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Current Concerns: Films on issues in the news
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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Independent Journalists in Russia (or lack of)
Anna Politkovskaya was an independent journalist working in Russia reporting mostly on the conflict with Chechnya. Her writing frequently condemned the government and police for corruption. She was assassinated in 2006 and her murder, among many murders of journalists there, remains unsolved. As reported in the Times, Colleagues Honor Slain Russian Journalist With a Book and Demand Justice, her son Ilya, former editor Dmitri Murtov and Mikhail Gorbachev, owner of the paper she wrote for, Novaya Gazeta, have released a volume of Politkovskaya's writings in an effort to renew attention to the shrinking voices of independents in Russia.

DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE explores working reporters, including Politkovskaya before her death, working around the world as they defend journalistic principles against commercial pressures, deal with censorship or government constraints, as well as dangerous and even life-threatening conditions.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Shigeru Ban - "The Accidental Environmentalist"
Michael Kimmelman reports recently on the work of architect Shigeru Ban, calling him an "accidental environmentalist," as Ban's use of recycled, easily available and inexpensive building materials has been part of his repertoire since long before it was cool to be "green." From temporary housing for refugees in Rwanda and later for victims of the 1995 Kobe earthquake and later in Turkey, to multi -million dollar corporate buildings such as a new Swatch office building in Ginza and a new design that will sit on New York City's West Side highway next to Frank Gehry's recent contribution, Ban maintains his commitment to thrift.

SHIGERU BAN, a film by Michel Quinejure, goes in depth with Ban through interviews and tours of his most significant structures to reveal that an emphasis on issues of conservation, economy, and accessibility does not necessarily involve a sacrifice in architectural beauty.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Going Underground to Discover the Universe's Origins
The New York Times reports today that the world's largest particle accelerator, being built 300 feet underground in Switzerland, is nearing completion. After 13 years under construction, it could be done in just 3 years. "A Giant Takes on Physic's Biggest Questions" by Dennis Overby explores how such a span of time might seem long, but the discoveries that the Large Hadron Collider, based at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland, might yield could lead scientists to understand the origins of the universe.

Filmmaker Samy Brunett is a former employee CERN laboratory where the accelerator is being built, and he returned to make SCIENTISTS AT THE RIM OF REALITY. The film is an insider's guide to the project that could provide huge discoveries shortly.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Early Eugenics Theorist In the News
Cesare Lombroso, an Italian criminologist who died in 1909, believed that criminality could be identified by physical characteristics. In keeping with his popular early eugenics theory, Giovanni Passannante's skull and brains were kept preserved and on display in a criminology museum in Rome until recently when activists sought to have his remains buried. Passannante was an anarchist who tried to assassinate King Umberto I of Savoy in 1878. Read the full story by Peter Kiefer from the weekend edition of The New York Times. Interested in the history of pseudosciences like eugenic and physiognomics? THE FACE OF EVIL examines this history of attempting to identify and categorize the physiognomy of evil through physical traits.

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