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18 SEPTEMBER 2014

To Singapore, with Love: Singaporean political exiles remember

"Some places are better observed from a distance if you want to grasp their inner essence. For this portrait of her hometown, the tropical economic powerhouse of Singapore, Tan Pin Pin decided on a strictly external perspective. She meets with political exiles in London, Thailand, and Malaysia who had to leave the city thirty–five or fifty years ago–and who are to this day not permitted to return unless they die and their relatives bring back their ashes. The protagonists of the film fought for increased democracy and for Singapore to be freed from colonialism. They escaped long prison sentences and judicial capriciousness, but at the price of exile. They have a heightened view of the city today, full of dreams yet also analytical: To Singapore, with Love [星国恋] is a homage to individual fighters whose lives have been shaped by emigration. They tell their stories more as utopians than as victims, opening up amazing perspectives on an ultra–modern city in a democratic coma as well as on life in exile, whose path is never straightforward for those who do not lose sight of their goals, even when far away from home."

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TAGS

2013activist • Asian Cinema Fund • British Colonial Government • Busan International Film Festival • card carrying communist • censorshipcolonialismcommunism • communist party • democratic coma • detention without trial • displaced • documentary film • emigration • English countryside • escape • exile • fled • homagehometown • Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin • judicial capriciousness • life in exile • lives • Malaysia • not permitted to return • political exile • political exiles • political persuasion • prison sentence • Singapore • Singaporean • student leader • Tan Pin Pin • Thailand • To Singapore with Love (2013) • United Kingdom • utopian

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
19 DECEMBER 2012

North Korean 'Propaganda' is the real viral hit of 2012

"Propaganda 2012 is a 95–minute video that presents itself as a North Korean educational video intending to inform the citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea about the dangers of Western propaganda. The video's uploader, known as 'Sabine', reiterates a statement she gave to the Federal Police regarding the movie's origins. She explains how the film was given to her by people claiming to be North Korean defectors whilst she was visiting Seoul. ...

Although the origins of Propaganda 2012 are contentious, its power lies in the fact that much of its content attempts to avoid invented history. Considering the media buzzwords associated with the alleged country of origin, Propaganda 2012 turns a mirror onto the Western world and seeks to criticise its entire history and culture–from the genocide and imperialism of its past, to the interventionism and consumerism of the modern era. The movie's overall attitude seems to express an intention to educate, shock and caution its audience into realising that people in the West are governed by a super–rich ruling class (The one per cent), who do not offer them true democracy; but instead seek to invade and assimilate as many countries as possible, whilst distracting their population with a smokescreen of consumerism, celebrity, and reality television. This message is spread across the video's 17 chapters, which each attempt to focus on specific examples of Western indoctrination and oppression. The film is regularly punctuated by commentary from an anonymous North Korean professor, and quotes from Western thinkers such as Noam Chomsky and Richard Dawkins. ...

Propaganda 2012 is certainly a film where the audience takes from it what they bring to it, and a variety of emotions can be induced upon viewing. Laughter, cynicism, outrage, contemplation and reflection would all be adequate responses to the video's tough, and often graphic, portrayal of the complex world in which we are living. Yet perhaps the most important thing to remember when watching the film is that the video is available to view uncensored, on a largely unregulated world wide web, and merely represents an extreme end of the vast spectrum of free expression. Therefore, during this festive end to an austere year, enjoy Propaganda 2012 as an interesting and beguiling alternative voice that cries loudly against the dangers of religious consumerism, and reminds us to remain humble and reflect on those less fortunate than ourselves."

