THE SAN DIEGO PARTICIPANT OBSERVER Participant Observation is the Process of Learning by Observing and Participating in Cultural Life
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May 22, 2020 (Click Here for Previous Issues)

May 15, 2020

Local Cultural News and Nifty Things to Do Whilst Homebound:
Some interesting, helpful and fun activities from our staff and friends (if you know of any more, send them along!):

World Music Living Room Learning We are totally excited about this brand new series of engaging and fun instructional videos produced by the awesome team at the Center for World Music! Check them out!
World Heritage Tour - An awesome website featuring 3-D tours of hundreds of the world's most interesting cultural sites.
60 World Rituals - While now's not the time to go, hopefully you will get to behold some of these in future travels!
Take a Virtual Trip to Kamang, Indonesia! - This link will take you a Google "street view" of Kamang where my wife and I lived in the late 1980's. It starts at the Pintu Koto, where the bus from the city stops. Beautiful place, awesome people.
Find a Pen Pal! - Everybody's (including us) is saying "We are all in this together"! We embrace that notion globally. Here is a list of sites where you may find a pen pal in another country. Obviously you should do this with a bit of caution, but it just might expand your world!
How to Design a Pen Pal Program for Your Classroom - I know we have several teachers who receive this newsletter, here's something you might want to do with your students!
Learn a Language with Duolingo - We don't know if this is the best way to learn a new language (actually being there is) but heck, its free and they have lots of languages to choose from! Unless you pay for the "Plus" account ($10 a month), you will see ads.
List of Micro Nations - A long list of "Micro Nations" places where people have declared their sovereignty, but are no recognized as such (by anyone). Kind of fun reading the rationales behind such, some are quite serious but most are just zany! First on the list is The Aerican Empire whose motto is: Mundi est ridiculum; custodiunt illud quod modo "It's a silly old world; let's keep it that way".
Geo Guesser Game - shows you a Google Street Map for a location, you guess where in the world it is. The free version is limited, but still lots of fun.

Kid's Corner: I say "Keep 'em busy!"

Face Your Manga - A site to create manga faces with a huge number of options. If you wish to download your creations you must register and pay a small fee, but otherwise it's free.
1000 Things to Do... A HUGE daily listing of virtual events for kids and teens.
Learn How to Make Origami - Lots and lots or origami creations to make! All you need is some paper!
Art for Kids - Art lessons for your kids.
International Recipes - to make with your kids.
Quarantine Stories From Kids All Over The World!

Music & Dance for Your Soul:

Radio Time Machine - THIS IS AWESOME! Click on a place in the world and a decade (from 1900 to now) and hear what was playing there and then! It's a fun interface too.
International Dances - A nice collection of dance videos from around the work courtesy of the French site Numeridanse
15 Traditional Folks Dances from Around the World - A collection of videos with short descriptions
A History of World Music in 15 Instruments from the British Museum
Putamayo World Music Sampler 15 songs from the Putamayo collection.
Chan Chan from "Playing for Change"
Anoushka Shankar in Berlin - Anoushka Shankar (whose das is Ravi Shankar and half-sister is Nora Jones) plays brilliantly

Food Stuff:

All the Sandwiches in the World - A very long list of sandwiches (with pictures and links) from around the world (Wikipedia)
Glass Noodle Stir-Fry (Pad Woon Sen) - From Pailin "Pai" Chongchitnant's Hot Thai Kitchen. She is a wonder and has tons of recipes and very helpful guidance on ingredients and what to look for.

11 Classic French Dishes - from Spruce Eats.
45 Traditional German Recipes - from Taste of Home
Indonesian Recipes - A large collection of Indonesian as well as Vietnamese and Chinese recipes from Daily Cooking Quest
30 Traditional Brazilian Dishes - from

Books to Make You Forget You Are at Home (International Mystery Series)

Homer Kelly Mysteries - most of Jane Langton's HK mysteries are set in New England, but there are ones set in Florence, Venice and Oxford. Each mystery is framed around a famous thinker, artist or place.
Leilani Santiago Hawai'i Mysteries by Naomi Hirahara. Also the author of the Mas Arai mystery series.
Inspector Chopra Mysteries - by Vaseem Khan. Crime novels set in modern day Mumbai.
Chief Inspector Gamache Series - by Louise Penny set in Quebec, Canada
Inspector Chen Series - by Qiu Xiaolong, set in modern Shanghai.
No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Set in Botswana, this popular detectives series Alexander McCall Smith. Featuring the exceedingly clever and indefatigable Precious Ramotswe, the series has now reached 21 books!

