Archive for ‘Documentary’

March 26, 2010

Fear Industry

I picked up this article – Can’t afford to ignore the enemy at the gate from J. while this is not new, many people have written about it in great detail and with numbers/stats but still voice of reason is away from public discussion, media house, policy maker/politics.

Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear, is a brilliantly done documentary explains in great detail about politics of fear.

“The things we fear most may be least likely to occur, which means the time, trauma and treasure we invest in them is a complete waste.

Security itself is an illusion. It is a perception that exists only between our ears. No army, insurance policy, hazmat team, video surveillance or explosive sniffer can protect us from our own immune system, a well-intentioned but clumsy surgeon, failing to look before crossing the street, an asteroid randomly hurtling through space or someone willing to die in order to do others harm.

In this sense, the only things that can truly make us more ‘secure’ are not things. They are the courage to face whatever comes with dignity and intention, and the strong relationships that assure we will face the future together, and find comfort and meaning in doing so.”

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May 29, 2007

The U.S. vs. John Lennon

The new documentary “The U.S. vs. John Lennon“, tells the story of Lennon’s transformation from loveable moptop to anti-war activist, and recounts the facts about Nixon’s campaign to deport him in 1972 in an effort to silence him as a voice of the peace movement.

In the film, Walter Cronkite explains that J. Edgar Hoover “had a different conception of democracy” from the rest of us; George McGovern talks about losing the 1972 election to Nixon; Sixties veterans Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, John Sinclair and Tariq Ali recall their movement days; and G. Gordon Liddy happily explains the Nixon point of view: Lennon was “a high profile figure, so his activities were being monitored.”

Those “activities” – planning a concert tour that would combine rock music with antiwar organizing and voter registration for the 1972 election – were stopped cold by Nixon’s deportation order; but more than 30 years later, in the 2004 election, another group of rock stars finally did exactly what Lennon had been thinking about doing.

Although the Lennon film never explicitly connects the Vietnam war to Iraq, it’s impossible not to think of the present when Nixon is shown saying, “as South Vietnamese forces become stronger, the rate of American withdrawal can become greater” (and then wipes sweat off his upper lip). But there’s only one explicit reference to the present in the film, and it’s brief: Gore Vidal says “Lennon represented life, and Mr. Nixon, and Mr. Bush, represent death.”

Nixon got the idea of deporting Lennon from an unlikely source: Strom Thurmond, Republican Senator from South Carolina, who sent a letter to the White House in 1972 that outlined Lennon’s plans for a US concert tour that would combine rock music with antiwar organizing and voter registration. Thurmond knew that 1972 was the first year 18-year-olds were given the right to vote, and that Nixon, up for reelection, worried about 11 million new voters — who were probably all Beatle fans and mostly anti-war. Thurmond’s memo observed that Lennon was in the U.S. as a British citizen, and concluded “deportation would be a strategic counter-measure.”

It worked; the Lennon tour never happened.

For the next 30 years, the idea of a tour combining rock music and voter registration languished, until 2004, when Bruce Springsteen and a group of activist rock musicians did an election year concert tour of battleground states with a strategy very much like Lennon’s. The “Vote for Change” tour, organized by MoveOn PAC, brought the Dixie Chicks, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, and a dozen others on a tour of swing states, with the explicit goal of getting young rock fans to register to vote and vote against the Republican in the White House.

If the idea of using rock concerts to register young voters was the same, the 2004 tour had different politics from its 1972 predecessor – that much is clear from the one concert Lennon did do before the deportation order came down: the “Free John Sinclair” concert in Ann Arbor in December, 1971. Sinclair was a Michigan activist who had been in prison for two years for selling two joints of marijuana to an undercover cop; 15,000 people turned out for the concert. “The U.S. versus John Lennon” features footage from that concert, including wildly radical speeches by Jerry Rubin, and Bobby Seale, who said “the only solution to pollution is a people’s humane revolution!”

The Vote for Change tour had much less political talk, and much milder rhetoric. On opening night in Philadelphia in October, 2004, Bruce Springsteen made only a brief political statement: “We’re here to fight for a government that is open, rational, forward-looking and humane,” he said – not quite the same as Jerry Rubin at the 1972 concert shouting “what we are doing here is uniting music and revolutionary politics to build a revolution around the country!”

Of course 1972 and 2004 ended the same way – with the re-election of the Republican incumbent. In ’72, Nixon won by a landslide; in 2004, Bush barely won the popular vote – you might call that progress.

One factor has remained the same over the last 35 years – young voters are the least likely to vote, and potentially a rich source of progressive support. The challenge of overcoming their apathy and ignorance remains – as does the strategy of reaching them through music. Thus what Lennon thought about in 1972, and what Bruce Springsteen, the Dixie Chicks and others did in 2004, remains a key to mobilizing young voters in the future.

As Lennon says in “The U.S. vs. John Lennon,” “our job now is to tell them that there still is hope, we must get them excited about what we can do again.”

January 17, 2007

Komagata Maru.. Passage from India

Recently saw this documentary film “Passage from India

In his small village in the Punjab, Bagga Singh heard fabulous stories of Canadian land waiting to be settled. In 1913, Singh made it to Canada through the United States, circumventing strict immigration laws which sought to keep Asians like him out. He found work labouring in the lumber mills of British Columbia. Two generations later, Bagga Singh’s granddaughter, Belle Puri, is a well-known CBC television journalist in Vancouver. The film follows Belle as she draws upon family stories and tries to understand what life would have been like for her grandfather.

Filmmaker Ali Kazimi, himself an immigrant from India, parallels the history of the Indian community in Canada with his own journey. Kazimi skillfully mines anecdotes from two ‘old-timer’ immigrants, Kuldeep Bains and Jack Uppal. Canadians will be surprised to learn that Indians were denied the right to vote until 1947. Indian Canadians organized and lobbied for inclusion and helped make Canada a more just nation. That they and their descendants, like Belle Puri, continue to feel a deep attachment and love for Canada, is a testament to the worth of this country.

Passage from India is an enduring testimony to the hard work of thousands of Indians like Bagga Singh. Filmmaker Ali Kazimi faithfully and passionately documents the history of the Singh family and eloquently articulates the hopes, struggles and desires of all Canadians whose roots lie in India.

for those poor souls, who dont know about Komagata Maru – Click here

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