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November 2007

THE SAIS OBSERVER Arts and Culture

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Juornalism Club Gives Away $1500 in Prize Money in First Annual SAIS Journalism Contest By Alex Selim

The Journalism and Media Career Club announced the winners of the First Annual Summer Journalism Contest on Friday, November 2 during the Foreign Relations Career Club’s Happy Hour. Michael Anderson won first prize in the News and Analysis category for his article “Prostitution and Child Pornography in Cambodia,” while Maeve Garigan won second place in the same category for “The Hidden Cost of Argentina’s Economic Crisis.” Jonathan Bartolozzi took home first prize for the Travel Essay category for his piece “August in the Nuba Mountains” based on his experience in Sudan and Levi Tillemann-Dick’s “Muslim China and it’s Discontents won second place The winners received $600 and $300 for the first and second prize in News and Analysis category and $400 and $200 for the first and second prizes in the Travel Essay category. The prize money was staggered between the two categories to encourage students to submit to the harder News and Analysis category. As the president of the Journalism and Media Career Club, I established the contest in order to demonstrate how applicable a SAIS education is to a career in journalism and to encourage students to consider such a career. The contest would not have been possible without the generous funding of Deans Baker and Kunka who had the vision to recognize the need for such a contest. Nor could the contest have been possible without the help of John Schidlovsky and Louise Lief of the International Reporting Project who graciously agreed to judge the 25 submissions that were due by September 28. While the Journalism and Media Career Club is working on publishing the winners’ articles in a Hopkins-wide publication, IRP have also agreed to advise the winners on pitching to their articles to other news publications. Alex Selim is a 2nd year MA candidate concentrating in Midde East Studies and and editor of the Observer

The Winners: Travel Essay Category 1. “August in the Nuba Mountains” by Jonathan Bartolozzi A bright and lively piece that brings alive for the reader the experiences of trekking waist-high in a river or finding a “tribe of worms” living in the pot of drinking water. Through this piece, a reader can almost feel the wet sand, the swirling water, the soaking clothes, the pleasure of sweet tea and biscuits under a mango tree. The dialogue and quotes are effective in transporting the reader into this remote region of Sudan that most of us only know about through accounts of conflict. 2. “Muslim China and its Discontent” by Mills Levi This piece does a nice job of combining factual background about China’s western provinces and on-the-ground color. We meet real peple in Xinjiang and by the end of the piece we feel we know them, their fears and aspirations. The story makes the situtation of 10 million Uighurs living in Xinjiang clear and understandable. News and Analysis category: 1. “Prostitution and Child Pornography in Cambodia” by Michael Anderson This is a vividly written and clear account of these social ills. Anderson does an excellent job of stating the causes and extent of the problems and then describing how he went about to investigate it for himself. It’s a solid piece of journalism that is chock full of facts, statistics and information the reader needs to know. The writer does a nice job of mixing his personal experiences and providing the reader with an objective account of the background. 2. “The Hidden Cost of Argentina’s Economic Crisis” by Maeve Garigan A well-written and concise account of a social problem that lingers from Argentina’s economic crisis. The story does a nice job of explaining and illustrating the problem of “paco,” the cocaine derivative that addicted many of those made poor by the economic collapse of 2001. Garigan makes us see the human cost of a problem that most visitors to Buenos Aires would never notice.

On the (Rail) Road A Review of The Darjeeling Limited By Emma Ashburn

Any movie that thanks India’s Ministry of Railways in the credits has a shot at being a great film, and The Darjeeling Limited does have the emotional power of a long train trip. I do my best thinking on trains. You’re going somewhere, but you have to sit still, and can’t do much else besides work on those knots in your head. That is what the three Whitman brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman as Francis, Peter, and Jack) do as they traverse India by train. They’ve brought with them a lot of baggage, both the emotional kind and the Louis Vuitton kind, and it looks pretty heavy as they lug it through the villages and deserts of India. The brothers are in search of spiritual renewal – of course, it’s India – and a chance to discover if they “would have been friends in real life.” In India, on a train, they can smoke cigarettes and sedate themselves as it lurches them toward enlightenment. They do smoke cigarettes, and sedate themselves with an astonishing variety of drugs, as they try to get over the recent death of their father and their mother’s refusal to confront their loss. Besides the parental issues, the brothers deal with sibling tension that erupts into a knock-down drag-out fight. And they have their own problems too, the kind you might not want to talk about with your family. Francis uses various elixirs and pills to dull the pain of his broken face, which he busted up in a road accident that may or may not have been an accident. Peter tries to reconcile himself to the fact that he

himself will soon be a father. And Jack tries to get over his ex-girlfriend by seducing the woman who serves them sweet lime drinks after their naps. India does give them their enlightenment, in a way, by reminding them that while emotional pain is terrible, it won’t actually kill you like rocks or cars can. Whether or not he’s an auteur, director Wes Anderson constructs fantasies. The train is an Edwardian fantasy of sartorial perfection and hot stewardesses. From my cursory knowledge of Indian trains, based on Mira Nair’s The Namesake, I would guess that Indian trains aren’t really like that. In The Namesake, the train is a much more menacing force (but in that movie it also leads to a sort of enlightenment). India, too, is a fantasy. Every detail is attended to, just like in the Parisian hotel room that is the setting for the short film that precedes the Darjeeling Limited, Hotel Chevalier. In this fantasy, there is a bare lack of political correctness that is just obviously offensive enough to be gently satirical. Yet the characters manage to be empathetic. Maybe it’s Adrien Brody’s huge sad eyes or the painfully accurate depiction of sibling rivalry that makes us start to understand where they’re coming from. The music probably lulls us into feeling like one of them, too. In countless scenes, Jason Schwartzman’s character plugs in his I-Pod speakers and we can all rock out to the music on the train or in the desert, together. The movie does require a certain suspension of disbelief – it’s not trying to show us the real India, wherever

you find that, but have India serve as a backdrop for the drama of these messed-up relationships. I’m fully seduced by the clothes, the colors, the slow-motion running, and the music, and more than willing to overlook the unlikelihood that the train dining car really has chandeliers. The brothers all have distinctive faces, and we have plenty of opportunities to watch them as they gaze mournfully at themselves in the mirror above the bathroom sink, in scenes reminiscent of another Wes Anderson movie involving a different unhappy family. As the Russian said, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. On the whole though, trains will make us feel better. Especially if we look good enough to be in the front row at a Marc Jacobs show and are standing at the back of a train, staring out through our huge sunglasses at the fields of some vast exotic country as it rolls by. Emma Ashburn is a 2nd year MA candidate in China Studies

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For more pics see page 12 Diversions 2 On Campus 4 Bologna Connection 5 SAIS Students 6 Arts and Culture 8 Op-Ed 9 November 2007 Volume 8 No...

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