Troy Kennedy Martin (1932-2009)

On a day where celebrities seemed to dropping like flies, it's a shame that the obits for British scriptwriter Troy Kennedy Martin  probably won't be as extensive as they should be. Needless to say the man was a man who had a hand in helping to create and write some of the best UK TV shows ever made including 'Z-Cars' and 'The Sweeney'. His TV shows helped pave the way for intelligent genre fare that were literate and exciting whilst 'Edge of Darkness', currently undergoing a Hollywood remake, remains a highpoint of British television. Aside from TV, he scripted the brilliant ensemble piece Kelly’s Heroes and – perhaps most famously – was responsible for The Italian Job, a film that is famous for lines such as “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” as it was for it’s impressive car chases.


London Film Festival unveils auteur-packed programe and star-studded opening

fantastic_mr_fox_large_2George Clooney, fresh from his naked press conference proposal for The Men Who Stare at Goats in Venice will join Bill Murray, Steven Soderbergh, Jim Jarmusch, Julian Moore, Emma Thompson and Michel Gondry at the 53rd Times BFI London International Film Festival. With special events focussing on environmental filmmaking, Iranian Cinema and production design, the festival will screen 191 features and 113 shorts from around the world, including the latest films from John Lasseter, Ang Lee, Lone Sherfig, Julian Temple, Stephen Poliakof, Gaspar Noé, Todd Solondz, Claire Denis and Harmony Korine.

Opening Night film, Wes Anderson’s FANTASTIC MR. FOX - which controversially Americanises the heroes while keeping the villains as British - is one of the Festival’s 15 world premieres and will be presented by the director and cast members including Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Helen McCrory.   Other films celebrating their world premieres include Sam Taylor-Wood’s Closing Night Gala NOWHERE BOY and the Festival’s first ever Archive Gala, the BFI’s new restoration of Anthony Asquith’s UNDERGROUND, with live music accompaniment by the Prima Vista Social Club, led by Neil Brand.  The Festival will also host 23 European premieres, including Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s MICMACS, Scott Hicks’ THE BOYS ARE BACK and Robert Connolly’s BALIBO, as well as Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni’s THE WELL and Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson’s MUGABE AND THE WHITE AFRICAN.  The 4 international premieres that will be featured are 45365 from Bill and Turner Ross, Celine Danhier’s BLANK CITY, Mike Judge’s EXTRACT and Rumle Hammerich’s HEADHUNTER. Festival audiences will also have the chance to enjoy the UK premiere of John Lasseter’s TOY STORY 2 in Disney Digital 3D™.


No limits for Brazilian Cinema as the latest releases come to London

I Cine Fest Brasil London - 17th to 20th September 2009 - Riverside Studios

cinefestbrasil-sponsorsFrom Rose Chamberlein

NO LIMITS FOR BRAZILIAN CINEMA is how Inffinito presents their worldwide festival circuit. After wrapping up their New York edition, in Central Park and the Tribeca Cinema, they are getting the reels ready to fly across the Atlantic, to the heart of London, at the Riverside Studios. Well-established as a cultural brand, the Inffinito Festival Circuit has been working in partnership with the Brazilian Government for the last 14 years to promote Brazil's audiovisual productions overseas.

Following Inffinito's international success in Buenos Aires, Canudos, Miami, Vancouver, Rome, Moscow, Madrid, Barcelona and New York, it is bringing its cinematic showcase to London in September, to continue its mission of screening a selection of the finest contemporary Brazilian cinema to a global audience. The programme of the 1st edition of the Cine Fest Brasil is made up of 20 productions comprising feature films, documentaries and short films, from a range of different genres that includes everything from blockbuster hits to talented-newcomer discoveries.


Behind the scenes: Jackboots on Whitehall

churchill puppetJackboots on Whitehall has been called the "British Team America," countless times for its use of puppets, but there's a lot more to the film than that.

