News & Analysis
0

Afghanistan: Thirty-Two Photos of the New Afghanistan

Original article found on: Global Voices

By: Aaquib Khan on March 3rd, 2015

Indian photo-journalist Aaquib Khan arrived in the rapidly changing Afghan capital Kabul in 2014. He shares some of his pictures and his insights with us in this post. 

Afghanistan is widely seen as a country torn between bullets and religious bullies, a no woman’s land, a pre-modern place where neither young nor old can have hope for a better future. The image in my mind was no different, until I landed in the country’s capital, Kabul last year.

Though much of the Kabul’s imagery conformed to my understanding of the country, there were many other moments that cameras rarely capture. Old and new, traditions and modernity, are locked in a struggle. Afghans, slowly and steadily, seem to be the winners.

Kabul is a place of hope, aspiration, warmth and hospitality, all of which shine through when Afghans saw my blue passport. ”Oh, you are Indian? I love Indian movies!”

Posters of Indian film stars decorate the country’s music shops. There is a mall named after Delhi’s famous Select City Walk. Alumni of Indian universities in the metropolises as well as small Indian towns bump into you on the fringes of crowded market places.

Afghanistan is far from monolithic. Walking beside burqa-clad women are schoolgirls strolling to school. Young women on their way to university, while CDs and DVDs of Bollywood and Hollywood movies can be heard playing in the background, a far cry from the blanket bans on entertainment of the Taliban period. In the land where the Taliban brought down the Buddhist statues of Bamiyan, mannequins in Kabul’s shop windows don extravagant bridal wears.

Then there are the competing mobile service provider advertisements, FM Radio stations, 24-hour TV Channels, numerous talk shows discussing women’s rights. There are hookah bars, where hookah and coffee is served. No women or alcohol, but plenty of young men dancing to loud music.

Vehicles honk past you and leave you in a trail of dust. Afghans complain of increasing pollution in Kabul. Security personnel man the streets, helicopters hover over pedestrians.

Amid the exuberance, there is apprehension: what will happen when the remnants of the US army finally withdraw? But young Afghans believe their country is gathering strength after decades of weakness and division.

They shout a slogan which translates as: “One Afghanistan. No Tajik, No Hazara, No Pashtun”.

Original article found on: Global Voices

0

On the Media: Albert Maysles (1926-2015) Pushed Documentary Filmmaking Forward to the Very End

Original article found on: Slate

By: Charles Loxton

Two men who revolutionized documentary filmmaking: Al Maysles and D.A. Pennebaker. Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Two men who revolutionized documentary filmmaking: Al Maysles and D.A. Pennebaker. Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images

In the 1960s, siblings Albert and David Maysles helped pioneer the techniques of cinema verité in a form of documentary film that they liked to call “direct cinema.” Adapting new, portable 16mm cameras so that Albert could shoot picture while David recorded sound, the brothers placed themselves in the heart of the action—on location with Orson Welles in Madrid, on the primary campaign trail with JFK, at Idlewild Airport for the Beatles’ first touchdown in the U.S.

Along with contemporaries D.A. Pennebaker, Ricky Leacock, Robert Drew, and Frederick Wiseman, the Maysles brothers liberated documentary from the presentational format of the newsreel and the talking head. They crafted compelling narratives by capturing real-life drama enacted by real people, from Bible salesmen (in 1969’s Salesman) to the Beales (in 1975’s Grey Gardens) to the world’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band.

Direct cinema’s influence on nonfiction filmmaking was so extensive that the style is now virtually indistinguishable from the form itself. But it’s worth remembering that the movement would not have been possible without the technical innovations that made motion picture cameras lightweight enough to be handled deftly by, say, a diminutive psychology teacher from Brookline, Mass., which is what Albert Maysles was when he made his first film.

