March 17, 2020
As coronavirus continues to spread across the globe and whole countries go into lockdown, we need solidarity and creative resistance now more than ever. At Cultures of Resistance Films, we’re joining an effort started by film festivals to make art free and accessible during these difficult times. One example is Italy’s Ischia Film Festival, whose #ilfestivalacasatua drive is bringing innovative cinema into people’s homes during the crisis. We are proud to join with this and other similar campaigns to support those affected by the pandemic.
As a way of extending solidarity to all who are suffering or living under quarantine, we are making a wide range of Cultures of Resistance films available for free online. Below you can find a list of our films and links for viewing them on our Cultures of Resistance YouTube or Vimeo.
We hope all of you will stay safe, limit social contact in order to help protect the most vulnerable, and use online tools and other technologies to join in efforts to promote just, humane public responses to the crisis.
Yours in solidarity,
iara lee and the whole team
In Lesotho—a highland country surrounded by South Africa—an artist named Nthabiseng TeReo Mohanela takes discarded materials and transforms them into unique clothing and accessories. Teaching young people the benefits of recycling and re-creation, she calls her project “From Trash to Treasure.” With TeReo’s work as a starting point, this short film showcases a broader spirit of reimagination among artists in Lesotho, who use creativity to respond to entrenched social problems: Filmmakers show the need to end child marriage. Musicians write songs about climate change. Farmers collect seeds to protect endangered tree species. Designers use fashion to preserve traditional Basotho culture and challenge common perceptions of Africa. Profiling a variety of these innovators, FROM TRASH TO TREASURE: turning negatives into positives encourages us to take lessons from those who rethink, reuse, and reinvent in order to promote positive change.
Watch the full film on YouTube.
BETTER MUST COME: a dispatch from Malawi is a music video for the song by Ishan Cyapital, featuring Teebz, and part of the DISPATCHES FROM MALAWI short film series. The music video gives voice to popular dissatisfaction with corruption and denounces government apathy about the urgent problems facing countries like Malawi. It encourages youth in the heart of Africa to remain strong in the face of persistent poverty and to speak out against the dirty practices that maintain the current system.
Watch the full film on YouTube.
In 2018, the Solomon Islands, in the South Pacific, hosted the Melanesian Arts & Cultural Festival, celebrating the country’s fortieth anniversary of independence. On neighboring island states, the struggle for freedom continues, as West Papua resists Indonesian occupation and the residents of New Caledonia still live under French rule. In all Melanesian countries, residents face the common challenge of climate change, as rising sea levels threaten to swallow both land and tradition. In this charged context, captivating performers are using their talents to celebrate local culture and draw international attention to their islands’ plight, with the hope of spurring international solidarity and prompting collective action against the perils of a warming world.
Burkinabè Bounty, a documentary from director Iara Lee, chronicles agricultural resistance and the fight for food sovereignty in Burkina Faso—a small, landlocked country in West Africa. Showcasing activist farmers, students, artists, and leaders in the local Slow Food movement, the film looks at how the Burkinabè people are reclaiming their land and defending their traditions against the encroachment of corporate agriculture. From women gaining economic independence by selling “dolo” beer, to youth marching in the streets against companies like Monsanto, to hip-hop musicians reviving the revolutionary spirit of Thomas Sankara, Burkinabè Bounty shows the creative tactics people are using to take back control of their food, seeds, and future.
A small landlocked country in West Africa, Burkina Faso is home to a vibrant community of artists, musicians, & engaged citizens who carry on the revolutionary spirit of Thomas Sankara, killed in a coup d’état led by his best friend and advisor Blaise Compaoré, who then ruled the country as an autocrat for 27 years, til a massive popular insurrection led to his removal. Today, the spirit of resistance and political change is mightier than ever and it permeates every aspect of the Burkinabè life. It is an inspiration, not only to Africa, but to the rest of the world.
