Journalist. Radio girl (BBC WS, DW). Writer (first book on Massive Attack and Bristol), I also work on film projects. Born in Paris, I have been based in Prague, Miami, London, Nairobi (covering Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia), and Bristol, UK. I travelled from Italy to Haiti, via Tunisia, Liberia, South Africa, India, Mexico, Niger, Turkey, Iraq... My passions: Africa, Europe, literature, music, arts. This blog is to share my work and cultural discoveries from around the world.
In Your Eyes by SCHWARZ (C) 2017 Styleheads Music via Rough Trade Distribution. The eponymous EP is released in January 2018. It includes, amongst others, a remix by Los Angeles based German wunderkind Robot Koch.
Schwarz is a new chapter in Roland Meyer de Voltaire’s life, following the end of his band VOLTAIRE. Schwarz (the German word for black) in terms of the black frame in films, in terms of the cinema space turning dark for just a moment, knowing that soon light will project a movie onto the screen making images move. With a voice that can cut like a blade and soothe like a feather, the German artist will touch many hearts.
When he was seven years old, Roland Meyer de Voltaire and his parents moved from their cosy, quiet hometown in Germany straight to a main road in a 13-floor building in the middle of Moscow. Cars were driving by with 100 km/h right in front of their window all day. Everything appeared a lot louder, darker and estranged. With all his heart he wanted to go home. Almost eight years later, still in Moscow, the picture had changed: He had friends, his first band, parties, early teenage sufferings and glories - and when the time came to move back to Germany, he didn’t want to go. Moscow had become the place where he had all his friends and he was about to lose them all at once.
“What I learned from this, home is not necessarily where you come from, home is about belonging. It’s where you have the people who make you feel at home. In times where a lot of people talk about “their” country which only they should have the privilege to call home because of their ethnicity, religion or given birthright. I just want to say this, home is a situation amongst people and that can include anyone, anywhere.” explains Roland Myer de Voltaire about the meaning behind his new track ‘Home’.
‘Home’ is accompanied by a gorgeous video, where sound and visual are perfectly intertwined. The video for ‘Home’ is based on the critically acclaimed documentary film ‘Meanwhile in Mamelodi’, directed by Benjamin Kahlmeyer, who had followed a South African family in their daily routine during the 2010 World Cup in the township of Mamelodi. Three generations under one tiny roof sharing small and big issues, having just left behind the struggles of apartheid and hopefully glancing towards a brighter future. The music of SCHWARZ has a cinematographic quality which adds another level of meaning to the footage. Benjamin Kahlmeyer explains: “When Roland played the song “Home” to me for the first time I immediately saw the connection between the song and the imagery of Mamelodi. The music of SCHWARZ has a cinematographic quality which adds another level of meaning to the footage.”
Schwarz - Home (Official Music Video)
Published on 13 Jan 2017
Schwarz - Home is OUT NOW on Spinnin' Records! Like this track? Download on Beatport or add it to your favourite Spotify/Apple Music playlist by clicking HERE: https://Schwarz.lnk.to/Home!YT
Schwarz delivers his striking song Home. A tender tune that is bound to break boundaries and touch people’s senses. The vivacious violins and touching chords are enriching the load of this tune as the vulnerable vocals are delivering a message on its refined beat. Home is where the heart is!
La « Matière noire » de Borondo prend d’assaut le Marché aux Puces à Marseille
La Galerie Saint-Laurent, située en plein milieu du Marché aux Puces de Marseille, accueille depuis le 7 octobre et jusqu’au 31 janvier, un exposition / résidence passionnante. L’occasion pour Borondo d’interagir avec un lieu hors norme de cette ville en pleine évolution, et de collaborer avec le génial Edoardo Tresoldi, également exposé en ce moment à Paris au Bon Marché… Mélissa Chemam s’est rendue sur place et a ensuite interviewé les deux artistes à l’origine de ce projet.
Cet événement est d’un genre rare dans la métropole méridionale française ! « M A T I E R E N O I R E » a permis à un groupe d’artistes européens de mettre en place une forme d’expression artistique incarnée, en interaction avec un lieu traditionnel et populaire, le Marché aux Puces de Marseille, situé au cœur d’un quartier délaissé de la ville, derrière un centre d’accueil pour migrants...