David Maysles died in 1987, but Albert continued shooting and making movies pretty much until yesterday, when he, too, passed away. I worked in production with Albert at Maysles Films for three years at the turn of the millennium, a time when his passion for the possibilities of nonfiction filmmaking was reignited by another technological revolution: that of the digital camera.

Throughout his career, Albert remained a bit of a techie. Always adapting his gear for the field, he once glued a small circular mirror to an elbowed metal rod, which he then secured with electrician’s tape to the bottom of his old Bach Auricon so he could see what was going on behind him while he was rolling.

I took a look and told him that it didn’t work—the image in the mirror was blurry. He grinned broadly as he replied that he had found a reflective lens that matched his eyeglasses prescription. I’m still not sure if he was having me on.

Early in 2000, Albert got his hands on Sony’s PD150, a very lightweight, truly handheld DV camera capable of recording high-quality picture and sound in a digital format. Yes, he beamed like a kid with a new toy, but he also spoke with the conviction of a visionary when he said that such cameras would usher in a new wave of documentary film by granting shooters unprecedented freedom, access, and opportunity.

Albert Maysles with Morgan Spurlock at Sundance. Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Albert Maysles with Morgan Spurlock at Sundance. Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

It’s difficult to convey how ludicrous this sounded back then, before we all carried phones that take substantially better pictures than Al’s PD150. For every day’s shooting, we incurred tens of thousands of dollars of film stock and processing fees. We did so because video just looked cheesy. How could a movie have an impact if it had all the visual appeal of the local weather report? If you wanted to make an enduring, serious picture, you had to shoot in film, and you had to find a way to finance it. And before just about everybody else, Albert knew all that was about to change.

Within a year, he was in Rome with his PD150 shooting Martin Scorcese and his crew on the set of Gangs of New York, one part of a series commissioned by the Independent Film Channel titled With the Filmmaker.* It was, I believe, one of the very first programs shot in digital video format to be aired on a serious cable channel.
Before citizen journalists, before YouTube, Albert was giddy over the prospect of more cameras in more hands recording more unexpected moments. Albert’s camerawork features in some of American cinema’s most iconic documentaries because he always kept this eye for action. He understood the documentary cinematographer’s art to be primarily that of the storyteller, and he always believed that what he captured was related, not inconsequentially, to the truth.

*Correction, May 7, 2015: This article originally misstated that Albert Maysles was in Rome shooting Wes Anderson on the set of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. He was shooting Martin Scorcese on the set of Gangs of New York.

Original article found on: Slate

0

Afghanistan: Teach Men that Education is not a Threat

Original article found on: Skoll World Forum

By: SAKENA YACOOBIFounder & CEO, Afghan Institute of Learning

December 26, 2014

AIL_Mixed_Class_633x444

Many in the international development community focus on the education of women and girls, sometimes to the exclusion of educating men. While I believe it is vital to educate women and girls, I also believe it is a mistake to leave men out of the process.

My father was a successful businessman, well respected in the community. Though he was illiterate, he insisted that his children attend school. As the eldest child, I began learning to read at a local mosque. Soon, I was attending school.

I loved learning. After high school, I had the opportunity to attend a university in the United States, and my father was my biggest supporter. Though he was not what most people would think of as “educated”, he was knowledgeable, wise, very open-minded, and a just and honest man; because of this he was often chosen to mediate disputes.

After completing my studies in the U.S., I returned to work with my people in the Pakistan refugee camps. I found my people struggling with a lack of education, knowledge, wisdom and open-mindedness. Years of war had devastated our culture and torn apart the education and health systems, leaving people unable to adequately care for themselves and their families. The only thing they knew was survival and war.

Helping Afghans improve their lives through education

Working with refugee camp leaders, we began to train teachers and establish schools for boys and girls. I founded the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) and began supporting secret home schools for girls inside Afghanistan. Once the Taliban fell, we were able to operate openly and began working closely with communities to establish Learning Centers for women and older girls.

