... in movies

Moebius (urban knot theory)

05 Feb 2007 | 258 words | movies buenos aires public transport urbanism

There is an amazing post about sewer systems under the big cities of Europe, America and Australian over at BDLGBLOG (amazing pictures as well!). It argues that the complexities of these sewer/tunnel systems is best being understood as more or less complex mathematical systems (knot theory):

Manchester’s storm overflow sewers, the rumor goes, are actually topological models. They are knot theory in built form.

Other rumors claim that a former student of that program is now Chief Engineer for the city of Brisbane, Australia, where he leads the construction of new civic infrastructure; every sewer and spillway built there is designed by him alone. As a result, each time you flush a toilet in Brisbane, a bewildering and exhaustively contorted world of concrete knots and brick culverts comes to life, engineered to faultless precision, washing everyone’s waste out to sea.

Manifolds, loops, toroids, even prime number sequences: the entire history of Western mathematics can be derived from the sewers of Brisbane, monuments of urban plumbing.

Whole thing reminds me of one of my favorite ever movies called Moebius in which a train on the subway system of Buenos Aires suddenly disappears and a mathematician is called in to examine the mystery. although the movie is student project of the Universidad de Cine in Buenos Aires it is extremely beautiful (if you like subway tunnels that is…)

It used to be pretty much unavailable (i even went to the Universidad de Cine and they did not have copies for sale) but it seems to be available as a torrent.

Europe is so 20th century ...

17 Nov 2006 | 118 words | europe china modernity movies war

… coming home form the (opening of the going to be) excellent mycreativity event/conference/meeting i stopped by the shoarma place around the corner from my house. The egyptian guy who runs the shop was in chatty mood and somehow we ended up discussing Syriana which he described as…

… a film about the CIA and the Arabs (sic!) fighting about influence about the enormous oil resources of the Persian gulf

… form there our discussion went towards describing how much of a mess this confrontation and between ‘the Arabs’ and ‘the Americans’ had caused and when he handed me my shoarma he concluded the discussion by stating:

but who is going to keep this in check? the Chinese?

From Beirut to ... those who love us

02 Aug 2006 | 122 words | film movies media lebanon war creative commons

Is a four minute or so short film produced on July 21, 2006 at the studios of Beirut DC, a film and cinema collective which runs the yearly Ayam Beirut Al Cinema’iya Film Festival. This video letter was produced in collaboration with Samidoun, a grassroots gathering of various organizations and individuals who were involved in relief and media efforts from the first day of the Israeli attack on Lebanon.

Click the image above to watch the movie or go to www.beirutletters.org to download it. The film is available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works License, which means you are free to share or screen the movie as long as you credit the makers and do not re-edit it.

Kurtlar Varsi vs. Valley of the Sun

13 Mar 2006 | 624 words | iraq war movies film united states helicopters review

Have seen one and a half war movies today. First i went to Neukölln to see ‘Kurtlar Varsi: iraq‘ (Valley of the Wolves: Iraq) and then tonight on TV i ended up watching the second half of ‘Tears of the Sun‘.

For those who have not followed the hysteric discussions in Germany in the last month: Valley of the Wolves is the Turkish Blockbuster that depicts a Turkish secret service agent’s mission in Iraq. He is on a (unofficial) mission to kill a CIA operative who was responsible for arresting and humiliating a dozen of Turkish soldiers who were stationed in northern Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003. Having the soldiers arrested and taken away with bags over their heads apparently caused an enormous nationalistic trauma in Turkey and our hero (the tagline of the film is ‘Some Men Are Born to be Heroes’) is here (or rather in Iraq) to take revenge (and to break the hearts of local women).

The film has been wildly accused of anti-semitism and anti-Americanism in the German media and while does indeed use anti-semitic clichés to a level where it is hard to not leave the cinema i would not call it anti-American. The film rather portraits the the American aggression against Iraq from a viewpoint that is not identical with that of the aggressors (and the western media). While in general the story-line is at best absurd (like in most of the films starring Chuck Norris) and the dialogues are extremely weak, the film does give you an idea how the global war on terror can be perceived if you have been born on the wrong side of the either-you-are-with-us-or-you-are-against-us rhetoric.