It gives us an alternative World War II scenario, in which the Nazis managed to invade Britain. The debut writer/directors, brothers Ed (25) and Rory McHenry (22), have managed to entice an impressive array of stars into lending their voices to the film, including Ewan MacGregor, Rosamund Pike and Alan Cumming as a very camp Hitler.

The production is something of a family effort, as the brothers' dad, David McHenry is on production design (his credits include Love and Death on Long Island (1997) and Becoming Jane (2007) among much TV work), their two younger brothers Dom and Jack are helping with the puppets and mum, actress Maureen Bennett is often on set.

The movie is being shot at the Three Mills Studio in Bow, East London. When I visited the set last month, the crew were pretty busy blowing up Hadrian's Wall, the site of a spectacular battle between the Brits - led by MacGregor's Chris, a farmer with exceptionally large hands - and the Nazis, who are copying the invasion tactics of the Romans.

Producer Karl Richards gave us a tour of the set and workshops, before we got the chance to sit down with the McHenry brothers. The sets are full of background details that will reward close watching, as famous London streets get a German-style makeover, whereas Scotland is portrayed as a mysterious, tribal nation that provides the backdrop to a showdown with the Nazis.


Content Republic Sign Digital Distribution Deal With Arrow Films

From PR Sarah Cameron:

Content Republic, one of Europe’s leading digital distribution companies, today announces it has signed a deal for exclusive digital rights to the Arrow Films catalogue of classics and foreign language films.

The deal, negotiated by Teun Hilte on behalf of Content Republic and Alex Agran for Arrow Films, will see Content Republic market and release over 60 films  through a range of retail partners in the UK. The deal includes such classics as Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso (to be made available digitally some time after its upcoming Blu-Ray release in September), Roman Polanski’s Bitter Moon and The Cement Garden – the cult adaptation of Ian McEwan's critically acclaimed novel starring Charlotte Gainsbourg.


Franny Armstrong - Determination amidst a rising sea of stupidity

franny-at-work.previewAs the Age of Stupid opens with a record-breaking simultaneous world premiere to a potential million viewers across 550 screens in over 60 countries over the next few days, a look back at James MacGregor's interview with Franny ahead of the UK release:

It was over three years ago that James MacGregor first reported here that Franny Armstrong, director of the acclaimed McLibel, was looking to sell shares in her new climate change film. It seemed a long shot at the time, yet, through selling shares to hundreds of people, Armstrong and producer Lizzie Gillett raised over £450,000 - by far the most successful use of crowdsourced funding in the film industry to date (Greenwald/Gilliams' Iraq for Sale raised $287,000).

From this beginning, through to a 'people's premiere' this Sunday across 64 cinemas in the UK - which makes it both potentially the world's largest ever film premiere (Guiness Book of Records on standby) and the first solar powered gala to grace Leicester Square - Armstrong and Gillett have redefined the boundaries of what is possible with a documentary that, in the words of Ken Livingstone "every single person in the country should be forcibly made to watch".

age_of_stupidWhere An Inconvenient Truth focussed on facts and figures to build an indisputable case about global warming, the Age of Stupid, takes us to the human stories around the world that illustrate the impact, denial, and inadequate responses to climate change right now. There are repentent oil workers and a defiant budget airline entrepreneur. There's the incredible hostility from the Brits to windfarms (80% of applications get rejected because of reactionary local groups) and the fatherly figure of Pete Postlethwaite watching from the future, asking why we never did more when we still could.

The format seems really well shaped for a YouTube era, lending itself easily to be broken into small segments under 10 mins; animations and mini-films which focus on different areas of the topic and hopefully after the film is released more fo these mini-films will be released online to spread the message further (and promote the full feature). They work well independently and together paint an ever stronger picture that the economic recovery must be used to restart business on a completely different footing: business as usual will lead to unimaginable suffering and death. Just this week, scientists in Copehagan have said that the worst case scenarios of two years ago were far too optimistic.


