Daria! Issue III â€¢ 2007
EXCLUSIVE! AN INTERVIEW WITH BILL
DRAYTON OF ASHOKA ORGANISATION P. 101
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES FOR AFRICA
AN INTERVIEW WITH VIVICA A. FOX P. 97 BY EMILY BOWERS
CARLOS SLIM HELU, THE WORLD’S 2ND RICHEST MAN, SPENDS FORTUNE CLOSE TO HOME IN PROGRAMS BY HIS TWO FOUNDATIONS P. 117 BY KENNETH EMMOND
FILM PROFIT DONATION OF 10% TO PROVIDE INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT FOR REMOTE AFRICAN VILLAGE P. 40 AND
TORONTO PICTURES FILM ACADEMY OF GHANA: A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR THE ARTS P. 45 BY JANE DELSON
MEXICO’S STOCK EXCHANGE:“A World Class Act”
BY KENNETH EMMOND
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT THE POLITICAL FILM: BRUNO PISCHIUTTA’S “PUNCTURED HOPE” INFLUENCING SOCIAL CHANGE
NEW YORK FASHION SANJANA JON: STYLING THE RICH AND FAMOUS P. 90
PLUS MONTE CARLO’S LANDMARK OF STYLE AND CLASS,THE FAIRMONT HOTEL P. 20 LEO WESEL:“Artist of Untamed Passion” P. 75 PHOTOGRAPHER GIORGIO MAJNO: IN PURSUE OF BEAUTY P. 59 ITALIAN TAILOR GIOVANNI CAMERA: INTRICATE SECRETS OF HIS ASCENT TO DISTINCTION P. 24
BY SABRINA JOHNSON P. 30
THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF PRIMA BALLERINA ALUCA MARIA MOLDOVEANU BY SABRINA JOHNSON
FESPACO – AFRICA’S HOLLYWOOD BY EMILY BOWERS
Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, New York City, June 26 • Source: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
EDITOR’S PAGE In this issue of Daria!, we examine the works of the world’s richest men, their successes and their critics, who are setting the pace for philanthropy. And we look at the innovative challenge of social entrepreneurs who are viewing aid to the developing world in a whole new light.
hey are worth billions, staggering amounts of encourage people to use that money often worth more than the gross domestic entrepreneurial drive to products of many of the countries they work in. It’s solve social problems. easy to cast a sceptical eye on the works of multiThe developing world had received billions in aid, using millionaires who turn into humanitarians – why would someone terms and programs developed by foreign governments, work so hard, then just give their money away? donors and non-governmental organisations. But poverty But to people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mexico’s remains rife, disease and economic imbalance kills millions Carlos Slim Helu, it just makes sense. The need is obvious to each year. So with the world’s richest people getting involved counter some of their incredible wealth with the world’s stunand setting a new agenda, it has many excited that this might ning poverty. And frankly speaking, billionaires like these men be something to make a real difference. know they will never come close to spending their fortune. In a speech in 2005 to the World Health Assembly, Gates So, they give it away. In the case of Buffet, he gives it to said it is time for the world to step up. The call has been made several philanthropic organisations, including Gates’ Bill and many times before by many people, but for Gates, he might Melinda Gates Foundation. For Gates and Slim, they started have the power more than most to start. “Today, in malaria; their own organisations with their own goals, to address the AIDS; tuberculosis; malnutrition; maternal, newborn, and gaps they saw in the world. child illness; and so many other health problems, we are not One thing is clear: philanthropic works of billionaires have doing enough to deliver the solutions we do have, and we’re real potential to make a difference. Part of Gates’ work is a connot spending enough to find the solutions we don’t have. As a tinuance of successes started by the Rockefeller Foundation, result, millions of people die every year. This doesn’t tell a endowed by American businessman John D. Rockefeller in flattering story about humanity. But the story isn’t over. In fact, 1913 to “promote the well-being of humanity”. His lofty goal is the story is starting to change.” D echoed in the mission statement of the Gates Foundation, that “every life has equal value”. Bill Drayton as Ashoka Celebrates its 25th While philanthropy has deep roots, it was Anniversary (2006) the endowment of Bill Gates’ foundation that set a new pace, working both at home in the United States and internationally in the developing world. While the Gates Foundation spreads its works around, Mexican billionaire Slim keeps his philanthropy close to home. From projects as diverse as revitalising the downtown of Mexico City to providing bail bonds for people accused of petty crimes, Slim has kept his billions made off Mexicans inside Mexico. While Gates, Buffet and Slim, the three richest men in the world, used their business savvy to acquire wealth before giving it away, Bill Drayton has turned that concept somewhat on its head. Drayton and his Ashoka Foundation Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 3
BEHIND THE SCENES 3
Daria! Party - Monte Carlo Photo 1 - Bruno Viale, Nick Grey, Daria, Aluca Moldoveanu and Jean-Luc Photo 2 - Madame Rosita Recordati Photo 3 - Producer Marco Derhy, Producer/ Director David Winters (third from left), Director Bruno Pischiutta and Actor Gary Stretch Photo 4 - Madame Recordati and Ira Trifu Photo 5 - Dr. David Craig and Actress Krista Campbell Photo 6 - Dutch Painter/Sculptor Leo Wesel and Daria Photo 7 - Madame Recordati and her daughter Giovanna Recordati Photo 8 - Retired Prima Ballerina Aluca Maria Moldoveanu with party guests
Photo 9 - Patrizia and Italian Tailor Giovanni Camera flipping through the pages of Daria! Photo 10 - San Diego Film Festival attendees reading Daria! Photo 11 - Guests with Daria! magazine and Daria! gift bags 1
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Daria! Issue III
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Daria Trifu
Overseeing the business beat for Daria! is a man who refers to himself as ”a bona fide business fanatic.” Daniel Spelling is the CEO and founder of Spelling Communications, a buttoned-up corporate public relations and marketing firm that has been swimming with the sharks since 1986. In fact, his firm has represented some pretty big fish indeed, including iconic brands like BBDO, Blockbuster, EDS, Intel, KPMG, Merrell Dow, Tag-Heuer, Univision, Upjohn and about a hundred more. He’s served on numerous industry advisory boards, including Variety’s Showbiz Expo, the IDG EnterTech Expo and the Hollywood Reporter’s Post LAExpo. He’s also at ease behind a podium, speaking frequently at professional and educational venues like The Private Equity/Emerging Growth Conference, The Strategic Research Institute and USC Annenberg School for Communication.
Sabrina Johnson CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Sabrina Johnson
CONTRIBUTORS Emily Bowers Kenneth Emmond Daniele Albinger Jane Delson
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTS Prof. Dr. Ruud M.Lapre Richard Bernard
PHOTOGRAPHERS Gary Salerno Chris Morrow Tristan Nickey
CREATIVE DESIGN Corporate Imagination
Described by some of her closest friends as a self-sufficient individual, Sabrina refutes perceived impossibilities that attempt to limit her courses of action. Her outlook on life has been largely inspired by some of the greatest contributors to humanity. Driven to writing by inspiration, she has increasingly realised its function of disseminating information that results in an increased awareness of the realities that surround us. Sabrina is very excited to be a Contributing Editor for this issue of Daria!. She explains: “too many people maintain a detachment from issues that matter, simply because they have been conditioned to believe that they are powerless in ensuing results”.
www.dariamagazine.com firstname.lastname@example.org Published by Adhara Properties, Inc.
Daria! Second Issue
Emily Bowers is a Canadian journalist who has been spending many months in Accra, Ghana. She has been published in newspapers including The Toronto Star and the South China Morning Post and has previously worked for Reuters News. She first learned about the devastating practice of Trokosi through her work as a media trainer with the non-governmental organisation Journalists for Human Rights. “Meeting Belinda Siamey and learning about her strength of survival was simply inspiring. Her energy, and the enthusiasm of the other young actors in the Toronto Pictured Film Academy of Ghana was contagious and I admire the way they are determined to realise their Hollywood dreams.” “It seems that most community leaders agree that education is the key in eradicating Trokosi, and I hope for the sake of all Ghanaians that the leaders will come together and start talking to each other to find another way of respecting human rights while also preserving religious traditions in this country.”
Kenneth Emmond Advertising & Inquiries:
Kenneth Emmond has lived and worked in Mexico since 1995. A selfdescribed “Latinophile” since primary school days, he has travelled widely throughout Latin America. Before settling in Mexico he had a varied career in Canada as a journalist with the national wire service, The Canadian Press, and later in public relations and marketing. He went to Mexico City as the representative of the Alberta Chamber of Commerce, and stayed on to offer services in journalism, translation, and market development. A graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism with a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Manitoba, his past and present clients include a wide variety of companies and institutions, among them General Motors, Ford, Canadian Pacific Railways, the Bank of Canada, Unisys, The Winnipeg Commodity Exchange, the Expansión group of magazines in Mexico, and MexDer, the Mexican derivatives exchange. At present, his activities include writing a weekly column for the Mexico City edition of The Miami Herald, and translating scholarly articles into English for Mexican university researchers. He has also provided translating services for El Financiero, a Mexico City financial daily. Ken says that in Mexico he is able to indulge his longterm interest in history. “In Canada we think a 100-year-old building is ‘historical,’he says. “Here it has to be at least 300 years old, and then it’s still ‘young!’”
be surprised if the moment you arrive,
you are suddenly transported to another place. From our unparalleled views of the Mediterranean to our warm and gracious service, the Fairmont Monte Carlo has everything to ensure that the vacation you spend with us is as unique as it is memorable.
For reservations call your travel professional or Tel. (+377) 93 50 65 00 Fax (+377) 93 30 01 57 email@example.com www.fairmont.com/montecarlo
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Arts & Entertainment 28
The Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), is the biggest festival showcasing African cinema anywhere.
"PRINCESS" IN EXILE Aluca Maria Moldoveanu, a Prima Ballerina (p. 67)
POLITICAL STATEMENT An exemplary factual evidence of the best kind of political film and of “art breaking rules” in order to influence social change is Bruno Pischiutta’s feature film Punctured Hope.
PICTURE PERFECT Throughout his life, professional and private, Photographer Giorgio Majno constantly pursues the concept of “beauty”.
PREVAILING GRACE With exclusive access to Prima Ballerina Aluca M. Moldoveanu’s diaries, Contributing Editor Sabrina Johnson offers a glimpse into her struggle filled with challenges during political turmoil in her native country of Romania after the WWll.
SAN DIEGO FILM FESTIVAL The festival is a welcoming home for films that inspire and take audiences to new places. It is attracting some of the next generation of Hollywood celebrities.
EPIC DEPICTION A valuable contribution to the development of the Thailand film industry is The King Maker, recently released on DVD by Sony. Producer David Winters plans to continue using the production facilities employed in its filming in Thailand for his future movies.
Daria! Issue III
BEHIND THE SCENES
At home, in Monte Carlo, with Prima Ballerina Aluca Maria Moldoveanu in December 2005.
Daria! Issue III
FROM HOLLYWOOD WITH LOVE An interview with Actress Vivica A. Fox on her personal experiences in Africa.
101 EVERYONE IS A CHANGEMAKER A candid interview with Bill Drayton of Ashoka Organisation. In the world of non-governmental organisations and deep-pocket philanthropy, Ashoka stands out by promoting global entrepreneurship and the concept of “changemakers”.
106 PROGRESS IN THE 21ST CENTURY With the added support of Warren Buffett and the hope of thousands behind them, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is moving ahead with its mandate that “every life is of equal value”.
117 SOCIAL REFORM Carlos Slim Helu, the world’s 2nd richest man and an avid public promoter of social reform, operates two charitable foundations and spends own fortune close to home.
A WORLD CLASS ACT The Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (BMV) is Mexico’s “financial supermarket”
Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett at press conference in New York City on June 26, 2006
Daria! Issue III
Busily preparing for her upcoming screen debut in one of Toronto Pictures’ next production, Krista Campbell, 25, looks forward to the opportunity of learning and growing as an actress, under the tutelage of her mentor. “My career vision is to be involved with films that have substance, both intellectually and artistically. I want to be a part of a film that affects an audience and maybe even inspires. Ultimately, I also want to portray complex characters that an audience can both believe in and empathize with.” Campbell has always been fascinated with acting. As a child growing up in Kingston, Ontario in the 1980’s, she acted in a myriad of school plays and in local theater productions. She also spent a large portion of her free time attending the plays that she wasn’t cast in – or other larger productions that happened to be in the area.
KRISTA CAMPBELL B y S abr ina J ohnson
In the fall of 2000, Campbell moved to Toronto and enrolled in St. Michael’s College, but she admits that the goal of ultimately pursuing a career in acting was the driving force for this decision. As a result, a year later, she decided to attend Bruno Pischiutta’s Film-Acting course. The course enabled her to acquire a greater understanding of acting in film and of the film industry in general.“I knew that what I learned through this process would be invaluable in the further pursuit of my film acting career.” Campbell graduated from the University of Toronto in November, 2003 with an honors degree in English and in Cinema Studies. Since then, she has been avidly pursuing her heartfelt dream. “I would love to become both a successful and respected film actress, making a living doing what I most enjoy – which is to act.” Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 11
TAKING A STAND Ghanaian leaders addressing the practice of TROKOSI.
45 ART BREAKING RULES Leading Actor Belinda Siamey relives her real life tragedy through her performance in Punctured Hope (p. 30)
AFRICAN VILLAGE Eng. and Project Manager Horea G. Trifu introduces the first details of the infrastructure development program to be implemented in the Village of Kpobikofe - Ghana.
FILM ACADEMY OF GHANA Kingsley Sam Obed on Toronto Pictures Film Academy’s achievements over the past six months.
FASHIONISTA WITH A CAUSE Sanjana Jon uses her fashion shows as a medium to convey a very powerful message - “AIDS Awareness”.
HIGH-CLASS FASHION World-famous Tailor, Giovanni Camera, saturates each fibre with fervent outbursts of intuition and wisdom. Contributing Editor Sabrina Johnson explores his life and the intricate secrets of his ascent to distinction in an interview at his atelier in Rome.
Daria! Issue III
BEHIND THE SCENES
PHILOMENA EYIRAM During our stay in Ghana, we have been very fortunate to meet many people who have impressed us with their talent, intelligence, strength, perseverance and their will to strive for success and to achieve their goals. We have nothing but great love, respect and feelings of affection for these individuals. However, for us, Philomena Eyiram, undoubtedly symbolizes Africa with her beauty, strength, pride, intelligence, sweetness and tenderness. We call her Fio and she is 4 years old. Fio was constantly by our side on the set of our film Punctured Hope, from day one. She became our sunshine every morning and our sleepy angel every evening. Fio’s story, representative of the realities of many other African people, is not a simple one. Her parents left to work in the “big” city of Accra, while little Fio spends her time in the village, with her wonderful and loving grandmother. During the shooting of the film, Fio always waited for us at the edge of the village, while we were getting a ride to the set. As soon as the car was in her proximity, she beamed with happiness and, as it approached closer, she burst with cheer until it stopped. From that instant on, she was always with us and, at times, it was very difficult to put her to bed at night. Eager to appear in every scene of the film in which children were required, she was the only kid who was always authorized to sit close to the director and becoming his “Personal Assistant”. When the end of the film’s shooting schedule was approaching, we asked Pastor Kingsley to keep an eye on Fio’s education and welfare on our behalf. We are both looking forward to seeing her again as we are certain that she will be very happy to see us as well. Bruno and Daria Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 13
11 CANDID VITALITY Aiming to participate in both intellectually and
Italian Painter Fabrizio Pesci
artistically challenging films, Actor Krista Campbell is one of Canada’s rising personalities.
Artist of Untamed Passion: Netherlands Painter/Sculptor Leo Wesel
18 ON THE RISE With a promising career, ambition, brains and wit,
Monte Carlo’s landmark of style and class: The Fairmont Hotel
Singer/Actor Kinga Peterfy conquers Monaco and aims for the world.
54 THE INNOVATOR A contemporary, innovative and young composer, Nick Grey, offers his unique perspective on music and his role as its medium.
125 AFRICA’S HIDDEN TREASURES Actors Belinda Siamey, Samuel Ruffy Quansah, Frost Asiedu, Tonye Akagbo and Seayram Esamboye, the five Toronto Pictures' newly contracted rising stars from Ghana, are anxious to share their talent and their culture with the world. With Contributor Emily Bowers, they openly discuss their aspiration towards a new life long adventure of self-fulfillment, self-discovery and hard work toward achieving their dreams.
IN PURSUIT OF "BEAUTY" Photographer Giorgio Majno (p. 59)
Daria! Issue III
Behind The Scenes - Monte Carlo
Behind The Scenes - Prima Ballerina Aluca Maria Moldoveanu
Behind The Scenes - Ghana
sheer indulgence. clearly addictive.
Taking the traditional to modern. We offer nuts, seeds, and fruits that are brightly coated in chocolate, or dipped in toffee or praline. Then they are creatively packaged in clear boxes. And the best part? You can choose from a plethora of Pantone colors to compliment your existing lines, wedding, company, or special event.
Upscale South American L’Argentin restaurant
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BEHIND THE SCENES Daria! magazine and Toronto Pictures were among the sponsors of the 3rd Monaco International Film Festival, December 2005. Photo 1 - Closing Night Party where guests enjoy Daria!'s Gift Bags; Photo 2 - Director Bruno Pischiutta, Madame Birgitta Forssius and Mademoiselle Sandra Marsan; Photo 3 - Singer/Actor Kinga Peterfi performs with her band at the American Bar of the prestigious Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo on March 23, 2006.; Photo 4 - Elke Prety, Madame de Polignac and daughter Aurelie de Polignac with Director Bruno Pischiutta; Photo 5 - Madame de Polignac, Daria and Aurelie de Polignac; Photo 6 - Bruno Pischiutta delivers the festival's closing address on the Princess Grace Theater stage 1 2 3
Daria! Second Issue III 2 Issue
Daria! â€˘ www.dariamagazine.com 17
RISING STAR Kinga Peterfy ….A Jazz Passion Discovered
By Daniele Albinger
lways looking for new talent, the world renowned film director Bruno Pischiutta and Daria Trifu, stumbled across a young Transylvanian singer, Kinga Peterfy, who presently performs at Hotel de Paris and at the Cabaret of the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco. She made such an impression on them, that Pischiutta offered for her to participate in some of Toronto Pictures’ projects. Kinga Peterfy’s fortunate encounter with Bruno, combined with the multi talents she possesses at her young age of 25, introduce the opportunity of boosting her fledgling career as an upcoming film star. Sitting with Kinga in an inconspicous café in Monaco, known for its excellent fresh food, I asked her about her life, her career and her future aspirations. She was born in 1982 in Transylvania and, following the surge of political problems in Romania, her family relocated in 1990, to a little town near Budapest, Hungary. As is still presently a tradition in those regions, her mother stayed at home to concentrate on raising her children and her father was a truck driver. Kinga says:“My parents worked hard, always striving to give us a better life.” Although they would have loved for her to go to university, they are extremely proud of the way her life has turned out.
Daria! Issue III
Her natural musical talent was inherited from her father who loves singing, playing the guitar and the violin. She always felt different from her peers. Whenever she performed, she experienced such great positive support encouraging her, from a very early age, to pursue her singing and performance opportunities. Her professional career as a singer began at age 16. A producer discovered her and they launched her first record. It wasn’t, however, all great fun. “We didn’t have
that the music is very modern, accessible, subtle, yet virtuous and serious, yet light hearted. They have combined their experiences and talents to form a musical group that offers a special entertainment. The kind that has people dancing in full swing and thoroughly enjoying themselves at Bar Americain. It is an exciting and fantastic experience to witness. The large international audience, here in Monaco, inevitably boosts her confidence. “It is a good feeling
“I find that the music is very modern, accessible, subtle, yet virtuous and serious, yet light hearted.” enough money to buy nice clothes, we had to just jump around ... and I had to sing what they wanted me to.“ She had to supplement her income by working in a restaurant. Disheartened, she thought that her singing career was over.
because SBM is really very pleased with us and they asked us to stay longer than originally planned.“
FeatureMonaco Article is one of the most recognized leisure destina-
By chance, Kinga discovered a new love for music while working at the restaurant as she constantly met many interesting characters. One of them was a jazz band leader whom she eventually started to sing with. Jazz was now Kinga’s new passion. This experience also gave her a sound grounding that would take Monaco on by storm. At last she conquered the public in a self-fulfilling way. Her bright blue eyes, now sparkling and her charming sweet character let loose to reign. Presently Kinga plays with the Hungarian Jazz Band contracted by S.B.M., Societe de Bains de Mer in Monte-Carlo, with the option of performing with them in Japan in an upcoming show. The sounds of this band consist of piano, bass, drums and Kinga and it performs throughout the popular jazz musical range. I find
tions in the world and it is well known for its casino operations. SBM Monte Carlo was established in 1863 by Prince Charles III of Monaco and it is majorityowned by the Principality of Monaco. Today, it is the Premier Luxury Hotel & Resort Group, which offers the very best of Monaco. Kinga says:“But it is not easy to do it really ... I think that once you discover what you can do best, only once you find this out, everything is fine.“ Upon enjoying the last Limoncello, kindly presented by our attentive and sweet Pietro, at the restaurant where we have enjoyed our chat, I have become one of her best friends and she reflected:“Whenever possible I give my family a call and I am forever grateful for their support“. Kinga Peterfy has it all… - loving parents, a promising career, ambition, brains and wit! D
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LIFESTYLE The Fairmont Monte Carlo, one of the most elite and largest luxury convention resorts in Europe, is located in the heart of the Principality of Monaco on the French Riviera. Reminiscent of a luxury cruise ship, the hotel is an island within itself standing seven storeys tall just between the Mediterranean Sea and the legendary Casino of Monte Carlo.
