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Just Do It: get off your arse and change the world

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Whilst filming for the upcoming feature documentary Just Do It: get off your arse and change the world may have finished. The production and edit team remain hard at work, sorting through over 300 hundred hours of footage captured from (to name a few of the actions) the G20 in April 2009, Climate Camp Blackheath, all the way through to Copenhagen. A rather abysmal series of talks, in which world leaders successfully failed to own up to their environmental responsibility.

Just Do It follows an ensemble cast made up from members of Climate Camp, Plane Stupid and Climate Rush as they embrace the mantle of civil disobedience. Their adventures are entertaining, illuminating, and inspiring, as documented via the video clips released throughout production.

However, Just Do It needs your help in the final push leading up to the film’s release. The project has already received fantastic support, from the 100+ people who have donated their time and energy and the many others who have invaluably donated to the production budget. To finish the film and release it for free via creative commons, Just Do It are asking for donations now, enabling millions of others to see the finished documentary when it is released in 2011.

This is where you come in. Lush Cosmetics are setting you and Just Do It the challenge of raising £20,000 pounds in 20 days, starting from 12th October 2010. In response, Lush will match every donation made to Just Do It pound for pound, up to a total sum of £10,000. That’s right, if you donate half, Lush will match it.

If you would like to find out more about this incredible project from acclaimed filmmaker Emily James, please visit the website.

Written by sallymumbycroft

October 11, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Posted in News, Sally

Silent City have a new website and An Interview with Artist Claire Roberts

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All photographs by Sally Mumby-Croft

I recently interviewed artist Claire Roberts for Silent City, You can read the interview here: But please do check out Silent City

Interview with Claire Roberts for Silent City

How did you become involved in Silent City?

I became involved in Silent City by chance. It was just after I had returned from travelling and I was invited by the group to contribute. I wasn’t certain at this point how I could add to this exhibition.

What has life been like a year after graduating from Goldsmiths?

After graduating I went travelling to South America to Chile, Argentina and Brazil. I felt determined to experience some of these places first hand, despite the environmental guilt that follows. It was really interesting noting the attitudes these places had to the environment. I remember arguing most fiercely with an Argentinean man about the Falkland Islands since drilling for oil had just started there. This man believed that the oil belonged to him (as did the Islas Malvinas) It was frustrating, since the very greed and desire for ownership and wealth was one that led the British government to empire, the desire for these natural resources. And yet globally we are plundering the world of these things. Countries who have had less opportunity for this ownership see having these things as a way of obtaining respect, wealth and not being bullied internationally. It is difficult to ask the world to have more respect for the planet, when we, ourselves are constantly plundering it for economic growth.

What first interested you about the problem the eradication of bees proposes?

Climate change is such a big incomprehensible topic to navigate. I realised the only way I could access it was to consider something that I knew. For the last few years my parents have been keeping honeybees, and I’ve became caught up in them. I became fascinated with Colony Collapse Disorder. Where bees just seem to disappear and not return. There are lots of theories why this may happen ranging from a pest (varroa) to pesticides, single crop fields to extinction of habitat, even mobile phones were potentially considered a threat. Scientists began analysing, cutting open bee’s and looking at their guts and seeing that the CCD bee’s were sick. My personal belief is that all this factors have evolved to create considerable stress on bees, and since a large proportion of our food is pollinated through these insects, it is essential we try to eradicate this source of stress. However the frustration that many British Beekeepers have is how little the government have funded research into this problem, despite it affecting a fifth of hives in the UK.

How did this particular piece develop?

Originally when I considered this piece I wanted to show the difference between hand pollination in China, and pollination by insects. However, after a while I decided I would rather just create a small monument for these insects.

I gathered up as many dead bees’ as I could (the ones that were chucked out the hive) and began creating a small slab for them to rest upon. I literally piled them up, but after a while I wanted to show the fragmentation. How there was an absence in them. The piece I finally created was small. It sat on the floor. I think in a way it was easy to overlook. It did not shout or scream about the bees, or their deaths. It merely just acted as a tomb. It disturbs me that perhaps this may be the way we end up accessing all bees. Pinned onto science museum. The living, breathing, pollinating insects, absent.

What are your thoughts on Global Warming and Climate Change scepticism?

I think I find it very easy to understand the scepticism behind climate change and global warming, since in the past I have been a sceptic. I only ever understood the devastating potential of our actions when considering something as small as a bee. If the use of pesticides can cause an extinction of bees in one area of a country, then all the chemicals and pollutants that we are emitting into the atmosphere globally must be having a much larger impact.

My own belief is that the earth will survive the damage that we are inflicting upon it, however it is difficult to consider if we will, or if the many other species on this planet that we have a responsibility over will. In a way the fight to protect this planet is a fight to protect our own species, as well as our fellow man. It is also a fight to protect ourselves from a difficult life, in which disease, lack of water, and starvation may become more prevalent than they are today. However it is easier to overlook this since the people that will be most affected by climate change, will be those who we already overlook in similar positions. Those that are fighting for clean safe water will be fighting even harder to access it. It is difficult to want to look at these issues, to even become involved in them, since it means admitting partly to our own collective guilt and ignorance (and I am vouching for my own too)

What projects are you currently working on? Do you think you will continue to explore environmental concerns within your practice?

I am currently working on a few projects at the moment, one of which is a collaboration directly linked with silent city, the others are more based on my previous film//performance work. I am still incredibly interested in using the environment in my work, however I am trying to negotiate a way which is able to access the unconvinced while not preaching or dictating to them. I think the key is to find something small which demonstrates the direct effect of climate change, and more intrinsically has a direct resonance with each individual. It is then possible that this person might take small changes to elevate our burden on the planets resources. To create work, which fulfils this, I see as a direct struggle.

Claire graduated from Goldsmiths in 2009 with a BA in Fine Art and History of Art. She participated in our first Silent City exhibition. Currently, she is undertaking an MA in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths University. http://www.claireroberts.org.uk/

Written by sallymumbycroft

October 6, 2010 at 9:30 am

More Bronte action: Katherine Hepburn as Jane Eyre

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While researching my ponderances on Villette earlier this week, I came across these amazing pictures of Katharine Hepburn playing Jane Eyre early in her career. Hepburn was a great actress but I can’t say she’s well-suited to play the dowdy, underappreciated Jane. Look at that knowing little smile and all that white lace. She looks like she’s playing Scarlett O’Hara!

And as nature intended – sassing Cary Grant:

Written by Satu

September 3, 2010 at 9:07 am

Posted in Books, Films, Satu, Theatre

Unfilmable books? Villette

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Charlotte Bronte: legend

With the news that filming has begun on a new adaptation of Jane Eyre, and another Wuthering Heights that will commence production next year, articles have begun to appear in the media about a “Bronte resurgence” to match that of the popular enthusiasm for Jane Austen. What a lovely idea, sort of, but I doubt it. Firstly, I think the Bronte sisters are already well-known enough for any swelling of public feeling  to have reached its maximum; secondly, although there are three of them, there’s not enough filmable material between them to elevate them to Austen status. It takes a TV or film adaptation to win hearts and minds.

I’m by no means an expert, having read only Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Villette, but I think I’ve maxed out viable Bronte romantic heroines. It’s already quite strange to read endless gushing articles about Cathy and Heathcliff’s love – anyone who has actually read the book will see that it’s odd to call it a “great love story”. SPOILER ALERT: Cathy won’t commit, marries someone else, then she dies, halfway through the book. It’s quite a strange book in terms of style and you don’t get a pay-off, anywhere. Twilight may be based on it, but other than deferred satisfaction, I don’t think there are many other similarities.

Villette is a stunning book, a work of genius. It’s about someone quiet and understated, like Jane Eyre, working as a companion and later a teacher. The first stumbling-block for a potential producer is that the heroine’s name is not Villette, it’s Lucy. Villette is a town but unlike, for example, Lark Rise to Candleford, the book isn’t really about the town, unless you want to get biographical and say it’s about Bronte’s time spent in France rather the themes of duality in human personalities, duplicity in general and Protestantism vs. Catholicism. That latter is dealt with so well: it’s more of a vibe than a lecture, although FYI, Catholics are all deceivers and fools apparently.

The religious aspect is much more prominent in the book than any romance. Lucy is a very reserved person – this is not a love story although a very cautious, chaste romance across the divide does arise. There is in fact one adaptation for television, a BBC production from 1970:

**Update** Thanks to a kind commenter who pointed out this image is from a 1973 adaptation of Jane Eyre – the internet lied to me! I stand by my opinion that it was probably rubbish though.

I know I’m being prejudiced because it was made in 1970 but based on this image I’ve decided it was rubbish. It’s certainly fallen into utter obscurity – barely listed on imdb.com and not available on DVD or even video anywhere it seems. I simply don’t see how a TV adaptation made in the bonnets and teacups tradition could have tackled a book that is all about perfect pace, utter authorial control, and a lot of complaining about Catholics. There is a new tradition in Bronte adaptation of either sister (sorry Anne! no new adaptations for you): lots of bonnets but much more gothic.

I think Villette would work if it was presented as a psychological investigation rather than a romance. It has some classic gothic elements such as the convenient thunderstorm, white nightgowns and potential ghosts. Teacups do also feature to some extent. Maybe it’s not such a terrible idea after all; maybe Jane Campion could do it, as I really enjoyed Bright Star and she does a good bonnet situation. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

Written by Satu

August 31, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Coalition of the Willing

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Sadly I cant seem to get the video to embed. But please follow the link and watch this interesting documentary on a post copenhagen world, looking at open source and the possibility the internet offers to build global supportive and innovative networks

Coalition Of The Willing from coalitionfilm on Vimeo

Written by sallymumbycroft

July 6, 2010 at 10:50 am

Posted in Sally

Bookcrossing: The Well of Loneliness

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This is the “classic lesbian love story”, by Radclyffe Hall, the cause of a huge scandal in 1928 and a trial for obscenity. It is a book of forbidden love and desire and it took a very brave woman to write it. It is also wall-to-wall talking ponies, cute dogs, puddle-deep psychologising and some of the most maddeningly dire prose I’ve ever read. I’m only half way through and if I hear another pony voice its thoughts I will scream, but I will not be surprised as quite a lot of the plot revolves around the heroine’s love for various ponies and they for her.

I received this book from a friend who is an avid fan of Bookcrossing.com, a system you may have heard about where people leave books on park benches with a reference number pasted in the front. You can then check what your benefactor thought of the book and see if there are any other books in your area waiting to be grabbed. Mine obviously came from a known source so isn’t quite as romantic a story as this but I think I will jump on the bandwagon when I am done with it. Recommendations for political books of this type are particularly useful as they need to come from people who share my politics – I’ve received some interesting reads from work friends (notably “A Life” by Italo Svevo – a sombre tale for another time) but none of them are particularly involved in feminist history, which isn’t surprising as they are all men.

As my friend PussInBooks (great name and amazingly varied reading habits!) notes in her Bookcrossing review, there is “very little shocking content by modern standards, but you can see why it would have been deemed obscene at the time”. I think that even the suggestion of lesbian orientation and that it might be normal and okay, as opposed to violently disgusting and morally wrong, was in counterpoint to how society mostly felt. Most characters in the book, including the protagonist’s mother, veer between prissily pretending not to know that such a perversion could even exist, and outright hostility. PussInBooks also found the representation of women who aren’t “inverted”, i.e. straight women, as status-obsessed bimbos patronising.

Stephen doesn’t really require our pity. She is wealthy, clever and strong both in feeling and body. She has a sympathetic parent in her father who makes her feel loved and who is agonised by, but accepts, her difference from “ordinary” girls. A gay, spinster governess hovers in the background trying to be helpful. Her love of nature and the ever-present ponies establishes her as something pure, wholesome and rather innocent. along with a strong religious subtext stemming from the author’s Catholic faith. It is not Stephen who is particularly troubled by her sexuality and it’s the positive representation of her as a person that makes this an important book.

 

It’s not a particularly feminist novel: Stephen’s positive qualities are quite evidently supposed to be male, in contrast to her beautiful but distant mother and pretty but feckless first girlfriend (I haven’t gotten to the main lover yet – I know you shouldn’t review a book halfway through but I need to share in order to keep me going through the pony bits). I understand from the foreword to my copy by Diana Souhami that Radclyffe Hall presented herself in a way we would now describe as butch and I can understand the argument for placing this book in the history of transgender rather than lesbian writing. There wasn’t a complete language for these differences at the time of writing and part of Hall’s heroic efforts is trying to bring it out of verbal nothingness into a languge of emotion if not of action – the book is very coy with no naughty bits to skip to.

I never quit on a book and I feel I owe Radclyffe Hall a reading for writing a game-changing depiction of love outside the boundaries of heterosexuality and marriage. Most works that are the first of their type don’t hold up to the scrutiny of the ages and the book is very dated, both in terms of literary achievement and politics. These days we can allow lesbian women to have traditional feminine attributes and for these women to have passions and aims of their own; to Hall, who aspired to manly virtues such as wealth, power, intelligence and compassion, the trappings of womanhood are frailty and weakness, and their interests limited to gossip and fashion. But the parts that convince, about Stephen’s longing for a relationship and to be able to live an acceptable public life, are touching because they clearly come from the heart. Although the amount of Catholic shame and the isolation from other women in the book is saddening, it is also understandable.

Written by Satu

June 22, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Books, Satu

Documentary about Climate Change Activists Needs Your Help

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Left Field Films is producing an exciting new documentary film on climate change and is asking for your help to get it completed. Just Do It looks into the mischievous and risky world of UK climate activists. The story follows Climate Camp, Plane Stupid and Climate Rush through 2009 as they take on the combined forces of global capitalism, run away climate change and those pesky metropolitan police.

The film is currently being produced by a crew of volunteers, film professionals, and award-winning Director Emily James. Emily is well known for her innovative style, prompting the Guardian to write, “Emily James is a genius,… and will in time be revered as a television innovator”, and the Broadcast magazine called her “One of the ‘Hottest Talents in Town’”.

What is really special about this film is that it is completely non-commercial. Rather than selling it to broadcasters and cinemas, the plan is to give the film away for free under a Creative Commons license. In this way the film’s production and release will reflect the culture and spirit of the movement it portrays, and ensures that as many people as possible can see it and be inspired to take action on climate change.

The obvious implication of this model is that the production costs need to be raised in advance, as there wont be an income from sales. So, if this is the kind of film you would like to see, put your money where your mouth is and help to make it a reality. Please click here to make a donation.

Follow them on: Facebook and Twitter and please forward this message to anyone who might be interested.

Written by sallymumbycroft

June 14, 2010 at 12:53 pm