TPB AFK – The Pirate Bay documentary

The Pirate Bay - Babyshark's Minority Report

The Berlinale is a truly cultural event and one of the most important dates in the film industry. The Berlin International Film Festival, as it is officially called, is known for giving the same importance to edgy, low-budget movies as to big-studio productions. It shows some 400 movies per year, most of them international or European premieres. Around 300,000 tickets are sold, and is attended by almost 20,000 professional visitors from 130 countries. Every genre, length and format is featured at the Berlinale. Whether its films for young audiences or the avant-garde and unfamiliar, the festival is famous for its unique approach, allowing works that are sometimes hard to classify, at the intersection between film and other creative disciplines. It also likes to feature the work of women and minorities.

This year one of the movies that has premiered at the Berlinale has been “TPB AFK”, a documentary about Swedish filesharing site The Pirate Bay, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at how a handful of very clever internet pioneers found themselves fighting a battle over access to information and creative content against the powerful movie and media companies who relentlessly hounded them. The documentary, by Swedish filmmaker Simon Klose, includes footage shot over four years and one of the central storylines of the film is the trial of Pirate Bay’s four founders. Although the men (Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm and Carl Lundström) were charged with facilitating illegal downloading of copyrighted material and sentenced to a year and hit with a 2.7 million euros fine, the website is still working. Not only that, the website claims to have today more than 25 million active users. It has been blocked by several governments, but access to it is relatively easy because censorship can be circumvented in many countries.

Klose, who does not hide his sympathy for the founders of The Pirate Bay and the ideas they defend, has released the film online under a Creative Commons license, which allows viewers to watch and copy the film for free. Watch the whole movie here:

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Christine Lagarde

When French president Nicolas Sarkozy asked Christine Lagarde to join his cabinet in 2007, as Minister for Economy, Industry and Employment, she was already the first ever female Chairman of Chicago-based global law firm Baker & McKenzie. She is a respected antitrust and labour lawyer and today, as first female Managing Director of the Intenational Monetary Fund, she’s considered the 9th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine (2011) and part of a very exclusive club of women that include Dilma Rousseff or Angela Merkel. She certainly looks the part, poised and elegant, calm and reassuring, reflexive and charming, her skin looking permanently tanned in contrast with her silver hair.

After Dominique Strauss-Kahn‘s very public downfall and resignation, as a result of a sex scandal  -to the deep embarrassment of France; Christine Lagarde was immediately mentioned as a possible successor, and she received the support of Britain, India, the US, Russia, China and Germany. The Telegraph once described her as “the woman with no enemies”. From her first day on the job she had very complicated issues on the table, and her no-nonsense style was evident from the start and some statements she made angered many, especially in Greece. It was in an interview with British newspaper The Guardian, where she basically described Greeks as rampant tax dodgers and ruled out any breathing space from the austerity measures the country faced.

She is a hard-working woman, with a strong and elegant presence, firm in her convictions and obviously someone who speaks her mind. She is an outsider to politics in France, because she did not attend the prestigious École Nationale d’Administration, where most high-ranking French officials and politicians are groomed. She also never distinguished in math, being a Managing Director of the IMF who is more a lawyer than an economist. Being an outsider gives her a better perspective of things probably.

She was born Christine Madeleine Odette Lallouette, and her parents were both teachers. She studied in a girls’ school in Maryland, US; she got a degree in Law in Paris and a Master’s Degree in political science. She also worked as an intern at the United States Capitol, as congressional assistant to William Cohen. She has divorced twice, but no one really knows much about her two ex-husbands. They are not even mentioned in her official biography, which shows how fiercely she controls her public image. She has two sons, is a vegetarian and never drinks, although she did have a glass of champagne in an airport when she found out that had been appointed IMF boss.

Being French, there’s the issue of the elegance too. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who laughed at a similar question once, asking the interviewer if she’d ever ask that question to a man; Christine Lagarde has no problem talking about her wardrobe. In an interview with Vogue, she confessed that gets her clothes from three places mostly: Chanel, Ventilo and Austin Reed.

One of my favorite phrases by Christine Lagarde is that men, when left to themselves, make mess of things. Which is, well, as we all know, completely true. She is a strong believer in gender equality and has said that women are better than men when it comes to managing tasks and common sense. This is why she wants to hire many more women than men while she’s MD of the IMF.

She was always an overachiever. Many don’t know that as a teenager, Christine was a member of the French national synchronized swimming team, for example, or that she sang backing vocals in a ska band called “Les Messages Mixe” before getting married.