Special Edition # 32

A bit of a British bonanza this time as Special Edition # 32 brings a pair of UK films which delve into two of British people’s favourite subjects: politics and football.  It’s a shame The Age Of Stupid isn’t out until October, otherwise we’d also have the weather.  Laurence Boyce also looks at the usual mixture of classic films (including one of the best – and funniest – mockumentaries ever made), new releases and TV shows that you’ll need in order to avoid the fact that ‘The X Factor’ is back on the telly.


A Film Industry First? British Movie ‘Love/Loss’ Offers Audiences a Live Link-Up with the Film Set

On Friday 21st August 2009 Gadabout Productions are streaming live behind-the-scenes action from the set of the new British movie ‘Love/Loss' staring BAFTA-winning actors Virginia McKenna and Keith Michell.  

Film fans will be able to watch live, unedited footage of cast and crew on set by clicking on the Love-Loss website The webcam will follow all the rehearsals and filming from 9.00am until the film wraps at approximately 7.00pm @


Virginia McKenna and Keith Michell will also be joined on set by Diana Quick, Geoffrey Whitehead and Strictly Come Dancing's Len Goodman who is making a guest appearance as the village dance club teacher in the movie.

‘Love/Loss' is a moving story of love, life and death and has been filmed entirely on location in and around Knebworth for the last two weeks. The webcam will capture key internal scenes from the final day of the shooting and will take place at an undisclosed location.

The 90-minute film is written and directed by documentary filmmaker and web TV specialist Guy Daniels and produced by Gitte Daniels. Gadabout Productions are currently in the process of securing a distributor for Love/Loss.



Plan Bee from the Co-Op pairs film release with environmental strategy

vanishinbeeVanishing of the Bees released in October, backed with Co-Op commitments for change

The rise of socially focused documentaries since the success of Gore and Moore has been partly supported by UK doc distributor DogWoof - who released the Age of Stupid, Black Gold, Burma VJ and now Vanishing of the Bees. Partnering on these last two films with the UK's ethically focussed Co-Op group - the world's largest consumer-owned business - DogWoof is now moving beyond releasing films which campaign for change, to being involved in that change itself.

The honeybee is responsible for pollinating one third of our food. This contributes approximately £200 million per year to the UK economy. Honeybees are dying in their millions and no-one knows why.  In the UK around one third of all hives were lost in the winter of 2008.

Vanishing of the Bees explores the mysterious collapse of the bee population across the planet and its greater message about mankind’s relationship with the natural world. But the release is set not only to increase awareness and understanding of the issue, but as a means to address the problem itself.  Ahead of the October release of the film, the Co-Op has published a ten point 'Plan Bee', committing to activity ranging from researching colony collapse and banning certain pesticides in farming (the Co-Op is the UK's largest farmer) to giving 300,000 free wildflower seed mixes to members and training beekeepers (full list is below).

planbeeFollowing the success of Burma VJ which opened in cinemas on 17th July, Vanishing of the Bees is the second title to be released by The Co-operative and Dogwoof, whose partnership was announced at Cannes earlier this year to help socially conscious films reach mainstream cinema audiences. It follows a trend seen across the documentary sector where film releases are tied into wider campaigning platforms, such as Age of Stupid's Not Stupid campaign, backed by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, and fishing decline documentary End of the Line which partnered with Waitrose as well as running a campaign which saw the likes of Pret a Manger and Gordon Ramsey take endangered fish of their menus.

Conflicting opinions and heated controversy abounds surrounding the cause behind the phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Is it a virus at the heart of this ecological disaster? Is it parasites or pesticides? WiFi or mobile signals? Or is it due to a symptom of changes in agricultural practice? The film explores the issue with the help of beekeepers, scientists and policymakers and attempts to unravel the numerous theories behind the mysterious cause of CCD and its devastating impact on the population of the honeybee.

