Short Film Laisuotuo 莱索托

A new short film Laisuotuo was released by filmmaker Carl Houston Macmillan.

He says, “This is a film about two immigrants, a Chinese shop owner in Lesotho and an African doctor in China. This 20 min film is about how stereotyping and racial profiling reduces our empathy. Cultural understanding is ever so important in our global village.

short film Laisuotuo China-Africa story

As a regular listener to the China-Africa Project’s podcast, I always follow up on the guests interviewed on the show. Eric Olander (American) and Cobus van Staden (South African) host the best podcast about China-Africa issues. Even though they usually discuss politics and economic issues, in this show they highlighted a beautiful short film Laisuotuo 莱索托.

There are two stories joined together with empathy. The first story takes place in Beijing, China. An African doctor, fluent in Mandarin Chinese, goes to visit a new patient. She’s blind, and her husband asks the doctor not to tell her that he is black. After the doctor leaves, the blind wife admonishes her husband for treating people of colour differently.

A vivid dream sequence, in the short film Laisuotuo, on the Great Wall of China, serves as the transition between the two stories.

The second story takes place back in the mountains of Lesotho. A young student is expelled from school because his father cannot pay the school fees. The principal sends him home, and his father apologises half-heartedly. The father sends him to buy flour and warns him not to buy from the Chinese shop.

Without spoilers, I want to encourage you to watch this short film below. It’s a good lesson for South Africans given the high levels of xenophobia exhibited in their country over the last 10 years. More Chinese migrants will come to Africa and more Africans will study and work in China. This film shines a light on some of the immediate challenges facing us in a multicultural world.

Watch the whole short film Laisuotuo below and please leave a comment…


Material is Magical movie for the new Millennium

Material Movie starring Riaad Moosa & produced Ronnie AptekerMaterial is in a class of its own because it fusses so many different genres successfully. Oscar winning “Tsotsi” gave the world a peak into South African thug-life life on the streets of Johannesburg. Material is strong for very different reasons.

The characters are quirky, sometimes funny and almost magical in their qualities. Ronnie Apteker, the producer has put together an excellent support team including a brilliant scriptwriter. Dialogue flows so naturally between the cast it is easy to taken on this journey. After a string of films under his belt, this may be his first box office hit. Material also has strong international potential in the Middle East and Asia where the Muslim family story may resonate even stronger.

After reading the build up to this film on Twitter over the last 12-months, this film had to be great not just good. This movie was more than expected and hits emotional triggers from beginning to end. The cinematography is breezy and captures the soul of one of the oldest suburbs in Johannesburg, Fordsburg succinctly. Local residents refer it to “little Pakistan” or “little India” because of the high concentration of Muslims from India or Pakistan who live here.

Moviegoers get real glimpses of the struggle in a family bound by tradition and terrors of the legacy of Apartheid. Fathers and boys have a special connection. This film is at times deeply spiritual in its quest for reconciliation between family members, father and son, and brothers.

Look out for the stand-up comedy routines because they lift you up when you least expect it. Movies like this can help change the world. This movie is a family movie, a comedy, a drama and a coming of age story all rolled into one. Ronnie Apteker is close to his magnum opus as a producer.


Life is Beautiful

I know its 7 years after the fact but I finally watched the brilliantly beautiful movie Life is Beautiful starring the indomitable Roberto Benigni. This story is one of many, many Holocast stories but told with so much humour and emotion as only Benigni could pull it off. He is only the 2nd actor to direct himself to a Best Actor Oscar, the first being Sir Laurence Oliver, and also the only person to win Best Actor for a non-English language film.

The storyline is simply how a man with a penchant for comedy and creating memorable experiences, happiness and having fun. He meets a woman who he calls his “Principessa” from their first meeting. They get married and have a son. Soon afterwards the Nazi’s invade Italy and all Jewish people are sent to concentration camps. He’s wife is not Jewish but they share such a close connection she refuses to stay behind and goes with them on the train. To ensure his son doesn’t suspect anything untoward he creates a game. This game manages to keep he’s son distracted the entire time and looking forward to winning the 1st prize, a tank! Please go and rent this movie, find it, watch it, and share it with everyone you can possibly imagine. To my mind this is one of the most beautiful stories ever. I salute Benigni and look forward to watching his version of Pinocchio soon.


Up, up and away…Superman

Superman Christopher Reeve Superman, the archetypal comic book superhero was born in the early 1930’s depression era America. The brainchild of writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster Superman was initially a villain but soon became the greats hero known to mankind. The myth of Superman is essentially that he was born on the planet Krypton with a red sun. Before the planet was destroyed his parents, Jor-El & Lara, sent him off to Earth. The only survivor from his home planet he became an American icon helping fight World War II, saving FDR and much more. In the early 1990s Superman was killed in by Doomsday. He was resurrected (sound familiar) and his powers temporarily changed but was soon reversed to the original set of powers.

