Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The latest feature documentaries I have seen ...

"My pain is not the fences around the pond, but to live with fish that can't imagine the ocean"- Sepideh Hooshyar

I have recently seen three very inspiring feature documentaries, two of which deal with dreams come true ... and the last one with shattered "dreams" being re-constructed.

What these documentaries seem to have in common is the fact that they all deal with the difficult issues and struggles women often face in the Middle East, once they are set in countries where women are not supposed to have dreams of their own and if they dare dream, whatever they happen to dream of is to be conformed and restricted to a strict code of conduct and all sorts of limitations. In extreme circumstances some of these women do not even exist and  can be very easily "discarded" and "scarred".

Who would dare go out at night looking at the stars in a country like Iran, being a female adolescent?

Sepideh Hooshyar, a fourteen year old  girl from the Fars province in Iran Berit Madsen met when she was just fourteen and whom she filmed over the period of two years.

Sepideh has since then made her way not into the sky but high enough to be closer to "reaching for the stars" as she is now studying Physics at a University abroad and has become a role model for many more young female adolescents who want to make their dreams come true despite the difficulties. 

Who would dare think of fighting for the education of young girls in Pakistan knowing full well how difficult it would be going to school herself, let alone the hardships and difficulties that lay ahead to manage to bring other girls along?

Humaira Bachal, a 15 year old Pakistani girl from the Karachi province, who has since then been fighting for what she believes might make a difference in her country having now become the President  of the Dream Foundation Trust.
 "The dream catcher" by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy provides us with a thorough insight into what has been achieved since Humaira set her mind to make the once apparently unattainable dream come true. 

Who would put his whole effort to reconstructing young women's faces after they had been severely damaged and destructed in acid attacks most of which perpetrated by their husbands?
Dr. Mohammad Jawad, a plastic surgeon of Pakistani origin known for his medical achievements in the UK, who decided to put his skills to good use in a country ravaged by such cruel disfiguring acts that day in day out victimise many defenceless women.  

By "saving" their faces this surgeon has not only been rebuilding the victims' self esteem and their hopes for a better future but also saving his face, as a potentially better positioned person to allow those without a face regain their facial expression.

Sepideh, reaching for the stars - 2013 documentary (The Maisles Brotherrs award wining documentary film at the 14th Belfast Film Festival)
Director/Screenwriter: Berit Madsen
Director of Photography: Mohamed Reza Jahan Panah
Humaira, the dream catcher - 2013 documentary film
Director: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Saving face - 2012 documentary (Emmy award wining documentary film)
Directors: Shermeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge

Monday, 27 April 2015

São Roque Church (cont.), Lisboa - The 25th of April 2015


I continued towards the Chancel flanked by the reliquary altars with the Holy male martyrs on the left and the female martyrs on the right. 

The chancel has an altar piece composition with representations of the founder and members of the Sociedade de Jesus, Ignatious de Loyola, Francis Xavier, Aloysius Gonzaga and Francis Borgia

The various chapels were astoundingly beautiful, each more beautiful than the one that had preceeded it ..., I didn't know what else could impress me, I was so mesmerised that I forgot to go back to the Sacristy area, which had been filled with visitors and therefore missed not only the Sacristy itself but also some altars that stood around it. 

Just before walking out I looked behind and didn't resist photographing part of two glazed tile panels, one of which I had seen before at the Tile Museum

I will definitely have to go back and not only see what I didn't this time around but also take more time to thoroughly admire each chapel individually.


Sunday, 26 April 2015

São Roque Church, Lisboa - The 25th of April 2015

Some years ago following a visit to the Museum of São Roque C. and I were allowed a quick glimpse of the church bearing the same name from one of the Museum doors, as it was undergoing works of restoration and though it seemed grandiose I had no idea how astoundingly beautiful it really is, until I finally had a chance to briefly visit it over the weekend and I say briefly because it definitely deserves to be thoroughly appreciated.

Said to be one of the earliest Jesuit churches and one that survived the 1755 earthquake relatively unscathed it houses an number of side chapels most of which in baroque style and dating back to the early 17th century.
The painted ceiling of the nave does catch one's immediate attention, it is almost impossible not to look at it upon walking into the Church interior. Being a tromp d'oeil to give the impression of barrel vaulting it was mostly painted between 1584 and 1586 by the Royal painter of King Philip II, Francisco Venegas, to which the central medallion was later added by the Jesuits.

I decided to start looking and photographing the side chapels as I moved towards the Chancel on the right hand side. The gilded work was really impressive, but so were the details in many of them with paintings having been embedded in the profusely rich decorations. It is no surprise it was considered one of the most expensive churches in Europe at the time.
I let myself be guided by instinct as far as the photos are concerned and not necessarily by what I had read,  despite the difficulty of being able to get good images without flash.  

(To be continued)

The last book I have read ...

Despite not having read much more than a few sparse poems written by Jorge Luis Borges I nevertheless felt I should read With Borges, by the internationally acclaimed author Alberto Manguel, whom I must also confess never having heard of, but who more than many was in a  much better position to offer readers an intimate-like approach of the author, once he spent several years reading aloud and transcribing for Borges. 

I am glad I did choose this little "gem" based on the synopsis because not only do I feel keen on reading Borges now but also the one who has written this moving portrait of the writer.


"There are writers who attempt to put he world in a book. There are others, rarer, for whom the world is a book, a book that they attempt to read for themselves and for others. Borges was one of those writers. He believed against all odds, that our moral duty was to be happy, and he believed that happiness could be found in books, even though he was unable to explain why this was so."
"Alberto Manguel was, is, and always will be a wunderkind" - Literary Review
"This delightful book provides readers with a key to open more than one secret room of Borges's magical words." Mahmoud Darwish