The film celebrates the ancient relationship between humans and bees whilst highlighting mankind’s reliance on the honeybee as the cornerstone of modern agriculture. For thousands of years right through to the 'hive mind' of the internet, bees and their hexagonal hives have served as symbols of unity, industriousness and what it means to work for the greater good.


The Yes Men fix the world. We ask what keeps them going?

yesmenAs the Yes Men - the thinking-person's Sacha Baron Cohen - see their latest film released in the UK, Netribution sneaks its way into a secretive underground political cell known only as 'Soho House' to find them out and learn more.

The Independent's Johann Hari recently asked the question: "when you are just one person sitting on a warming planet – when you see economies collapsing, wars raging, and reasons for fear on every corner – how should you react? What can you do?". Many of us, he argued, settle for defiant pessimism: "I can't make any difference. It's all going to happen, whatever I do. The political conversation.. has nothing to do with me anyway", leading us to buy a bigger lock for our door, distrust our neighbours and not go out much, other than to occasionally let rip and collapse in a drunken mess on Latvian stag weekends.

I was fortunate enough to put the question to the Yes Men - who seem to have taken the crown of accessible yet uncompromising political satire - when I met them in London a few weeks ago ahead of the release of the pant-shittingly hilarious The Yes Men Fix the World - winner of the Audience award at Berlin, and 'best documentary of the year' according to the New Scientist. Andy Bichlbaum explained that they simply "do things that are fun". Pessimism is avoided, he said, "if you do what you are drawn to and think it can have a positive effect, if you do want you want to do and it's enjoyable. The despair comes from not doing anything and just sitting there and letting things happen."

Indeed it was frustration with the status quo which led them into Yes-ing the first place: "I started it more or less when I was in college and there was a certain frustration." says Andy. "It could seem pointless to be in a march, while [this was] something that could give me more satisfaction, that we had more fun doing."

newyorktimes_specialStill not funded to prank all year round (wot no Channel 4 series?), the pair hold down day jobs as University lecturers while jetting around the world pretending to be people that they aren't. Few by now will have missed the infamous stunt where Bichlbaum was invited on to BBC News 24 as a representative of Dow Chemical, and proceded to do the one thing the owner of the chemical plant behind the disaster which has killed an estimated 25,000 people and disabled many more has never done - and apologise unreservedly for the disaster, promising to shut the plant and pay out some $12bn in compensation and clean-up (25 years on, the ground water there is still is toxic, and litigation continues). Dow's stock price collapsed by some $2bn before the stunt was revealed.

The Yes Men Fix the World, after a slightly awkward start, gallops into one of the funniest documentaries I've seen in years that had me both in tears, as the pair visited Bhopal today; and stitches, as executives at a VIP annual petrochemical luncheon learn that the candles they are holding are made from the flesh of an Exxon janitor, as part of a cunning plan to recycle climate chaos casualties into a fuel source. The film takes us behind the scenes of the pair's thinking, planning and stunts - with few areas avoiding their attention. We see them share a stage with Mayor Nagin in New Orleans where post-disaster relief has become mass-privatisation, with only four state schools left in the entire city; uncover Halliburton's executive protection survival suit; and - in one of their most touching stunts - handed out 80,000 alternative 'good news' copies of the New York Times, declaring peace in Iraq, a restructure of the economy and a new maximum wage law (PDF). With more stunts planned in the run up to Copenhagen, the men don't seem to sleep - indeed for the film's release in the UK, the pair handed out beautifully branded B'EauPal water in Soho, and at the Dow offices:

