Author: Giulia

Born for production, consumption, and discharge: The lie of progress in a postcolonial era

Francois Knoetze shot and edited together four short fragments of the film Core Dump, each exploring the different phases of production, consumption and discharge of digital media technologies. To me, it was interesting to watch how each segment was set and shot in the place where the step in the process of mass production of digital media technologies takes place. Part one is in Dakar, part two in Kinshasa, part three in Shenzhen, and part four in New York. The latter is pretty self-explanatory:...

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Wide and upward, a desert and a skyscraper delineate past, present, and future

Fatima Al Qadiri – War Games | From: Fade to Mind As I watched the short but significant works of Sophia Al Maria, Fatima Al Qadiri, and Larissa Sansour – The future was desert, Desert strike ghost raid, and Nation estate respectively – I couldn’t help but feel both confusion and clarity at the same time. While Sansour’s was a short film, it offered a lenght that gave room to a richer and more formal narrative that helped the viewer in understanding the elements...

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Meshes of the Afro-Futurism through NASA and music

Both Space is the place (1974) and The last angel of history (1996) are works, by John Coney and John Akomfrah respectively, that focus on elements of afro-futurism in order to convey feelings of dislocation and alienation felt by African-American communities. In order to do so effectively, both directors got inspiration from music genres, NASA and one particular figure from the avantgarde film Meshes of the afternoon (1943). In and out of reality as in Meshes of the Afternoon In Space...

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Occupation under fireworks and tear gas canisters

Elia Suleiman’s It must be heaven and Emily Jacir’s Letter to a friend, both from 2019, concentrate on the ongoing Palestinian occupation while using similar themes, but very different style choices in filming. Suleiman prefers a more linear narrative style, though full of symbolism, whereas Jacir presents her work in the form of a documentary/video essay. Though different in style, they seem to be after the same thing: a platform to share their story. I believe that the two pieces...

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The importance of irony and satire in helplessness and tragedy

A good laugh helps to get through hard times. It is often perceived and used as a coping mechanism to make the weight of reality feel just a bit lighter. [Today, one of the ways through which we witness irony and satire is memes, especially while the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across the world (refer to Image 1 for an example made by me on the current situation in order to get through it).] However, when irony and satire is found in films and books, such as Elia Suleiman’s The time hat...

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The Man and the Woman: Determining Worth According to Color

Chocolat is a 1988 film directed by Claire Denise. At a first glance, it might seem a coming-of-age film about a girl, France, and her childhood memories in Africa. However, the view of the film offers many more layers to the audience, especially in relation with Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks. Indeed, set in Cameroon around the late ’50s, Chocolat explores a story around a French family (governor Marc, wife Aimée, and daughter France), their black house boy Protée and the...

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The power of language in post-colonialism through the eyes of the colonized

Both director Isaac Julien’s docu-drama Black Skin, White Mask and Frantz Fanon’s work Black Skin, White Masks make room for reflection on the issue of identity of the colonized, taken away by the colonizer. The way in which this identity erasure happens is via the power of language, as Fanon discusses in one of his book’s chapters. The Negro and Language: a Matter of Power The issue of language is indeed a matter that Fanon felt very close to him, having experienced...

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Atlantique: come (away) to the water

In her film Atlantique, Mati Diop – Djibril Diop Mambéty’s niece – takes the opportunity to show viewers the other side of the coin in regards to the travels of young men who leave their homeland looking for a better life. However, they often perish in the waters of the ocean. As NYT author A.O. Scott points out, the film is a bit mysterious about its genre at least until its first half. Later on it reveals to be a mix of genres, reflecting the mix of realities that coexist...

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Touki Bouki, the unexpected and “loud” role of the hyena

The film Touki Bouki, on a first viewing experience, is about a couple (Anta, a university student and Mory, a cowherd) living in Dakar, Senegal, who make plans to leave their current lives behind and sail to France. In reality, as scholar Sada Niang mentions throughout her chapter on Touki Bouki in Nationalist African cinema: Legacy and transformations, it goes much deeper than that. Indeed, the film conveys a: “Transition between a critique of postcolonial power strategies and the postcolonial...

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“We are not aliens”

As lyrics from the song “Ultralight Beam” by Kanye West play in the background, African American video artist and cinematographer Arthur Jafa edited a montage of remixed clips from African American popular culture. The piece, titled Love is the Message. The Message is Death, features a series of videos that depict moments of cultural celebration alternated with moments of social struggle of African American communities in the United States. It is a short piece, lasting a bit over...

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Orientalism: loss of identity in fear of the “other” within us

While both reading Orientalism by Edward Said and watching Soleil O by Med Hondo, it was clear to me that the works do a great job in explaining in words and visuals the struggles of the colonized. The film, shot over a four year time span with little to no budget, embraces a more ironical tone and approach, offering a radical critique of racism and (neo/post)colonialism. The text considers a more historical and political background in order to better convey the issues at stake. I believe it...

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Imperial Travels in Cinema, Literature and News

A Professor and a Filmmaker, incoherent and influential protagonists of their time. In order to better understand the media texts that I read or watch, it is very helpful to me to reflect on them and identify particular themes or elements that make them unique. They might be recurring themes, or different ones that convey the same concept according to the historical period of the production of the texts. In both the examples of Paul Bowles’ A Distant Episode and Ben Rivers’ The...

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The Darkness of the Colonial

A quick contextualization Though the book Heart of Darkness and the film Apocalypse Now were distributed 80 years apart from each other, I have found multiple aspects in common. Of course, the film is loosely based on the book, hence the themes are very similar even if they refer to two different moments in history and politics. Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novel is set in London and in the Independent State of the Congo, while Francis For Coppola’s 1979 film is set in Vietnam, during...

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Postcolonial and perspective: a necessary pairing

What is “Postcolonial”? It seems that in order to understand the concept, there is a need to break its essence down. From the first few pages of Ella Shohat’s article, it appears clear that the concept carries some ambiguities on a theoretical and political level. I found the reading a perfect introduction to the concept of postcolonial which however did not shy away from critiquing it as well. The author interestingly called out a conservative portion of academics who seemed...

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YouTube: Attention Economy OnDemand

Youtube
YouTube: not just financial profit “Our mission is to give everyone a voice and to show them the world.” That’s what you find as you open YouTube’s “about” page. Its values are based on four fundamental kinds of freedom: Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Information; Freedom of Opportunity; Freedom to Belong. These four elements are what YouTube believes in to build a strong and supportive community. YouTube: a brief history Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed...

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