Our goal is to help Afghans improve their lives. In our schools and centers, students not only study the established curriculum, they also learn critical thinking skills, open-mindedness, wisdom and ethics – all qualities that my father, an “uneducated” man, had in abundance.

My father’s insistence on education forever changed the course of my life, and so I believe that a well-rounded education is the best way to improve people’s lives and to make lasting change for everyone – women, girls, men, boys, young, old. Educated, wise women help their families financially and raise educated, wise children. Educated, wise men do not abuse women or children and recognize the worth and value of women and children.

Boys demand education too

Let me tell you a story. One day in early 2002, I went with my female staff to visit one of our Women’s Learning Centers in rural Kabul. Suddenly a group of teenage boys with weapons appeared, blocking the road.

Our driver stopped the car and asked what they wanted. Pointing to me, they said, “We want to talk to her.” Although my heart was pounding, I opened the door, got out of the car and asked them what they wanted. Their leader said, “Every day we watch your car come and visit your centers for women and girls. They are learning to read. What about us? We have been fighting and living in caves since we were little boys. Now we are too old for school, but we want to study. What can you do for us?”
At the time, we only had funding for females, and I had no idea where to find funding for boys education, but I said, “Give me a week.” They said, “We will be waiting.”

I went back to my room, praying and wondering what to do. Suddenly my phone rang. It was a donor who was very supportive of our work. Listening to my voice, she asked, “What is wrong?” I told her. She said, “Start your center for boys. I will find the funds.”

And she did. Those boys went to school, studied hard and also learned about human rights, cleanliness, manners and ethics. Their parents were so happy! Soon they were able to transition into regular school.
All graduated from high school. Many went on to university or to study computers. Then and now, they have made sure that AIL has no security concerns in their communities. Today their daughters are going to school.

Open minds will make lasting change

There are those in Afghanistan who do not want women and girls to be educated. If we are to make lasting change, we need to open the minds of all who are still ignorant. They need to see that an educated girl or boy is not a threat to their culture, but is someone who will help to improve the whole community.

The women who come to our centers feel the same way. Men and boys need to be educated, not ignored. They need to be included in workshops and seminars with women and girls so that they can listen and exchange ideas and know that education is not a threat to them but is something that improves the lives of everyone.

Original article found on: Skoll World Forum

0

Thank you! A letter from Haitian filmmaker Steeve Colin

ms

Dear Mr. Michael,

I hope this letter finds you well. This is Steeve Colin, and I wanted to take the time to express my deep thanks for the training you gave on community film-making, and explain why it held a special importance for me.

I was raised in Cite Soleil, Haiti’s largest slum and its most dangerous ghetto. For more than a decade, our community has been plagued by gang violence. In 2004, 2005, and 2006 our community was literally a war zone, with UN soldiers and barricades and helicopters surrounding us. But then, as now, the violence and the gangs were just a small but powerful corner of our community. The vast majority of people in Cite Soleil are good, honest, hard-working people, just trying to make a living for their families. There are even a few among us, like my friend Robi from the documentary, who are actively working for peace, and risking their lives doing it. But despite that, we seem unable to shake the stigma that those few violent years have given to us. Everywhere young men like me go, as soon as we say we come from Cite Soleil, people think we are gangsters. Everyone seems to want that image: politicians and NGOs use images of poverty from the worst slums to ask for money for their budgets, the Haitian media is only interested in coming to Cite Soleil when there is a scandal or violence, and the international media only wants the sensational, Hollywood gangster stories they can find here.

And this narrative has to change – it’s suffocating us. All of the young leaders like Robi, myself, and the men and women I work with in the social movement Konbit Soley Leve feel like we are suffocating under the weight of this single, negative story. It’s not that this story isn’t true – we still have gangsters, and innocent people dying every week. It’s just that it’s not the only story, and for young leaders to bring peace, they have to be able to tell their stories. They have to be able to show that they exist. They have to be recognized.