yesmen1What seems remarkable - besides their  ability to get away with these things - is the balance between focusing on local issues and the bigger picture, which is summed up by Andy as the point that "we've entrusted our destiny to this crazy ideology [consumerism] that has now gone bankrupt and it's obvious it's gone bankrupt. But we really need to sever our ties with it." It's a message no longer exclusive to radicals and the far left - taking centre stage from Franny Armstrong's Age of Stupid to Douglas Rushkoff's Life Inc to Annie Leonards' brilliantly concise and informative 20-minute Creative Commons short The Story of Stuff (which taught me that every bin bag of rubbish in my house is matched with 70 bags of rubbish created in the production of that waste - and that 99% of goods Americans buy will be binned within six months). In short, as Leonard says, "you cannot run a linear system (of production and consumption) on a finite planet indefinitely". Even Disney seems to agree, with Wall*E and its accompanying website, being perhaps the most grimly disturbing illustration out of any of them of the consequences of business as usual, of a society built first and foremost around consumerism, greed and short term, unsustainable thinking.

So, are these guys the answer? Heroic cultural leaders such as Bichlbaum and Mike Bonnano, Banksy and Kalle Lasn, Armstrong and Rushkoff, Mark Thomas and Michael Moore, Colbert and Stewart - sticking the finger up to Goliath as they press for the change we want but don't know how to get, while cracking some good jokes?

Actually, this is the second bad response to the problems of the world Hari identified in his article, giving our leaders and cultural figures sole responsibility for change, investing in them superhuman expectations to make up for the rot that we all see and sigh for, while letting us once more sit back and put our feet up, trusting that Obama or the Yes Men will sort it out. It's just as dangerous as apathy:

"Both these moods leave you – the ordinary citizen – inert. All you can do is focus on your own personal life and wait, for disaster or salvation. But these twin dispositions leave out the real option that is waiting for you. It is the only one that has ever delivered political change in the past, and it is the only one that will pull us out of the ditch now. It is where ordinary individual citizens – you – come together and raise their voices and offer solutions of their own."

yesmen3This echoes the Yes Men's message, as Mike explains: "it's only by individual action that things change. There's not driving a car, that kind of thing, then there's also putting pressure on corporations and the government to change. Specifically putting pressure on our elected leaders to make sure that they have the mandate to pass the laws that we hope to see at Copenhagen. There's tons of organisations here that are doing it, from the more radical ones like Plane Stupid, to groups like Friends of the Earth."

And if they wanted to follow in the Yes Men's shoes, any advice? "It's not very hard, that's what I'd say to begin with. It's not rocket science" explained Andy. "You can watch our movie, figure out how we do it and go and do it. It's one technique amongst many for getting the message out there. And for supporting a big movement that's making change."

To help this further, the Yes Men have created a website that both explains how they do it, gives ideas, and encourages groups to mobilise around specific issues. At you can sign up to stunts - from a campaign against the targetted recruitment of ethnic minorities and the ultra-poor for the military, to the Raging Grannies Action League for US health care reform.

Johann Hari argues it's actions such as these that move civilisation forward, and that as a species we depend on such movements:

"Far from being some dreamy call to kumbaya, collective political action is the single biggest reason your life is incalculably better than that of your great-grandparents. When people first called for equality for women, when people first started to conduct scientific experiments, when people first suggested paid weekends and holidays for ordinary workers, they were greeted by the same glib pessimism we hear today. It'll never happen! What can we do?...

Who was the leader of feminism? Who was the leader of scientific progress? Who was the leader of workers' rights? Sure, there were inspirational individuals along the way. But they happened as a result of millions of ordinary people demanding it, and never giving up. If we had waited for leaders to spontaneously see the light, we would be waiting still."

Or as Bilchbaum says, "Now that the world is in great danger, we really have to figure this out. It's a great moment."

The Yes Men Fix the World is now on general release in the UK, and will feature a live satellite screening and event beamed from the Sheffield Showroom on Tuesday, August 11th. More information from their website and after the link below. It is released in the US from October 17th.

Posters from the Yes Men Poster design contest.


