21 February 2012

Mardi Gras Made in China

In 1978 two seemingly unrelated but momentous events occurred: Deng Xiaoping put an end to Maoism by endorsing the 'capitalist road' for China (although only old-line Marxists called it that) but said, 'It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice' and women in New Orleans began flashing their breasts during Mardi Gras parades to score more beads from passing floats. David Redmon's film 'Mardi Gras Made in China' is the clear and damning story of how Chinese capitalism and globalization have created the Tai Kuen Bead Factory in a tax-free Special Economic Zone in Fuzhou. Hundreds of teenagers, mostly girls, work up to sixteen hours a day for ten cents an hour to make the millions of beads that Mardi Gras revelers need for the bodacious New Orleans parade scene. The girls also make assorted other souvenirs, including little porcelain figures with exaggerated sexual organs.

02 February 2012

A Selection of Videos from PRATEC

The Project on Andean Peasant Technologies (PRATEC) is a Peruvian NGO that works with rural communities on various projects related to education and cultural affirmation. Active for over 20 years, PRATEC has evolved a way of working with the indigenous peoples of the Andean highlands that is based on the spirit of walking together with, rather than leading or guiding, the local communities. Independent filmmaker Maja Tillmann Salas collaborated with PRATEC from 2003 until 2007 to produce a number of videos documenting their projects and activities, ranging from deschooling and educational reform to the ritual nurturance of cultivated fields. Many of her films have been screened at international festivals. PRATEC has more recently worked with Sachavideos based in Lamas, Peru. Collectively, these videos offer a unique view of Andean peasant communities and their cosmovision that sees life in a reciprocal relationship with nature, where human beings are nurtured by nature, and in return nature is nurtured by human beings.