UCDVO Development series: Review of Gaza, Push and For Sama

UCDVO Development series: Review of Gaza, Push and For Sama

The 8th UCDVO Development Film Series began on the 27th January and will continue until February 2020. The series includes 5 high-quality feature documentary films on subjects relating to global justice and development issues. The event’s highlight is that each screening is followed by a guest speaker with an opportunity for an open discussion. This takes place over 5 consecutive Monday evenings.

 

 

Gaza 

The series began with the screening of Gaza. This angry and heartfelt documentary truly captures the sense of ordinary life. As quoted by the taxi driver in the documentary, “Most of the people here are ordinary people like me. They just want to be left alone to live their lives. They just want to take care of their families and educate their children.”

 

The opening credits give a geographical and a brief history of the narrow strip of Mediterranean coastline bordered by Israel and Egypt that is home to nearly 2 million Palestinians.  The Islamic resistance movement Hamas came to power over the course of three elections and has been governing Gaza since 2007. Since then, Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza, completely sealing its borders. The  film was shot during the Israeli war in 2014 and the border protests in 2018. Gaza, directed by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell, received a complex reaction in some quarters when it premiered at Sundance in 2019. Some criticize that it only fleetingly mentions Hamas, while others found it to be manipulative.It is important to ponder the reason behind why an immobile child is shown with her eyes closed and the audience is encouraged to think she is dead but in a later scene, she opens her eyes.

 

However, Gaza definitely tries to avoid direct political engagement. The film shows ordinary people courageously going on with  their lives despite living in some of the most challenging conditions in the world. A young woman practises the cello, a young man records rap tracks, a theatre director rehearses a performance piece, a fisherman broods over the oppression of his industry – they are not allowed to fish more than three miles out, and the amount of fish that can be caught so close to shore is pitifully meagre. The film also showcases Deir Al- Balah, Gaza’s smallest refugee camp which hosts about  21,000 refugees who fled from villages in central and southern Palestine as a consequence of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. This is where the audience is introduced to the largest family in Gaza where Ahmed Abu Alqoraan and his 13 brothers and 23 sisters live.

 

The film is a striking piece of film-making. Beautifully shot by McConnell as he manages to capture stunning images that draw out the characters we are introduced to during the film. The images are powerful enough to set forth the mood and intent. Unfortunately, the intrusive score tips the film more so towards manipulation rather than observation. I didn’t want the background score to direct me to think or feel in a particular way, I wanted to feel this emotion myself from the scenes that were unfolding. 

 

Watch the trailer here

 

 

Push

Push documents UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, as she travels the world in an attempt to figure out the reason behind the housing crisis. The documentary rightly explores why housing is considered to be a market instead of a fundamental human right. Push offers a worldwide wake-up call as it examines  the rapidly shifting patterns in the “financialisation” of housing. This crisis, as the film suggests, goes behind gentrification and the concept of financialisation was an eyeopener to me! Private equity firms are now the biggest landlords and houses are considered to be the assets. As prices go up while income stays the same, people are being pushed out of their homes and governments don’t seem to do anything about it. This has become a worldwide phenomenon, which has been particularly evident in Ireland over the last number of years.

 

“You know it’s time to move out of your neighbourhood when vintage shops open, poor people start to dress well (…)  prices go up and you get the push.“

 

Director Frederick Gretten follows Farha through her investigation that takes her to an interconnected pattern of hidden capital with networks in Toronto, Barcelona, Seoul, Berlin, London and other cities revealing just the tip of the iceberg. Her investigation further discloses  the process in which affordable housing becomes a token for hedge funds, investors and criminal networks to increase their profits while driving out ordinary citizens. The familiar sight of empty condos, homes and apartments, owned by anonymous foreign buyers who never set a toe in their luxury homes, paints the cities nothing less than ghost towns.