As Managing Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde faces incredible challenges, like world economies on the brink of collapse, especially in Europe. She still has four years to go, but it will not be an easy ride for sure. Saving the Euro will be no easy task. The journey will be full of dangers and crises. And we need strong leaders in times of uncertainty.

Will Miss Lagarde be one of those leaders we so desperately need? Will this elegant and competent French woman be able to help fix the mess that we men created?

Silk Thread Martyrs

Omar Joseph Nasser-Khoury is a young Palestinian and one of the most promising young designers to recently emerge from the Arab world. He was born in Al Quds (Jerusalem) and grew up in the Occupied Territories. His work draws its inspiration from a rich tradition of Palestinian embroidery. He combines the motifs and the refined cross-stitching, typical of his homeland, with bold tailoring, to create a unique and very personal interpretation of this traditional heritage. He wants to remind young people in the Palestinian territories of this heritage, and show how it can be relevant to modern life.

Nasser-Khoury’s in 2011 exhibited a collection titled “Silk Thread Martyrs,” at London’s Mosaic Room, coinciding with London’s Fashion Week.

Farmers, fighters, social workers, martyrs and refugees are all sources of inspiration for a collection in which Nasser-Khoury also questions issues regarding gender, duty or social restraints. The permanent presence of death and mourning in daily life and the almost unbearable reality of Israeli Occupation have greatly influenced his work and are also palpable in the collection.

Nasser-Khoury produced the collection working closely with Inaash, a Lebanese non-profit organization that teaches traditional Palestinian embroidery techniques to women living in refugee camps in Lebanon. Inaash’s embroidery project benefits 450 women, teaching them skills that will help them earn a living.

The garments were made with the minimum use of machinery. Most of the embroidery, the luxurious fabrics, the colouring and the dyeing was carried out entirely by hand.

(To read original article in PDF: Silk Thread Martyrs)

Women On Top

From bunga-bunga parties to genocide, from recruitment of children soldiers to senseless wars, from the massacre of civilians to waterboarding, from appropiation of territory to oppression, humiliation and selective killing, and from religion to invasions…if there’s one thing that men have demonstrated throughout History is that they are uncapable of responsibly ruling the world.

The authors of a recently published report conclude that having women in positions of power has a positive effect, both in the aspirations of girls and in the expectations of parents for their daughters. This study was carried out in India and shows that a quota for women is good because it eliminates gender differences, sets an example and is inspiring for younger generation.

Women have been present in positions of power since the beginning of History, but this has been an exception, not the rule. I align myself with media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner who once said that men should be barred from office for 100 years everywhere. In this article I reflect about the women currently ruling many countries around the world.

However, it is not realistic to expect women to assume positions of power -both in politics and in business- unless the very nature of work is redefined. Business and politics everywhere have to be reinvented so that women don’t find themselves having to chose between creating a family and competing for the highest jobs. Nordic countries offer a good template to follow, as I discuss in this article. Scandinavian women enjoy generous maternity leaves and their jobs and positions are generally guaranteed. Iceland has one of the highest levels of women in the labour force and also a high fertility rate, compared to other countries. Surprisingly, the United States is one of the few countries with no paid maternity leave national program.

For a look at the situation of women in the workforce today, take a look at this article. Unlike other articles from my magazine, I did not actually write this one. I read a full 14-page Special Report in The Economist and simply selected the facts and figures I thought were more relevant, so I was more a curator than an actual writer. For a quick glimpse at some interesting figures of women around the world, also check this map I elaborated, based on figures from this report.

The case of Lesotho is very interesting. It is a tiny country surrounded completely by South Africa, with a population of just 2 million. It ranks eighth in the world, by the World Economic Forum, when it comes to bridging the gap between the sexes. This can be partly explained by the vaccuum left by men when they left en masse to work in mines in South Africa, but education has also played an important role. Sadly, though, Lesotho has also one of the highest rape rates in the world.

Oprah Winfrey, another American media tycoon and philanthropist, has understood well the potential of Africa. This article talks about her Leadership Academy for Girls. The academy prepares girls from impoverished backgrounds to be the future leaders of Southafrica and the continent. Today, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the first and currently the only elected female head of state in Africa, a continent with 1 billion people and 14.72% of the world’s population. Sirleaf was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakel Karman of Yemen.

After centuries of bad management and government, isn’t it about time women took over?