Christopher Reeve became famous overnight when he starred in the first Superman (1978) movie. He reprised the role 3 more times although the last movie, Superman 4: The Quest for Peace (1987) was pretty lame compared to the sequels. The first two are rated as the best and the third starring Richard Pryor is a bit of a comic farce in the vain of Batman Forever (with Jim Carrey). My personal favourite is #2 with the 3 baddies from Krypton. After suffering severe injuries from a horse riding accident Christopher Reeve was paralyzed. He still continued to do work behind the camera. He also petitioned Hollywood to make more social conscious movies at the 1996 Oscars. Although he will best remembered as the Man of Steel, he has made an enormous contribution to the cause of the disabled, and was in particular outspoken about Stem Cell Research.

What is your favourite Christopher Reeve moment? Please comment on this post and share it with me.


Help get America out of Iraq

Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 The Iraq war is a farce and we all know it. The United States of America led by George (Dubya) Bush had invaded a sovereign country that was not a threat to America. For the last 18 months we’ve been bombarded with an assortment of lies. Even the once respectable Colin Powell, LIED in front of the United Nations when he called for a special resolution (READ permission to go to war). George W Bush is a liar, an idiot and viciously protecting the interest of American special interest groups in the defence and oil industries (READ Halliburton, Boeing, etc). A couple of weeks ago I watched Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.

How obvious it must be now to see that Dubya stole the election from Al Gore. Bush’s family was involved in all aspects from the Fox News reports which declared him the winner in Florida, to his brother Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida. The American media continuous not to show the reality of the Iraq and it’s consequences for there own soldiers who are dying every week. Moore interviews a very patriotic mother of a soldier in Iraq. Only when he dies and his body is sent home for burial does she start to question the reason why he went in the first place. Moore probes the relationship American relationship with Saudia Arabia, and I conclude that it is incestuous in nature. You have to wonder who the parasite is and who the prey between them is.

Does taking Iraq’s oil riches make America less dependant on Saudi oil, or are really a cover up for something deeper? And why did other Arab nations not stand up for Iraq?!After watching another documentary, The World According to Bush on SABC3, rebroadcast this past Sunday I’m even more convinced that we are all ignorant and have allowed this farce to continue long enough. The difference with these two excellent documentaries is that The World According to Bush was produced in France, and it starts out with a linking Bush to the neo conservative Christian right wing in America. This is a very powerful lobby group that is Israel’s staunches supporters. It’s like there’s an implicit agreement between them on America’s foreign policy. You have to ask yourself why the hell America keep interferes in other countries. Doesn’t if have enough problems internally to keep it busy? The world is not a better place because America tries to police it. Case in point it creates its own enemies like Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Ladan but wants to get rid of them when they are no longer needed as is currently the case. Some of the obvious facts that was omitted and ignored by most people are as follows:

  • Dubya’s grand father Prescott Bush was the secret banker for Adolph Hitler in World War 2
  • In the 1980s Donald Rumsfeld visited Iraq and recommended that the USA support them against Iran
  • Osama Bin Laden was a CIA trained spy in Afghanistan fighting the Russians
  • The Carlyle Group had Shafik Bin Laden, Osama’s half-brother as a major shareholder
  • Prince Bandar, Saudi Arabia ambassador to the USA organised that all Bin Laden’s relatives in the USA and other Saudi’s be flown back to Saudi Arabia on September 12, 2001 when no other plains were allowed to fly in the USA

There’s an endless stream of evidence that Bush & Co. planned to get rid of Saddam Hussein before 9/11. Both documentaries prove this beyond a doubt. So what can we do about this? We can encourage President Thabo Mbeki to more outspoken about the USA & Britain withdrawing from Iraq. Innocent women and children are being killed in the crossfire. Saddam cannot be tried by any courts that has anything to do with the USA because the have an inherent bias against him. Send emails to Thabo Mbeki and tell him to tell the USA to get the hell out of Iraq (and Afghanistan). While you at it email George W Bush and tell him as well where to shove it. Never before has there been a more arrogant and stupid president in the USA. I implore everyone to go and watch the funny yet poignant documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.