 

Farha, alongside the United Cities Local Government and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,  started the new worldwide movement The Shift to ‘reclaim and realize the fundamental right to housing – to move away from housing as a place to park excess capital, to housing as a place to live in dignity, to raise families and participate in community’. Gertten’s film captures the community spirit that endures and gives life to the cities. Push is ultimately an empowering story of resistance and the question the film poses is, “ Who are cities for ?”

 

Watch the trailer here

 

 

For Sama

Is the world listening? Are we getting used to documentaries based on Syrian war? Have those stories  that seem to plead with the world fallen on deaf ears or has the world decided to look in the other direction? Despite these questions clouding my mind often, For Sama may be the most powerful plea yet. Syrian filmmaker Waad al-Kateb began a video diary to keep record of events when nobody knew what it was like to live in Aleppo, Syria. Caught between the Assad regime and the Islamic state, every day seems  like a new chapter in the lives of Syrians. This documentary that captures al-Kateb’s life through five years is a human story with no propaganda in sight. It’s a simple appeal from people who bravely stayed behind to fight against the atrocities.

 

In collaboration with British filmmaker Edward Watts, Waad al-Kateb tells us the most compelling story of how this conflict negates  everyday life. The documentary is named after Waad’s daughter, Sama (Arabic for Sky). Through assembled extracts of her video diary, For Sama captures moments of loss, laughter and survival as Waad has to decide between fleeing Aleppo to protect the ones she loves or staying in the city.  Scenes where the new mother struggles to put her baby to sleep and dialogues like, “Lots of airstrikes today…but they didn’t hit us” when she talks to her baby is a sign that we have been silent spectators for far too long. The unforgettable moments come through at every other scene – the tense nighttime drive to get through a regime checkpoint, the time when Assad’s forces are just one street away and the Caesarean section to remove a baby from its wounded mother’s womb may probably be the most miraculous and intimate scenes. The most dramatic scenes unfold  inside hospitals as the documentary shows how they are being systematically blown up one after another. In 2016, airstrikes by Russian and Syrian government forces destroyed eight out of nine hospitals in rebel-held East Aleppo

 

The normalisation of conflict to this level is clearly depicted in this documentary. In my opinion, For Sama that recently won a BAFTA and was nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars this year is a must-watch.

 

Watch the trailer here

 

 

 

Photos from Twitter

 

 

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Lack of Diversity Overshadows Another Award Season

Lack of Diversity Overshadows Another Award Season

For the last few years, award ceremonies have come under a huge amount of scrutiny for a lack of diversity in the talent which they choose to celebrate. Heading into a new decade it felt tempting to think that those behind some of the most prestigious awards in entertainment may have started to heed this calls for inclusion. Unfortunately, as the list of nominations came rolling in over the last month, we soon learnt that this was not going to be the case. Although many stars have dipped their toes into political speeches or protests, the huge shadow cast by the lack of diversity is hard to ignore.

 

On the 5th of January, the Golden Globes kicked off this year’s awards season, and there was a glimmer of hope for what 2020 could bring as two young people of colour picked up major acting trophies. Awkwafina, at 31, was the first Asian woman to win the award for Lead Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and was the first woman of colour to do so since Angela Bassett in 1993. Ramy Youseff picked up the Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy, aged only 28. In the heady days before the BAFTA and Oscar nominations were announced, it seemed as though the tide could be changing for a new generation of actors of colour. 

 

Despite calls from host Ricky Gervais for celebrities to refrain from making their speeches too political, many stars touched on issues ranging from the Australian bushfires to abortion rights in the US. Aussie winners such as Cate Blanchett and Russell Crowe (the latter actually absent from the night as he was fighting fires around his own home in New South Wales) made reference to the bushfires and explicitly linked them to global climate change. During her winning speech for her part in Fosse/Verdon, Michelle Williams gave a passionate speech about protecting a woman’s right to choose. She expressed gratitude for living in a time when women could choose when to have children; just as members of Congress in the US are threatening to overturn Roe v Wade. As another nod to environmentalism, the Hollywood Foreign Press made the decision to serve an entirely vegan meal to the guests at the event.

 

Just as we were all winding down from the news that Joaquin Phoenix was saving the planet by wearing the same suit for the entire award season (something we can all relate to), the BAFTA nominations were announced on the 7th of January. Within hours the hashtag #BAFTAsSoWhite was trending all over social media. While the Golden Globes had clearly made some attempt, even simply a token one, to head in the direction of inclusion and diversity; it seemed that the BAFTAs had not learnt from the mistakes of their past. At the 2020 BAFTAs on February 2nd, all the main acting awards will be competed for by white talent, with the only category containing diverse nominations being the EE Rising Star Award. Cynthia Erivo missed out on an acting nomination, while Greta Gerwig was snubbed in the all-male Best Director category as well as in the Best Film category. Joanna Hogg’s acclaimed British film The Souvenir was also completely ignored. 

 

After a week of criticism across social media, as well as from several high profile names in the industry, BAFTA announced that they would undergo a review to their voting system. Director Steve McQueen warned that the BAFTAs could risk becoming obsolete if they continued to fail to recognise diverse talent. In defence of the nominations, BAFTA deputy chairman Krishnendu Majumdar claimed that the lack of female nominees was “an industry-wide problem” which the awards show did not have the power to combat, a statement which was disputed by McQueen who pointed out that even films and actors with critical acclaim were not recognised. 

 

Following the recent backlash against the lack of diversity at the Academy Awards and the creation of the 2015 #OscarsSoWhite hashtag; the Academy vowed to shake up the way its voting works. It announced plans to double the number of women and diverse nominees by 2020, through measures such as limiting the voting to members who have been active in filmmaking for the past 10 years. However, when the highly anticipated Academy Award nominations were revealed on the 13th of January, any last glimmers of hope for diversity were soon dashed. Cynthia Erivo was the sole person of colour in any of the acting categories, earning another Best Actress nomination for her role in Harriet. Despite the South-Korean film Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-ho, becoming the first non-English language film in the Oscars history to win Best Picture, alias the top prize, it would not be inappropriate to keep the #OscarsSoWhite trend going for another year. The small step towards more diversity that Parasite’s success at this year’s Academy Awards represents was immediately bashed by Donald Trump who made some disparaging comments about the film during his rally. After implying that Parasite should not have been considered for an American movie prize because it is not in English, he added “What […] was that all about? We’ve got enough problems with South Korea with trade, on top of it they give them the best movie of the year?” 

 

Despite nominations at the Golden Globes and huge critical acclaim, Lulu Wang’s The Farewell was completely ignored. Greta Gerwig picked up 6 nominations for Little Women but was once again locked out of the eternal boys club that is the Best Director category. Not only were the five nominees in this category all men, but none of their films managed to muster up even a Best Supporting Actress nomination, let alone Best Actress; a fact which is telling of the amount of female representation in these films. Natalie Portman paid tribute on the awards night with a Dior cape embroidered in gold with the names of the female directors who were shut out. Portman has previously openly called out the dismissal of female directors—in 2018, she noted the “all-male nominees” while presenting the Best Director at the Golden Globes. After being criticized by Rose McGowan for having worked with only two female directors in her career so far, one of them herself, Portman opened up about the difficulties that female-directed films are facing in the industry. Apart from being “incredibly hard to get made at studios, or to get independently financed”, their making often represents a great challenge to female directors as difficult working conditions like prejudice and hostility lead them to quit. 

 

It is clear that questions need to be asked not only of the talent which is represented in the nominations but also the stories and narratives that are consistently celebrated by the Academy. Stephen King was widely criticised for his comment that “he would never consider diversity in matters of art”, and although he later amended this to acknowledge the issues faced in terms of getting in the door, it touched a nerve for many. The director Ava DuVernay pointed out that this was part of a greater issue, in that many in the industry felt that quality and diversity were mutually exclusive. April Reign, who created the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, added that the Academy could no longer use the excuse of there not being enough diverse talent to nominate. There is a real possibility that these award ceremonies will become obsolete if they fail to reflect the changing landscape of modern filmmaking. There are millions of stories out there about people who aren’t male, and who aren’t white; but before they can be celebrated and nominated for awards, they should be told.

 

 

Photo by Walt Disney Television on Flickr

 

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Review: ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ Will Make You Rethink Race

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Yet Again, Love Island Is Failing Us On Diversity

Yet Again, Love Island Is Failing Us On Diversity

The January blues may be in full swing here in Ireland, but over on ITV2, love is in the air with the arrival of the very first winter season of Love Island. Although you cannot fault the extremely popular reality show on its entertainment value, it has come under scrutiny time and time again for its lack of body diversity, lack of racial representation and heteronormativity, and this season is no exception. 

 

When the cast was announced a few weeks ago, the array of toned and buff bods did not come as a shock to most of us but was somewhat of a disappointment. This is not the first time that ITV has been criticised for the lack of body diversity of the contestants. In fact, the creative director of ITV Studios Entertainment Richard Cowles responded to similar complaints last year by saying, “Yes we want to be as representative as possible but we also want [the contestants] to be attracted to one another.” He also said that the cast was “a group of people we want to watch for eight weeks.” By insinuating that viewers would not want to watch different body types on their screens, Cowles and ITV are perpetuating the idea that there is only one acceptable body type, and that anything outside of that is both unacceptable and unattractive.

 

 

This season, in spite of the lack of body diversity, certain contestants have still been the butt of a joke due to their physical appearance. While body image is something we usually consider a women’s issue, in the Love Island villa it would appear that men suffer scrutiny as much, if not more so, than women. 

 

In the first episode, after the girls have introduced themselves and are enjoying a glass of champagne, they chat about what their “type” is. One thing the girls can all agree on is that they prefer a tall “manly man”. As the show has progressed, we have seen Nas suffer as a result of his height. His original partner, Siannise complained that he was too short and his height was the subject of ridicule in a game the islanders played on Sunday the 19th’s episode. In a game where islanders had to guess the answer to questions about their partners, Jess had to guess Nas’s greatest fear. Her answer, “heights,” was an obvious source of laughter. Being a good sport, he has taken the teasing on the chin. However, as viewers we cannot help but think, ‘if a woman got this much flak for her physical appearance, would we be more outraged?’ 

 

https://twitter.com/Mah1ve/status/1219017247953387520

 

ITV has also been accused of lack of representation when it comes to race. The cast has undoubtedly become more racially diverse as the seasons have gone on, but this has allowed for latent racial prejudices to be played out on our screens. The producers have been accused of giving black women very little air time, an issue that was pointed out in the cases of both Samira from the 2018 cast and Yewande from last year’s cast. The absence of Yewande from our screens became so blatant last year that it prompted the use of the Twitter hashtag #whereisyewande. A similar case could also be made for this season’s Leanne. While her partner Mike seems to be one of the cast’s principal characters, Leanne is fading into the background. Fans may defend the show by saying that perhaps these contestants’ storylines just aren’t as interesting, but others would argue that there is a pattern emerging. 

 

https://twitter.com/JOYFULUVIE/status/1218288876923641856

 

There is also a strong argument for the problem of the fetishization of contestants of colour and of mixed race in the show. This first came to light in the 2018 series, when both Georgia Steel and Ellie Brown said their type was “mixed race.” This resulted in frustration and it was explained that claiming to be attracted to mixed race people is incredibly reductive as it assumes that all mixed race people look alike – an assumption that could not be more wrong. In this season the comparisons between Asian contestant Nas and Disney’s Aladdin have provoked some backlash. Perhaps this is only the case because his first partner, Siannise, compared herself to Jasmine. In any case, the debate surrounding the ways we view the contestants (and of course how they view each other) according to their appearance continues. 