Mené par l’artiste Borondo (de son nom complet Gonzalo Borondo, né en 1989 à Valladolid), ce groupe d’artistes espagnols et italiens, tous amis et collaborateurs réguliers, s’est vu donner carte blanche par la galerie Saint-Laurent pour occuper son immense bâtiment situé en plein cœur de ce marché pendant trois mois. Leur but : interagir avec le lieu, ses boutiques et ses brocanteurs. Borondo a confié la direction du projet à l’Espagnole Carmen Main et travaillé étroitement avec son ami italien Edoardo Tresoldi. Tous se sont illustrés ces dernières années par un travail artistique libre, loin de la scène commerciale, et ambitieux. Un exemple : « Animal », la précédente exposition de Borondo à Londres, en 2016 (voir ici : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAsDCTwTBUs )
Le principal sujet de M A T I E R E N O I R E selon l’artiste : « tout ce qu’on ne peut ni voir ni détecter directement, mais qui permet néanmoins à l'univers d'exister : une métaphore de l'invisible à notre perception ».
L'exposition est gratuite et s’étend sur une superficie de 4 000 mètres carrés où Borondo présente son univers à travers plus de trente œuvres d’art - animations, hologrammes, installations, peintures, vidéos. Elles sont entourées par celles de huit aux artistes multidisciplinaires internationaux « appartenant à la dernière génération ayant grandi avant le boom digital », comme ils se définissent eux-mêmes : BRBR Films, Carmen Main, Diego López Bueno, Edoardo Tresoldi, Isaac Cordal, Robberto Atzori, Sbagliato, Momo, et A.L. Crego.
La liberté qui les a guidés a donné une réflexion sur notre interaction quotidienne avec les objets et avec notre réalité, d’où une interrogation autour de la « matière noire », visible ou invisible, tangible ou intangible, autour de nous. Les artistes utilisent des techniques mixtes, alliant des objets trouvés sur le marché à des photographies, vidéos, sculptures, etc. Véritable création d’art public, le spectacle en images, objets, sons et lumières, est divisé en trois parties (Projeter / Percevoir / Interpréter) sur deux étages.
« En février, Gonzalo m’a demandé de collaborer au projet, et nous sommes allés visiter le Marché aux Puces », raconte Carmen. « Là, nous avons découvert tous les trésors qui y reposent ! Je crois qu’il n’y a pas d’autre moyen d’intervertir un espace comme celui-ci, à part en travaillant avec les locaux pour préserver leur identité. Les objets et les souvenirs qui les accompagnent sont un matériau incroyable, et les personnes qui le font vivre sont essentielles ».
Le but de Carmen est devenu d’organiser une exposition qui dialoguerait avec le lieu et les locaux, en les impliquant dans l’expérience. « La majeure partie de notre Univers est faite de matière noire, que nous ne pouvons pas voir. Nous avons utilisé cela comme une métaphore pour comprendre que notre perception, et donc notre réalité, sont limitées. Il y a beaucoup de réalités que nous ne connaissons pas, mais sans eux, notre vie ne serait pas ce qu’elle est » ajoute la jeune femme. « Pour explorer cela, il était crucial d »inviter différents artistes, pour apporter des perspectives uniques ».
Gonzalo est quant à lui tombé amoureux du lieu au premier coup d’œil. « L’atmosphère, les objets, les masques, les bijoux… Tout permettait de créer un dialogue, dans une sorte de limbes de souvenirs. Cela m’a inspiré une réflexion sur notre ‘anima’, notre âme, sur la condition humaine et sur le rôle des objets dans notre société. Et j’ai invité des artistes à venir mêler leur langage au mien ». Momo, brocanteur franco-algérien installé dans le marché depuis des décennies, a aussi été invité à participer au projet. « On a vu en lui, qui est présent tous les jours depuis tant d’année, l’âme de ce marché »… Ayant débuté dans l’art de rue en tant que « muraliste », Borondo est inspiré par des espaces publics pour créer un art en constante évolution, non commercial et interactif.
Le résultat : une réflexion sur les différentes réalités humaines au niveau culturel, social et générationnel et sur les moyens qui permettent de les assimiler, des premières formes de représentation jusqu’aux plateformes digitales contemporaines. Pari réussi, donc, à l’univers déconcertant qui remet en question le regard du spectateur, dans une ambiance sonore et visuelle recherchée.