The most striking scene of the movie is the re-enactment of the 2003 Abu Ghraib torture photographs which makes some of the pictures (the dog & pvt. England) come alive on screen. You can argue that this is a cheap trick (like two young leftists in the subway station did), but it also is the most realistic scene of the entire movie as it is undoubtedly based on real events. In the end it is this scene what keeps the movie form being a bad, anti-semitic, pathetic and pseudo religious piece of crap as it it gives it some credibility. To me it almost feels like the rest of the movie just serves the function of tying the Abu Ghreib scene and the arrest of the Turkish soldiers together. The interring question is if the film would have had the same success without the blatant anti-semitism…

Tears of the Sun, to the contrary, features Bruce Willis as a cynical American special force commander that goes into the jungle to save a (attractive female) american doctor and (being under the influences of her charms) ends up disobeying orders (and losing a couple of his men) in order to protect (her and) the 70 or so refugees, whom his superiors considers ‘excess baggage’.

Valley of the sun (just like Kurtlar Varsi, where the Turkish super agent finally manages to kill his American counterpart but looses the beautiful chick) does have an happy ending (complete with a copy of the palm tree napalm air-strike scene from apoclypse now) in which the black hawk helicopters arrive to take the exhausted special forces soldiers and the refugees home while smiling african kids wave the helicopters good-bye as they depart into the afternoon sky…

While i cannot help to feel relieved when the black hawks arrive in the sky this particular combination of films makes me wonder how many people outside of the first world are left to muster the optimism of thinking that help is on its way when they see a black hawk helicopter approaching in the sky…

How to get fired from a callcenter

12 Feb 2006 | 121 words | labor india movies film berlin

Yesterday i saw john & jane, a film about call center workers in new bombay by Ashim Ahluwalia, which is running as part of the berlin film festival. The film is an impressive, beautifully shot (but sometimes slow) portrait of six persons working in a call center (‘4th dimension’) which provides a range of services to callers from the US.

Of the six call agents only one, Glen, is unhappy with his job. in fact he seems to hate it. Glen was present for the Q&A session after the screening and i made a crappy phone recording of him explaining how he got finally got fired from the call-center ‘because he was stoned’ (click here for the 1.1mb mp3 file).


More on helipads in São Paulo

I blogged about the helipads in São Paulo back in october of last year. Seems like i am not the only person fascinated by the phenomenon of intra-city civilian helicopter traffic: The transmediale06 media arts festival in Berlin features a short video by french artist Richard Nicolas about the helipads of São Paulo:

The sky of Sao Paulo is always swarming with helicopters: 350 daily departures and landings – or one flight every four minutes. The city ranks first in helicopter air traffic and its air fleet – with 500 counted passenger planes – internationally ranks third after Tokyo and New York. The Brazilian bureau for civil air traffic confirms 220 helipads. The video-performance shows a bird’s eye view from the hustle of São Paulo and its huge choice of helipads.

The video is absolutely beautiful. if you are in berlin go check it out! It can be seen in the transmediale Lounge on the big projection screen (there are two other videos on that are projected alternating on the same screen, so you might have to wait for a while for it to appear). It even features a birds eye view of my favorite helipad.

Polite pirates

12 Nov 2005 | 160 words | india movies piracy bombay film

There is fantastic quote in todays Times of India. In an article outlining the practices of Bombay underworld don Abu Salem there there is an description of a phone call he made to Bombay based movie producer Subash Ghai in order to get the overseas distribution rights for the movie Pardes:

Though he terrorised the film world, he was also an incorrigible fan who was taken in by the skin and glamour of the industry. Subash Ghai, in an interview with this reporter a few years ago said while admitting that Salem had called him up asking for overseas rights of the film Pardes, “He actually started the conversation this way, ‘Sir, I want the rights for Pardes. Don’t mistake me. I have been your fan ever since I saw Karz.” When Ghai told Salem that the matter of overseas rights was already settled, Salem very respectfully asked for a print of the film so that he could pirate it.

Star biz

12 Aug 2005 | 171 words | germany india cars culture movies review

Yesterday was the German premiere of ‘star biz’ a documentary film produced as part of the project import-export. The film uses mercedes as a tool to examine the process of cultural appropriation of western consumer and luxury goods in India. The film gives an surprisingly unfiltered insight into the corporate culture of Daimler Chrysler. The interviews with Daimler Chrysler managers among them CEO Hans-Michael Huber reveal a fair amount of arrogance and narrow mindedness among these ‘ambassadors of indo german globalisation’ (quote from the article about the film in the import export publication).

At the same time the swabian accents and the insitance on provincial german lifestyles among the ‘mercedes family’ members make these interview extremely hilarious to watch. The film contrasts the Mercedes family with the bollywood empire of star producer Ravi Chopra and features lots of footage of ‘merc’ driving Bollywood heros and villans.

Star biz is available (with German and English subtitles) on dvd as part of the publication ‘cultural transfer – import export – india, germany, austria’.

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: