Friday, October 26, 2007

Burmese Film, Total Denial

Despite its subject matter, a very upbeat film opens today in New York. It's Total Denial, Milena Kaneva's bold, courageous documentary about
lawsuit fought--and won-- by 15 Burmese villagers against UNOCAL, in the State of California . The plaintiffs invoked an Alien Tort law that dates from 1789 in which human rights abuses (9 counts) committed by a US corporation in a foreign country can be prosecuted in the US. The villages were destroyed and the villagers forced to perform slave labor for UNOCAL during the installation of their pipeline.

Bermuda Triangle

In California fires are raging. One
million people evacuated and counting. I
n an increasingly menacing cyberspace, barbed emails fly, triangulate
between Crown Heights, Madison and Connecticut defending the corporate process over the last prepress details. Brush fires all day from all quarters. I'm checking the 38-page index for the book which the indexers spun from 19 pages of suggestions I submitted at their request. Under United States, there is a curious entry which says, US filmmaking vs Iranian filmmaking. I examine the page number of the entry. The words "United States" are not on the page at all. The page, page 79, is an introduction to Jafar Panahi's first feature film "The White Balloon" and refers to the collaborative tradition of Iranian filmmaking, specifically in the context of how that film came about. In fact the only reference to anything stateside on that page is the New York Film Festival where the film was shown.. No comparison with any other filmmaker of any nationality was made or intended.