« Pour moi, construire des expériences qui soulèvent des questions est la partie la plus intéressante », insiste Carmen. Pour permettre au spectateur de voyager où il peut se sentir. Pour y arriver, il faut faire une immersion dans l’endroit, avec un concept né sur place. Le processus et comment y arriver est mon principal moteur. Le partager avec d’autres artistes est parfois plus difficile, mais c’est définitivement plus riche ».
L'ouverture du 7 octobre a attiré des centaines de personnes. La plupart des pièces étaient en vente ; certains sont même encore disponibles.
We know what they wore. We know what they ate. We know the details of their monarchs’ sex lives, and how they caused seismic changes in our country’s religious and political history. But what about Black Tudors? Until now, the story of the Africans who lived and died in sixteenth-century England has remained untold...
BLACK TUDORS tells the stories of ten Africans. Miranda Kaufmann traces their tumultuous paths in the Tudor and Stuart eras, uncovering a rich array of detail about their daily lives and how they were treated. She reveals how John Blanke came to be the royal trumpeter to Henry VII and Henry VIII: the trouble Jacques Francis got himself into while working as a salvage diver on the wreck of the Mary Rose; what prompted Diego to sail the world with Drake, and she pieces together the stories of a porter, a prince, a sailor, a prostitute and a silk weaver.
They came to England from Africa, from Europe and from the Spanish Caribbean. They came with privateers, pirates, merchants, aristocrats, even kings and queens, and were accepted into Tudor society. They were baptised, married and buried by the Church of England and paid wages like other Tudors.
Yet their experience was extraordinary because, unlike the majority of Africans across the rest of the Atlantic world, in England they were free. They lived in a world where skin colour was less important than religion, class or talent: before the English became heavily involved in the slave trade, and before they founded their first surviving colony in the Americas. Their stories challenge the traditional narrative that racial slavery was inevitable and that it was imported to colonial Virginia from Tudor England. They force us to re-examine the 17th century to find out what had caused perceptions to change so radically.
Introducing Black Tudors means a reassessment of our national story and what it means to be British today. They are just one piece in the diverse jigsaw of migrations that make up our island’s multicultural heritage. The knowledge that Africans lived free in one of the most formative periods of our national history can move us beyond the invidious legacies of the slavery and racism that blighted later periods in our history. BLACK TUDORS challenges the accepted narrative that racial slavery was all but inevitable and forces us to re-evaluate our shared history.
In the Guardian:
Tudor, English and black – and not a slave in sight
From musicians to princes, a new book by historian Miranda Kaufmann opens a window on the hitherto unknown part played by black people in 16th-century England
Within moments of meeting historian Miranda Kaufmann, I learn not to make flippant assumptions about race and history. Here we are in Moorgate, I say. Is it called that because it was a great hub of black Tudor life? “You have to be careful with anything like that,” she winces, “because, for all you know, this was a moor. It’s the same with family names and emblems: if your name was Mr Moore, you’d have the choice between a moorhen or a blackamoor. It wouldn’t necessarily say something about your race.”
Her answer – meticulous, free of bombast, dovetailing memorable details with wider issues – is typical of her first book Black Tudors: The Untold Story, which debunks the idea that slavery was the beginning of Africans’ presence in England, and exploitation and discrimination their only experience. The book takes the form of 10 vivid and wide-ranging true-life stories, sprinkled with dramatic vignettes and nice, chewy details that bring each character to life.
Africans were already known to have likely been living in Roman Britain as soldiers, slaves or even free men and women. But Kaufmann shows that, by Tudor times, they were present at the royal courts of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and James I, and in the households of Sir Walter Raleigh and William Cecil. The book also shows that black Tudors lived and worked at many levels of society, often far from the sophistication and patronage of court life, from a west African man called Dederi Jaquoah, who spent two years living with an English merchant, to Diego, a sailor who was enslaved by the Spanish in Panama, came to Plymouth and died in Moluccas, having circumnavigated half the globe with Sir Francis Drake.