World Premiere of Sam Taylor-Wood's Nowhere Boy to close 53rd London Film Festival

The Closing Night Gala of The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival will be the World Premiere of Ecosse Films' NOWHERE BOY, the highly anticipated debut feature from British artist Sam Taylor-Wood.

Imagine John Lennon's childhood... Liverpool 1955: a smart and troubled fifteen year-old is hungry for experience. In a family full of secrets, two incredible women clash over John. Mimi, the buttoned-up aunt who raised him and Julia, the prodigal mother. Yearning for a normal family, John escapes into rock n' roll. His fledgling genius finds a kindred spirit in the teenage Paul McCartney. Just as John begins his new life, tragedy strikes. But a resilient young man finds his voice - and an icon explodes into the world.


The World Premiere of Fantastic Mr. Fox will open the Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival

The Times BFI London Film Festival is proud to announce that this year's Festival will open on Wednesday 14 October with the world premiere of Fantastic Mr. Fox, from visionary director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenebaums, The Darjeeling Limited).

Anderson's first animated film, which he co-wrote with Noah Baumbach, uses classic handmade stop motion techniques to tell the story of the best selling children's book by British author Roald Dahl (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and James and the Giant Peach). The film features the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill MurrayWally Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Jarvis Cocker and Helen McCrory. It is produced by Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin and Allison Abbate.


Special Edition # 31

It’s looking like a pretty quiet summer for blockbusters. Harry Potter has caused a stir but seems somehow slight, Transformers 2 has distinguished itself by being absolutely diabolical and Star Trek seems like ages ago. So, if you’re not fancying your local multiplex then Special Edition # 31 would seem to be the perfect option for all your film watching needs. Laurence Boyce leads you through superhero angst on the big and small screen, a bit of comedy for when the sunshine isn’t lifting your mood and much more in-between.


Khine Wai Zaw, human rights activist, watches Burma VJ and shares his story

burma_vj_02Burma VJ has been met with very positive reviews in the UK following its release last week, with a 94% Rotten Tomatoes rating, but what do the Burmese depicted in the film make of it?

In his first contribution to Netribution, JJ Kim travelled to the heart of the pro-democracy movement in Thailand to watch the film with Khine Wai Zaw - who was involved the Saffron Uprising of 2007 - and hear his story. It's a fascinating insight into the benefit of social-documentaries from someone who grew up within the heart of the former British colony under the rule of the Junta.

It is Friday 9th July 2009. With the award winning “Burma VJ” released in British cinemas, many people get their first glimpse of the Saffron Revolution (2007) - the most comprehensively documented of many horror stories from Burma’s near half-century under oppressive military rule. Meanwhile, it is business as usual for the many organisations working in Burma’s neighbouring countries – in safety – to bring democracy back to the world’s second most corrupt country (Transparency International 2008).

The heart of the Burmese pro-democracy movement is in Mae Sot, Tak Province, Thailand, on the Burmese border, a six-hour bus-ride from Chiang Mai, where much of Burma VJ was produced and even directed remotely. A transient town - with many Burmese migrant workers and Non-Governmental Organisations of all kinds - Mae Sot is home to many politicians, educators, religious leaders and activists who have been forced into exile. However, far from running away from their pasts, many have set up organisations to support those suffering in Burma and inform the world of the extreme injustices inflicted on civilians by the nation’s totalitarian military regime.

“Modern technology has made the movement very different. When we watch this film we can gain an almost real experience... Many Burmese people are talking about it in blogs and internet chat. I don’t know if many people are watching it though – they have to be very careful...
If we get caught with it we will go to prison. If they find someone selling it there will be further punishment. I think its most important that this film is seen inside Burma."
Khine Wai Zaw

One such organisation, is the All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress (AASYC), a largely political group based in both Thailand and Bangladesh. The AASYC office – walls adorned with banners saying “Free Arakan” and “SPDC out” (referring to the regime’s official name – The State Peace and Development Council) - is where I met with Khine Wai Zaw, to discuss his participation in the Saffron Revolution and  watch the film, Burma VJ.

Khine Wai Zaw, as he has made himself known since leaving Burma in December 2007, grew up in Mrauk-U, an ancient city in Arakan State, an area colonised by the Burmese in 1784. He had told me many times before about life growing up under martial law – in constant fear of surveillance. “In my hometown we saw soldiers everyday,” he began hesitantly. ”In groups of at least 4 with rifles or M16 machine guns. Sometimes, they would go to the market and buy things but pay very little or go to traditional local events so we used to fight them. They would come back the next day with more military so many of my brothers had to leave the city and now they can never go home because the soldiers are looking for them.

However, these things are rarely talked about in Burma – out of pure fear of incarceration or worse. Military intelligence officials in civilian clothing are on every corner, in work places and in every teashop, eagerly seeking a chance to report a “traitor” to their superiors, condemning them to imprisonment, torture or even murder for expressing their opinions. “In Yangon, we had to discuss politics very slowly and carefully because our brothers were involved in underground political activities - we would be watched all the time and many brothers had to leave.”

Burma VJ tells the story of the Saffron Revolution of 2007, the first nationwide uprising in Burma for 19 years. The revolt was brought to a sudden halt when over a hundred civilians, including monks and students were shot dead and far more were detained without trial.

The roots of the uprising

“The soldiers began to shoot and in the same moment many people that we had been protesting with all day turned on us and started beating us; it became apparent that these people were also working for the SPDC... I saw many girls falling – they were very afraid! That was the last day I protested.”
Khine Wai Zaw

On the 15th September 2007, 20 year-old Khine Wai Zaw could tell something was different as he prepared for the two-day journey to Yangon (Rangoon), where he would stay with his Aunt and Uncle. That day, Khine Wai Zaw saw something he’d never seen before: monks and other civilians demonstrating against the government, openly talking to crowds about political ideals such as democracy and human rights.  “I had never seen protests before. Many people had closed their shops and restaurants. Many policemen and soldiers were talking on their phones and many monks were chanting and marching. I was excited and a little scared. I had goose-bumps”

burma_vj1By the 25th of September, millions were mobilised across the country- monks, teachers, writers, students and housewives alike were marching through the streets calling for a justice that they barely understood. “I didn’t know much about democracy at that time but I knew that I wanted to change our system because everyday I faced many difficulties. In every street in Yangon there were many prostitutes, many beggars and many soldiers walking and in vehicles.“

At first many watched the monks from the sidelines, apprehensive to join in. Scenes from Burma VJ show a march through downtown Yangon while thousands watch from their windows cheering and clapping from their windows. “They were afraid. Even though they were clapping their hands, they were afraid. I think one thousand people were watching us and then they joined us slowly, slowly. “ Khine Wai Zaw recalls from another part of town where he joined in the demonstration.

Whilst watching the film with Khine Wai Zaw and three young Arakanese girls - the atmosphere was infectious. Excited murmurs quickly turned into laughter and cheers from the AASYC office while the girls saw sights they had never imagined: literally thousands of civilians defying the system and expressing their anti-military sentiments loud and proud.

But the atmosphere quickly changed once the first signs of violence came to the screen. (continued...)


The Co-Op backed Burma VJ shows the reality behind the monk rebellion & crackdown

burmaThe first feature film to ever be screened at Number 10, in an event set-up by Sarah Brown on Aung San Suu's birthday, and the first feature from the Co-Op Group's new partnership with distributor DogWoof - Burma VJ is a guerilla documnetary made up of footage smuggled out of Myanmar (Burma) by video journalists in the country (and is a great example of open video's relationship with traditional film):

"Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Anders Østergaard, the award winning, powerful and shocking documentary provides a unique glimpse into life on the streets of Burma’s capital – Rangoon. The vast majority of the film consists of illegal footage using concealed cameras. Burma VJ, reveals this hidden world, seen through the eyes of the undercover VJs (Video Journalists) who document everyday life under a military regime.

Filmed over a number of days, the VJs by chance end up recording the appalling treatment of the Burmese citizens and monks – which caused a global uproar, after their peaceful protests resulted in violent opposition by their government.

vjposterThe Burmese VJs risk torture, imprisonment and even death in their quest to report honestly what is going on in their closed country. The material in this film has been made possible through illegal smuggling and broadcast to international media (whom the government accuses of lying) and into Burma via satellite. Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals and Sustainability, explains The Co-operative’s motivation for supporting this film:

“People put their lives on the line to get this footage out of Burma in the hope that the world would take notice. News stories come and go, but the oppression in Burma is as bad as anywhere on the planet, and we mustn’t turn a blind eye”.

The film not only exposes the threat the government faces from the camera wielding VJs but also the day-to-day hardships faced by the Burmese.

Independent film distributor Dogwoof has teamed up with The Co-operative to release Burma VJ in the UK.

Burma VJ  will be previewed nationwide at the Saffron Premiere on 14 July and released on 17 July  by Dogwoof and The Co-operative.

The Co-operative has been trying to keep Burma in the public eye for a number of years. Since 2000, The Co-operative Bank has declined to provide financial services to any company with a significant presence in Burma. In 2005, The Co-operative Financial Services supported the Burma Campaign UK in a campaign that argued the case for the withdrawal from Burma of Total. The Co-operative Travel has also delisted the country as a tourist destination.

(This article was based on a press release from Substance PR with minimal editing)


Special Edition # 30

Even though Laurence Boyce is getting ready to visit a mass of summer music festivals, he’s still ploughing through all the latest DVDs as Special Edition # 30 amply illustrates. This time around: Clint Eastwood impresses, someone actually makes a sequel to Donnie Darko and – as always – there’s a little bit of old school Doctor Who.


Johann Poo's Brain Water, a beautiful Chinese 3D short film

brainwater2From the ever dependable BoingBoing comes details of Brain Water, a exquisite Mayazaki-esque short 3D animation from Johann Poo, by way of Jason Li. I like its illustration of the power of playful communication.

Incidentally - in light of recent revelations about Vimeo's terms of service, Lumiera's Raffaella Traniello brings news of Vimeo's answer to her in their forums that they are working on a new copyright end user license and the option for creative commons licenses to be applied to videos uploaded.


Virgin mobile shorts competition

From occasional Netribution contributor and Harry Potter 'floor editor', Dan Hartley:

Hey Netrib's

Please excuse the shameless self promotion but I've entered a short film as part of the Virgin Mobile Shorts competition and we'd really appreciate it if you pay a visit and view our film. It's only 2 mins long and garnering great reviews.

It's a comedy about  a mini movie mogul who pitches his big idea to a major movie star, oblivious to the greater drama unfolding behind him.

Hope you like it!!


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Open Video from Iran: 10 essential web videos

The importance of open video and free media has been established beyond doubt this last week following the events in Iran. Ten key videos, including the heart-stopping 'Poem from the rooftops of Iran' (below) have been compiled by Ben Parr @, [via Xeni @ BoingBoing, via Raymond Leon Roker)]. The one that really made me shivver when I first saw it has now received almost half a million views and is also below. Taken from a mobile phone it shows an almost classical story, as it moves from injustice (motorcyclists drive into crowds), reaction (motorcycle on fire) to redemption (as the crowd rescues the motorcyclist, take him to safety and give him water).

Riot Police caught by crowd

Poem from the Rooftops of Iran

May peace prevail.


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Netribution ran through two periods — a static site & weekly magazine/newsletter from the end of 1999 to early 2002; and as a user-generated, open cms-built site running between January 8th 2006 and 27 May, 2014 when the last user-submitted article was received. After this it became a more-traditional occasional blog. It is maintained here for archive purposes.