This is why this training was so important for me – it gave me a chance to tell my community’s story myself. It gave me a chance to share the story of my friend Robi, someone who is fighting for peace. It gives people like me the chance to change the narrative about my community -to make it more complex, deeper, richer. And that is a power that I don’t take for granted, because it is rare that someone from Cite Soleil is given the tools to build our own narratives. So thank you for the knowledge, thank you for the training, and thank you for trusting me with my community’s story.

I know this is not an easy task and that it has its own complexities, but I hope this program grows. I hope that you get to bring this to other marginalized communities around the world, and that you can continue to give others the tools to build their own stories. And I hope that one day you come back to Haiti. I know my country can be challenging, but we somehow keep struggling and keep fighting. I hope you do too.

Sincerely,

ss

0

On the Media, Afghanistan: Reporting open data in Afghanistan

Original article found on: Journalism.co.uk

By: Catalina Albeanu; February 18, 2015

Credit: By Jorge Franganillo on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Credit: By Jorge Franganillo on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

“A lone man data journalist is not very tenable anywhere, let alone in some developing countries and conflict environments.”

So says data journalism adviser Eva Constantaras, who has been running data journalism workshops for local media in countries such as Afghanistan, as part of her work with the NGO Internews.

One project developed after Internews’ workshops is an investigation into Afghanistan’s drug trade by Rohullah Armaan Darwish, an investigative reporter at PAYK.

The first story in the series, looking at the country’s opium eradication programme, was published last week.

Constantaras told Journalism.co.uk part of Internews’ aim is helping media outlets in developing countries make the most of open data movements and platforms that are being set up, and also prepare for digital conversion.

She said the combination of low data literacy and an independent media landscape that’s not fully established yet means citizens in countries like Afghanistan are not demanding data driven stories from news outlets.

The workshops in Afghanistan were set up with the aim of getting journalists “more engaged in the accountability and transparency process,” and to showcase tools they can use to tell stories with data.

Internews works with journalists who want to explore subjects in-depth and who usually have a history in feature writing or investigations, said Constantaras.

She added that the best data journalists aren’t necessarily those who “are very good at math”.

“Really they might have never heard of data journalism but they’re already looking for the tools for actual quantifiable information about a sector or about a subject,” she explained.

Constantaras highlighted the language barrier as one of the main challenges journalists in Afghanistan face when working with data. There is a “crazy level of linguistic isolation,” she said.

“I’m not talking about they can’t code in Python. [With] most tools, the menus are in English. Even if the data is about Afghanistan, the data is still in English.”

Even if the data is about Afghanistan, the data is still in English
Eva Constantaras, Internews
She explained that even in the case of survey data where the questions were asked in the local language, the results are often translated into English before publication.

As most Afghani journalists do not speak English, she said, tools highlighted during the workshops include Infogram and Excel, whose menus are available in local languages, while Google Translate features heavily in their work.

Most data scraping programmes are also designed to work in English, she added.

While investigative or data-driven stories are published from Afghanistan, they are more likely to appear in English, targeted at an international audience.

But stories such as the drug trade investigative series address angles that would interest an Afghan audience, said Constantaras.

They are also designed to present a story in an accessible format – usually in print or on the radio, she explained.

She added that quality data-driven stories increase a media outlet’s credibility and reputation.

“Open data is a really new concept in Afghanistan. Can we channel that through trusted information channels, so through radio and some print [outlets] in Kabul, and have people access that information and make better decisions and be more aware of what the government is doing?”

While the workshops run by Internews cover tools like Infogram, which enables users to embed interactive graphics into online stories, Constantaras said reporters often save their data visualisations as static images to be published in print.

“That’s how people are consuming their news,” she said.

“[But] we also want them also to know how to make interactive data visualisations. It will just make them more competitive when digital conversion does happen.”

Original article found on: Journalism.co.uk

Page 8 of 89« First...678910...203040...Last »