(Kieran Turner–Dave, 17 December 2012, Independent Arts Blogs)

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20129/11anti-capitalism • brainwashing • capitalismCentury of the Selfcommunismconspiracy theoriesconsumer cultureconsumer desireconsumerism • counter-terrorism • criticismcult of celebritycultural imperialismcultural implicationsdemocracydistractiondocumentary • DPRK • emotive manipulation • false flag • fear • fear of communism • fear of terrorism • free expression • Gangnam Style • genocidehalf-baked ideashistory and culture • hysterics • imperialism • indoctrination • interventionism • invented history • Just Do It • Korea • life in the West • likes • manufacturing consent • moralitynarcissismnationalism • neo-imperialist • Noam ChomskyNorth KoreaoppressionOprah WinfreyParis Hiltonpatriotismpolitical educationpropagandaPropaganda (2012)public relationsQuentin Tarantinoreality televisionreligion • religious consumerism • Richard Dawkins • Sabine (pseudonym) • salvation • September 11 2001shockingsmokescreensocialist realismSociety of the Spectacle (Guy Debord)South Koreaspectacle • Survivor (tv series) • terrorism • the one per cent • trust • Tyra Banks • unconscious desireswatching television

CONTRIBUTOR

David Reid
24 JUNE 2012

A History of Eastern European Matchbox Design

"Matchbox labels from the former Eastern bloc often display a remarkable degree of sophistication, elegance and artistic quality. They were, at a time, the most convenient,efficient and powerful medium for visual communications. Although they were produced under strict state–controlled production processes; that were aimed at exploiting them as a means of publicizing political initiatives, promoting public health and safety, and selling the communist ideal both at home and abroad, the artists used them as a vehicle to experiment with various imaginative ideas and artistic techniques, achieving truly stunning results."

(Guity Novin – گیتی نوین (ناوران) – ا)

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Albania • Alexander Dubcek • artistic techniques • Bulgaria • Central Europe • communism • communist design • communist reformers • communist systemCzechoslovakiaEast GermanyEastern bloc • Eastern Europe • EstoniaGDR • German Democratic Republic • graphic designgraphic design history • Guity Navran • Guity Novin • history • history of graphic design • Hungarian Uprising • Hungary • Imre Nagy • Jane McDevitt • Joseph Stalin • label design • LatviaLithuania • matchbox • matchbox labels • national identity • NATO Alliance • Nikita KhrushchevPoland • political initiatives • post-war erapostwar • powerful medium • Prague Springpublic healthpublic information • public safety • publicising • RomaniaRussiaSocialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviasocialist realismSoviet Union • state-controlled • the communist ideal • USSRvisual communication • Warsaw Pact • Western democracies • Yugoslavia

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
27 APRIL 2009

Banned in the USA! Re-Discovering the Lost Films of the Marshall Plan: 1948 - 1953

"After the Second World War, The Marshall Plan, the US government project to hasten European economic recovery, provided over $13 billion to 17 European countries.

By 1951, in response to the threat of Communism and the impact of the Korean War, the focus shifted to European security and military issues.

Propaganda and information films revealing the activities of the Marshall Plan were shown in cinemas, including those in Britain.

Embodying 'the largest peacetime propaganda effort directed by one country to a group of others ever seen' (David Ellwood), these films illustrate in surprisingly specific terms the strategy implemented by the Truman Administration in the 1950s for 'winning the peace'."
(The Barbican Centre, UK)

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 JANUARY 2009

Does the world need Esperanto?

"[Esperanto] was very much the child of its times, like Theosophy, perhaps, or even Communism, which explains both its rapid spread in the early part of the 20th century as well, I think, as its eventual failure, if that's the right word, to live up to the hopes of the hopeful [Dr Ludwik Zamenhof], the founder of the movement.
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It's also unsurprising that after the nightmare of the first world war, so many people around the world were inclined, in an era of modernism, to imagine peace in universalist terms.

A century later, we live in a rather different world, one where diversity (in dialects, ethnicities, customs, beliefs) is widely celebrated as a very fine thing, while anything that smacks of a grand narrative (a universal truth, a universal movement, anything hegemonic) is regarded with suspicion, although not universally, naturally."
(Robert Dessaix, 21 January 2006, ABC Australia)

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20th centurybeliefscommunismcultural diversitycustomsdialectdifferenceEsperantoethnicitygrand narrativeshegemonylanguagelingua franca • Ludwik Zamenhof • modernism • singularity • Theosophy • universals

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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