, the desire to experience the unknown vs the comfort of what is familiar, isolation vs human civilization, victorian etiquette vs abandonment to natural impulses, youth vs old age, nature’s dominance vs man’s resilience.

the film feels more like an ancient fable, set in a dreamland of luscious white sand and glittering water, where time can only manifest itself through the gradual aging of the characters. there is something ethereal and poetic about how it looks and something vast and cosmic about how it unfolds. the ending is perfection.

the house of sand

chicks with guns

talking of images and their effect on transforming culture, here is an exhibit by christopher slack. in view of the statements he is trying to make about war and violence, what do u think?

i like the idea of the tension between opposites – whether it be between the veil and nudity, kali the goddess/heroine and the monstrosity of violence, the sacred (religion) and profane (sexuality), and of course “us” vs “them”. the pictures are v clean cut, very produced, like an advertisement – is our own self image as a society carefully crafted in a studio? is the same true for “other” cultures?

while editing my film i needed images of women in burqas, so i googled “burqa”, “hijab”, “chador” etc. interestingly enough, along with some images of muslim women wearing the hijab, i happened upon an even larger pool of images of western women in various degrees of undress (some pictures were borderline pornographic) sporting a hijab so dire that their heads were completely blacked out. it was ironic – the liberated western woman juxtaposed against the repressed muslim woman. too funny. these paintings remind me of that contradiction.

for me, the pictures are reminiscent of raquel welch in “one million years bc” or jane fonda in “barbarella” with the addition of contemporary symbols such as the hijab, the kalashnikov, terrorism. the paintings are unsettling. they’re provocative. but they are also quite stereotypical: the objectification of women, the use of sex to titillate and sell (including one’s artwork), and orientalism (eastern women shown exclusively in the context of a harem or as dancing girls complete with diaphanous clothing and veil). so although i am not sure about how profound the images are, they do provoke some discussion.

chicks with guns (virgins in paradise 2) by christopher slack

chicks with guns (virgins in paradies 1) by christopher slack

shamila (foetal position) by christopher slack

shamila’s lament by christopher slack

u.s. colonel advocates military attacks on partisan media

“Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies.” RETIRED US ARMY COL. RALPH PETERS. Full article.

Obama Suggests He’ll Use ‘Preventive Detention’

preventive detention = thought policing = orwell’s 1984

In Closed-Door Meeting With Rights Groups, Obama Suggests He’ll Use ‘Preventive Detention’

Just when you think President Obama’s policies on war, civil liberties and Guantanamo couldn’t possibly look any more like the Bush/Cheney regime’s than they already do, the administration goes ahead and proves you dead wrong. In a meeting Wednesday with several human rights groups including the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Human Rights Watch, Obama said he was “mulling the need for a ‘preventive detention’ system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried,” according to two participants in the “private session.” Full article.