The Fairmont Monte Carlo A Landmark Of Elegance And Luxury
Daria! Issue III
t is already one of Europe’s most elite hotels, attracting celebrities and offering luxury accommodations. Now, the Fairmont Monte Carlo is going even further, with extensive renovations that will lift the hotel to a whole new standard. Its name evokes thoughts and images of legend and glamour, of Europe’s elite at play. The Fairmont Monte Carlo, located in the namesake quarter of Monte Carlo on the tiny Principality of Monaco, between France and Italy on the Cote d’Azur on the famed Riviera, has long been a home to the rich and famous seeking high-class shopping, gaming and relaxation. It was opened in August 1975, then called Loews Monte Carlo. It was built on 195 hectares on the grounds of the first train station on Monaco and a pigeon-shooting track.
In November 1998, a private consortium headed by a Monegasque businessman Toufic Aboukhater bought the Loews Monte Carlo. The convention resort changed then to Monte Carlo Grand Hotel. Incorporating the spectacular Mediterranean Sea, the hotel became a complex of 60,000 square metres, standing seven storeys high. With 619 rooms, three restaurants, three bars, and scores of business meeting rooms, it launched Monaco tourism into a new spectrum that already enjoyed great attention; thanks to the famous casino.
The Fairmont Monte Carlo Hotel has long been a home to the rich and famous seeking high-class shopping, gaming and relaxation.
Luxurious suites overseeing the Mediterranean.
The Fairmont Monte Carlo is located just next to the legendary gambling spot, which took centre stage in the recent James Bond film Casino Royale and the earlier GoldenEye. The Principality of Monaco is a French-speaking constitutional monarchy and the most densely populated nation in the world. After the Vatican, it’s the second-smallest of the world’s city-states with a population of around 32,000 in just 0.76 square miles. Millionaire residents sport the top names in fashion, and flashy cars cruise the streets of the principality. With an average of 300 days of annual sunshine and picturesque scenery, Monaco has been attracting scores of tourists for decades. Among those tourists are some of the biggest celebrities and socialites who find a temporary home at the Fairmont Monte Carlo, which became part of the international hotel Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 21
LIFESTYLE Aerial view of the the chain in December 2004. The hotel itself construction in 1973. got an auspicious start, launched at its opening by the actress Grace Kelly who became Monaco royalty after her marriage to Prince Rainier. The hotel hosts celebrities such as Film Director George Lucas, Michael Jackson, Steve Wonder and Whitney Houston, among plenty of others. Celebrities of another sort also come to famed Monaco Grand Prix, an annual auto race as part of the Formula One circuit. It has been run since 1929 and is widely regarded to be one of the most important races on the circuit. Each year, Monaco also hosts the World Music Awards, drawing in celebrities and fans for the show. Now, the Fairmont Monte Carlo is embarking on a whole new phase: a 42 million euro refurbishment program that will include “a complete, yet seamless, transformation of the main entrance, lobby, guest rooms, restaurants, rooftop terraces and other public areas,” according to the hotel. The renovations will see a new lobby bar with a nautical design, incorporating vistas of the Riviera. Called L’Argentin, the restaurant will be open through the day and offer private dining rooms for large groups. Guest rooms with a sea view are being remodelled with inspiration by the world’s luxury yachts, with mahogany furnishings and panoramic views. So-called Fairmont rooms will have private terraces Her Royal Highness Princess Grace of Monaco and Mr. Preston overlooking the Opera House or the scenic cityscape. Robert Tisch, President & Chairman of Loews Hotels in 1975 at the The refurbishment will accent what is already a four-star inauguration of the hotel. level of luxury. A variety of rooms offer terraces of both garden and ocean views, and each suite offers acclimatised air For faster eating, there’s the Lobby Bar and the Café conditioning, plush bathrobes, televisions with on demand Viennois. movie service and more. DVD players, cribs and slippers are To keep fit and if just gazing at the blue sea isn’t enough just a few of the amenities that can be added on demand. to help relaxation, the hotel offers a health club and spa with a With guest rooms from 377 square feet and suites up to rooftop swimming pool, sauna, steam room and fitness centre. 861 square feet, the hotel offers a variety for each visitor. All this on offer makes the hotel one of Europe’s finest, Mediterranean cuisine is on offer at the hotel’s Le situated in a perfect place for the world’s elite to work and Pistou or Le Café de la Mer, and L’Argentin offers, not surplay. D prisingly, South American food.
With a 42 million euro refurbishment program, the hotel is embarking on a whole new phase. Ongoing renovation. Sketches of new look.
Daria! Issue III
sheer indulgence. clearly addictive.
Customize your event to remember with colored sheer indulgence they will never forget.
saturates each fiber with fervent outbursts of intuition and wisdom By Sabrina Johnson
Daria! Issue III
By Sabrina Johnson
s early as twenty years ago, Vogue designated him as the best living tailor in the world. I explore Giovanni Camera’s life and the intricate secrets of his ascent to distinction in an interview at his atelier in Rome, located half way between Via Veneto (of “La Dolce Vita” fame) and 16th century park Villa Borghese. A story with such vitality as his, merits to be recounted since its origins. As Camera details his career providing a collage of vivid images, the reader will slowly piece together an elaborate canvas capturing the significance of creativity, knowledge, passion and perseverance. Born in a small town in Calabria, southern Italy, he was just five years old when his curiosity ignited his interest of a local shop. At that young age, he became the
apprentice of a successful local tailor. In those years, Camera explains, children were encouraged to learn a trade, therefore his parents urged him to spend time at the tailor’s studio after school, in the afternoons. The intensity of the early training he received, allowed him to complete a pair of pants by the age of eleven. As a direct result of having learned the art of cutting and sewing suits from mature artisans, he creates his fashions in harmony with the true “made in Italy” tradition. His works can simply be described as classics, because they never go out of style largely due to the fact that they are consistent with a custom made comfortable elegance that is comparable to “a second skin”. “The continuous study of anatomy has proven essential in perfecting my technique. Today’s materials tend not to fit very gracefully because they are manufactured to be increasingly lighter and, in turn, they present various challenges rendering them very difficult to work with. After achieving the skill of perfectly determining a customer’s anatomy, complete with its Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 25
FASHION defects and anticipated movements, I then handcraft the materials, in the true sense of the word, in such a way as to minimize the defects and highlighting the advantages, while accentuating the qualities of the materials used”, explains Camera. Although very few things have changed since the last century in terms of elegance, he says that the possibility for innovation is always existent. As an example, he explains that he created some new techniques that render the shoulders of a jacket perfectly wearable or, others, that contribute toward achieving an impeccably form fitting suit. Camera also uses a special variety of fabrics that range from normal wool to the best English cashmere and which include vicunas and luxury cloths that partly consist of gold yarns or diamond chips. He further states that the techniques he developed, are the result of the overwhelming passion he has for his profession, in combination with the extensive and diverse experience that he has accumulated throughout his career, while constructing creations that are distinctly unique as each of the individuals that they are realized for.
Daria! Issue III
I asked Camera what factors influence his fashions. He affirmed that his influences mostly derive from his fascination with actors from the 30’s and 40’s. Part of his inspiration comes from memorable characters of classic films, such as the exquisitely elegant Melvyn Douglas in “Two-Faced Woman”, James Stewart in the early years and the agile Fred Astaire performing in his morning coat or his tail-coat. He further points to the way in which Gary Grant’s refinement in “Notorious” was evident as he was welcomed by Ingrid Bergman’s husband, while wearing his tuxedo. Camera observes that some of today’s best and most talented actors dress very poorly, largely as a result of the production companies’ attempt to maintain lower costs. In relation to women’s fashions, he claims that he has always been inspired by the example of masterpieces such as those worn by Patricia Neal or Grace Kelly.
Inspiration may present itself at any moment and I asked Camera to describe how he approaches the development of an idea from its conception. Reflecting for a while, he smiles and responds by clarifying that his inspired concepts are directly related to possible solutions for difficulties that he may encounter throughout the realization of a particular model. He usually tests his ideas immediately, although he emphasizes that it’s unnecessary to memorize them, since every person’s physique is different and therefore those ideas are applied to numerous models using a range of variations. Camera operates with a staff of associates whom he supervises, but he is very determined in pursuing his creations with humility and while practicing his great listening skills, along with his perception and under-
standing of his clients’ requirements. His work is his passion and it absorbs all of his time. “My concentration is always focused, therefore it’s very unusual for me to get distracted. At times, I may stop working at 3:00 in the morning, then begin again three hours later without feeling any exhaustion, simply due to the intensity of my enthusiasm for this work”, says Camera. When asked to describe his most fulfilling accomplishments, Camera tells me that, in addition to the obvious response of hearing his clients’ declarations of satisfaction for his creations, he truly loves the act of transforming their dreams into reality. He expands on this notion by confirming that these dreams are always based on beauty. In fact, by designing models that can camouflage defects, thereby rendering them inexistent, someone’s happiness is being revived, even if it only lasts for a limited period of time. Camera stresses that he has no interest in industrial fashion production. All his work consists of artisan craftsmanship and his upcoming projects are strictly going to involve high fashion. Contemplating the introduction of a new generation of talent entering the “haute couture” world in order to establish a presence, I asked Camera if he has any suggestions to offer young tailors. Without hesitation, he says: “Enduring great sacrifices, constant learning, passion and a great dose of modesty are the minimal elements for a successful career in this field”. A leader in his field, with great longevity and representing the ideal example of success, Giovanni Camera’s commitment to his craft is unequalled. I thank him for being as genuine as he is fascinating and for sharing the story of his amazing career with us. D
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FESPACO - Africa’s Hollywood Held in Burkina Faso (West Africa), the festival was started in 1969 to help counter the growing influence of Western culture.Today, it has caught the eye of filmmakers and audience from outside the continent.
By Emily Bowers OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso
he lights here are bright, the stars are plenty and the fans queue up for the top movies. But it’s not Toronto, or Cannes, and it doesn’t try to be. This is Africa’s Hollywood, the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, or FESPACO, the biggest festival showcasing African cinema anywhere. Every two years, this African city comes alive with home-made cinema, bringing African stories to its own silver screens, delighting audiences of local Burkinabé and foreigners alike, who pay about US$2 a ticket. More than 200 films are screened in theatres across the city, from feature films in contention for the festival’s top prize to short flicks from around the world. For the landlocked West African nation of Burkina Faso nestled deep in the Sahel – a hot, dry region between the lush tropical south and the northern Sahara desert – the film festival represents an economic boom and a chance to show off its culture. But for African filmmakers, FESPACO is a chance to tell their own stories to a diverse audience of Africans and foreigners. Sylvestre Amoussou has been living in Paris for 20 years, but is originally from the tiny West African nation of Benin. His film Africa Paradis reverses the immigration tale: economic troubles and civil wars in Europe have forced thousands to try to migrate to Africa. Amoussou says FESPACO is the chance for Africans to see stories about themselves, made by Africans, instead of by filmmakers from outside the continent. It’s a chance to reclaim African stories and tell them to the world, he said, instead of the usual reverse. And African filmmakers are tackling timely and sensitive subjects such as immigration, continental politics, religion and the clash of
traditional culture with modernisation. But making a movie in Africa isn’t easy, Amoussou says. The big challenge for filmmakers here is funding, getting money to make their movies that aren’t backed by a Hollywood studio. Like many independent filmmakers, Africans have to scrounge for money. Amoussou’s Africa Paradis got a majority of its 2 million euro budget from Africans in the Diaspora, along with a bit from his European co-producer and some funding from European donor governments. Outside of the festival atmosphere of parties and screenings for a week in Burkina Faso, this is a challenging time for African cinema. The English-language market is dominated by Nigeria’s so-called Nollywood, a prolific industry that makes films straight to video compact discs that are sold in markets in Nigeria and beyond. Shot with small budgets, simplistic storylines and usually in just a few weeks, Nollywood has helped erase much of the domestic film-going market, with cinemas closing down commonly across the continent. So FESPACO comes as a bi-annual breath of fresh air for African cinephiles. And going to a movie in Burkina Faso, which ranks fourth from the bottom on the United Nations’ Human Development Index, is an event on its own. For the most popular movies, selling out means filling the aisles and having people perch on any free space. During the screenings, animated conversations break out, cellphones chirp and scenes that make one person cry makes another giggle. Burkina’s theatres are full year-round with both American and locally-made movies. This year’s FESPACO included screenings of Blood Diamond and The Last King of Scotland, garnering some of the longest line-ups of the festival of fans eager to get inside. But at a time when Hollywood-made, African-themed
FESPACO is the biggest festival showcasing African cinema anywhere.
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movies are popping up regularly outside of the continent, African filmmakers are searching for their turn in the spotlight. The movies screened at FESPACO probably won’t see the same success as a Hollywood production, though many will be, or already have been, screened at film festivals off the continent, including Toronto and Cannes, and a few get access to a mainstream audience. One of the films in contention for the top prize at this year’s festival with South African film Tsotsi, which in 2006 won the Academy Award for best foreign language film. But this wasn’t Tsotsi’s year in Burkina Faso. Ezra, by Nigerian filmmaker Newton Aduaka, won the top prize handed out by the festival. His portrayal of a child soldier kidnapped by Sierra Leonean rebels and forced to fight – including possibly having killed his own parents – got
For African filmmakers, FESPACO is a chance to tell their own stories to a diverse audience of Africans and foreigners.
Map by CIA
Burkina’s theatres are full year-round with both American and locally-made movies. early buzz at the festival, attracting large audiences for screenings. It tells a story from deep within the war, cutting closer than Blood Diamond, which also tackles the subject of the devastating civil war. FESAPCO, which this year held its 20th edition, has caught the eye of filmmakers from outside the continent. The festival has recently added a category for filmmakers in the African Diaspora, who compete for their own prize. This year that category includes American filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s documentary on the 1978 Jonestown massacre in Guyana, South America and a Shoot the Messenger, a satirical comedy by British filmmaker Ngozi Onwurah about a black man who claims to hate all black people. American filmmaker Kevin Arkadie debuted his reflective documentary from FESPACO 2005, highlighting the trials of the African-American filmmakers who came to the competition. FESPACO, for Arkadie, is unique in the world of glamorous film festivals that measure success by the number of Hollywood celebrities they attract. “It’s a cultural experience that manages to serve its own culture, on a cultural level, not just an economic one,” he says, comparing the festival to the recent Sundance Film Festival.
“(At Sundance) it’s glitzy, it’s glam, it costs a fortune. Here I notice by and large, they are people.” “The enthusiasm, the confluence of people, it’s just there.” FESPACO, which was started in 1969 to help counter the growing influence of Western culture, has kept the Burkinabé industry alive and active, spawning a film school for future filmmakers in Ouagadougou and pumping needed money into the economy. Despite seemingly chronic organisational blunders, such as technical problems from outdated equipment clashing with digital developments, most FESPACO fans leave the festival happy and impressed at the quality of African cinema. D
This year’s FESPACO included screenings of Blood Diamond and The Last King of Scotland, garnering some of the longest line-ups.
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT By Sabrina Johnson
PUNCTURED HOPE â€¦ 30
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breaking the rules Daria! â€˘ www.dariamagazine.com 31
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
unctured Hope, the feature film based on the true story of Belinda Siamey, is presently in post-production and it will soon be presented to audiences worldwide. The plot consists of the enslavement of a young girl within the confines of a shrine, outside a small village in Ghana and her horrific ordeal through sexual abuse and genital mutilation. Her destiny is dictated by a tradition that is outlawed by the government, although not persecuted due to social and lawenforcing complexities. The film’s screenwriters, Pastor Kingsley Sam Obed and Bruno Pischiutta, aim at divulging this brutal time-honored practice to international audiences, because the majority of them are distressingly unaware of it. The protagonist of the factual drama, Belinda Siamey, depicts the main character, Edinam. This valiant woman relived her traumatic captivity and the intensifying infliction of abuses, by summoning the strength of her unflinching moral fiber and her conviction, in her quest to bring this practice of glaring human abuses to a halt. In the course of the pre-production stage, Toronto Pictures came to the determination of partially designating a Ghanaian team to the project, in order to deliver the most vivid resemblance of present day African reality in Ghana. This proved to be a successful measure as is selfevidenced by the film. The Producer, Mustapha Adam and the Assistant Director, Tony White Meribe, worked tirelessly in order to ascertain that the film presents an unmistaken reproduction of the several elements portraying the lifestyle and the cultural attributes of the story. The shrine consists of a set design that is identical to the original, as are the costumes worn by the slaves, the manner in which the members of the shrine move about and the portrayal of the fetish priest’s demeanor. Other technical details such as the scenes depicting rituals of black magic, complement the film, initiating the ambiance that the plot evolves in. Members of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Vienna recorded the original musical score composed by David Brandstatter in Vienna. The music does not constitute a presentation of African folk musical content, as a matter of fact, it is defined by a modern classical nuance that enhances the environment and elevates the multitude of
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Punctured Hope is an exemplary factual evidence of the best kind of political film and of “art breaking rules” in order to influence social change.
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
The protagonist of the factual drama, Belinda Siamey, depicts the main character, Edinam.
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Punctured Hope’s intent is to awaken the audience’s consciousness.
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Pischiutta’s flair for accomplishing the actors’ unequivocal comprehension of their characters’ essence and sentiments required to communicate the intended message is a remarkable skill.
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emotions experienced by the performers, as they are communicated to the audience. The editing attains the flowing development of the story by diligently sequencing the events. The outcome captures the viewers’ attention throughout the film. Bruno Pischiutta, a brilliant director, is conceived to be someone with the capability of procuring the best possible performance from the actors he is directing, in an effort to communicate a distinct message to the spectators. Every film contains distinguished elements that inevitably reveal the intention of the director. His flair for accomplishing the actors’ unequivocal comprehension of their characters’ essence and sentiments required to communicate the intended message is a remarkable skill. He has partially acquired this skill thanks to a lifetime of experience, gained by way of conducting multiple productions but, above all, this skill primarily consists of the innate ability to inspire others. The content of the film’s message is intentionally directed to the American public and to all the women who are involved in the struggle for women’s liberation in particular. It is a film that introduces the social context of African life (in this case particularly relative to West Africa), and it evolves into a political film with a clear objective. This expansion, from the social to the political aspect, is delivered with a dramatically poignant effect in the conclusion, as the medium of film assumes the idiosyncrasies of television, thereby revolutionizing the rules of cinematography. Punctured Hope’s intent is to awaken the audience’s consciousness. By effectively rendering the spectators emotionally susceptible and intellectually engaged at the same time, the film’s message implies their accountability in making a choice. In the end, the eventuality of action or inaction on the spectator’s part corresponds, in fact, to a choice taken. This is an exemplary factual evidence of the best kind of political film and of “art breaking rules” in order to influence social change. D
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Veteran Ghanaian Actor Fred Amugi
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Challenges in Ending a Tradition of
SLAVERY By Emily Bowers
rokosi, the practice where a young virgin girl is taken from her home, usually with the support of her family, to work as a slave in a fetish shrine, has long been practiced in Ghana. For countless generations, under the guise of tradition, it has taken young girls from their families, from their schools, from their communities and probably in innumerable cases, it has taken their very future. The exchange of opinions and ideas towards a plan of action for eliminating trokosi, exposed very difficult obstacles to be overcome. It is hoped that new attention will be given to this devastating, outdated practice that community leaders in Ghana have long spoken out against, with the upcoming release of Toronto Pictures’ latest film Punctured Hope. The film is based on the true story of Belinda Siamey (who plays the lead part), on her year of imprisonment in a
shrine and the physical and sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of the shrine priest and workers. In hopes of initiating a discussion aimed at eradicating this practice, Daria! magazine spoke with community leaders in Accra, asking what would lead to its end and it enquired about the way that Punctured Hope could impact Ghanaian society. “There is a law which has proscribed trokosi as a practice, but it still goes on because it’s so steeped in religion,” said Richard A. Quayson, Deputy Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). “And so it invokes fear for those who are the victims and a sense of power for those who are the perpetrators.” Quayson’s organization, CHRAJ, is the wing of the Ghanaian government empowered with dealing with issues of rights, corruption, ethics and public abuses of power. Seated in his comfortable office, a bright Ghanaian flag in green, red and yellow adding a splash of colour to the Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 41
brown walls, Quayson talks about the difficulties CHRAJ has in eradicating trokosi. “If we are able to educate the practitioners and say listen, the practice is not acceptable; because of its dehumanizing effects, you are condemning a number of people to slavery. If we are able to get them to understand from that point of view, then we are able to have their cooperation to solve the problem.” “If we are able to get the communities to understand that this is not the place for this, (not to) use the trokosi shrine to settle our differences, but rather use a more acceptable mechanism for resolving disputes.” Quayson highlights the inherent difficulty leaders have in dealing with this issue. It’s not just the priests in the shrines who perpetuate the problem. trokosi is supported by people in the largely Ewe ethnic communities of eastern Ghana, where traditional religious beliefs mingle with the dominant Christianity. In the case of Siamey, Punctured Hope’s lead actress, the situation is rather typical. She was sent to the shrine by her father after an uncle discovered an envelope of cash while out in his community one day. Instead of turning it in to the village chief or police, he kept it for himself. Soon after, Siamey says, members of her family began falling ill and this was perceived as a curse stemming from her uncle’s actions. To atone for his sin, it was decided that the only way to end the supposed curse on her family was to give Siamey – the only young virgin girl in her family at that time – to the shrine. Quayson says that trokosi will only be eradicated when Ghanaians realize they should use other methods to resolve disputes of that sort. Retired Captain George Nfojoh, a Member of the Ghanaian Parliament for one of the districts in the Volta Region of Ghana in which trokosi takes place, states that today’s parents are evolving their system of values to include honoring their children, regardless of gender. He claims that many parents would, presently, never think of giving up their children for the purpose of becoming slaves in trokosi shrines: “Today, when children of the two genders are con-
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sidered equally important, nobody wants to send their child into captivity or into slavery”, although he admits: “it’s still difficult to turn away from tradition. These people are educated, but this is an ancestral custom”. While Nfojoh is a Catholic, he says he believes in certain tenets of traditional Ghanaian religions, including the concept of retribution by the gods in the case of a crime being committed, along with the need to appease the gods. He cites an example of the practice of pouring a libation of alcohol on the ground before making a long journey. He indicates that community members may use traditional religions as crime deterrents, in order to keep themselves, their families and their Retired Capt. neighbors from causing harm to George Nfojoh each other as long as they believe the gods will punish them. However, he declares that trokosi takes the principles of traditional religion functioning as a deterrent much too far, thereby condemning slaves to pay for crimes they never committed. Nfojoh, like many others, believes that trokosi practitioners should alter the conditions of sacrifice, to consist of other options of atonement, which do not include the victimization of a human being. “If it were a question of paying a material price, I would rather pay the money, than allow my child to submit to slavery” Nfojoh says, while adding that any tool that could be useful in educating the community – including a film such as Punctured Hope – would be very valuable. “The parents and the community members are the ones who need to be educated,” he says, “these things are only bound to change with education and with exposure”. ….“The shrines are not there just because of trokosi, they are there because this is their way of worship,” Quayson says. “So if you attack them, people will say ah, you are attacking our rights to worship.” The advocates for change face stiff opposition from practitioners who are not willing to end the violation. The priests of the trokosi shrines vigorously defend their practices as part of their tradition, and take issue when rights advocates speak out about trokosi. That vocal opposition has proven to be a daunting chal-
Quayson says that trokosi will only be eradicated when Ghanaians realize they should use other methods to resolve disputes of that sort. lenge, says Nana Oye Lithur, the co-ordinator of the Africa regional office of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). “The whole issue would be how we can get those who actually practice to see that it constitutes human rights violations,” she says. “And the fact that it’s a cultural practice is going to make it very, very difficult.” Lithur, a lawyer and frequent media commentator on women’s affairs, draws a parallel with female genital mutilation, the ritual alteration of women’s genitals that ranges from complete removal to small cuts. It is usually practiced by older women in the community who act as midwives and is often performed with crude instruments that can lead to infection and death. This devastating practice goes on in Ghana, and widely throughout Africa. Also defended as a cultural practice, the fight against female genital mutilation has chalked certain victories with a few practitioners agreeing to give up the practice. “When you look at the advocacy around female genital mutilation, you find out that somehow there’s been an amount of success. It’ll be interesting to look at the lessons that have been learned to see whether you can apply it (to trokosi).” But Lithur points out a key difference in the respective fights against female genital mutilation and trokosi – practitioners of FGM in Ghana were not as vocal in defence of their cultural practice as the trokosi leaders are. “I think one of the lessons learned in the success of the female genital mutilation was approaching it from a reproductive health dimension, looking at the practice and revealing how its practice affects the health of women,” says Lithur. “Maybe for trokosi one would have to look at whether you can find those issues, so that you can say apart from the cultural, it also has socio-economic impact.” Whichever method is to be used, leaders agree that what is necessary now, is to talk to the trokosi practitioners about the results of their actions in a constructive discussion. “You can’t tell them to give up their shrines, that is their very life,” Lithur says. “But when you open up the dialogue, at least you can hear all the voices and then determine what would be most appropriate.” Using a vehicle like Punctured Hope, a film that looks at subject matter never covered before in Hollywood, might be a way to help open up a dialogue.
“If the awareness that this film will create will provide a solution, I don’t have any problem,” said Quayson. “So if this film were to be released in the country here, to create awareness and shame for the practitioners, we would welcome it.” It’s unknown exactly how many women and girls are enslaved in trokosi shrines, but a U.S. State Department report on human rights estimates as few as 100. However, the secretive nature of the practice means that exact figures are impossible to gauge. Since this practice is banned by Ghanaian criminal law, some question why police and government forces don’t simply go into the shrines, liberate the girls and arrest the priests and the other abusers. Lithur gives an example of one town she’s heard of where a trokosi shrine and the local police station are even on the same road. But Quayson counters that CHRAJ, the government body, is concerned that enacting a massive crackdown on trokosi would lead to its further concealment. “Then you send the practice underground and we wouldn’t have access at all to the victims,” he says. Lithur knows that any police action would never fully stop trokosi. “At the end of the day, it boils down to those who own the shrines to actually stopping it, because they have shown that even if you make it a crime, we will still go ahead and do it,” she says. While trokosi is an obvious human rights violation – hindering the right of movement and freedom, says Lithur – it has another effect that perhaps causes the most devastating harm. “If it has been said that some of the priests have children with the women who are there, I don’t know if it’s true, then it raises issues of choice, of reproductive rights and choice,” Lithur says. The issue of sexual abuse in the shrines is often hidden and seldom publicly discussed when talking about trokosi. But according to Siamey, Punctured Hope’s lead actress who was imprisoned in a shrine for a year, it happens routinely. After her escape with another trokosi slave, thanks to the help of a former teacher, Siamey was taken to a nearby clinic for a check-up. It was there that, at the age of 15, she discovered she was pregnant. Her son Kofi is now ten. Siamey says priests and other shrine workers routinely raped and abused them, and pregnancies are a usual occur-
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rence in the shrines. While it’s reported that sex abuse isn’t technically part of the trokosi tradition, the very word means “wife of the Gods”. It is this shocking reality that should get the attention of the international community, which so often concerns itself with African issues. But yet, trokosi goes largely unnoticed. While celebrities tour the slums of Nairobi, the famine-stricken villages of Ethiopia and the AIDS-ravaged communities of South Africa, this old form of slavery in modern-day West Africa, one of the poorest regions in the world, continues. This is exactly where Punctured Hope could fill a large gap in the world’s consciousness, says veteran Ghanaian actor Fred Amugi. Amugi, a common fixture on Ghanaian stage and screen since the 1970’s, also took part in Punctured Hope, playing a village chief. While Toronto Pictures featured the talent of several up-and-coming Ghanaian actors such as Siamey who will be a part of the future of film business here, they also dipped into the well of talent that already exists in this country with leading actors such as Amugi. Relaxing at a breezy outdoor restaurant in Accra, Amugi says he believes Punctured Hope will help Ghanaians in the eastern part of the country, where trokosi is prevalent, rethink their support of the practice. The realistic portrayal of the horrifying conditions in the trokosi shrine will take the film’s audiences by surprise, he says. “I know when the film comes out and people see it, they will wonder how (you got) the setting as good as the true thing,” he says. “And I believe that with some of the dialogue in the film, it could change some things. As a veteran actor of the beleaguered Ghanaian film industry, Amugi says he is pleased to see that Toronto Pictures plans to make a lasting investment in the future of film here, through the Toronto Pictures Film Academy. “Whatever goes on, (the young actors) should just open
The issue of sexual abuse in the shrines is often hidden and seldom publicly discussed when talking about trokosi.
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their eyes, open their ears and watch,” he says. “Whatever is happening is for the good of this generation, for now and the one to come.” On a broader scale, Amugi says that when Hollywood stars bring African issues to an international audience, which might only pay attention because of these actors’ involvement, it can be a benefit to the whole continent. “When good actors, celebrities, make Africa their second home for filming, coming out with things that are in Africa and which must be gradually, if not minimised, then eliminated, they are seen in the forefront, it could help change a lot of things,” he says. CHRAJ’s Quayson and CHRI’s Lithur agree that when celebrities focus their attentions on Africa, the eyes of the rest of the world will follow and this can help benefit the lives of Africans. But they also agree that, due to the fact that it is so deeply ingrained in Ghanaian society and it has religious and traditional overtones, it is unlikely that an increase in international pressure on the issue of trokosi, will help find a solution. “What the international (community) would do maybe, it would bring pressure to bear on the government, then the government would have to bring pressure to bear (on the practitioners),” Lithur says. “As for the practitioners, they have shown that film or no film, they are still practicing.” She is sceptical about how the film will impact Ghana. “The film may open up discussion, but I don’t see it actually as bringing international pressure to bear on Ghana, just a single film,” she says. Quayson, on the other hand, believes that any extra attention that is given to the issue will help them achieve their goal of eradicating trokosi. He says that, while international attention would be helpful, what would be even more important would be the impact Punctured Hope will have on a Ghanaian audience. “The practitioners I don’t think will cave in from the outside, the pressure has to come from within,” he says. That pressure can be created through education, awareness, and dialogue, precisely of the sort that Toronto Pictures hopes to create with its realistic portrayal of the struggles of trokosi prisoners. “I believe that if we are able to do more consultation, hold more dialogue interaction with these practitioners, with time, they’ll come to understand we are not against their religion, we are against the dehumanizing practice of trokosi,” Quayson says. D
Eng. Horea G. Trifu Brings New Life to Toronto Pictures' Vision for a Small African Village
By Jane Delson
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ith the fictional exception of Bialystock & Bloom, all entertainment producers – whether for live theatricals, major music labels, established film studios or singlefilm “indies” – share one common objective: Profitability. Toronto Pictures is no exception to the rule. But that is where the commonality ends. In 2004, when the Canadian-based film production company first elected to develop its current feature film, Punctured Hope, it made mission-driven decisions that would affect the film’s ultimate profitability right from the start, and there has been no looking back. The film profiles the difficult subject of trokosi, the ongoing sexual mutilation and enslavement of Ghana’s young girls and women. The entire production is the result of Toronto Pictures’ fullfledged involvement with and commitment to the talent it found resident in Accra, Ghana’s capital city, and in the Kpobikofe Village, which is located about 40 kilometres from the capital. The village has a population of about 4,000 people, whose origins derive from the EWE speaking tribes residing in the Volta Region. Although it is relatively close to Accra, its social and technological development, resembles a snapshot illustrating an interminable moment frozen in time. The fundamental resources for subsistence are agriculture and fishing. However, agrarian output here is minimal and the movement of perishable goods to the market areas that must be carried out over unpaved roads, is often rendered impossible when heavy rains dilapidate the roadways. This hardship also poses an obstacle for fishing, since there are no rivers in Kpobikofe and the closest viable fishing locations are about 20 kilometers away. There are, unfortunately, various social aspects that require change in the village. Poverty, malnourishment among infants and children, high Infant mortality and the presence of voodoo practice and fetishism represent some of the challenges. Health care, as we know it, is virtually non-existent. Education is secondary to survival, rendering a primary or elemental education all that parents can offer their children. Existence for the residents of Kpobikofe is bleak, to say the least, and hope for a better way of life has been a foreign concept …until Toronto Pictures decided to make a movie in their village. Under the direction of Bruno Pischiutta, the film was successfully shot in Kpobikofe, and its residents were informed that 10% of the film’s eventual net proceeds would serve to fund a Foundation to aid in the development of their community’s technical infrastructure. Plans are currently underway to begin Phase I of what Pischiutta sees as years of on-going assistance. “We did not come to Ghana with the intent of filming Punctured Hope and simply leaving this village, once it had
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served our purposes. Instead, we became enamoured of the wonderful people we met and touched by their passion to help us in every way possible. The Foundation that is being established will ensure an on-going relationship between Toronto Pictures and the village of Kpobikofe in the years to come, and we expect it will
degree, he went on to earn a Master’s Degree in the field and later served as a Professor of Electrical Engineering on the University’s distinguished faculty. Trifu has patented inventions in both the U.S. and in Romania. His experience and expertise in the areas most critical to Kpobikofe’s future development gave immediacy to
goal throughout his life. The aspects of this particular project that most interest him, are the possibility of providing humanitarian aid to children, who are an always vulnerable group in society. “Providing the means of improving the quality of their life, thereby positively changing their future, is a crucial component in acknowledging and stressing
“We will concentrate on utilizing material and human resources available locally, as much as possible.” yield rich rewards,” asserts Pischiutta. That is precisely where Horea G. Trifu, enters the picture. An Electromechanical Engineer – Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario, Canada, Mr. Trifu was educated in his native Romania’s Transilvania University in Brasov. Upon completion of his undergraduate
Pischiutta’s wish to fund projects that would provide a better quality of life for the Ghanaians he had come to respect through their experience in filming Punctured Hope. When I spoke with Trifu in midJanuary, he expressed his eagerness to concretize the desire of helping people in need, which has been a consistent
Eng. Horea G. Trifu PEO
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the importance of valuing humanity”, he states. In addition, he feels that this project is a tangible statement of recognition for the local people’s support during the filming of Punctured Hope in the village. He outlined that this project represents a part of the foundation’s goals and its design consists of three phases. The issues he feels are most critical to Kpobikofe’s future development, are to be addressed during phase I of the community development program. “The absence of clean, safe drinking water is foremost among the many problems currently facing the village. It’s our primary concern, because unsafe drinking water adversely affects community health as a whole, and it is particularly threatening to the population’s infants and children”, Trifu states. With no running water available through a traditional piping system, residents must carry water for both themselves and their animals from a tainted stream. Impurities in the water cause frequent gastrointestinal illnesses, many of
which can be life-threatening among the youngest residents. “We are faced with two options in addressing this problem,” Trifu explains. “We can either create a filtration system whereby local water is purified for consumption, or we can drill wells and utilize pumps to bring ground water to the surface. Based on our current research, we believe there is a steady source of clean water not more than seven to eight metres underground. This makes the substrate a reliable source …and because the water is relatively close to the surface, a network of wells and pumps should optimally supply the village’s needs, human and animal alike.” The provision of electricity is the tandem component of phase II. Creating a dependable supply of elecricity will not only power the pumps that will bring well water to the surface, but it will enable residents to light their homes, utilize basic small appliances for refrigeration and ventilation and take advantage of small power tools to improve and secure their housing.
“Theirs is a remarkable culture we seek only to enhance, not modify or violate in any inappropriate manner.”
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“There are essentially three options for us to evaluate relative to creating a power source for Kpobikofe: generating wind power; building a small diesel-powered plant capable of generating approximately 300 kilowatts; or devising a connection to the national power distribution system in the outskirts of Accra.” he states. “We remain uncertain precisely how far out of Accraproper the national power lines extend. If we are lucky, and they are within four or five kilmoetres, we may be able to make a viable connection. But presently, we are inclined to view the construction of a small diesel-powered plant as the most feasible approach,” Trifu explains. He outlines that phase III of the project, consists of two main factors. “The foundation’s aim is the introduction of healthcare as a basic necessity. It consists of a space equipped with minimal utilities and a permanent nurse, in combination with periodic doctor’s visits, focused on registering all the members of the population in the National
Healthcare Program. The second factor involves developing skills through training and education, which will induce the implementation of new techniques for rural construction, agriculture and any other requirements that represent daily necessities as required by the village community.” When asked about the resource logistics planned for realizing this vision, Trifu strongly emphasizes: “We will concentrate on utilizing material and human resources available locally, as much as possible. Any materials and equipment that are not locally available, will be obtained from anywhere in the world, possibly Romania (Eastern Europe), due to the economical savings it represents, as well as its facilitation of purchasing and delivery. Qualified personnel from Romania will educate and train residents on equipment maintenance, so that long after we have left, the residents will be able to maintain the systems and equipment that will be left in their possession.” Trifu further explained that Romanian personnel is more adequate to carry out this task,
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since they are more likely to identify with the village needs, as a result of their own use of basic tools and long proven practices. In fact, a range of old fashioned carpenters, farmers and construction workers will be employed for the project. “We are planning to use very basic building methods, materials and tools in this third phase of development,
“By offering them the amenities of more developed communities within their own country, we know their lives will be greatly improved without our cultural intrusion.” because we do not wish to introduce unnecessarily complicated or technologically sophisticated systems that would prove to be beyond the skills of Kpobikofe’s population to maintain, after we leave.” Trifu confirms. Toronto Pictures has plans to produce a second film in Ghana, 10% of the net proceeds of which will also go to fund the established Foundation. “We want to utilize our films to enhance global awareness about West African issues, and more than that, we want to give something back to the local population that is helping us achieve that goal; they deserve to realize a better quality of life,” Pischiutta explains. “I’m honoured to be able to help these exceptional people who have played such an integral role – both literally and figuratively – in the making of Punctured Hope. Theirs is a remarkable culture we seek only to enhance, not modify or violate in any inappropriate manner. By offering them the amenities of more developed communities within their own country, we know their lives will be greatly improved without our cultural intrusion. It’s a project in which I’m proud to participate,” Triifu concludes. D
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RISING STAR Late in January, Daria Trifu, Publisher and Editor in Chief of this magazine, introduced me to the innovative young composer/musician, Nick Grey. Romanian by birth, and now a resident of Monte Carlo, Nick grew up with distinguished parents who performed professionally in major Opera and Ballet companies throughout the world. His music both echoes his childhood and embraces enigmatic images he invites the listener to interpret without the imposition of his own vision. In numerous subsequent communications with Nick, he shared his thoughts with me on his role as a “medium” or conduit for the Music he hopes will stir emotion and provoke thought. Neither restrictive nor random, Nick’s body of work has garnered international acclaim for its evocative nature.
I’ve read online that you only had a few piano lessons when you were a very young child. Did you cultivate an ability to “play by ear,” or do you still simply work through many permutations to find the tonalities that resonate with you for any given composition?
A. To be honest, the only thing I cultivate is my lack of technique. I refuse to learn anything about music – I have the distinct feeling I am merely a tool, an interface, a means for my music to express itself. I don’t know anything about notes, tonalities or even playing by ear – my work is 95% intuition and 5% luck. Q. Your father, Vasile Moldoveanu, was a distinguished Romanian tenor who toured internationally. Please share with us your very first remembrances of his voice and describe how it affected you. A. His voice certainly did affect me deeply as a child, but the first image that comes to my mind when I drift back to my jetlagged childhood is falling asleep in airplanes and dark
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opera seats with a background of loud – yet soothing – music and human voices. This may sound like a cliché, but I really think this otherworldly ambiance modeled most of my creative instincts. Opera, when seen from a child’s perspective, is a deadly serious business! Q. Did your father sing songs especially for you, when you were very young? A. I’m pretty sure he did, just like any loving father. Lullabies rather than opera arias, though. Q. Was your father’s professional musical career something you hoped to emulate as a child? Did those aspirations evolve as you grew older, and if so, how? A. No. I was actually planning to avoid any kind of career related to music – I wanted to be a writer until five or six years ago, when I realized there was some amount of SOUND, rather than WORDS, stuck in my brain and heart and which needed to get out. Q. Has there ever been a time in your life when you thought that perhaps music would not be your lifelong career?