 

The most glaringly obvious way in which Love Island has missed the memo in terms of representation is in its extremely heteronormative format. The entire concept of the show is based on heterosexuality. The idea is akin to a glamorous Lisdoonvarna – a group of attractive twenty-somethings lounging around a villa in swimwear figuring out who they fancy the most, that person being of the opposite sex of course. The only departure from this heteronormative format was in 2016, when two bisexual women had a brief fling. Writing for the Guardian, Fay Schopen has argued that if Love Island is supposed to be reality TV, surely it should reflect reality more accurately. 

 

 

This sentiment can be applied to the show in general. The appeal of Love Island lies in the gritty moments of authenticity. As members of the audience, we love to see our own dating woes played out before our eyes. We relish the moments of pure love and mourn the moments of pure heartbreak. The fact that the cast members are presented to us as real, normal people allows us to share in their joy and their anguish in a way we can’t with scripted television. 

 

The body type, race and sexuality of the islanders do not (or at least should not) impact our connection with them, and Love Island producers are greatly underestimating their viewership if they believe that to be the case. 

 

 

Photo by ITV 

 

 

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Book Review: Klein Gifts Us With Tools to Unite Climate Action in ‘On Fire’

Book Review: Klein Gifts Us With Tools to Unite Climate Action in ‘On Fire’

It’s hard to believe that Naomi Klein has been chronicling the exploitation of people and our planet for over 20 years. As a 24-year-old, her voice emerged around the same time I was born, but I have only discovered her genius in recent months. The author of No Logo, This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine among many others has gathered writings and key speeches from the last decade for her latest work emphasising the imperativeness of the Green New Deal. The urgency of her work has only increased with the steady stream of heartbreaking environmental statistics leaking through the cracks of our social media feeds.

 

On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal takes place from numerous vantage points; the Vatican under Pope Francis’ “ecological conversion”, measuring environmental damages from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, choking on smoke from wildfires in British Columbia, Vancouver and witnessing the die-off in the Great Barrier Reef. Her voice is as accessible as ever while she dissects the scientific and economic jargon for her whole audience to grasp, simultaneously injecting empathy and passion in her fight to hold corporations and fossil fuel companies accountable for the endless hurt they’ve caused.

 

Klein examines the worrying resurgence of narratives regarding the right of supposedly superior white colonisers to inflict violence on those they classify as beneath them in the hierarchy of humans. Her consistent elevation of Indigenous voices is a priority for the climate justice movement, as minorities are the most vulnerable people with the lowest carbon footprint but bear the brunt of climate breakdown’s disastrous effects. From dozens of Indigenous tribes in the Amazon facing prejudice and stripped of land rights under President Bolsonaro and Justin Trudeau’s use of First Nations land for tar sands pipelines to the storms ravaging Puerto Rico and droughts in Africa and East Asia; Klein uses her platform to highlight how horrifically unfair the ecological destruction of our planet is. 

 

Using a rake of data, historical sources and referencing studies, research and interviews, the activist disproves claims that climate change is simply a result of “flawed human behaviour”. The greed of a small but elite group of neoliberal capitalists and 100 corporate fossil fuel companies saw the natural wealth of stolen lands as something to dominate and use up. The idea that the earth’s resources are boundless are reminiscent of capitalism’s grab and pull behaviour, the consistent consumption habits of the planet’s richest inhabitants to the detriment of the systematically unheard. Black and brown lives are being betrayed, while Western, wealthy countries build higher and higher walls.
 

The Canadian author tries to maintain a pragmatic and optimistic tone throughout the novel while making sure to put political leaders blocking climate action on blast. The opening chapter makes sure to reference the shining light of Greta Thunberg, declaring that young people are “cracking open the heart of the climate crisis”. Democratic eco-socialism is the backbone of the Green New Deal resolution, put forward by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. By the final chapters of Klein’s book, it’s impossible to deny that this plan is the only way forward, which is why she endorses Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination in 2020.  

The Green New Deal has its roots in Indigenous communities and tribes who have a compassionate and respectful relationship to the land, rather than seeing it as something worth draining of all life for the profit of a small few. It makes sure to illustrate that the economic strain of the plan should not be on the poorest people in our society. The plan works to eliminate the racial wealth gap and gender wealth gap while guaranteeing job security, free education, free healthcare, funded art projects and protection of wildlife and nature reserves, transport and childcare as well as 100% renewable energy. 

 

The vicious cycle of placing certain lives above ‘the Other’ has led to a dehumanising effect, with the rise of far-right, authoritarian movements globally and a shutdown of freedom of movement being called for in post-Brexit UK. The irony of anti-immigration sentiment rings hollow, Klein writes, once it dawns on them that Britain invented the coal-burning steam engine and has been burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale longer than any nation on earth. Their anger at the thought of paying for flood defences abroad while ignoring their role in climate-related weather storms in the Global South is peak white privilege.  

 

The writer stresses that the core crises of fake news, election tampering, data harvesting, violent wars over resources, racism, massive wealth inequality, white supremacy, poverty and sexual violence are all interconnected and must be tackled head-on as a collective social mass movement. The Green New Deal has strong plans in place in terms of financing the plan, simply by treating the crisis like the emergency it is; cutting military spending, shutting down tax havens and taxing the billionaires 1%. Funnel the funds back into the public sphere, decentralise power into local communities, keep carbon in the ground, raise the voices of those who were tramped on in society, and there you have it: democratic eco-socialism. Lifestyle changes, of course, are included. Mainly so that disposable income from our green job salary doesn’t go towards “buying crap from China that will inevitably end up in landfill”, as the author eloquently puts. The paradigm of equating personal prosperity with quality of life leads to wealth hoarding, and can’t possibly fulfil us.

 

“Climate change acts as an accelerant to many of our social ills (inequality, wars, racism, sexual violence) but it can also be an accelerant for the opposite, for the forces working for economic and social justice against militarism,” Klein says, instilling a sense of purpose within the reader. “It is not the job of a transformative social movement to reassure members of a panicked, megalomaniacal elite that they are still masters of the universe, nor is it necessary.” We must abandon the extractive, consumerist mindset and repair our relationship with each other as well as with the planet, the era of endless expansion is over.

 

With her usual elegance, humility and logic, Naomi Klein has gifted us with the tools to unite the movement once again and makes sure to assure us that we’re not alone. The issue demands us to act on a scale that humanity has never accomplished before. As Ursula K. Le Guin once said, “We live in capitalism, it’s power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings.” Capitalism is not some stoic system that is built into our DNA with no alternative. Human empathy can still triumph, despite the men in the White House, 10 Downing Street and the Kremlin. We could cause the sixth great mass extinction event in Earth’s history, or we could create a prosperous civilisation: it’s our choice.

 

 

Photo by Joe Mabel

 

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Review: ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ Will Make You Rethink Race

“History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.” Raoul Peck’s documentary about James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro, is an introduction to his work and an advanced seminar in racial politics that is extremely important for all in 2020.

Miss Representation (2011) Reveals a Glaring Reality Still Relevant in 2020

The documentary film, Miss Representation, came out in 2011, yet it remains shockingly resonant today in 2020. The film exposes how mainstream media and culture contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. As an American woman, Miss Representation strongly resonates with me, but its message is relevant to women and girls everywhere.

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STAND News reviews the Netflix documentary series, The Innocence Files, a whodunnit with a cause. How does the series that covers the failures of the U.S. judicial system holdup?

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Many of us may agree that millionaire celebrities collecting awards from other millionaire celebrities may not be a group best placed to preach to the general public about issues such as climate change and human rights. It has now become a mainstay of almost every award show, with celebrities seeing this platform as a challenge to make the most impassioned speech of the night.

Merchant’s Quay Ireland launches “The Lived Experience of Addiction” Exhibition

Merchant’s Quay Ireland (MQI) has launched a new exhibition of photographs and stories by people with experience of addiction titled “The Lived Experience of Addiction”. Aiming to start a conversation about addiction and its surrounding stigma, the work created is personal, meaningful and unfortunately all too relatable for many.

Book Review: New York Times Journalists Take On Weinstein in ‘She Said’

Book Review: New York Times Journalists Take On Weinstein in ‘She Said’

Two New York Times journalists, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the Harvey Weinstein story in October 2017. The publication of the first Weinstein story led to an influx of messages into Kantor and Twohey’s inboxes from women who had also experienced sexual harassment or assault. Their journalism had inspired a societal shift.  In She Said, they explain the process behind their investigative journalism. 

Weinstein, currently in court for the alleged rape and predatory sexual assault of two unnamed women, has over 80 allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Written in the third person, She Said follows Kantor and Twohey from the beginning to the end of their investigation against Weinstein. It includes interview transcripts, emails and texts- making the reader feel like they are almost witnessing the investigation first-hand. The reader gains an understanding of the collaborative process between Kantor and Twohey, who weren’t well acquainted prior to the investigation.

The first person interviewed by Kantor was actor Rose McGowan in May 2017, who had previously tweeted about sexual allegations against an unnamed Hollywood producer. “If white men could have a playground, this [Hollywood] would be it,” she said on the phone to Kantor. Weinstein paid McGowan a $100,000 settlement, which she donated to a rape crisis centre. Kantor knew that this settlement could be traced. Of course, finding other women who had similar experiences of Weinstein would make their case much stronger.

She Said gives an excellent insight into the process of investigative journalism and the huge amount of work and verification it requires. What do you say to someone in the first few seconds of a call in order for them to feel safe enough to tell their story? How do you get people to go on record? How do you prove the information you’ve gathered is correct? The journalists stressed that they always gave Weinstein and his team adequate time to respond to claims before publishing each article.

Kantor and Twohey describe how Weinstein and his team arrived at the New York Times building unannounced and the uncomfortable yet necessary reality of door-stepping potential sources.

Weinstein’s abuse was not limited to stars like McGowan, Ashley Judd and Gweneth Paltrow, but also to ordinary women, some of whose stories are given a platform in the book. Kantor and Twohey found that settlements from Weinstein to cover up the abuse he committed was all too common.

Following a theme of uncovering sexual harassment and sexual abuse by recent widely known persons, She Said also has a chapter discussing Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court judge in the United States.

She Said highlights the importance of journalism and holding truth to power, particularly in a time where the integrity of the profession is called into question.

 

Photo by Pexels

 

 

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Review: ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ Will Make You Rethink Race

“History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.” Raoul Peck’s documentary about James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro, is an introduction to his work and an advanced seminar in racial politics that is extremely important for all in 2020.

Miss Representation (2011) Reveals a Glaring Reality Still Relevant in 2020

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In Stop Filming Us (2020) Dutch filmmaker Joris Postema travels to the city of Goma in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where numerous conflicts and even more Western aid organizations have been in the past 25 years. The problem is, sometimes these Westerners would rather define Goma and its people on their terms. Can Postema portray the Congolese reality without becoming part of the problem?

The Obsession with Activism in Acceptance Speeches

Many of us may agree that millionaire celebrities collecting awards from other millionaire celebrities may not be a group best placed to preach to the general public about issues such as climate change and human rights. It has now become a mainstay of almost every award show, with celebrities seeing this platform as a challenge to make the most impassioned speech of the night.

Merchant’s Quay Ireland launches “The Lived Experience of Addiction” Exhibition

Merchant’s Quay Ireland (MQI) has launched a new exhibition of photographs and stories by people with experience of addiction titled “The Lived Experience of Addiction”. Aiming to start a conversation about addiction and its surrounding stigma, the work created is personal, meaningful and unfortunately all too relatable for many.