Eight (Years) is Enough: Time to Rethink Afghanistan

Rethinking Afganistan Robert Greenwald War on Terror George Bush Middle East ConflictGreenwald demonstrates deft timing with RETHINK AFGHANISTAN,  a documentary questioning the American presence there … [the film] presents a flurry of sights, voices and figures, many of them compelling.” — The New York Times

Sending more troops will not make the U.S. safer; it will only build more opposition against us. I urge you on behalf of truth and patriotism to consider carefully and rethink Afghanistan.” — Retired Corporal Rick Reyes, speaking before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

As President Obama redirects his attention from the Iraq War, no documentary film could be more timely or relevant than RETHINK AFGHANISTAN, from award-winning filmmaker Robert Greenwald and his Brave New Foundation. This ground breaking documentary from the creator of such films as Uncovered: The War on Iraq and Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers is among the first films to raise hard questions about the war and the United States’ escalating military involvement.

As the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan continually creates unintended consequences, RETHINK AFGHANISTAN investigates the most striking issues surrounding the war — the impact on our troops, Pakistan’s still underreported involvement, and the cost of war in financial and human terms — through the eyes of experts and the people of Afghanistan.

Continue reading “Eight (Years) is Enough: Time to Rethink Afghanistan”


Ramon Sampedro chooses Death over Life

The Sea Inside Ramon SampedroToday I watched the movie The Sea Inside about the life of quadriplegic, Ramon Sampedro, who decided to end his life because of his physical disability. In the movie he is brilliantly portrayed by Javier Bardem, one of my favourite actors. The director Alejandro Amenábar is a favourite of South African movie critic Barry Ronge, and when you see this film you realise maybe why he is the most respected Spanish director currently making movies in both Europe and America (The Others). This was a film I wanted to watch not in the least because he is my namesake – Ramon – but because I also had several bouts of depression, with at least two of them driving me to towards suicide. So I could see a part of me inside the main character of this film.

Ramon Sampedro campaigned for almost 30 years to be allowed to take his own life, also known as euthanasia, which is illegal in most countries. He believed he was not living with dignity and his the only thing he looked forward to was his death. His main argument rested on the fact that he was sure he wanted to die. Freud called this the Thanatos – or the death drive and is the opposite of eros. Before the accident he travelled all over the world, brilliantly shown by a collage of photos to his married lawyer, Julia (Belén Rueda). She herself has a degenerative disease, which reduces her capacity to walk and function after several strokes. At some point during their engagements there is moments of intimacy that develops between them, especially after Julia reads Ramon’s poetry. She insists that they must be published and that they would eventually jointly commit suicide when the first book is delivered from the printers. This never happens because she has the book sent to him and goes her own way to some extent. Towards the end of the film it becomes clear that her own health had deteriorated to such an extent she was not able to mentally function and follow through on the promise she had made to Ramon.

Continue reading “Ramon Sampedro chooses Death over Life”


From Q&A to the Slumdog Millionaire

Arthur Goldstuck told me about the book Q&A by Vikas Swarup. What amused him was that the character’s name is Ramon Mohammed Thomas, similar to mine. And that I was on the South Africa version of the Weakest Link around the same time that the book was published. This book is on my to-read list.

So it’s no surprise to find out the book has been adapted into a film by the name of Slumdog Millionaire. The title character’s name has been changed and the story possible shorted for dramatic effect.

From Danny Boyle, director of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, comes the story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”

For more info about FREE Screenings in your area, visit: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE website. Here’s the trailer one of the few movies praised by in reviews.


Lesbian Love in The World Unseen

The World Unseen Lesbian LoveI’m re-posting this directly from the Times Multimedia because I have been struggling to write anything original longer than 140 characters. Another reason for this is because my friend Natalie Becker has a small role in this film and she informed me about it beforehand and because I love watching movie trailers, this grabbed my attention. And so once I’ve watched the film I will update this will my own review. One thing that bothers me is that the two lesbian women are unusually attractive. Especially the women who is supposedly a mother. Also view the awesome website for The World Unseen.

Sheetal Sheth, the central figure that creates the tension in the plot, has some of the most amazing eyes I’ve ever seen. And I’ll be looking for more of her earlier movies like Looking for Comedy in a Muslim World. And it turns out Lisa Ray is a model turned actress with a strong Bollywood background. This is not unusual in the movie business because who wants to look at average looking people in film and television?

Anyway here’s what The Times has to say about it, mostly like taken from another source like IMDB.

In 1950’s South Africa, apartheid is just beginning.

Free-spirited Amina has broken all the rules of her own conventional Indian community in South Africa by running a café – a safe haven of laughter, music and home-cooked food. A ‘grey area’ for those who fall outside the strict ‘black and white’ rules of the apartheid-led government.