In K2 AND THE INVISIBLE FOOTMEN, filmmaker Iara Lee and her team chronicle the lives of the indigenous porters of Gilgit/Baltistan in Pakistan. These heroes of mountaineering make possible the ascent of K2, the second highest mountain in the world. Amid breathtaking scenery, the film depicts the courage and everyday sacrifices of these unacknowledged porters. It also provides a fresh look into Pakistan, a country typically portrayed in the foreign media as being merely a land of conflict and sectarian strife.
More than four decades after its people were promised freedom by departing Spanish rulers, Western Sahara remains Africa’s last colony. This film chronicles the everyday violence experienced by Sahrawis living under Moroccan occupation and voices their struggle for self-determination through creative resistance and non-violence.
The Kalasha of Pakistan’s Chitral Valley uphold a rich cultural heritage. Facing globalization and religious tensions, can their traditions survive? Iara Lee asks Kalash community members and outside observers to reckon with tough questions in The Kalash and the Crescent.
With thousands dead and counting, the ongoing conflict in Syria has become a microcosm for the complicated politics of the region, and an unsavory reflection of the world at large. Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and the complicated politics of the region, this film seeks to explore the Syrian conflict through the humanity of the civilians who have been killed, abused, and displaced to the squalor of refugee camps. In all such conflicts, large and small, it is civilians—women and children, families and whole communities—who suffer at the leisure of those in power and get caught in the crossfire of the hegemons. When elephants go to war, it is the grass that suffers!
Does each gesture really make a difference? Can music and dance be a weapon of peace? Director Iara Lee embarked on a three-year, five-continent trek to find out. From AFRICAN countries’ sounds of resistance, moving on to BRAZIL where gun-guitars transform the reality of slum kids and ending in PALESTINIAN refugee camps in LEBANON, where photography, music and film have given a voice to the people, CULTURES OF RESISTANCE explores how art and engagement can be the ammunition in the war for peace and justice.
Modulations is a feature-length documentary that captures a moment in history where humans and machines are fusing to create today’s most exciting sounds. It traces the evolution of electronic music as one of the most profound artistic developments of the twentieth century. By cutting back and forth between avant-garde composers, Kraftwerk’s innovative synthesizer drones, Giorgio Moroder’s glacial Euro-disco, Afrika Bambaataa’s electro-funk, and Prodigy’s current worldwide superstarstardom, Modulations celebrates, replicates, and illuminates the nomadic drift of the post-human techno sound.
Is reality obsolete? From low-tech function like body piercing and artificially-stocked fishing pools, to the latest in bionics and VR gaming, Iara Lee’s cyber-age intellectual survey – call it a *.DOCumentary – downloads a Future Shockful of data and defines the parameters of advanced technologies that delete nature and reprogram mankind. Cryonics defy death; the Internet exists outside time and space; smart drugs and surgery upgrade the mind and body. But are we headed toward human optimization, or system crash? Timothy Leary, RU Sirius, Lisa Palac, John Barlow and others offer sound bytes against a mesmerizing screen display of cutting edge computer-graphics and archival clips. Exhilarating and disturbing, Synthetic Pleasures raises issues nobody today can afford to abort / retry / ignore.
On May 31, 2010, director Iara Lee was on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla when it was attacked by Israeli naval forces. The flotilla was an effort to bring humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip, and the largest ship in the flotilla was the Mavi Marmara. In the early morning hours of May 31, Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara and opened fire on civilian passengers, killing at least nine passengers and wounding dozens more. Despite Israeli attempts to confiscate all footage taken during the attack on the ship, Iara Lee retained some footage, which she later screened at the United Nations.
Watch all the footage on our website.
CULTURES OF RESISTANCE SHORT FILMS!
Cultures of Resistance Films has produced more than fifty short films that are all available to stream on our website and YouTube channel. These films cover a variety of subjects, highlighting issues from indigenous rights in the Amazon to political cartoons in the Congo.