AN INTERVIEW WITH NICK GREY: A contemporary,“contrarian” composer offers his unique perspective on Music and his role as its medium… By Jane Delson A. Not since I started making music. I use the word “making” because I really don’t view myself as a composer. I prefer the words “sound designer,” “architect,” “shifter.” This is why music for films is a domain, which attracts me very much. The impact of music when combined with a visual source is incredibly fascinating: music has a direct influence on thought and reaction and perception. Moreover, modern recording techniques such as the use of computers allow the composer to visualize the music through a system of blocks, structures, sound waves, frequencies and loops, rather than scores and notes and tempo. Very visual indeed. Q. Your music is very divergent from the music your father performed and to which your mother, Aluca Moldoveanu, danced. Despite that fact, www.mouvement-nouveau.com, the new online magazine about classical and experimental music, notes that your first album, Regal Daylight “ …integrates operatic voices …like memories in the back of your mind.” Are these “operatic voices” memories of your specific childhood, or are they allegorical in nature? A. In fact – these operatic voices are a direct reference to the back of my mind, since they are sung by my father himself!It was a beautiful collaboration. Regal Daylight really deals with this part of my life – like a short and intense biography of images and sounds, before moving to something else, something more personal. Q. You mentioned to me in an email recently that one of the things you’d like to discuss is the function of music and the parallel function of the human voice. Please share with us your thoughts about the essence of both and the impact you feel they both have outside of a professional musical career.
A. I think music does not necessarily have to please the listener, nor does it have to follow a precise narrative structure. Most of the music I listen to today is direct, thought-provoking, ambiguous, unclear, cerebral and emotional at the same time. About the human voice … I have mixed feelings. It’s the most beautiful instrument you can think of, and also the most immodest, indiscreet of all. This is why I think it should be used with more humility than it often is. For instance, I cannot listen to 19th century opera today – I find most of it graceless. But the works of Fauré, Gorecki, Pergolesi, Landi, Haendel … are immortal, I think. Q. Just as the human voice marries music in song, as with your father’s career, the human body marries music in dance, as with your mother’s career. Music is the common denominator … please share with us your thoughts about this and the overreaching powers of Music, per se. A. …and the human brain follows music in thought. I am fascinated by the work of Brian Eno (especially his music for films) who established once and for all that music does not necessarily have to carry emotions or be aimed at one’s heart: the brain, the mind and the process of thought can also be reached and stimulated through one’s music. Q. The web site www.mouvement-nouveau.com also makes note of the fact that your music is influenced by Dadaism and Surrealism. Emanating from the terrible disillusionment engendered by World War I, the poetry of the Romanian Tristan Tzara hallmarked the arrival of the movement. I’m interested if your attraction to Dadaism is, in part, a cultural fascination with your country’s historical part in its rise to popularity? A. Not really – I feel more attracted to Dadaism (and especially Surrealism and symbolism) as literary techniques. Most of my lyrics come from oral improvisations or automatic writing. Other Romanian authors, such as Cioran, influenced me a lot as well. The other literary influences come from France: Artaud, Apollinaire, Michaux.
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Q. Dada attacked conventional standards of aesthetics and behavior and stressed absurdity and the role of the unpredictable in artistic creation. Your music is selfdescribed as being “ …moved by inflexions, modulations, emotions,” and you state that your songs “ …rarely follow any traditional narrative structure. They don’t begin, and they don’t end.” What is the intent of this free-flowing expressivity on your audience …or do you wish there to be an equally open-ended reception among your listeners?
Q. Who is (are) your favourite classical composer(s) and why?
A. I really don’t want to impose any form of reception upon my listeners – my music would be like a house with the front door left unlocked. Visitors are welcome but there’s no tour guide. As for me – I’m hiding in the attic, of course!I like to be surprised by what I create. I like my music to be unpredictable and to discover hidden layers of intentions in it. Again: I am a medium.
Q. Have you ever thought about a musical collaboration with your father? In your imagination today, what would the public performance of that collaboration sound like?
Q. Do you try to express your own inner feelings of disillusion about society/politics/world events through your music, or it is a much more intensely personal reflection that comes through your compositions?
A. Morrissey!Because of the Italian suites. Q. Who is (are) your favourite composer(s) and why?
A. Gabriel Fauré. His Requiem moves me to tears and I can’t think of anything more contemporary.
The impact of music when combined with a visual source is incredibly fascinating: music has a direct influence on thought and reaction and perception.
A. I rarely express my private feelings on a direct level. My feelings and point-de-vue are usually hidden under several layers of twisted allusions, foggy allegories and wrecked images. It is quite a schizophrenic process! Q. You’ve stated that composers like Philip Glass and Robert Wyatt have been influential in your musical composition. What, in their collective body of work, has most touched you, and how have you distilled and applied what you have learned from them in your own compositions?
A. Frankly, I usually mention Philip Glass only to be trendy – although I do love his music, especially his early work. But Robert Wyatt – yes, he is an absolute influence for me. Talent and modesty combined …a natural, yet otherworldly voice. Q. Who are the other musicians with whom you collaborate, and for how long have you worked in association with one another? A. It really depends on who I meet. I work with some of my old friends, as well as beautiful musicians which inspire me very much, such as 48 Cameras, Kris Force, Tanakh … There are quite a few interesting collaborations planned for 2006.
A. My first album, Regal Daylight (2001) is actually the result of such an experience. We have collaborated on four tracks. I’m afraid there won’t ever be any public performance though … such a project would lack the intimate quality of our initial purpose. Q. What was your father’s favourite opera and favourite aria? A. I’ll have to ask him but I’m pretty sure it’s Tosca …E lucevan le Stelle.
Q. What major projects are you presently developing, and when/ where/how will they be introduced to the public? A. The two projects I’m the most excited about are both related to Toronto Pictures – I will be working on the score of a retrospective documentary on the career of Bruno Pischiutta, and also working on the music relative to “The Making Of” Mr. Pischiutta’s latest movie, Punctured Hope. These two projects are tremendously exciting for me. It’s the first time I have worked on film scores in a professional context. It is both an incredible, heart-warming opportunity and a stimulating challenge. I’m always very moved by people who trust my peculiar visions and have faith in my music. Q. In an email, you mentioned that you may be having a new recording released in the U.S. soon …can you share any additional information about that recording with us? A. My next full-length album will indeed be out soon on the American label Hand/Eye … Also, I have just launched my own label, Milk & Moon recordings, on which I publish (in hand-made format) some of my productions, as well as the works of artists which I feel close to. D
… the brain, the mind and the process of thought can also be reached and stimulated through one’s music. 56
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Fabrizio Pesci 2
abrizio Pesci was born in 1969 in Parma Italy, a city of rich artistic and musical culture. He became a full time painter in 2005. The predominant subject matter in Fabrizio Pesci’s paintings is the nude female figure. Fabrizio’s paintings reflect the artist’s visual interpretation of a dialogue between ancient and contemporary art. “The partial portrayal of the face, in most of my paintings, creates a mystery as to the subject’s identity. The human figure alone is the frontier-free communicator: In ancient times, it was often used to depict significant events with the intention of communicating to people of all social classes and geographic origins.” The movement of the bodies, made up of gestures and actions, evokes ancient tribal dances, expressions of heroic acts and mystic messages. His paintings have been exhibited throughout several art galleries in Italy such as Verona, Roma and Treviso. Pesci’s artwork will be featured at the upcoming 7th Malta International Art Biennale. The artist is also preparing an exhibition tour titled Contexto Exterior across Spain in 2007/08. D
Photo 1: Fabrizio Pesci - Female Messenger 2 Photo 2: Female Messenger 1 Photo 3: Female Body in Judgement Photo 4: Female Body in Movement
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Welcome on board ...
Room with a view ...
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PICTURE PERFECT By Daniele Albinger
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT I met with Giorgio Majno in his beautiful apartment in Via Morosini, about a kilometer from Milan’s Gothic Duomo Cathedral. After a delicious dinner with his wife Oddina and his two sons, Francesco and Luca, I asked him about his past, present and his future plans over a glass of wine.
hy interview Giorgio?...You might ask. There are four basic and very valid reasons. To begin with, he is a true gentleman in every respect. He is a great photographer, whom I have a high professional regard for and he is part of an extraordinary family that helped to shape the face of Italian industry and culture. Most importantly, however, is that he is my friend. I was honoured to have the opportunity of sharing his beautiful studio in Milan as I embarked on my career in photography in the late 80’s. Although I now live in Menton, France (a town situated close to the Principality of Monaco), I continue to treasure the lessons he taught me. The studio we shared, is still in a grand palace in the heart of Milan. It is an ex-convent complete with an ancient cloister, in the centre of which, a garden flourishes embracing beautiful colours and emanating the perfect elegance for inducing artistic inspiration. The famous Romanic Saint Ambrose church, built in the fourth century and rebuilt during the twelfth, stands a few hundred feet from Via Cappuccio. It was in this grand palace that Giorgio and his siblings grew up, a legendary atmosphere to be proud of. Giorgio was born in Milan in 1954, in an upper-middleclass family of industrial tycoons. His maternal grandfather, Guido Ucelli di Nemi, had established an iron rod industry and he founded the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, in 1953. Breaking family tradition, Giorgio elected not to study engineering, but instead enrolled in D.A.M.S. (Discipline of the Arts, Music and Show Business), in Bologna, where he graduated in 1979. He launched his career in photography and many more studies followed.
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“My grandfather Guido was an engineer and the source of his original fame was the excavation project of two famous imperial ships at Lake Nemi, which he lead. Lake Nemi has been a mysterious place since antiquity and it has been written about, by many classical scholars. This project began in 1929 and the lake was finally drained in 1932 revealing the historical ships. This discovery created much interest and it reached the world press.” Guido used a device that consisted of a frame and glass. He died when Giorgio was only ten years old. “I have guarded his frame-and-glass device that he used to take pictures of landscapes with. He used to expose the glass to the sunrays for hours because, at the time, the sensitivity of materials was much lower than it is now. This gadget fascinated me, although I never experimented with it myself.” Guido’s son, Gianfranco Ucelli, was also an engineer and a pretty good photographer. He took interesting pictures of Milan after the bombings during the Second World War, which he recently exhibited at the Rotonda della Besana. “My cousin is Gianfranco’s son so, as you can see, the knack for photography is prominent in our genes, even though it only ever presented itself at an amateur level. I am proud to be the first professional photographer in the family. A learned, accomplished and experienced individual, Giorgio is congenial, very personable and always ready to offer his assistance and collaboration. He also displays a strict professional discipline towards his approach to work. Generally speaking, combining art and discipline, given the intrinsic nature of artists, is by no means an easy feat. In addition, he maintains his stance at the very forefront of technological advances in photography, by investigating all the new developments in his field.
Throughout his life, professional and private, Giorgio Majno constantly pursues the concept of “beauty”. He claims that aesthetics and appearance don’t have many direct correlations with beauty, whereas inner balance and harmony do. This is the kind of magical equilibrium he seeks when creating his photographic art. An example of this equilibrium that he captures, is available on his website www.giorgiomajno.com for further reference. How does he manage to make a cabbage look sexy? By extracting the strength and simplicity contained in the natural and artificial textures in his subject. His pursuit of beauty derived from the influence of Edward Weston, considered to be one of the best American
photographers, who said that photography represented for him, a kind of ‘revelation’. “In fact”, Giorgio said, “one can perceive a peculiar depth in Weston’s pictures. They look alive.” Val Chiavenna, a beautiful valley above the Lecco branch of Lake Como, lead him to research nature. He would repeat this research years later, when he collaborated with the artist Edvige Ripa in order to produce a set of artistic portraits of nature entitled “Blue Seasons”, that were exhibited in the Gallery of Art & Design of Milan, in 2004 and also in London, England. Giorgio applied his skills to many different photographic sectors that ranged from industrial to portraiture and still life, always maintaining an open mind in
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He harmoniously combines the past and the future in his persona, by reflecting the familiar elegance of an Italian gentleman along with the presence of a family background filled with inspiration. 62
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relation to the different techniques, while never ceasing to incorporate comprehensive research through various phases of his work. Daniele: “When did you have your first experience with photography?” Giorgio: “The fist experience with photography, the one that made me love this field of work, occurred in my cousin Bruno’s dark room. It was, in fact, the closet below the staircase and it’s where I developed all my photos throughout the 70’s. I had my second most important experience after high school, when I was eighteen and I decided to go on a trip. The destination was Calcutta, India with a group of friends in a Volkswagen van and a mission of photographing everything, but especially people. It was a rich, hippiestyle adventure, that lasted three and a half months. Last year, when some pictures of that journey were published in a book about Indian women edited by Loredana Gazzola - India al Femminile - I had the pleasure to relive these memories.” Since he was a photograph enthusiast, when the moment came to enter university, he chose the only faculty that included a photography course: D.A.M.S. (Discipline of the Arts, Music and Show-business), in Bologna. Italy doesn’t offer enrolment possibilities in photography courses at university level, as are available in America or Germany, so that was his only feasible option. Luckily, an excellent photographer, Paolo Monti, ran the photography course at D.A.M.S. In reality, Giorgio was not so sure if he wanted to become a photographer, because he was receiving a comprehensive visual arts education at D.A.M.S, and only a few graduates chose to become photographers. In the end, however, he did opt for a photography thesis, entitled “Rural Architecture in Chiavenna Valley”. With the assistance of local people, he spent months taking pictures of the characteristic wooden, stone and granite houses of the locale. He learned still life photography while working as an assistant, for about 6 months, to a photographer who was a Pirelli employee. “Illinois turned out to be my stepping stone into the Big World”, says Giorgio, “after my graduation, I felt like travelling again. I knew that a few scholarships were being offered in the United States and I applied for Rhode Island School of Design, San Francisco Art Institute and New York’s Columbia University. Sadly, I wasn’t accepted by any of them. A fourth possibility presented itself at South Illinois University in Carbondale and, this time, I was successful in obtaining my acceptance. Carbondale was a remote town, which comprised of a seven-hour drive from Chicago and, when I first saw it, I felt discouraged, but it turned out to be an extraordinary experience. Here, we had many possibilities to train in dark rooms and photo studios. Being a graduate student I had access to a key, which enabled me to work anytime that I wanted to. Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 63
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT I was 26 years old and my stay there lasted for three years. Besides studying for my masters, I was teaching photography in classes that consisted of approximately 15 students each. This allowed me to earn about US $500 of extra money per class, which was fairly decent at that time.” He continued working in a teaching capacity at the gallery I.F. and at the I.E.D. European Institute of Design, in Milan. Giorgio prepared for his Master of Fine Arts at the department of cinema and photography portraitures in black and white. Gianfranco Colombo presented him with the opportunity to have his first solo exhibition at the famous Italian photo gallery ‘Il Diaframma’ in via Brera, Milan in 1985. Giorgio has worked for many renowned companies and influential magazines, and he has had his photos shown at exhibitions throughout Italy and in London, England. To date, the listing of his photo exhibitions is very long indeed and it includes “Arazzi a Milano” Idea Group Milano, Lois De Poortere, “La casa Bagatti Valsecchi” ed. Scala in 1994, “Vestire la Luce” ed. Silvana Amilcare Pizzi in 2000, “Grandi Giardini Italiani” ed. Rizzoli libri illustrati in 2002 and two books for the F.A.I. ed. Skira. The list of journals that he contributed to include: Antiquariato, Gardenia, Arte, Case e Country, CasaAmica, Elle Decor, La mia casa, Spazio casa, and Airone. In reference to shooting with medium and large format cameras, Giorgio maintains: “It’s certainly easier to organize a still life project rather than a photographic session for purposes of fashion or reportage. My characteristics are perfectly suitable for this because I’m calm, meditative and precise. The first jewellery catalogue I worked on, was for De Beers in large format 10x12 with Sinar. I also photographed the staff of De Beers Thompson with Hasselblad in format 6x6.” “The most renowned jewellers of via Montenapoleone (Buccellati, De Beers, Cartier, and others) commissioned me to create very interesting pieces. I photographed personalities such as Cecilia Pirelli, daughter of Leopoldo Pirelli (owner of the Pirelli industry), Miss Buccellatti (Buccellatti Jewellery), Gioia Marchi Falck (Giovanni Falck’s daughter), all wearing the jewellery that was being presented in the pieces. I used my Sinar in large format 20X25, using Polaroid film material. The photos that were shot employing this method, offered an amazingly warm perspective and were really unique in their beauty. I was very proud of the results.” Large and medium format Cameras were used in the work commissioned by his friend from Montedison, a Milanbased energy, chemicals and agro-industry conglomerate. Over a number of years, Giorgio enjoyed shooting industrial 64
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footage in part by photographing all the employees that were representing the various industries. These photos, however, were shot with his Hasselblad format 6x6. While in the United States, he befriended many students. One of them, Paul Elledge, became a photographer in Chicago. Paul loves Italy and married an Italian woman. With his friend Paul, they organized various projects together: once in Barbagia, in the central areas of the Sardinia region (a beautiful island) and once in Sicily, always electing unconventional ways by stationing themselves at the first agritourism locales - country inns. For two weeks they scouted the areas with assistants, searching for the best portraiture possibilities in the rural community. In the evenings over dinner, they would use their time discussing the day’s work. Paul later published some of this material. Giorgio used a wooden folding Deardorff & Sons 4x5. Folding cameras are ones that may be folded into a compact and rugged package when not in use. Therefore, it was practical and easily manageable, but versatile at the same time. This type of camera was used a lot in the United States and by legendary photographers such as Ansel Adams and Wegee (Arthur Fellig). Giorgio purchased his first professional digital camera only one and half years ago. A 12 mega-pixel Nikon 2 DX, this camera offers opportunity. Its ultra high resolution, lends itself to almost any variation of daylight and atmospheric conditions, handling each very well and offering astoundingly clear results. Being able to go on a shoot completely unaccompanied just one man, the Nikon and a computer and being able to review the work almost instantly, is very empowering. No longer does one have to bring along an assistant carrying the heavy equipment and lights. No longer does time have to be wasted waiting for the lab to develop the pictures. Gone are the days of light meters. There is much less hassle and there are no unnecessary distractions. There’s also a great additional advantage, considering that this is a more ecologically friendly technique. Although we are talking about a new process and a new era, it’s still important to keep in mind that the resulting creations are still dependent on the knowledge and interpretation of the person that is operating the instrument. Giorgio indicates that the commissioned work he considers most important is the one he developed for the F.A.I. (Fondo Ambiente Italiana). It comprised a photographic documentary about cultural and historical buildings and places in Italy. Since 1975, F.A.I. has worked to save, restore and open places of art and nature that are among the finest in Italy, to the public. A private, non-profit organization, F.A.I. obtains sites of historic, artistic and naturalistic value via donations, bequests or loans. The buildings are used, restored and opened to the public, ensuring that everyone is offered an opportunity to enjoy them. Daniele: “What does your future hold in store?” Giorgio: “My plans for the future include focusing on photographic research, communication and continuing to present my photos in exhibitions. I’d like to investigate certain subjects, in particular ones referencing body language
and movement. I’m also interested in studying the possible relations between tree trunks and the human chest. From a professional point of view, I’d like to work with architecture, interiors, and gardens.” His artistic sensitivity is becoming increasingly mature while, at the same time, maintaining a fresh, crisp and young approach. He harmoniously combines the past and the future in his persona, by reflecting the familiar elegance of an Italian gentleman along with the presence of a family background filled with inspiration. He is at the leading edge of the photography frontier, embracing every wonder ranging from life to nature. He does justice to nature by employing the best possible tools available. He makes its beauty shine from every aspect, awarding it the recognition and attention it deserves. He is a man who is carving his well-deserved niche in the history books of photography, while creating masterpieces and inspiring others. Writing about Giorgio Majno is comparable to writing about the history of Milan or the history of photography from the ‘70s to the present. It was a very impressive and personally enriching experience. D
Giorgio Majno with his family
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Aluca, “Princess” in Exile
Daria! contributor, Sabrina Johnson, takes a close look at the life and legacy of Aluca Maria Moldoveanu. With exclusive access to her diaries, she offers a glimpse into her struggle filled with challenges, which include a turbulent upbringing during political turmoil in her native country of Romania after the WWll.
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he Second World War was ravaging all of Europe as Nazism was being defeated. The consequences of this conflict were devastating for civilians in indescribable ways. One of the results for many, consisted of abandoning their homes and finding refuge in an uncertain future. Aluca’s past reflects this particular reality and its path is filled with hardships and wonders that introduced her to experience accentuated emotions ranging from humility, sadness, uncertainty and despair to happiness, satisfaction and appreciation. In Monaco, where she has been residing for the past 28 years, only a handful of people are aware of her origins and they refer to her as “Princess”. Her distinguished career, however, began at the tender age of nine and blossomed into a triumph of the international stage, as she became Prima Ballerina at seventeen years of age. Her father, Count Nicolai Babeanu, was a landowner and a descendant of the Hirgot family since the 1900’s and he was a close officer of the former Royal Court of Romania. Her mother, Adelaida Freifrau Von Kapri, instilled the rigor
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT and discipline of a German education in Aluca, using a soft approach that was synonymous with her Polish origins. Due to her family’s ancestry, a period of uncertainty dawned with the establishment of Communism, as they had to suddenly grow accustomed to the lack of special status affiliated with family lineage. This involved living precariously and often encountering deficiencies of sufficient food and other basic necessities. In addition, her family was closely scrutinized as a result of its links to the former Romanian aristocracy. The countryside was Aluca’s fairy tale domain and its majestic natural wisdom brought her consolation. Although she sheltered herself in this environment from the adversities around her, destiny rang at her doorbell during an unlikely chance encounter in Bucharest, while on a streetcar at the age of seven. Aluca describes Yolanda Manole Pascaluta as her guardian angel. Yolanda suggested that Aluca be registered in a competition exam to determine her eligibility for attending the Choreography School of Romania. Her mother chose to ignore the suggestion and intentionally forgot about it ….but
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Her distinguished career began at the tender age of nine and blossomed into a triumph of the international stage, as she became Prima Ballerina at seventeen years of age.
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“She became the representation of the school’s pride at the national level.”
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“Aluca refers to her married life as a mixture of love, passion and sacrifice.”
Nicolai Babeanu and Aluca
not for long. Destiny tried to reach Aluca a second time in another unlikely chance encounter. This time, a year after the first, Aluca met her guardian angel, Yolanda, as she found her sitting right beside her in the midst of 4,000 people in a soccer stadium where her mom was working as a translator and interpreter. After Yolanda gently reproached her mother for not following her advice, a decision was taken for her to accompany 72
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them to obtain a private exam with the Director of the school. As suggested by Yolanda, Aluca’s aristocratic origins were falsified by declaring that she was the daughter of rich farmers. The failure to choose this option, would have jeopardized her enrolment in the school, instead, she passed the exam and became the best student. She became the representation of the school’s pride at the national level. Aluca’s career progressed to include the credits of soloist
“Due to her family’s ancestry, a period of uncertainty dawned with the establishment of Communism…”
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and Prima Ballerina at the Opera of Bucharest at seventeen. She passionately shares a story describing an event that happened then, which drastically changed her life: “A ray of light appeared. While performing an Argentine Tango in a – Recital of Opera and Dance –, a red camellia in my hair, I felt as though glaring black eyes were looking at me. It was the beautiful tenor Vasile Moldoveanu, who was due to perform there during that same evening. It was love at first sight.” Three months later, they were married in the village of Poiama, where she grew up as a child. Aluca refers to her married life as a mixture of love, passion and sacrifice. Her career flourished from 1972 to 1974, as she performed at the Bayerishe Staats Oler Munchen (Opera of
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Munich) and she was later offered to train in Monte Carlo with Marika Bresobrasova, where Nureyev was training at the same time. Aluca eventually relocated to New York, after Vasile signed a ten-year contract with Columbia Artist Management and where he performed at the Metropolitan Opera. She eventually moved to Monaco. The fascinating diaries of the “Princess” in exile, detail many more intimate thoughts and describe many situations she experienced. These would lead many people to consider themselves very fortunate with their own lives and, yet, the experiences are so varied that a myriad of others would consider their own lives to compare very miserably by comparison. D
Artist of Untamed Passion.
By Prof. Dr. Ruud M. Lapré, Haarlem, Netherlands • Photos by Gary Salerno
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n 2004, Leo Wesel published a book of his work titled “Chafing Emotions in Forms and Colours”. An excerpt from this book aptly describes his work: “Leo is interested in the uncensored raw explosion of emotions. Hence, he aligns himself alongside artists like Emil Nolde, Frank Auerbach and Willem de Kooning. He speaks highly of Jawlensky, Kees van Dongen, the contemporary Italian expressionist Damiano and the Hungarian constructivist, Konok. His appreciation for the austere, methodical and rational work of the constructivists is remarkable. ‘It’s precisely because their work is so remote from mine that it appeals to me so much. I am attracted by the contrast and the discipline expressed in what they make. To me, their work is like watching another planet’”. Following the track of the expressionists, Leo Wesel is very individual in his approach to his art. Leo Wesel reveals himself in this book as a warm, generous person and father. Unbridled and passionate in his artistic expression and obsessive and honest in his artistic calling. It is a great pleasure to visit Leo Wesel’s atelier. Anxious to prevent his guests from getting lost, he shows the first signs of his hospitality by meeting
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them on the other side of the tunnel separating France from Italy. As soon as your eyes are accustomed to sunlight, you see him waving, standing by his scooter, ready to pilot you towards your destination. Leo Wesel (born Roosendaal in 1955) grew up in the middle-class setting of an average small town in the south of the Netherlands. The usual ambitions: good education, nice job and a career, never meant much to him. After graduating from the Academy for Fashion and Design in The Hague, in 1978 he took-up a job as an accessory designer (shoes and bags). He fell ill at ease under the constraint of being an employee and having to produce on commission. Shortly thereafter, he quit and set off for the southern European counties. His work as an autonomous artist, painting and sculpting, gradually gained momentum on the back robe of the Mediterranean setting. He consciously opted for the voluntary simplicity of the quiet village life just outside Ventimiglia in the border region between Italy and France. After a short ride, we finally make our way to his house. The atelier, located in a kind of a small cave and at the front of the house, is small. In the win-
ter it is comfortable there, in summer cool. It is stacked with paintings and old frames, partly on racks, partly in rows against the wall. Leo is very keen on combing jumble sales in the surroundings, especially in Nice. He gets up at the crack of dawn to look for unique frames that have stood the ravages of time and might serve as edging for his own pictures. On such sprees, rummaging through jumble sales, he has managed to discover some nice ‘minor masters’ in the abundant ‘junk’. He even drives a small trade in them. And he keeps a lot for himself. Jokingly, “For later, when I retire”. There is not enough space in the atelier, but the rock walls outside are an excellent backdrop for a number of his recent works. The majority of them have just returned from the museum in neighbouring Menton - France. My enthusiasm, evoked by what I see, catches on and, soon, twenty more paintings are displayed against the expanse of rock, against shrubs, chairs and anything that can serve as support. Leo Wesel’s paintings are undeniably expressionist. That goes not only for his female figure interpretations or the more Arcadian landscapes, but also for his still lifes. We see the generous use of primary colours and the simplicity of the composition. This ‘primitivism’ which is also featured, among others, in the works of the Cobra group and the
fauvists, can be experienced as outpourings of directness and authenticity. Beauty has been consciously sacrificed to expression. The urge to paint has not been curbed by the principles of painting, which can be distracting to the expressionist, like the effect of depth, the subtle interplay between light and shade, or the harmony of the golden section. Female figures or forms are often featured in his paintings. Various shapes, symbols of fertility or motherhood depicted in a flowing landscape of hills and valleys; lewd, vulnerable, aggressive, voracious and mysterious. In any case, like an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Leo Wesel never depicts the normal female form of the human creation. Every time there is an alluring new two-dimensional creation. Standing in front of now close to forty artworks, I see how well the glowing colours of his larger paintings, in particular, do in the sunlight reflected by the grey rock face. I ask Leo to hang the smaller works, in sepia tints and with the drawing-like patterns, inside the atelier, where they will have full play in the more subdued lighting. In practice, the limited size of the atelier is not that convenient. Depending on the weather, there is plenty of space in the garden to paint, hew stone or hammer assemblages. There is always a suitable spot to be found somewhere in the open air. His art is so close to what he feels deep down; what occurs there determines what he commits to canvases or panels. His creations express directly the development in his inner world. Impressive is the way he passionately expresses his themes. This is true for both his paintings and sculptures. In both you can see and feel that strong emotions are the driving force for his artistic calling. The result of his emotions are paintings with vivid colour contrasts like thick layers of clay smeared onto the canvas. You can also feel this emotion in his three-dimensional work in ceramics, ardesia (slate), iron or bronze. Mostly with a painful emotion. The shapes show sharp jagged edges. Often the surfaces are unfinished, leaving the pure properties
of the material to be accentuated. Leo looks further than to the outside beauty, but reaches below to the inner feeling. Ever since his move to Italy, Leo’s work has been often exhibited throughout European museums and art galleries. His work continues to be widely celebrated at both ongoing and upcoming exhibitions at the Museum Moderne (Palais l’Europe) in Menton; at the “In Art” gallery, Haaren, NoordBrabant, (Netherlands) this coming spring and at the AL Gallery in Budapest, (Hungary) in October. Leo is also looking forward to the publishing of a second book reviewing his work in 2008. In his restless quest of self discover, Leo admits ‘I try to get to know myself better and I notice that my work is gaining in tranquillity. It is becoming, I think, a bit more balanced, tending towards simplicity and, perhaps, even certain serenity.’ D Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 77
Mexico’s Stock Exchange: The Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (BMV), Mexico’s financial supermarket, is enjoying a four-year-long bull market - its daily dollar value of shares traded has quadrupled, from about $90 million in 2003 to $410 million in early 2007.
exico’s business community is roundly criticised from both inside and outside the country for its failure to invest seriously in research and development, and for the resulting erosion of its ability to compete globally. However, none of the critics is casting barbs at Mexico’s stock exchange, the Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (BMV). Far from being a laggard, the exchange uses up-to-date technology, employs world-class surveillance and clearing house arrangements, and is an innovator or early adopter in many areas of financial packaging. The corporate governance of its listed companies is guided by a freshly-minted Securities Act, which includes provisions aimed at encouraging more companies to list their shares.
By Kenneth Emmond “We’re getting ready for listing in the near future,” said Pedro Zorrilla, assistant director general of the exchange. Zorrilla, 44, may himself be one of the reasons for the exchange’s string of successes. He’s a graduate of the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, one of the nation’s leading universities, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In charge of a gamut of areas, including market development, trading services and surveillance, he joined the BMV six years ago, after serving with the Mexican Bankers’ Association and the Mexican Securities Commission, which monitors the self-regulating exchange. Other emerging markets around the world have done well but few have matched Mexico’s record. Apart from the internal changes, one of the key factors is the dramatic increase in potential buyers: mutual funds have been growing rapidly in Mexico, and the establishment of afores, privately-
The exchange uses up-to-date technology, employs world-class surveillance and clearing house arrangements, and is an early adopter in many areas of financial packaging. Topping off the stellar list of innovation and achievement is performance: the exchange is enjoying a four-yearlong bull market. Its most widely-used index, the Index of Prices and Quotations, moved from just over 6,000 at the end of 2002, to 26,448 on Dec. 31, 2006; in February it was above 28,000. That’s an average gain of 42.6 percent per year in dollar terms. Average daily dollar value of shares traded has quadrupled, from about $90 million dollars in 2003 to $410 million in early 2007. In fact, the BMV is doing so well that it’s preparing to do what several of the world’s leading exchanges have done in recent years: make an initial public offering (IPO) of its own shares. 78
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managed retirement funds, ten years ago has added substantial liquidity to the market. “Pension and mutual funds now amount to about 14 percent of Gross Domestic Product,” said Zorrilla. Another incentive is the low rate of real interest. Cetes, Mexico’s benchmark equivalent of Treasury Bills, yield about seven percent; with inflation running at about four percent, investors are left with a grudging three percent return before taxes. To further encourage trader activity, the exchange has signed agreements with the major exchanges in Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Under these bilateral accords, traders in one exchange can buy or sell stocks in the other.
A World Class Act The BMV clearing house, the system by which trades executed during a session are verified, uses the latest methods. To protect each trader from the possibility that the party on the other side fails to fulfil his obligation – that is, if the buyer doesn’t pay or the seller doesn’t deliver the shares – the clearing house, the Central Counterpart of Shares, takes the opposite position on every trade. The seller, in effect, sells to the Central Counterpart; the buyer buys from it. A less-well-known area of rapid growth is in the bond market. Most people know the exchange as a place where companies raise capital by getting outsiders to buy capital stock in a share IPO. The best-known and most widely reported day-to-day trading takes place in the secondary market, where people buy or sell shares to one another. Like the mortgage on your house, bonds are issued with guarantees, terms of repayment, an audited report on the financial condition of the issuer, and the rate of interest written into the contract.
Zorrilla says there has been some increase in debt issues from corporations but the spectacular growth comes from state and municipal governments. Quite apart from making funds available for capital projects undertaken by these governments, selling bonds on the BMV contributes to national development in a way that might surprise. To qualify for a debt issue the state or municipality must meet the same financial criteria as any other issuer. For many, this means submitting to what might be the first-ever independent audit, a procedure that closes at least a few doors on the corruption that runs rampant in many jurisdictions. “All these guys have to comply with exactly the same requirements as any corporate issuer in the markets,” said Zorrilla. “They have to audit their financial information. They have to go with a rating agency. They have to comply with a whole set of disclosure standards and regulations in the market.” As with stock issues, member brokerage firms handle the IPO through
Pedro Zorrilla, assistant director general of the Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (BMV).
the exchange. The secondary bond market is handled over-the-counter – that is, trades among investors after the bond is issued are executed through the brokers but independent of the exchange system. However, the BMV provides a public outlet for regular updates on the issuers’ financial condition.
The passing of a new securities law at the end of 2005 provides the authorities with greater, more precise tools to apply the law.
Source: Bolsa Mexicana de Valores “Gaceta Bursatil” 2007
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Source: Bolsa Mexicana de Valores “Gaceta Bursatil” 2007
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To further encourage trader activity, the exchange has signed agreements with the major exchanges in Brazil, Colombia and Peru. The exchange has been working for the past two years to create a market for Fideicomisos de Bienes Raices (FIBRAS), a Mexican version of the real estate investment trusts (REITs) that have been extremely successful in other countries. The major stumbling block has been tax rules which, until recent changes, would have subjected a FIBRA purchaser to double taxation. “We expect this year to be the year in which we see definitely the first FIBRAs,” Zorrilla said. Another recent innovation was the bursatilizing of mortgages. Bursatilization involves bundling sets of small securities, such as house mortgages, into packages of interest to investors – say, $10 million – and selling them on the market. The new securities law was passed at the end of 2005 and came into force
in 2006. It gained most attention for tightening corporate governance and reporting rules. That’s because it arrived in the wake of the Enron and other corporate scandals in the United States and the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Law. Zorrilla said there have been reforms since the 1975 securities law was passed, but, he added, “By 2005 it was clear that the law required a new structure … to provide the authorities with greater, more precise tools to apply the law.” However, exchange officials hope the most important changes in the long run will result from the section dealing with special rules that enable new, smaller firms to issue IPOs. “We also needed a scheme to facilitate Mexican small and medium sized companies to have an easier access to private funds and private liquidities,” said Zorrilla. To achieve this, it introduced the SAPI, Sociedad Anónima Promotora de Inversión (Corporation that Promotes Investment). In effect this relaxes some of the stringent requirements of listed companies for a grace period of three years. Convincing small and mediumsized companies to list their shares is a hard sell, even though many are undercapitalised and have trouble getting a loan or raising money in the debt markets. The long tradition of 100 percent family control and the fact that many
companies may be reluctant to publicise their financial details because of murky tax reporting in the past are serious barriers to bringing them into the market. Zorrilla said more change and improvement is in store in the future. “We see the stock exchange as the financial supermarket,” he said. “We want to fill all the racks. We have derivatives, we have Mexican securities, we have debt securities; we have foreign securities, so that the Mexican investor can be comfortable, with a well-developed infrastructure in terms of tools and IT technology. It’s a supermarket where they can pick whatever they need to do a world class portfolio match.” D
The stock exchange is Mexico’s financial supermarket where its investors can choose from a wide spectrum of investments to do a world class portfolio match.
Source: Bolsa Mexicana de Valores “Gaceta Bursatil” 2007
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San Diego Film Festival The San Diego Film Festival is a home for films that inspire and take audiences to new places. Here, you can find films that tell stories that have never been told.
he San Diego Film Festival is one of the new kids on the block, just six years old this year. But in that time, the festival has grown, doubling in attendance and attracting some of the next generation of Hollywood celebrities to showcase their work at this up-and-coming event. In late September each year, stroll through the historic streets of San Diego’s Gaslamp district and you’ll be mingling with some 20,000 movie buffs. The attendance figures have doubled since the festival’s inception in 2001, said Robin Laatz, the festival’s founder and executive director. More and more fans are discovering what filmmakers looking for a home for their work are also figuring out. The festival in the southern Californian city has carved out a niche for itself among the bright lights of Cannes, Sundance and Toronto, among scores of others. Films that find their way to San Diego may have been overlooked by some of those popular cousins. And that’s just fine with Laatz. “One film we just fell in love with was a Technicolor, musical piece called ‘Standard Time’, starring Andrew McCarthy and Isabella Rose,” she says. “Seventeen major film festivals had turned the film down before we invited them to be our closing night film. Through the publicity and networking at our festival, the film was picked up by Samuel Goldwyn [which changed the name to ‘Anything But Love’] (which) did an amazing theatrical run.”
Robin Laatz, actors Chris Masterson (Intellectual Property) and Laura Prepon. Photographed by Tristan Nickey at the Industry Night Party at W San Diego.
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By Emily Bowers But trying to gauge whether a film will fly to mainstream success isn’t one of the barometers Laatz and the festival use when looking for movies to screen. Here, the interest is a bit more esoteric.
“Anything But Love”, after being rejected by seventeen major film festivals, was picked up by Samuel Goldwyn following its screening at the San Diego Film Festival. “We look for films that tell a story you may not have heard before,” Laatz says. “The films we screen expose our audience to an idea, a situation, a character, a profession, or even a part of the world that the audience may not be familiar with. Our goal is to not only find films that entertain, but that also leave our audience with a message and spark new thought or debates.” Each year, the San Diego festival screens 75 films, chosen from among some 1,200 submissions. That number tells Laatz that there is room in the market for her festival and for the movies they screen. “Every once in a while, we might lose a film to a festival that has been around for 20 years, but that is okay,” says Laatz, who before founding the SDFF was an independent film promoter. “There are lots of great movies being made each year, and it is our job to expose the public to as many as we can. If one film doesn’t work out, there are always others. We really focus on making our festival a unique and enjoyable experience for our guests instead of trying to compete with other festivals.” And it’s not to say that San Diego is flying below the radar. The festival proudly mentions it’s earned in the fren-
Actor Jason Priestley (Hot Tamale) with SDFF Chairman Wally Schlotter (former San Diego Film Commissioner) holding the Emmy he won for a short documentary that Jason narrated. Photo by: Tristan Nickey
“Our goal is to not only find films that entertain, but that also leave our audience with a message and spark new thought or debates.” Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 83
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT zied Hollywood press: celebrity gossip stalwarts Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood have covered SDFF along with industry magazine Variety. It’s likely that the glamour media is drawn to the Gaslight district, along with those thousands of movie buffs, lured by the presence of a strong roster of Hollywood celebrities, including some up-and-coming stars such as Joaquin Phoenix and Zach Braff.
Each year, the San Diego festival screens 75 films, chosen from among some 1,200 submissions. “We always try to bring filmmakers and their cast with all our films. When their schedules permit, celebrities are always excited about the opportunity to come to San Diego to promote their film,” she says. “It is always great when anyone associated with the film attends the screening to host a Q&A session, and meet the audience.” Braff, of television’s Scrubs, screened his film Garden State at SDFF and Morgan Spurlock’s dietchanging Super Size Me was also screened in San Diego, Laatz said. D
Joaquin and actor Colin Hanks (R/X) - Tom’s son - in the VIP Lounge. Photo courtesy Chris Morrow.
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Joaquin Phoenix (Earthlings), recipient of the Humanitarian Award, and Robin Laatz (SDFF Founder) outside the theatre. Photo courtesy Chris Morrow - chrismorrow.info
In the heart of the Principality
• 4 star deluxe resort • Awards winner
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
David Winter’s Thailand Experience...
This is Only the
BEGINNING... By Sabrina Johnson
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT “It’s very rewarding when your film is recognized in, and by, the country in which it was filmed and I’m very proud of receiving all these nominations for it”
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hen Daria! contributor Jane Delson last interviewed David Winters in November 2005, he was about to inaugurate his new film “The King Maker”, at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California. Recently he was asked if the film realized the response he was anticipating at the AFM and if he has developed the final blueprint pertaining to the adoptable marketing and distribution strategies, as a result of the information accumulated from the audience’s reaction to the film. “Well we didn’t actually present the film at the AFM as I had no Key Art prepared for the international market at that time,” remarked Winters, “I only had the Thai Key art, which was particularly designed for the Thai audience and it would not be applicable to the rest of the world. Furthermore, I did not have a promo other than the Thai promo, which also differed from what I required to pursue the film’s international sales. So, while I was there, I created a promo to be used for the international marketplace that was acknowledged very favorably by everyone. Mark Lester, owner of American World Pictures and his staff, talked about the film and announced our intention to screen it in Cannes for the first time, as the film still had to undergo some changes prior to being available for presentation to the international audience. Since then, the film was picked up by Sony Pictures in the US who released it on DVD. Prior to its US release, ‘The King Maker’ had garnered some awards and distinctive recognition in Thailand. At the Thai Academy Awards, Cindy Burbridge (ex-Miss Thailand) was the recipient of the Best Supporting Actress in a Film award for her role in the film. The Best Costumes, Best Production Design and Best Special Effects categories were also awarded to ‘The King Maker’. All the theatre owners comprising the membership of the Federation of Cinemas in Thailand, vote on these awards. It was also nominated for two Star Entertainment Awards (voted on by all the Thai newspaper reporters) and consequently won for Best Costumes. “It’s very rewarding when your film is recognized in, and by, the country in which it was filmed and I’m very proud of receiving all these nominations for it”, observed Winters. When asked if he has the intention of featuring the film with broad screenings in Thailand, due to its historical setting there, he replied by describing the controversial content of the film in relation to Thailand: “It is about a true story that occurred in 1547, when Queen Sudachan of Siam assassinated her husband, the King, and her son, the Prince, in order to install her lover on the throne. As the audience may or may not be aware of, the people of Thailand love their Royal Family and they worship them as though they were living Gods. Images of them are displayed in every store and home in the nation. So, in my judgment, for a foreigner to come to Thailand, choose this subject and make a film of it, is very controversial. All the journalists and newspaper entities questioned me about my subject selection. It was a touch and go situation, particularly when it came to the censors, just before the theatrical release in over 100 cinemas, here by Sahamonghol Distribution (the biggest and most powerful distributor in the country). I was very surprised that the film was shown for as long as it was in the cinemas, since its debut took place on the worst weekend of the
year. Our competition included ‘Flightplan’, with Jodie Foster, which had been number one in the US for three weeks; ‘Doom’, which was the new number one film in the US; ‘Wallace and Gromit’, which was number one in the UK and it was well on its way to grossing UK £48,000,000; ‘Act of Thunder’, another studio film, and four Thai films. It was an extremely difficult weekend for the film to prove successful and I was simply aiming at ensuring it would endure the weekend since, in Thailand, a film is pulled after two days if it doesn’t perform well.” Winters is contemplating to continue using the production facilities employed in the filming of ‘The King Maker’ in Thailand, he confirmed that he is very anxious to make another film there. In addition, this film’s success has also yielded new film production business opportunities for these facilities. He explains this rarity: “I think that an increasing number of filmmakers is becoming conscious of the opportunities for producing international films here in Thailand. ‘Rescue Dawn’, starring Christian Bale and directed by Werner Herzog, was filmed here. ‘Crash Bandits’, directed by John McTiernan, will also be shot here, so it seems as though the word is out. I’m very glad I have been able to contribute in helping the Thai film industry to flourish in any which way I could because I think they represent a very talented group of individuals. My film, by the way, is the first Thai film to be shot here in English.” Referring to his full slate of upcoming projects, he stated: “I start production on an animated family musical in April. This project will take me 2 to 3 years to complete and it is the result of a partnership with a Malaysian Company. It is a new and revolutionary concept, as the characters will literally come from the screen and go back into the screen, three times during the film. It is a new process that I have created and that I am calling ‘CineShow’. It has never, ever been seen in a film before and, NO, I am not speaking of 3D images, or holograms, these are strictly live people. I originally used this concept with Diana Ross and Alice Cooper so I know it is possible to create and I know how to do it. I have invited a writer over from the U.K., Sean J. Casey, to write two screenplays for me. One is about the first Chinese explorer, Zhenz, who discovered the Americas in 1421, seventy years prior to Columbus’ arrival and it is to be shot in China and Malaysia. It is based on a true story, therefore there have been some documentaries about it and this film is also a partnership with another Malaysian Company. Sean J. Casey has also been selected to write the screenplay for a published book, entitled ‘Bologna Re-Visited’, which was written by William Lie. This production will be filmed all over Europe. I partnered with Johannis Akkermans and William Lie for this production. It is based on a true story and it is a ‘Bourne Conspiracy’ type of film. I have another project on the go, called ‘The White House’, which will be shot just outside of Shanghai, China as well as in Russia. I have a Russian partner for this film. Igor Medvedev, who has been working for me for over 21 years in Russia, will now be the Associate Producer for this film. Each of these projects will include the participation of a major star, which will be announced just before shooting.” David Winter’s schedule is certainly very hectic, especially considering that he also has ten other films in the developmental stage at this time. His range of expertise and the varied subject matter of his productions, are going to deliver unparalleled work, which is certain to please audiences everywhere. D
Photos Source: Richard Bernard / TEN-Media
Sanjana with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
New York Based Fashionista With A Cause 90
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With past and present clients such as Paris Hilton and her sister Nicky, Alanis Morissette, Ivanka Trump, Amanda Hearst, Devon Aoki, Princess Sara al Saud of Saudi Arabia and Princess Olivia de Borbon of Spain, New York Customized
Sanjana with Actress Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha) and Actress Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil, The Fifth Element)
Fashion Designer turned AntiAIDS campaigner, Sanjana Jon
believes in using her fashion and the support of her celebrity clients to convey a very powerful message - “Global AIDS Awareness”
anjana Jon made her international fashion debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004 with a sexy lingerie and swimwear line. The Japanese Vogue-esque fashion bible, 25ANS Magazine, chose Jon alongside Gillian Hearst, Lauren Bush and Devon Aoki for its IT GIRL series. She was awarded the International Rising Star 2006 at Vancouver Fashion Week. Sanjana, who essentially designs for the global woman, credits her first fashion inspiration to have come from her grandmother. She picked up her threads in fashion during her stint as Marketing Director with her brother and Hi-Fashion designer Anand Jon, who’s men’s line caught the fancy of rock stars like Prince and Backstreet Boys. She went on to co-design his jewellery line, Adornments. Sanjana has worked with former Miss Universes Amelia Vega (2003), Jennifer Hawkins (04), Natalie Glebova(05) and Zuleyka Rivera(06), amongs others. Sanjana Jon’s trademark style is incorporating Italian silk with French lace and enhancing them with exquisite embroidery to resonate a fine balance between western sensibility and the rich eastern colour palettes.
By Richard Bernard New York Fashion Correspondent Photos courtesy of TEN-Media
Even though she’s made a name for herself within the high-society circles of New York by styling the rich and famous, she insists that her collections “are wearable silhouettes for the real women and created not just for the runway”. She believes in making clothes that enhance and highlight the best features in every woman. “Fashion is not about blindly wearing what is dictated as the current trend but has to be customised to work for the individual”. Sanjana Jon chose to showcase her collections for a purpose. Her fashion shows are used as a medium to convey a very powerful message - “AIDS Awareness”. The support from celebrities and high profile power players has made the “Sanjana Jon AIDS Awareness Tour” a great success globally. The campaign was launched with Amelia Vega and producer/director M. Night Shyamalan. The first tour was organised in India in 2004 and it was headed by Jennifer Hawkins and a group of international models. In 2005 Natalia Glebova, along with Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, walked the ramp for the highly acclaimed Sanjana Jon shows in India and released the tag line “Get Tested. Its in Fashion”. To announce a new tour of India, the organisation held a
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Promotional image for the 2005 Sanjana Jon AIDS Awareness Tour taken in New York with Miss Universe 05 Natalie Glebova
Sanjana’s fashion shows are used as a medium to convey a very powerful message - “AIDS Awareness”. 92
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press conference this past November at the United Nations headquarters in New York. In support of the program, Anand Jon and actors Kal Penn and Michelle Rodriguez were in attendance. The new tour was headed by Zuleyka Rivera who was joined by a group of 14 models and a team of celebrities committed to raise awareness and fight the AIDS pandemic that has taken over India in recent years. This amazing journey is captured on film in a documentary by Producer William Gibson (Rap Sheet: Hip-Hop and the Cops recently acquired by Universal Studios), who is directing the project spearheaded by Sanjana Jon and IG International. The film, Angels Over India: Seeing is Believing, is a behind-the-scenes look at the group of 14 models who have never travelled outside of the United States before joining the tour. The models witness extreme poverty and AIDS cases firsthand. Their perspective on life changes. They are motivated to return home and use their experience to inform and influence their own communities to address social issues of our time. The journey is led by Sanjana Jon from the concrete jungles of New York to the filthy poverty stricken slums of India. The film’s conflict is the contrast
Sanjana has been styling the rich and famous of New York’s high-society circles for years.
Natalie Glebova, Roger Moore and his wife Christina ‘Kiki’ Tholstrup
Sanjana visits an old-age home managed by nuns in India while on tour with Natalie Glebova
At home with Sanjana Jon
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Paris Hilton, Fashion Designer Anand Jon and Sanjana
With Sonia Ghandi at social event in India during the AIDS Awareness Tour
between the lifestyles of the super rich and famous in North America and those stricken by poverty in India. Ultimately, however, the message is evident: AIDS does not have any preference in caste, creed or culture. Plans are to screen the film at the UN and at major festivals around the world including Cannes and Sundance using the film medium to further the organisation’s awareness campaign. Sanjana, in her quest to making a difference in the lives of as many people as possible, is determined to use any of the mediums she has at hand - fashion, film or both to get her message across. For this petite beauty maintaining a constant presence within the Fashion Industry while growing her own line and continuing to make a difference in the world is a great challenge. Sanjana draws inspiration from life and real women to create her unique pieces: “I live every day as if it were my last. Death is so unpredictable we need to cherish and value life, people and the few precious moments we have on this planet. If I am able to make a difference in one life that means a lot to me. Here today. Gone tomorrow. But hopefully with a message that people relate to, using whatever medium I can, be it fashion, movies and/or entertainment. I am just a small pebble in this vast ocean, but being that pebble that starts with a ripple can make big waves!” D
Sanjana Jon AIDS Awareness show in Goa, India with Miss Universe 06 Zuleyka Rivera
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Donald Trump and Sanjana
“Fashion is not about blindly wearing what is dictated as the current trend but has to be customised to work for the individual”. Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 95
V I V I C A From lavish Cape Town to the heart of the Nigerian film industry, veteran Hollywood actress Vivica A. Fox has seen the diversity of the African continent. Speaking to Daria! magazine from her home in Los Angeles, Fox says that with celebrity comes an obligation to give back. By Emily Bowers Daria! â€˘ www.dariamagazine.com 97
A celebrity voice can bring
he contrasts that Africa offers are stark, and can leave most any visitor with lingering questions and wonders. There’s the Arabic northern Africa, the poverty – yet unyielding warmth – of the West and the relative opulence of wealthy enclaves in South Africa. And while Africa often gets painted with a wide brush in the popular culture of celebrity philanthropy and international politics – treated practically like one nation, instead of a diverse mix of 53 countries, and hundreds of sub-cultures within those borders – those sets of beliefs are often punctured with the outsider’s first breath of African air. For Vivica A. Fox, who has visited three distinct regions of the vast continent and languished in the pleasure and warmth but witnessed the poverty, it’s left a sense of amazement and hope, yet unease at the reality of life for the millions who live on the edge. “It’s always hard when I go to certain parts of Africa because it’s poor,” she said of a visit to Nigeria. “For me its always like wow, why don’t they do more for their people, it’s such a rich country, why don’t they build proper housing? So it’s kind of a mix for me. To be honest with you, I hate to see anybody suffering. To see some of the people; they’re poor, out begging on the streets, it depresses me.” Depression can be an understandable reaction on first glance – travelogues from early explorers’ journals to backpackers’ guides expound on the weight of poverty that some Africans struggle with each day. But Fox, who spoke in an exclusive interview for Daria! Magazine from her home in Los Angeles, also reminisces about the warm welcome she received by a local politician in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country. “We ended up running into a governor there and he ended up being so lovely,” she said. Fox was in West Africa’s Nigeria to co-host the African Movie Academy Awards with Louis Gossett Jr., a suitable role for a Hollywood mainstay. Her presence at the awards, dubbed the Oscars of Nollywood – the nickname for the local film industry – received attention from an enthusiastic Nigerian press. “Her lively speech moved all as she thanked God for making it possible for her to be ‘amongst my people’,” Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper wrote. “She also reminded all who have dreams not to forget the dreams because dreams do come true.” Fox was hosting the awards which honoured the best in
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“It’s always hard when I go to certain parts of Africa because it’s poor” the vibrant and prolific African film industry, which is dominated by a set of typically low-budget Nigerian films. Wildly popular through much of English-speaking Africa, the film industry makes hundreds of productions each year, rife with religious and moral themes that bring in a ribald comedy and a touch of animist beliefs in witchcraft that still figure prominently through some segments of society. The films are often over-the-top and theatrical, produced quickly and sent straight to markets on video compact disc to be played on televisions, transport buses and in bars and theatres. While the quality of Nollywood can be jarring for a Western viewer more used to the slick production of a highbudget Hollywood film, Fox said the value is in having Africans telling their own stories to their own people. “The fact that they’re making movies for me, and they’re giving people an employment opportunity, I’m sure in time they’ll get better and better,” she said. “They are a little generic, but people were entertained and that’s all that matters.” And they can provide valuable – and often eye-opening – insight for a foreigner into the local culture. “We become more educated about, oh, that’s how they are,” Fox said. The movie-making isn’t contained to Nigeria. Ghana also has a growing domestic film segment that has attracted increased attention both at home and from producers abroad. And bi-annually, Burkina Faso hosts what has become the most prestigious film festival on the continent, attracting scores of celebrities and buyers to see the best in African films at Fespaco in the capital Ouagadougou. The diversity of film-making on the continent is just as much as the diversity of the people themselves, and it’s one that’s attracted increased attention from Hollywood heavyweights eager to tell stories long ignored by the mainstream. The widely-celebrated Hotel Rwanda in 2004 brought American actor Don Cheadle into the role of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who sheltered hundreds during the height of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
necessary clout to any cause. Forrest Whittaker brought Ugandan dictator Idi Amin to Hollywood with 2006’s The Last King of Scotland and author John LeCarre’s The Constant Gardener, about drug trials and the inside of the foreign diplomatic community in Kenya, earned Rachel Weisz a best supporting actress Oscar. Hollywood’s interest in Africa may be rising, but that’s nothing new for Fox, who first went to North Africa a decade ago. In Morocco, she filmed 1997’s Solomon, playing the Queen of Sheba. Her first trip to Africa left her dissatisfied. “It was a little different for me, because it was very Arabic,” she said. “I didn’t really enjoy it as much because it was very poor and people didn’t speak very good English.” The former French protectorate has its own Hollywood sheen, with its urban centre Casablanca providing exotic backdrop for the Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman vehicle from 1942. But the full appreciation of the diversity of Africa was just one movie shoot away for Fox, who returned to the continent to shoot 2004’s Blast! with Eddie Griffith. Fox saw the lavish offerings of historic Cape Town in South Africa, a city which draws thousands of tourists each year for its picturesque European feel. However, the racial divide still prominent in South Africa just a decade after the end of apartheid left Fox thinking about a dark period in her own country’s history. “It kind of felt a little like, it reminded me of slavery days,” she said. “It was just old-fashioned, that was the main thing, but then it was very modern.” South African cinema has received a good chunk of the increased interest in telling the continent’s stories. Tim Robbins and newcomer Derek Luke brought the real-life story of an apartheid-era activist to theatres with 2006’s Catch a Fire. And the Academy Awards honoured Tsotsi with best foreign language film in 2006. Telling the story of a young thug in the black ghettos of Johannesburg, Tsotsi was filmed with an African cast, based on a novel by a South African writer. Africa’s attention hasn’t just come from filmmakers keen to catch on to the new attention being placed on the continent, it’s drawn out activism in many celebrities who augur for attention on issues like the ongoing crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. Fox, who focuses her philanthropic efforts on causes at home in the United States, says a celebrity voice can bring necessary clout to any cause.
“Making films, educating people, just bringing awareness as a celebrity is the best way I can help out; be it interviews or movies,” she said. “That’s my way of giving back.” Fox, who made eager note in the interview to heap thankful praise on her fans who have followed her as an actress, producer and now magazine editor (her Jolie magazine hit news-stands recently and covers issues on health and beauty for African-American women), said celebrities can tap into their fan base to get their charitable message out. “We’re always telling women, go to your OBGYN, get your exams, get your mammograms after you turn 40. Whatever is it, make sure you’re taking care of you.” With women’s causes such as breast cancer and domestic violence among the top of her list of concerns, Fox said she educated herself in the course of her advocacy, especially during direct discussions with victims of domestic violence. “The simplest things for them to have a TV, to have a radio, to turn on a computer, to have a robe, to have soap, to have their own things, you have no idea how much it helps them.” After listing off a roster of her upcoming projects, Vivica A. Fox made special mention of thanks for her fans who have followed her lengthy career on the small and large screens. Fox said she always tries to portray strong female characters, the kind that can inspire those fans she adores to find their own strength. D
“Making films, educating people, just bringing awareness as a celebrity is the best way I can help out; be it interviews or movies”
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For a moment of pleasure between sea and sky
Mediterranean accent with Le Pistou restaurant
Global Social Entrepreneurship
Bill Drayton, Ashoka chief executive officer, at Ashoka offices in Arlington, VA
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“Any human who has given himself or herself permission and who has mastered empathy, teamwork, and leadership can change the world,” Ashoka’s founder Bill Drayton said in an exclusive interview for Daria!.
By Emily Bowers
n urban slums in India, youth are taught to spread an awareness message about sanitation and hygiene to promote good health. In Burkina Faso, unused European and North American anti-retroviral drugs are distributed to HIV/AIDS patients. And in France, integrated sports and educational programs help close gaps in societal understanding among disabled and able-bodied people. The wide scope of these projects, and hundreds of others just as varied, have one thing in common: they are spearheaded by social entrepreneurs, people who have ideas and action plans about how to change their worlds. And they all come under the umbrella of the Ashoka Foundation. For two-and-a-half decades, Ashoka Foundation has sought out people who find new, innovative ways to address a need they’ve discovered in their community. Ashoka ideas may start small, but they expand, in many cases being replicated elsewhere and even changing government policies. Founded in 1981, Ashoka is the culmination of Drayton’s youthful inspirations, growing up in Manhattan during a time of major social change in the United States. “I grew up at the time of and was very much influenced by the civil rights movement, in which I played a modest role from high school on,” Drayton says. “I could not understand why I was tortured with Latin and math when I loved history and geography.”
That interest in history and the changing times took him around the world to India at the age of 19, “one of the world’s three great civilisations and the home of the Gandhian revolution that, along with so much else, defined our civil rights movement,” Drayton says. In India, Drayton says he was affected by a need to find a way to equalise the largely developed equatorial North and the impoverished South. “I was confronted with the urgent need to find a way to help close the NorthSouth gap, to speed the democratisation process,” he says. Drayton studied at Harvard and law at Yale University. He was active on the campuses to further develop his theories of social change. While it was the time of change and development that inspired Drayton, Ashoka’s roots of promoting entrepreneurship are also deep in his childhood. “I have always been an entrepreneur personally, beginning with a series of newspapers in elementary school,” he says. Drayton says it was his parents, an American father who became an explorer at a young age and an Australian mother, a young cellist, who planted early seeds that would allow him to take chances in life. He was given opportunities that, he says, few young people are allowed. “The chief reason that we live in a world where so few people are changemakers, a world that continues to be ruled by small elites, is that we prevent all but the children of the elite from being powerful,
Ashoka ideas may start small, but they expand, in many cases being replicated elsewhere and even changing government policies.
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of causing change when they are 12 and 14 and 17,” Drayton says. But, if young people are allowed to do develop their ideas and creativity at an early age, Drayton says that will translate into adults who are leaders in the future. “They know that they have already changed the world,” he says.
In developing Ashoka’s ideals, Drayton came up with the concept of “changemakers”. These are people who spot problems in their community and develop new ways of solving them. Part of Ashoka’s goal is to make everyone a changemaker, empower each person to find innovative solutions to the problems in their worlds. In the world of non-governmental organisations and deep-pocket philanthropy, Drayton’s Ashoka stands out. Across the world, some 2,000 fellows, as they are called, have pitched their idea to Ashoka and secured support and funding. The ideas are as diverse as you might expect from an international platform, but they all have a few basic tenets in common, Drayton says. Fellows are chosen by specially-trained nominators at Ashoka. “All these people must individually come to the positive conclusion that they believe, more probably than not, that this idea and this person together will change the pattern in the field he or she is addressing (environment, human rights, etc.) significantly and on a continental scale,” Drayton says.
Nominators will look at four separate criteria when assessing both the idea, and the person, including whether the person is creative in setting goals and solving problems. They also examine whether the person has a strong entrepreneurial quality, which Drayton defines specifically: “That means that he or she is both married to the idea and equally focused on how to make the pieces come together, how to solve the myriad problems that come up day by day, and how to move the idea from concept to the new pattern,” Drayton says, adding his own emphasis. “It also means that he or she is entirely realistic and open to the environment.” Nominators also try to determine whether the person is of a “strong ethical fiber”; whether the person is trustworthy. And finally, nominators examine whether the idea itself has merit: whether it will be so “new and practical” that it will be taken up and spread by people already working in the field, Drayton says. For fellows, there’s a heavy responsibility to take up Ashoka’s ideals. “We expect two things of fellows,” Drayton says. “First, they will change the pattern in
Part of Ashoka’s goal is to make everyone a changemaker, empower each person to find innovative solutions to the problems in their worlds.
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their field on a continental scale. Second, that they will be central actors in moving the world towards its “everyone a changemaker” future — both because they are powerful role models and because, to succeed, they must recruit local changemakers in community after community after community to take up their ideas and run with them. “I think that the second impact is almost certainly more important even than the first.” Drayton’s Ashoka has evolved thoroughly in the years since it was founded and chose its first fellows. With obvious links to Drayton’s own upbringing and his belief in the power of youth, Ashoka’s Youth Venture aims to show young people they can become leaders of social change at an early age. Operating in a handful of countries, Youth Venture encourages young people to develop and implement their own problem-solving plans for social development. “We hope to create a global movement analogous to the women’s movement or the civil rights movement to ensure that all young people are changemakers so that they can be changemakers for life,” Drayton says. In India, through the Change Looms program, Ashoka has recognised the work of some young leaders, including three students in Chennai who launched a series of school workshops to promote dialogue about child sexual abuse. And in Bombay, two former street kids have worked to get some 50 of their peers off the streets, providing food, shelter, and advice on where to get vocational training. Apart from Youth Venture, Ashoka is developing in several other areas. The Law For All Initiative aims to promote legal rights to marginalised groups of society and the Full Economic Citizenship project aims to increase participation of those living in poverty in local and global economies.
These Ashoka initiatives bring together work being done by fellows around the world, something Drayton says the foundation will do more of as it moves into the future. “By taking each Fellow’s inevitably partial answer and laying them out side by side, we can see the overall pattern in each field in an entirely new and extremely powerful way,” he says. “We believe that this mosaic process will eventually become the core and defining process for our field.” When Drayton founded Ashoka, he says he had to develop the term “social entrepreneur” that has become the calling card for the foundation. And even though the ideas have spread across the world, he says they still encounter problems when people stumble on the meaning of the world entrepreneur. “They use the word with about as much understanding as I use the word ‘physicist’,” Drayton says. And even though the idea has spread, Drayton sees its misuse sometimes. “The field has developed enormously rapidly over the last 26 years, and now the problem is more that everyone is calling themselves a social entrepreneur,” he says. The term entrepreneur evokes images of a driven, hardworking business person, and Drayton says there are obvious links. “Now the citizen sector has become as entrepreneurial and competitive as business,” he says. “Anyone can enter the field. If he or she has an idea and can implement it, and he or she will gain market share and reputation and resources and access and his or her family’s respect just as much a businessperson does.” And the citizen sector has exploded, Drayton says. “Just as Thailand was able to grow very rapidly for decades because it was catching up with the developed countries, so the citizen sector has been growing explosively because it has had a similarly relatively high productivity growth rate as it catches up with business,” he says.
Across the world, some 2,000 fellows have pitched their idea to Ashoka and secured support and funding.
“Now the citizen sector has become as entrepreneurial and competitive as business. Anyone can enter the field.”
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Business and social entrepreneurship have ways of coming together in learning and growth. “Now that consequently the (citizen) field has closed and is closing the historical productivity gap between it and business rapidly, these two halves of society’s operations have the possibility of coming together and collaborating to a degree that would have been unimaginable even ten years ago,” Drayton says. Ashoka has evolved over its nearly three-decade-long existence. Ashoka staff and members are constantly learning, adapting and improving, Drayton says, as they strive to understand the rapidly changing needs of the developing citizen sector. Drayton has been widely honoured for his work in developing Ashoka. In 2005, he was named one of America’s Best Leaders by the U.S. News & World Report and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. His alma mater, Yale University’s law school, awarded him its highest honor for alumni, the Yale Law School Award of Merit for his contribution to public service. Drayton has a ready answer for sceptics who may dismiss his work, despite all the plaudits he has earned. “Anyone who just gives themselves permission can be a social entrepreneur or changemaker. Just, politely and kindly, do not pay attention to all the people who are made uncomfortable by your doing something they denied themselves and who therefore tell you that you cannot do that!” D
Fellow Javed Abidi from India (center in a wheelchair - with diamond patterned sweater) was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998. His organisation, the National Advocacy Network, is working to make legislative rights and economic opportunities a reality for the disabled in India. He establishes partnerships with business and the government to create equitable employment of the disabled.
Fellow Rodrigo Baggio (center) with students from the Cantagalo slum in Rio de Janeiro. Baggio, from Brazil, was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996. His rapidly growing organisation, Committee for Democracy in Information Technology or CDI, trains young people from low-income communities in computer skills to expand their job opportunities and their access to modern society.
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Photos Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Warren Buffett signs pledge letters to his family and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
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This year, the
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
will invest millions more in programs around the world, from African AIDS to American education. And with the added support of Buffett and the hope of thousands behind them, the foundation is moving ahead with its mandate that “every life is of equal value”. By Emily Bowers
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n a busy street in the Ghanaian capital Accra, a woman collapses, falling dangerously close to the fast-moving traffic. People flock around her, lifting her up and placing her on a blanket at the side of the road. But she doesn’t wake. There are no doctors, no blood tests or diagnoses here, but her puffed face bathed in sweat – despite the thick layers of clothing she’s wrapped herself in to ward off her continuous shivering – tell the obvious tale of malaria, and probably cerebral malaria, the most deadly and the most common kind here in Ghana, West Africa.
Malaria here is so mundanely regular. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say every Ghanaian will probably suffer from the disease at some point in their lives. It’s also an especially mean disease: children under the age of five, with the young immune systems, and pregnant women, their bodies weakened with the burden of new life are malaria’s easiest and usual targets. It’s been estimated that one million African children die of malaria each year. Millions more will fall seriously ill. So when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation added malaria to the list of deadly diseases they are fighting with their philanthropy, it gave a boost to researchers and brought new attention to this prolific killer. The Gates Foundation was formed in 2000, using money made by the Microsoft founder. Since then, the Foundation has sponsored programs both at home in the United States and across the world in developing countries, with a bulk of that work happening in Africa. Driven by the belief that all life has equal value, the Gates Foundation is one of the largest philanthropic organisations in the world, a fitting title given Bill Gates’ own position as the world’s richest man. In the U.S., the Gates Foundation has been funding literacy and education programs, especially in America’s schools, an offshoot of work that started through Microsoft’s Online Libraries initiative in the 1990s. In 2005, Bill and Melinda Gates were named, along with rock star Bono, as Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year for their charitable work and re” Brochu m a r in June 2006, Gates g o lth Pr bal Hea lo G “ announced his plans to n atio s Found e t a G a move away from daylind ill & Me B : e c / r u s to-day work with So vaccine y e basic s easil e treceiv s Microsoft to focus o a n e s o i d from d ong tion ntries ch year uniza ing cou nus,am a p m a t e o m l d e I more on his philane t e i o v d d o e n — h ildren— ren in d ussis,a n be available Child : hem ch on child ia,pert t Facts i o F r l f o l E e i o s h C thropy. f l I t l m l i h a N 7 p w ear,2 and U than h les,di ing ccines Everyy eople— m ore g m eas / W H O ved byincreas hich va n i w d n r u l e o The foundation’s f c r p d n — n ,i n be sa em chil coccus 2 m illio w ith vaccines neum o alfofth ion children ca new vaccines p h d d n e t n a n a h global programs t e ore prev virus ducing 10 m ill / Rota e every year,m lives of em s,and intro e s r h t e l h 5 t p 1 have focused on o 11 peo e syst and 20 m illion alth car n 2006 kill2.1 betw ee ,im proving he t areas of health and a h t e t ccines estim a basic va o development. t s s e acc
Malaria, along with immunisations, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and child and maternal health are among the components of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, which has received some $6 billion in funds, according to the foundation. Along with the search for a vaccine, the foundation funds malaria prevention and treatment programs. Carried by mosquitoes, malaria is a parasite that was eradicated in North America in the 1950s. But it thrives in sub-Saharan Africa’s tropical climate, fuelled by poverty in countries like Ghana where some 40 percent of the population still live on less than $2 a day. For the researchers looking for an effective vaccine, the influx of money from the Gates Foundation, along with support from pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, has meant a world of difference. “The (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) has revolutionised work on malaria vaccines as well as work on all other malaria interventions,” said Dr. Carolyn Petersen,
director of clinical and regulatory affairs at the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. “A widely used vaccine that prevents half of severe malaria, the type that causes death, would be expected to have a marked effect on the death rate of children,” Petersen said. “In addition, a decrease in overall malaria cases will relieve pressure on the health care system for outpatient and inpatient visits.” Right now, there are 12 vaccine candidates being tested, with one in late stage development in Africa, Petersen said. “We are working in seven centres in five countries now and plan to add additional sites so that we will be working in 10 research centres by the end of 2007,” Petersen said. “An additional three vaccine candidates are in early human trials.” In malaria endemic countries, children are given three immunisations one month apart, then are closely monitored. Petersen said the Gates Foundation funding has helped them expand their portfolio of vaccine candidates. “(The funding) means that it is possible to do these trials
Driven by the belief that all life has equal value,
the Gates Foundation is one of the largest phil-
anthropic organisation in the world.
New York Public Library: Warren Buffett and the Gateses with Town Hall meeting participants
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which are expensive as they involve large numbers of children and a very exacting collection of data for regulatory agency scrutiny before licensure,” she said. “It means that we have been able to develop a robust pipeline of new candidate vaccines for evaluation.” Among urgent issues in Africa, malaria is certainly high up on the list. But it’s not the only problem on the continent that’s gotten the attention of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While Africa is increasingly becoming urbanised, a vast majority of the pop-
Western governments. But recently, a boost of attention from the Gates Foundation and its partners has given new impetus to the growing call for a so-called Green Revolution for Africa. In the 1940s, the Rockefeller Foundation began a movement to use science and technology combined with government policy to increase crop yields of small-scale farmers in Mexico. The program expanded to Colombia, India and The Philippines and further into Latin America and Asia. But, according to the Rockefeller
A library outreach worker in Jhuwani shows elderly people in the village the books from the mobile library she runs from her home [India]
“I believe that what they are planning is going to work for Africa, and Africa needs to be business unusual, it’s not usual,” said Jones. In his spacious, air-conditioned office in a quiet suburb of Ghana’s capital city Accra, Jones heads up the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). With a mandate from the African Union and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), FARA brings together government agencies, NGOs and agricultural research groups both inside and outside Africa. The goal of the five-year-old body is to increase agricultural growth in Africa by 6 percent annually by 2015. That’s a long way to go from the current 2 percent, Jones says. “We want food to be available and affordable,” he says. “So if you do not produce what you eat you can buy it.” Jones is a member of the board of the Gates and Rockefeller Foundation’s Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. In the area of crop science, Jones is already a recognised authority. The Sierra Leone native developing a hybrid rice, a combination of Asian and African rice called NERICA, or New Rice for Africa.
In September 2006, ulation live in rural communities where farming of staple crops is the means to survival. Any bad crop, drought or dry season can mean the difference between life and death for the scores of subsistence farmers on the continent. Lower crop yields come from exhausted, unfertilised soil. Like malaria, the plight of farmers didn’t get a whole lot of international attention, outside of a handful of nongovernment organisations and a few international development wings of 110
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Foundation, Africa missed the Green Revolution. The Gates Foundation is now jumping on board the plan by the Rockefeller Foundation to revive the revolution and bring it to Africa. Despite that the continent has received millions in public and private aid over more than a generation, the Gates’ money isn’t being viewed as just another donation to poor Africans. To people like Monty Jones, this might be Africa’s last best hope.
the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations joined in partnership on the Green Revolution.
“We want food to be available and affordable,” ... “So if you do not produce what you eat you can buy it.”
disseminating technology to as many farmers as possible.” Using what’s already working on the ground in Africa is what has helped give Jones encouragement that the Gates funding may finally make a difference in widespread agricultural development. “It’s not Bill Gates sitting in Seattle telling us what we should do,” he said. “It’s us telling Bill Gates this is what works.” “I think it’s a God send to Africa that somebody like Bill and Melinda Gates would be interested in our agri-
that those improved seeds get to more farmers who need them. While the Gates Foundation’s funding has provided a boost to African development issues, the Foundation itself has gotten some notable help recently. In June 2006, Warren Buffett pledged ten million shares annually of his Berkshire Hathaway stock – amounting to over $30 billion – to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. At a press conference to announce the donation, Melinda Gates said she was “absolutely honoured and humbled”.
African Center for Crop Improvement (ACCI) greenhouse projects, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. July 2006. (Sharon Farmer/Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)
The crop has spread slowly but steadily around some parts of Africa, as farmers see the benefits of user a higher-yielding, more resistant crop. Jones sees the potential for NERICA’s success to be replicated with scores of other African staple crops like maize and cassava. In developing NERICA, one of the key challenges Jones sought to address was “how do we disseminate it so that every farmer in every corner that wants those technologies will get them,” he said. That kind of mentality can be spread to all areas of technological development that the Gates Foundation is now promoting, Jones said. African farmers can be innovative on their own, but they work in isolation, with little communication between villages. Ideas don’t spread beyond their communities. “The problem that we face is that we haven’t been able to help these farmers in the past,” he said. “Farmers must have a voice in the development of technology from the onset. We are saying they should be involved at the implementation.” “The Bill (and Melinda) Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation … will use this approach of
cultural development. It’s a God send and it means a lot for Africa.” In September 2006, the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations issued a joint press release announcing their partnership on the Green Revolution. The investment started with $100 million from Gates and $50 million from Rockefeller for the Program for Africa’s Seed Systems, or PASS. That comprises development of improved crop varieties, training for African crop scientists and ensuring
“It’s really unprecedented in terms of what we can do to do good in the world, and it’s something that we take very seriously,” she said at the press conference. “I think when you give away your own wealth it’s one thing, but to give away the body of somebody else’s life work is really quite something.” It’s an apt partnership: Buffet is the world’s second-richest man, behind Gates, thanks to a career of astute investing. The amount he pledged to Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 111
the Gates Foundation has become the largest philanthropic donation in United States history. Buffett said he wanted to support the work being done by the Gates Foundation with his money and while he pledged a smaller portion of funds to the charitable organisations of his children, the move was consistent with his long-stated pledge regarding inheritance: “I want to give my kids enough so that they could feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.” While the Gates Foundation rode something of a public relations high in 2006, early in 2007 a series of reports in the Los Angeles Times showed the other side of philanthropy.
Warren Buffett’s pledge of over $30 billion to the Gates Foundation has become the largest philanthropic donation in United States history. “It’s really unprecedented in terms of what we can do to do good in the world, and it’s something that we take very seriously.” Melinda Gates An investigation by the newspaper showed that several corporations where the Gates Foundation invests is money – in hopes of making profitable returns to keep the foundation running – have corporate social responsibility records that conflict with the good works of the foundation. While originally deciding to review all its investments after the Los Angeles Times articles, the Gates Foundation subsequently defended its investing decisions, saying in a statement that criteria used for judging companies’ corporate social responsibility is open to interpretation. “Bill and Melinda oversee the investment of the foundation’s endowment. In giving guidance to the investment managers, they have chosen not to get involved in ranking companies based upon factors such as their lending policies or environmental record,” foundation chief operating officer Cheryl Scott said in a statement posted on their website. “There are dozens of factors that could be considered, almost all of which are outside the foundation’s areas of expertise.” 112
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Melinda Gates and family visit the KARI Research Center for an agriculture roundtable and a tour of the Muguga Field Station. Muguga, Kenya. March 5, 2006
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In Africa, malaria is so mundanely regular. It’s been estimated that one million African children die from the disease each year while millions more fall seriously ill. “The (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) has revolutionised work on malaria vaccines as well as work on all other malaria interventions.”
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Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “Global Health Program Brochure”
Facts: M alaria 350million to 500million malaria ections inf cur oc annuall y, and at eastl 1million peopl e die of malaria veryeear y / 2,000Afric an childr en die of malaria very eday/ Malaria accountsor f upo thalf of all al hospit admis sions in some parts of a, Afric andamfilies can spend a quarter oftheir incom e on the disease / Ensuring allpeople atrisk hav e bed nets andectiv effe tr eatment ould c cut malaria deaths in half by 2010, and in half again by 2015
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Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation â€œGlobal Health Program Brochureâ€?
Facts: Tuberculosis One-third ofpeople on earth have been infected w ith TB / TB kills nearly 2 m illion people every year / CurrentTB diagnostics failto identify atleasthalfofcases / TB is now the leading killer ofpeople w ith H IV/AIDS / Increasing access to TB treatm ent could pr event 14 million TB deaths ver the o xt ne 10 years
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The Many Faces of Carlos Slim Helu, Latin America’s wealthiest businessman.
Like Bill Gates, he’s built a business; like Warren Buffet he’s done astoundingly well with strategic acquisitions. And, like Gates and Buffet, Slim gets pleasure out of giving away part of his riches. An avid public promoter of social reform, Slim operates not one charitable foundation but two, with a combined asset value total of $3.7 billion.
By Kenneth Emmond
ou can hardly go anywhere in Mexico these days without dealing with Carlos Slim. When you pick up a phone, nine times out of 10 it will be connected to Slim’s Teléfonos Mexicanos (Telmex). If you’re on a cell, there’s an 80 percent chance it’s part of his Movistar Company. When you go on the internet, you might use Telmex’s Infinitum, the leading service provider. If you get together with someone for lunch, there’s a good chance you’ll meet at Sanborn’s, his department store-restaurant chain. Or, you can shop at Sears, where he has a majority interest. To get cash you can go to an ATM operated by his bank, Inbursa. If you smoke, you might buy a pack of Marlboros or Benson & Hedges, products of Phillip Morris Mexico, where he owns a major interest. Forbes, the magazine that keeps tabs on the world’s richest people, estimates the total value of his assets at a tad less than $50 billion, while other sources report his fortune to have reached $53 billion in early 2007. As an investor and businessman, Slim is a Mexican combination of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Like Gates, he’s built a business; like Buffet he’s done astoundingly well with strategic acquisitions. And, like Gates and Buffet and many before them who have built large fortunes, Slim gets pleasure out of giving away part of his riches. In fact, in 2004 he left the day-to-day running of his businesses to his six sons and daughters so that he could spend more time as chairman of the World Education and Development Fund and his other charity projects. A cynical observer might say it’s just a tactic to offset some of the controversy over how he made his billions, but there’s an unmistakable element of noblesse oblige. Slim likes to say, “With great wealth comes great responsibility.” He’s reached the financial pinnacle in the crucible of Mexico’s unequal milieu of lifestyle and opportunity, but he’s also a public promoter of social reform. Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 117
Anyone who succeeds in a business environment like Mexico’s has to have a thick skin and be prepared to compromise.
Anyone who succeeds in a business environment like Mexico’s has to have a thick skin and be prepared to compromise on some ideals. So, there’s been controversy, too. The venture that propelled Slim into the big leagues, financially speaking, and the most controversial one, was the $1.7 billion deal that gave him control of the former national telephone monopoly, the money-losing giant Teléfonos Mexicanos, in 1990. It was during the heady days of privatisation, when the President of the day, Carlos Salinas, was privatising government-owned companies as part of Mexico’s modernising process. The company’s monopoly ended more than a decade ago but Telmex, with its infrastructure and the lion’s share of subscribers already in place, had a running start on the newcomers, and has remained by far the sector’s leader and price-setter. We’ll never know if Slim’s friendship with the President played a part in sealing the deal, but because of it, his critics
Slim used Telmex profits and equally important, his talents as a turnaround specialist, to buy and improve other companies. However, he showed his social conscience and his regional outlook long before making his first billion. He set up his first charitable fund, the Carso Foundation, in 1986. The Carso Foundation is comprised of shares of a company with the unwieldy name Impulsora de Desarrollo y el Empleo en América Latina (Driving Force of Development and Employment in Latin America). It manages projects throughout the region. Unlike most philanthropists, Slim operates not one charitable foundation but two. Together, they have a total of $3.7 billion dollars in assets - $1.2 billion in the Telmex Foundation, which was set up in 1996, and $2.5 billion in the Carso Foundation. A statement from Slim’s office says in part: “The mission of both foundations is to be the instrument for effective creative and permanent programs of high impact and coverage that contribute to the integral development of Mexicans, allowing them to become active participants in a globalised world. The vision is to contribute to Mexico through programs of education, health, nutrition, justice, culture, human development, environment, sport, and aid in natural disaster, generating opportunities that encourage the integral development of Mexicans.” To ensure that the money is spent efficiently and effec-
Long before making his first billion, he set up his first charitable fund, the Carso Foundation, in 1986. nicknamed Telmex “Carlos and Charlie’s,” a parody on the name of a well-known chain of discos at Mexico’s beach resorts and the first name of both men. In Mexico, perhaps even more than elsewhere, there are business realities that idealists would rather not face. But, if Telmex was to be privatised, who better to sell it to than a turnaround artist who wanted to make it the crown jewel in his portfolio? The Telmex success story is a stark contrast to the sad saga of other privatisations. That’s especially true in the banking sector, where many new owners, also friends of Salinas, literally took the money and ran. They made off with billions of dollars of assets, leaving the entire sector insolvent; a $100-billion public bailout was the result. Instead of doing that, Slim engineered the turnaround of the century. He replaced ageing equipment that had been neglected since Telmex was nationalised in 1972, and put an end to the frustrating months-long waiting period new subscribers routinely had to endure before being connected. Since the takeover, he’s invested an average of $1.7 billion per year in maintaining, improving, and expanding the company. Service improved by an order of magnitude, Telmex turned into a profitable entity, and Slim became a billionaire. 118
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tively, the foundations are run by a minimum of staff; the Telmex Foundation has just 10 people. The foundations put special emphasis on providing services and support for Mexico’s rural poor. One of the goals is to provide low-cost telephone services to rural communities. That benefit is broader than it might appear, and it fits right in with Telmex’s resources: it includes providing schools and libraries with computers and internet service. The foundation has interests in health as well as education. It hires surgeons and medical doctors and sends them to remote areas to assist and train local doctors and surgeons. One of its best-known activities is providing scholarships for deserving students from low-income families. To broaden the perspectives of these students, it organises forums in which they share experiences and attend lectures by prominent speakers. Lecturers in the past have included retired statesmen like Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union; former U.S. President Bill Clinton; and former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González. A little-known activity is providing bail bonds for lowincome defendants charged with petty crimes, who cannot afford to pay bail. Under Mexico’s justice system, even
before being brought before a judge they might have to pay $100 to $300 dollars bail for a misdemeanor – amounts they often cannot raise. In a system under which the accused is guilty until proven innocent, this means many of those who cannot afford to bribe court officials languish in prison, sometimes for weeks or months, before having their day in court. Worse, many rural Indian defendants cannot speak Spanish and have no understanding of the justice system. They end up in the prison system, where they are in danger of learning to be real criminals. The latest report from the foundations shows that they have provided 154,759 scholarships, 194,755 rural surgeries, 3,615 transplants, and financial support for more than 50,000 other programs, institutions, and individuals. The foundation makes available companies’ resources and infrastructure to provide support during natural disasters. One recent case was support provided to combat flooding in the state of Coahuila, on the northern border. Funds are also distributed for scientific research; many projects are in the telecommunications, construction, and new technology sectors. Instead of putting more money into the two foundations, Slim is adopting the strategy, increasingly popular among charitable entities, of encouraging others to partner in their projects. Last September he pledged to match funds from other charitable donors on a dollar-for dollar basis. In the year 2000, Slim organised the Mexico City Historic Downtown Foundation. Its goal, promoted by the city’s prominent businessmen, is to revitalise the downtown area. Like the core area of many cities, Mexico City’s historic centre was becoming increasingly seedy, and the destruction caused by the huge 1985 earthquake had still not been cleared away, making matters even worse. The growth in the number of excavations, construction cranes, and rapidly rising new buildings in the downtown area attests to success of the program. Slim has been Chairman of the Executive Committee for Restoring the Historic Centre since 2001. Slim is clearly troubled by the culture of inequality and injustice that he sees in Mexico. Though money can’t buy social justice as such, he is using his wealth to try to make things better. Slim wasn’t born into poverty but he’s done well by any measure. His father, Julian Slim, arrived in Mexico from Lebanon as a teenager in 1902. He made his fortune by taking a real estate gamble – buying prime Mexico City property in the midst of the Mexican Revolution, when few others had the courage to bet on the city’s future. He died in 1952 when Carlos, the second youngest, was just 12 years old, but left his six children enough money to live comfortably. Outside the Historic Downtown Foundation, Slim has
Unlike most philanthropists, Slim operates two charitable foundation with a combined total of $3.7 billion dollars in assets.
personally spent heavily on Mexico City’s Historical Centre in the downtown area. In a way this brings the Slim family’s fortunes full circle. During the 1980s Slim learned the skills of a turnaround specialist. He bought distressed companies at bargain prices, made them more efficient, and watched their prices skyrocket during the recovery. And so, there are many ways of looking at Carlos Slim. Some see him as a robber baron who snapped up Teléfonos Mexicanos at bargain prices and joined the ranks of the super-rich. These same critics see him as a monopolist, who charges Mexicans some of the highest telephone rates in the world to consolidate his wealth, though he answers that, unlike many monopolists, he has vastly improved the level of service. Others recognise the business skills he has applied to Telmex, modernising and improving it, to prepare for the competition he knew would come, and his astute purchases of other businesses that assured the continued growth of his fortune. He can also be seen as a visionary, who believes that in the fast-moving electronic world telephone services will be offered free one day soon, as part of a package that includes cable television and the world-wide web. And so, he is again preparing for the future, this time by investing heavily in these related services. Then there’s Carlos Slim the social reformer, who makes known his views about needed reforms in Mexico, and who has been a leader among Mexican businessmen in investing to re-invent and renovate downtown Mexico City. There is also Carlos Slim the philanthropist, who has not only established a multi-billion-dollar foundation to back up his social reform talk, but has aimed it at Mexico’s underprivileged. Finally, there is Carlos Slim the internationalist, who not only is investing heavily in telecommunication companies throughout Latin America, but is also spreading his philanthropic activities throughout the region. Like John D. Rockefeller a century ago, Slim made his fortune in the business environment he found, and like Rockefeller, he’s using part of that wealth to make a better world. D
“With great wealth comes great responsibility.” Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 119
THE FILM ACADEMY Kingsley Sam Obed looks to a bright future for the arts in West Africa
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By Jane Delson
he Film Academy of Ghana was realized in May 2005 and it is the first organization of its kind in West Africa and the brilliant idea of its Chairman, Bruno Pischiutta, who named Pastor Kingsley Sam Obed to serve as its CEO. It defined the onset of a long term plan aimed at launching a global wealth of film schools intended to generate professional cinematography and slated to offer genuine excellence, to the film industry, originating from unique talent pools worldwide. The creation of the Film Academy of Ghana had its roots during the beginning stages of Punctured Hope. This major motion picture was realized as a result of a fruitful and exciting co-operation between Pischiutta and Obed, a local writer, with extensive experience writing scripts for regional film producers, theatres and television programming. Obed’s work ranges from drama to comedy and his knowledge of native Ghanaian history and culture proved invaluable. He introduced the theme of trokosi (a tribal cultural practice that promotes the continued enslavement, mutilation and sexual abuse of West Africa’s young girls and women) for a feature film, which developed into a collaboration with Pischiutta in order to create the screenplay for Punctured Hope. The film was shot in Kpobikofe, a small village just outside of Accra - Ghana’s capital city. The visions of Pischiutta, Obed and Daria Trifu (The Academy’s President) conceptualized by creating a world-class film using an allAfrican cast and a predominantly all-African crew. The project marked the first time a North American film production company had ventured so far a-field of traditional casting methods and it ultimately gave rise to the Toronto Pictures Film Academy of Ghana. The Academy has been listed and registered as a member of the International Artist Alliance, a body responsible for Actors and Actresses across Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. The International Artist Alliance was launched in Accra, Ghana on April 8th 2006 and Kingsley Obed was elected as its Chairman. Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 121
The Academy’s expansive curriculum embraces all aspects of filmmaking – from acting and directing, to lighting and set design – among many other skill sets requisite in the making of a movie. Members of the professional Ghana Actors Guild serve as adjunct faculty to the Academy, where classes are held twice weekly with frequent guest lecturers. The students, who currently number over one hundred, are required to shoot short films, which are then critiqued by both the institution’s faculty and their peers. Occasional public screenings are held where local residents may attend and audience reaction serves as its own useful instructive. The Academy’s physical plant is very small and spare by Western standards, offering a single studio and a classroom, but Toronto Pictures has plans well in motion to expand the facility, as it is simultaneously committed to enhancing the Kpobikofe community. In fact, the Canadian company is donating a significant portion of Punctured Hope’s profits to a Foundation whose priority is the provision of various improvements for the village where the movie was filmed.
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“The role of educators at the Academy, is to continue giving voice to victims of injustice in all forms, and to afford artists in all aspects of cinematic production the opportunity to produce films that meet the global industry’s highest standards”.
A year-end celebration and Awards Ceremony Gala, was held for the outstanding Actors and Actresses of the Academy. Belinda Siamey was awarded with the International Star award for her rendition of Edinam in Punctured Hope, which brought immediate intensity and credibility to the film. Ruffy Quansah Jr. was voted Best Actor and Joseph Havor received the Comedian of the Year award. Monica Osei Tutu received the Best Actress award for the leading role in a local movie entitled Prodigal, which was shot by members of the Academy. The nominations were the result of collective votes by the Academy members. Obed, who is also a Pastor in Accra’s Word Aflame Ministries, sees
the founding of The Film Academy of Ghana as nothing less than Providential for aspiring cinema artists in West Africa. “Toronto Pictures’ involvement in our village is literally an answered prayer”, he states passionately. “It has afforded a new future for the foundering film industry here, by reviving the belief that we can educate our young people to be competitive in acting, writing, directing, producing and marketing films that are viable internationally.” “More than merely creating enthusiasm and hope”, Obed notes, “Toronto Pictures’ Academy has provided Ghana the means to achieve a greater film presence internationally.” Trifu reaffirms Obed’s sentiments by emphasizing the potential that the Academy’s
associates have, to ultimately represent the conceptualization of Africa to the world in any of the upcoming projects that they take part in. “It is remarkable that a North American company with no established financial interests in our country, has made such a long-term commitment to our community”, Obed observes. “Bruno Pischiutta has proven himself to be much more than a film-maker. He has clearly chosen to use the Arts as a means to affect social and political change …to enhance the quality of the lives he has encountered, here, without changing the essential cultural content of the community”. Daria Trifu explains in further detail: “We don’t just want to make
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movies; we want to make movies that educate, inspire and move people towards change proactively. Our artistic mission is to elevate awareness and influence political and cultural consciousness globally, regarding issues of moment, not only to Africa, but to human rights internationally.” Obed reiterates the significance of Punctured Hope in addressing human rights violations and in giving a global voice to the many trokosi victims, who would otherwise have gone largely unnoticed. He notes that: “The role of educators at the Academy, is to continue giving voice to victims of injustice in all forms, and to afford artists, in all aspects of cinematic production, the opportunity to produce films that meet the global industry’s highest standards”. The Academy’s participation and its active involvement in the production of Punctured Hope provided its students with the opportunity of completing some of their training on the set of a professional, Hollywood standard, film production. It also gave them the chance to act in a film with famous and seasoned professional African actors, many of whom had already been part of international productions. The Ghana Actors Guild and Concert Party Union have appointed the Academy as the sole organizer for the GHANA INTERNATIONAL FILM AWARD. Kingsley Sam Obed is presently working on a new screenplay intended to expose yet another West African cultural phenomenon, which engenders enslavement by propagating the belief in witchcraft. Under his stewardship, the Film Academy of Ghana will clearly fulfill its mission of revitalizing West Africa’s film industry and achieving the global social change toward which Toronto Pictures aspires. D 124
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AFRICA’S HIDDEN TREASURES
As they begin their journey, towards a new life long adventure of self-fulfillment, self-discovery and hard work toward achieving their dream, these five rising stars from Ghana are anxious to share their talent and their wondrous culture that emanate from their every word and in all of their intentions for the future.
hen they get together, their collective ambitions take on a life of its own. They laugh at each other’s jokes, they call each other family, and they support their shared dreams and ambitions.
By Emily Bowers The five actors’ skills impressed Toronto Pictures’ Director Bruno Pischiutta and Executive Producer Daria Trifu enough to sign each of them to a six-year contract. And, as Punctured Hope hits world cinemas, there are already plans in the works for a second made-in-Ghana film.
“There are a lot of things hidden inside all of us here and we’re going to bring them out,” says 25-year-old Belinda (Belle) Siamey with a confident nod of her head.
For Belle Siamey, Punctured Hope wasn’t just her first step toward fulfilling a dream of becoming an actor, it also consisted of telling her own frightening, personal story of life as a Trokosi slave.
Her declaration is greeted with a chorus of “Amen!” from her four close friends, Frost Asiedu, Samuel Ruffy Quansah, Seayram Esamboye and Joyce Tonye Akagbo.
While the pain of her year’s imprisonment is etched on her face and in her tightly clasped manicured nails, she perks up when she talks about her future.
One afternoon, in the typical Accra tropical humidity, the five promising young actors take a break from one of the twice-weekly classes of the Toronto Pictures Film Academy, to laugh and discuss their hopes for the future of the Ghanaian film industry and their own careers.
“I wasn’t acting and all of a sudden I have acted in an international production,” she says, her wide eyes lighting up her petite face framed by her ever-changing hairstyles – today it’s fluffy blond braids.
The five promising young actors all held leading and key roles – four as actors,one as costumer – in Toronto Pictures’ harrowing new movie about Trokosi: Punctured Hope. Filmed in Ghana with an all-African cast, Punctured Hope tells the shocking story of one Trokosi slave’s imprisonment and escape. Apart from the legacy of telling this story to a world that remains largely ignorant of the slavery still going on in Africa today under the guise of religious tradition, Toronto Pictures is developing a whole new landscape for filmmaking – the discovery and development of talent in places largely untouched by Hollywood.
“I was nobody, and all of a sudden I’m on the screen in front of the whole world,” she says. Siamey, currently completing the secondary school education she missed when she was held as a teenager in the shrine, hopes to become a lawyer and to work on cases of human rights abuses one day. While for Siamey, Punctured Hope was about empowering herself by telling her own story to the world, for the other four it was realizing the dream of almost any film actor – having a key role in a Hollywood production. “I’ve been given an opportunity for me to prove myself in Hollywood, to compete with Tom Cruise,” declares the confident 23-year-old Samuel Ruffy Quansah. Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 125
“There are a lot of things hidden inside all of us here and we’re going to bring them out.”
Quansah laughingly calls himself the papa of the group, as the lone male in the group of Ghana’s rising stars. The boisterous actor drops American slang into his speech, agreeing with statements the others make with a firm nod and a “fo’shizzle”. With a denim cap perched on a mop of African curls and his eyes shaded by a pair of mirrored glasses, Ruffy, as everyone calls him, bounces his knee and gestures expressively as he talks, as the others laughingly try to quiet him down. But his voice only gets louder as he talks about the impact Toronto Pictures – and especially director Pischiutta – has had on his budding career. 126
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Actor Belinda Siamey
“Bruno had the time for me, to explain the role, the lines,” Quansah says. “When he explained (the script) to me, I understood it differently, now I knew what I was really to do.” He, like the other actors, proudly speak of the talent potential in Ghana and Africa, and says that Toronto Pictures has realized what so many other production companies have yet to. “I think Toronto Pictures is the eye for Africa right now, they have helped the world see Africa through the eyes of Punctured Hope, and that is a great thing,” Quansah says, while the others agree.
Actor Samuel Ruffy Quansah
“There are some treasures here in Africa,” Siamey says. Director Pischiutta says he believes the actors can find success in an international market, and then return home to Ghana to boost the developing film industry there, which is struggling now to compete with its prolific West African neighbour, Nigeria.
“I’ve been given an opportunity for me to prove myself in Hollywood, to compete with Tom Cruise.”
small gold crucifix dangles around the neckline of her blue and white dress. She agrees that the potential for talent in Africa is deep. “It is still difficult for people to tap the talent we have here in this country,” she says.
“There is an enthusiasm in these young people that is amazing,” he says.
Asiedu explains that she was pleasantly shocked and grateful when she learned Toronto Pictures wanted to help develop her skills.
Frost Asiedu, a 23-year-old drama student at the University of Ghana, smiles and apologizes for the sore throat that has reduced her voice to a rasp. She leans forward, wanting to make sure her words are understood. A
“I had never shot an international movie, not even a Ghanaian movie, this was my first,” she says.“I was ready to give it all out because I knew I had the talent embedded in me and I needed it to come out.” Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 127
Actor Frost Asiedu
For Asiedu, like many of the others, shooting Punctured Hope was the chance to also prove to her family she could become a successful actor. In Ghanaian society, where the opinions and directions of family members hold much sway over the decisions young adults make, gaining this acceptance was vital. Asiedu’s family tried to push her into a career in marketing, something they thought would give her a stable life. Asiedu says her grandmother especially was confused about her desire to act. “She didn’t understand what it was all about,” Asiedu says. But after working on Punctured Hope and telling her family about the future possibilities both with 128
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Toronto Pictures and any other acting opportunities that could come her way, she says her mother, father, two brothers, and even her grandmother are now supportive. Quansah even went to college and studied information technology and marketing as his father tried to steer him toward a banking career. “It wasn’t my thing,” he says. “The family thought I was going wayward. My daddy said if I wanted to do this thing (acting) he wouldn’t support it.” But Quansah’s role in Punctured Hope and the subsequent offer of a contract changed his father’s mind. For Joyce Akagbo, 22, her adopted mother – her aunt –
Actor Seayram Esamboye
couldn’t understand why her niece left the house each day, yet never came back with a paycheck. She remembers her aunt’s ultimatum: “‘If you don’t listen to me, I’m going to get rid of you’,” Akagbo recalls. But Akagbo’s success in Punctured Hope also brought her family around, like the others’. The public relations student at the Ghana Institute of Journalism says her education now helps her learn to communicate and deal with the public, skills she brings to her budding acting education. She says she enjoyed communicating the message of
Trokosi and its devastating effects on untold thousands of women who have suffered through it. She says she would like to make more movies with a social conscience to educate not just the world, but her fellow Africans who should demand an end to such cultural practices. “There are people in Africa who are ignorant about some things,” she says.“So I would love to make a movie that would teach my fellow people something that this is not right, you don’t have to do this.” For 28-year-old Seayram Esamboye, the challenges of Punctured Hope were quite different than for the other four. Daria! • www.dariamagazine.com 129
Actor Joyce Tonye Akagbo
Esamboye was in charge of costuming the cast, and she says she was eager to meet the high standards set by Pischiutta and Toronto Pictures. “This was not easy,” she says, running her fingers through her long brown and purple braided hair. “Especially when you talk about an international movie, you have to do your best.” Esamboye, who had previously acted in one Ghanaian movie, says she divides her time between her acting career and classes at the Accra-based Toronto Pictures Film Academy and a store selling ladies handbags that she manages with her sister. 130
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She says her husband of two years fully supports her career ambitions. “We’re lucky they came here to find out that we have the talent in us,” she says. And that’s one thing these five actors, who have become close friends through the filming of Punctured Hope, have in common: ambition. “I believe that I have something that can make me one of the greatest that ever came from Africa, or the world,” Quansah says, to the nodding approval of the others. D
OTC Symbol: TPICF www.torontopictures.com Toronto Pictures develops, produces and markets ethical feature films that provoke thought, not violence. The Company uses top Hollywood 35 mm film production standard. Targeting a global audience, Toronto Pictures explores different cultures and addresses controversial issues of our time in dramatic format. With cultural influences from Europe, North America, Asia and, now, Africa, the Company is authentically international in its scope and recognition.
USA $7.00 Canada $8.00 Euros $5.00
Published on Nov 23, 2017