Café regulars include Amina’s feisty waitress, Doris, her gentle “coloured” business partner, Jacob, and the sparky white local postmistress, Madeleine. Long accustomed to the racial barriers of the country and its new laws, Madeleine and Jacob nevertheless share a budding attraction.

Miriam, on the other hand, is a doting mother to her children and a demure, subservient wife to her chauvinistic, frustrated husband, Omar. Quietly intelligent, Miriam has never assumed that she has choices in life.

When Miriam meets Amina, their unexpected attraction throws them both off balance. Although Miriam manages to subdue her fascination with unconventional Amina, she finds herself slowly inspired to confront familiar and familial constraints. Shortly after their encounter, Miriam moves to an isolated life in the country, but, even here, apartheid is placing its cruel footprint on society and these injustices bring the two women together again, cementing the basis of their growing feelings.

Meanwhile, Jacob decides to pursue a love affair of his own and he and Madeleine begin a tentative, touching relationship. But the best intentions of both are overcome by practical challenges and indignities of simply spending time together.

Even the fearless Amina, faced with the strength of her feelings and with the reality of Miriam’s situation, starts doubting herself. And Miriam finds herself making some courageous choices that will change her own life forever.

Using the stunning South African landscape and jazz music of the time, The World Unseen explores a system that divides white from black and women from men, but one that might just allow an unexpected love to survive.

Genre: Drama
Director: Shamim Sarif


From Attraction to Romance and back again

David DeAngelo, an American dating coach has a famous saying online, ?Attraction isn’t a choice.? Those words in fact became the title of the 2nd ebook he published after the hugely successful Double Your Dating. Both of these books were the starting point for what has turned into my life purpose, improving my own dating life, and in turn helping others improve their dating and relationships.

Let’s starts by giving attraction a definition: the force that brings people together. Repulsion is what pushes people away. Thinking about magnets you realise how opposites attract and similarities push apart. However, in human relationships you’ll notice that in the short term opposites may indeed spark attraction but its people who have more similarities who are the ones who stay together over the longer term. Someone once told me friendships last longer than most marriages. That is a certain ring of truth to that even without any supporting evidence in the 21st century.

What makes one person more attractive over another person? This is a mystery because philosophers and poets have written about it for thousands of years. And recently many scientists have contributed to the parade. Dr Paul Dobransky defines Attractiveness or Power as positive emotional energy and mature boundary function. In physics power or energy is the amount of work that can be done in a particular length of time. The more potent you are is a core metaphor for masculine power. It’s this potency men advertise to women that creates attraction without using any words or deeds. A woman notices a man, and says to her friend, “I don’t know what it about him…” referring to her initial experience of the masculine energy.

Self-esteem or self-worth is directly linked to attraction. The more self-worth, the higher your self-esteem, the more attractive you are to people. Again from Dr Paul Dobransky, self-esteem is made up of confidence and well-being. Confidence is what you get from transforming your anxiety into courage. And as you look deeper into this you’ll realise removing uncertainty has the same effect. Well-being is more of a motherly energy. You have enough money, enough friends ? your needs is are met – enough peace, enough vacation. Mature adults need to learn to father themselves through courage and mother themselves through what’s called assertiveness. If you don’t have well-being you take anger you feel and you use it in the form of assertiveness. Assertiveness is defined as going out and getting what you need. Again the more assertive, the more attractive.

Don Juan Demarco

Don Juan Demarco Johnny Depp Marlon Brando seducer
In this movie Johnny Depp plays a young man believing himself to be the greatest lover in the world. It starts out with him being depressed because he lost the one great love of his life and is ready to commit suicide. But first must have one last romantic encounter with a woman in need.

Just this opening scene is worth your money in gold because Don Juan gives a perfect example of how to be charming, romantic and seduce a woman. He interrupts a red-headed woman waiting alone at a table, sits down and begins talking to her in a deep commanding voice. As she objects, I insist, ?I will not linger.? He proceeds to tell her how sensitive certain women are to the touch of a man. Moving up from the bottom of their legs, he proceeds to move from her fingertips to her knuckles, which he in turn associates with her knees. Eventually the fleshy part of a finger, is like the thighs and finally…he ends up kissing her between the fingers implying a kiss elsewhere on the female body.

Here’s a clip from the movie with the scene I’ve just described:

Don Juan Demarco, as a movie is a fantastic demonstration of how romance can lead to natural attraction. The problem is, it’s a movie, not real life, in the real world, sparking attraction can be reinforced or strengthened by romance, not the other way around. What I mean here is that without attraction there is a long road to misery that lies ahead. So focus on creating attraction first before you spill your feelings to the person you are attracted.