Kaufmann’s interest in black British history came about almost by accident: she intended to study Tudor sailors’ perceptions of Asia and America for her thesis at Oxford University, but found documents demonstrating the presence of Africans within Britain. “I’d never heard anything about it, despite having studied Tudor history at every level. When I went to the National Archive for the first time, I asked an archivist where to start looking and they were like: ‘Oh well, you won’t find anything about that here.’” Kaufmann kept digging, contacted local record offices and ultimately built up to her book. So why has the existence of black Tudors been unknown, untold and untaught? “History isn’t a solid set of facts,” she replies. “It’s very much about what questions you ask of the past. If you ask different questions, you get different answers. People weren’t asking questions about diversity. Now they are.”
Despite Kaufmann’s research, it is hard to swallow the idea that black people were not treated as extreme anomalies (or worse) in Tudor England. “We need to return to England as it was at the time,” says Kaufmann – “an island nation on the edge of Europe with not much power, a struggling Protestant nation in perpetual danger of being invaded by Spain and being wiped out. It’s about going back to before the English are slave traders, before they’ve got major colonies. The English colonial project only really gets going in the middle of the 17th century.” That said, she does leave a stark question hanging in the air: “How did we go from this period of relative acceptance to becoming the biggest slave traders out there?”
Black Tudors does not make overblown claims about ethnic diversity in England – in her wider research, Kaufmann found around 360 individuals in the period 1500-1640 – but it does weave nonwhite Britons back into the texture of Tudor life. Black Tudors came to England through English trade with Africa; from southern Europe, where there were black (slave) populations in Spain and Portugal, the nations that were then the great colonisers; in the entourages of royals such as Katherine of Aragon and Philip II (who was the husband of Mary I); as merchants or aristocrats; and as the result of English privateering and raids on the Spanish empire. “If you captured a Spanish ship, it would be likely to have some Africans on board,” says Kaufmann. “One prized ship brought in to Bristol had 135. They got shipped back to Spain after being put up in a barn for a week. The authorities didn’t know quite what to do with them.”
Although there was no legislation approving or defining slavery within England, it could hardly have been fun being “the only black person in the village” – such as Cattelena, a woman who lived independently in Almondsbury and whose “most valuable item … was her cow”. Nonetheless, Kaufmann uncovers some impressive lives, such as the sailor John Anthony, who arrived in England on a pirate’s boat; Reasonable Blackman, a Southwark silk weaver; and a salvage diver called Jacques Francis. Kaufmann points to them as “examples of people who are really being valued for their skills. In a later age, you get these portraits of Africans sitting sycophantically in the corner looking up at the main character, but they’re not just these domestic playthings for the aristocracy. They’re working as a seamstress or for a brewer. Even in aristocratic households they are performing tasks – as a porter, like Edward Swarthye, or as a cook – they are doing useful things, they get wages. John Blanke, a royal trumpeter, gets paid twice the average wage of an agricultural labourer and three times that of an average servant. They’re not being whipped or beaten or put in chains or being bought and sold.”
I balk at the names black Tudors were given – Swarthye, Blanke, Blackman, Blacke – and at the idea that trudging out an existence as a Tudor prostitute, like Anne Cobbie, a “tawny Moor” with “soft skin”, is any great win for diversity. But it does seem that black Tudors are no worse off than white ones. At a basic level, they are acknowledged as citizens rather than loathed as outcasts. “It’s enormously significant, given how important religion was, that Africans were being baptised and married and buried within church life. It’s a really significant form of acceptance, particularly the baptism ritual, which states that ‘through baptism you are grafted into the community of God’s holy church’, in which we are all one body.”
Kaufmann says she feels “anxious, because people might not like” her book. “Part of it is the surprise element: people didn’t think there were Africans in Tudor England. There’s this fantasy past where it’s all white – and it wasn’t. It’s ignorance. People just don’t know these histories. Hopefully this research will inspire producers to get multiracial stories on our screens.”
Although she is very generous with her time, Kaufmann has been uneasy, even to the point of seeming dissatisfied, throughout our conversation. She goes cautiously silent when I try to link her concerns to current issues such as Brexit, racism or the rise of populist nationalism. Part of the reason might be wariness at the vicious online treatment meted out to women of expertise when they comment on current affairs or state a fact that goes against philistine fantasies. Earlier this year, the historian Mary Beard was the target of abuse for corroborating an educational film for children which showed a well-to-do black family living under the Roman empire.
This resistance to accepting a black history is not confined to the lower reaches of Twitter. The academic and novelist Sunny Singh has written about director Christopher Nolan’s film Dunkirk, which erased the presence of Royal Indian Army Services Corp personnel and lascars from south Asia and east Africa working for the British and, on the French side, Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian troops from France’s colonies. The comedian Mark Gatiss was so disturbed by the presence of one black actor in the cast for a Doctor Who time travel episode he was filming that he sent a “very difficult” email to his bosses protesting that “there weren’t any black soldiers in Victoria’s army”. Rattled, he did his own research and discovered that there had indeed been one black soldier there, whereupon he relented.
Despite her work in filling in these historical blanks, Kaufmann laments the scarcity of complete evidence: “I wish they had kept diaries or preserved letters. Much as I’ve pieced together these lives, they’re not satisfying biographies where we know everything – more often, they are snapshots of moments.” Nonetheless, the tide is turning against the myth that England has always been a monoracial, monocultural, monolingual nation. Along with writers such as David Olusoga, Paul Gilroy and Sunny Singh, and institutions such as the University of York, which has launched a project investigating medieval multiculturalism, historians such as Miranda Kaufmann are bringing England to a necessary reckoning with its true history.
Extraordinary lives: some black people in Tudor England
John Blanke, the musicianOne of the court trumpeters, he was present in the entourage of Henry VII from at least 1507. He performed at both Henry VII’s funeral and Henry VIII’s coronation in 1509. Jacques Francis, the salvage diverAn expert swimmer and diver, he was hired to salvage guns from the wreck of the Mary Rose in 1546. When his Venetian master was accused of theft in Southampton, Francis became the first known African to give evidence in an English court of law. Diego, the circumnavigatorDiego asked to be taken aboard Sir Francis Drake’s ship in Panama in 1572. Diego and Drake circumnavigated the globe in 1577, claiming California for the crown in 1579. Anne Cobbie, prostituteCobbie was one of 10 women cited when the owners of the brothel where she worked were brought before the Westminster sessions court in 1626. Reasonable Blackman, the silk weaverHe lived in Southwark around 1579-1592 and had probably arrived from the Netherlands. He had at least three children, but lost two to the plague in 1592. Mary Fillis, servantThe daughter of Fillis of Morisco, a Moroccan basket weaver and shovel-maker, Mary came to London around 1583-4 and became a servant to a merchant. Later she worked for a seamstress from East Smithfield. Dederi Jaquoah, merchant and princeJaquoah was the son of King Caddi-biah, ruler of a kingdom in modern Liberia. He arrived in England in 1610 and was baptised in London on New Year’s Day 1611. He spent two years in England with a leading merchant.
Four years ago, this time of the year, I was travelling in Algeria. It is not an easy journey to summarize... I had not come in years. It was quite shattering and deeply unsettling. But I just want to show the outstanding beauty of it for now.
Raoul Peck spent a few weeks in the United States to open a dialogue on the current situation of hatred and violence, in regards with his film on James Baldwin released earlier this year, I Am Not Your Negro.
Here is a summary of one discussion, in the Main magazine, The Bowdoin Orient:
CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM Assistant Professor of Romance Languages Meryem Belkaïd (left) facilitated a question and answer session with award-winning filmmaker Raoul Peck (right) on Tuesday, entitled “Identity, History, and Race.” Peck’s Academy Award nominated documentary film, “I Am Not Your Negro,” was screened in Kresge Auditorium on Monday. The film is based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript “Remember This House.”
Filmmaker Raoul Peck now uses cinema as a platform for social activism. On Monday, the award-winning filmmaker and director of the world-renowned documentary, “I Am Not Your Negro,” came to campus to participate in a Q&A following a screening of his film. On Tuesday, Meryem Belkaïd, assistant professor of romance languages and literatures, hosted a public discussion with Peck about his background and its influence on his work.
Peck begins these discussions with his provocative films. He hopes that students learn to be critical, especially in a media-dominated world where we are constantly bombarded by images.
“I hope that in universities you learn how to read images, how to deconstruct images or how to read the work of an artist,” said Peck. “An artist doesn’t just react to a society, there is something that they’re trying to convey and it’s our job to try to understand it.”
Peck was born in Haiti and has lived and studied all over the world, including in the U.S., France and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Despite this international lifestyle, Peck’s films discuss the universality and continuity of social issues.
“Movies, as innocent as they might appear, are vehicles for ideology, for politics, for culture, for merchandise,” said Peck during a Q&A session. “I came into the film industry because of politics, because of content—not because I wanted to make Hollywood films.”
Peck tells stories that otherwise would not make it onto the screen. He has written, produced and directed films about the genocide in Rwanda, the struggle for Congolese independence and the rebuilding of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. He said he portrays these events from the eyes of the oppressed and hopes to give minorities a louder voice, while critiquing and countering mainstream American cinema.
“I am Not Your Negro” is an Academy Award nominated documentary film based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript “Remember This House,” a memoir of his personal experiences with Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. The film discusses issues of race and power dynamics on a global scale. In “I am Not Your Negro,” he uses Baldwin’s words to convey this message.
“Obviously, Baldwin wrote [“Remember This House”] in another time, but everything in it is as if written today,” said Peck. “It says something about the way we see reality, the way we see our common history.”
“Baldwin says that ‘white is a metaphor for power’ … It’s not about race [alone],” said Peck. “Race is always a cover-up for many other things, for any different type of power relationship, authority relationship, economical inequality.”
This discussion of universal struggles resonated with students.
“[‘I am Not Your Negro’] talked about race in a way that I don’t in my day-to-day life, and I don’t think Bowdoin does come even close to that,” said Hannah Konkel ’20, who attended both events. “It was a really powerful film. Especially on this campus, where we talk about talking about race a lot but don’t actually ever do it. I thought it was a necessary [topic to discuss].”
Peck seeks to encourage audiences to think critically about a genre valued for its ability to entertain.
“Especially in America, cinema is an industry that claims that its purpose is entertainment … The tendency is to please the audience, it’s not so much to provoke,” said Peck.
Amie Sillah ’20 attended the Tuesday night event and appreciated this uncommon viewpoint on entertainment.
“[Peck], although he has lived in Western society, also has a good grasp and understands non-Western perspectives on social activism as well as non-Western perspectives on cinema,” said Sillah. “I thought it was awesome that Bowdoin was able to obtain someone in a different sphere.”
Peck himself appreciates diversity in conversation and discussion. During his talks, he urged students to exercise their freedom of speech just as he has through film.
“I think it’s always best, when possible, to have a very transparent, open discussion and bring people in who know more than you,” said Peck. “I’m open to learning and I want to have a discussion. I want to hear what you have to say. And I feel empowered when I learn something from you.”
If you have been reporting or helping in a refugee camp or a camp for displaced people, you know how heartbreakingly hard it is to imagine people living there 24/7. It is destroying every piece of structure of people's everyday life... though it brings them shelter and most of the time the peace they were desperately lacking when they had to leave their home. This is a very enthusiast prospect for people living in Jordan's camp, Zaatari, heavily affected by the Syrian war this past six years. Give a chance for this cinema to come to life!!! Donations are from 1 €/£/$ :)
Bringing a movie theatre to the largest refugee camp in the Middle East
North of Jordan, about 10 km from the Syrian border, is one of the largest refugee camp in the world : AL ZAATARI camp.
80.000 refugees live today in this camp, men, women, children who fled the war in Syria. They left everything behind and live in makeshift facilities in the middle of the desert.
The camp is administrated by United Nation’s UNHCR.
Some of the refugees arrived five years ago. Since then, a few schools have been set up, as well as hospitals, and even a main street which the refugees have baptized “Champs Elysées” with its small shops and stalls. Life goes on, while people wait for the war to end.
As a group of film-makers, we entered the camp during a film shoot. What we saw there moved us deeply and we felt compelled to do something.
There are already schools, hospitals, a complex organization for food, hygiene and basic necessities. Indeed, the NGOs are doing an outstanding job.
So we came up with the idea of bringing the refugees a small cinema. It will show movies dubbed in Arabic so that both children and adults can enjoy carefree moments.
We like the idea that films could bring some happiness to this suffering population, help them discover other cultures, and create social bonds.
We have spoken to the UNHCR, and with the refugees themselves. They've all welcomed our initiative.
Today, we are raising funds to buy the equipment needed and build a cinema, in the middle of the desert, as an answer to the violence, the madness of this world.
We have created a non-profit association which we called “LUMIERE”, as a tribute to the Lumière brothers, the french inventors of cinema.
We’ve asked the refugees to bring together a small group of people that will look after the cinema, maintain the equipment and schedule the screenings. Our call was answered with enthusiasm.
Details of the projet :
We aim to inaugurate the movie theatre by the end of 2017!
The cinema will be set up in a very large tent that can seat up to 150 people (UNHCR advises against larger gatherings). There are many such tents already in the camp.
Some of these tents are sealed against daylight and can be air-conditioned, so the screenings will be able to take place both during the daytime and at night. Dates and times for the screenings will be discussed with the camp authorities.
IRD (International Relief and Development), a NGO working under the supervision of our partners the UNHCR at the management of a centre for arts and culture in Zaatari, will provide us with such a tent. We will then adapt and decorate it to turn it into a movie theatre. The tent they are offering us is ideally located in the heart of the camp, in district 2.
The audience will be able to sit on chairs or carpets, as they prefer.
On the pediment of the tent will be written in lights السينما LUMIERE (CINEMA LUMIERE), in French and Arabic. This sign will be made by a crew of Jordanian movie technicians specialising in construction, with whom we’ve already established contact.
Inside the tent, we’ll try to recreate the feel of a projection room.
Frames will be set up around the screen to conceal the loudspeakers. The sides of the tent will be decorated with oblique hangings, to create an acoustic environment. The aim is to offer the refugees a break from their everyday settings, by turning a tent from a purely functional administrative building into a realistic projection room.
- A simple but powerful video projector that anyone can use, and that can project on a screen 5 or 6 metres long.
- A screen, custom-made by a Jordanian crew from a professional material hung on a metal frame, whose size and proportion will depend on the tent.
- An inflatable screen for outdoor night-time screenings, if the camp authorities feel they can be organised.
- A DVD/Blu-Ray player connected to the video projector.
- A sound system bringing the audio to 3 loudspeakers on stands, one on each side of the screen and one in the middle.
- Flight cases in which to store the DVD player and amplifier. They will be piled up high enough to enable the video projector, set up on top of them, to project its light beam over the crowd. The whole installation should be easy to move if necessary.
- Extra lamps for the video projector.
For the first screening, as a symbolic gesture, we’d like to show the refugees Workers leaving the Lumière factory and other movies by the original inventors, with a commentary in Arabic about the invention of cinema.
Afterwards, features and animations from all around the world should be shown, always dubbed in Arabic.
The films will have to meet certain requirements so as not to offend the audience’s religious convictions (no sex, violence, etc.).
We will also try to collaborate with the camp schools to screen films in accordance with the children’s educational programs, such as documentaries.
And why not even screen football games broadcast online, allowing the refugees to watch them all together.
We will be asking major French and international distribution companies for free access to their film catalogues, from which the managers of the cinema can make their pick.
The choice of films will be a delicate matter, in which we will be assisted by theRoyal Film Commission (the state organisation coordinating the movie industry in Jordan), as well as our partners in Amman and in Al Zaatari.
LOGISTICS & CREW
Volunteers from "Lumière à Zaatari" will buy and ship the equipment to Jordan, with the help of a local team of volunteers as well as local authorities, who should facilitate this “humanitarian” transaction with customs.
The same French and Jordanian volunteers will set up and decorate the cinema, with the help of UNHCR and IRD. They will then hire and train a projectionist and two other people from among the camp refugees, who will be paid to run the movie theatre.
Why fund it?
The fund-raising will help us:
- buy the equipment: 12.500€
- ship the equipment and pay for customs: 9.800€
- fit out the projection room: 4.000€
- travel and train local personnel: 6.000€
- pay for insurance: 2.5000€
If we reach 38.000€, our first goal will be reached: the cinema will be fully operational and able to host its audience!
But this is only the first step.
If we raise 50.000€, we'll be able to pay the wages of a part-time coordinator and technical manager for a full year, to help run the cinema and take charge of the programming and screening.
Beyond 50.000€, the funds will help us pay for the operational costs of the cinema beyond its first year of activity.
If the donations exceed 60.000€, we will be able to pay for the cinema's operational costs for the first two years of activity, and we will donate the extra money to "LES ECRANS DE LA PAIX" (“SCREENS FOR PEACE”), an association which has been going around the refugee camps in the Middle East for years with an itinerant cinema.
The people living in Zaatari will probably still be there in a year. Their cinema mustn’t stop.