International TV:

The House of Flowers (La Casa de las Flores) (Mexico) Netflix

House of Flowers is a Mexican Telenovela (or more accurately a "millennial telenovela" which satirizes the form and is filled with social commentary) about a dysfunctional wealthy family who owns a flower shop, La Casa de las Flores. Unbeknownst to most of the family, the father also owns a drag queen cabaret by the same name. For more reasons that you can count, the family hits bad times and has to re-adjust all their relationships to each other and try to save what's left to save. Wonderful performances throughout, particularly by Cecilia Suárez who plays the overly earnest, controlling, "on the verge of nervous breakdown" Paulina. Her character (greatly aided by her voice that has become a meme in and of itself) is an uncomfortable delight. The House of Flowers is billed as a "black comedy" but the show is not particularly dark particularly because it seems that all the character's crises seem to be self-generated and almost deserving. The show does have some tender moments too which redeem many of the characters. The set designs are extravagantly colorful. Sometimes compared to the work of Pedro Almodóvar, the show is a lovely guilty pleasure to watch. One reviewer said that people should watch the series if they "were not getting enough family drama during quarantine!

Detectorists (English) Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play

I'm not a doctor, but I'm quite sure that watching Detectorists will lower your blood pressure. Andy (played by Mackenzie Crook who also wrote and directed the series) and Lance (Toby Jones) have absolutely no clue as to what to do with their lives. But they know what to do with every spare daytime moment; metal detecting. In the rural expanse of Essex, the two characters, along with the other odd members of the Danbury Metal Detecting Club scour the fields for metal refuse, their ultimate goal is to find a Roman gold coin (or something comparable) but mostly they find more recently discarded pull tabs from beverage cans. Much of the show consists of conversations between the two who are both unrelentingly cynical, fatalistic and whimsical all at the same time. Quiz shows are their preferred entertainment when the sun goes down. The ensemble cast is a delight (including Diana Rigg and her equally elegant daughter Rachel Stirling!). The Danbury Metal Detecting Club's nemeses are the "AntiquiSearchers" whose two most prominent members are referred to as "Paul and Art" because of their physical resemblance to Simon and Garfunkle, a joke that neither gets. The show also features one of the best delayed punch lines ever (taking a session and a half to setup) regarding the Danbury club member Varda. The series is warmly charming from beginning to end.

International Movies

Abe (US/Brazil) Amazon Prime

Abe (or Avraham or Ibrahim depending on which grandparent is talking to him) has an identity problem. His mother's side of the family is Jewish and his father's side is Palestinian and they all live in Brooklyn. Abe describes himself as "half Palestinian Muslim, half Israeli Jewish, half Brooklyn American. And Gryffindor.” Each side of his family constantly squabbles with the other and each side tries to pull Abe to their own political and cultural worldview. Abe loves to cook and so his parents enroll him in a cooking summer school, but a soon as he enters the class he realizes his own skills are far beyond the simplistic cooking lessons offered. So he skips summer school, jumps on a subway across town and discovers a food truck operated by Brazilian chef "Chico" (played by the wonderful Brazilian samba singer Seu Jorge) who specializes in fusion dishes. Abe begs Chico to teach him how to cook. Chico finally agrees, but tells him that any good cook starts at the bottom with dishwashing and garbage duty. But Abe hangs in there and eventually he is taken under Chico's wing. Abe thinks that perhaps "fusion" cooking can bring his fractured family together, but that task seems to be rather too tall a mountain to climb, until . . . Directed by the Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Grostein Andrade, film is charming if not overly sophisticated, both Noah Schnapp as Abe and Jorge give memorable performances and the food is delectable.

Children of Heaven (Iran) Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes and Google Play

Children of Heaven is an multi- winning (winning top film at the Los Angeles and Montreal international film festivals) Iranian film by acclaimed director Majid Majidi. Roger Ebert said of the film, "Children of Heaven is very nearly a perfect movie for children, and of course that means adults will like it, too. It lacks the cynicism and smart-mouth attitudes of so much American entertainment for kids and glows with a kind of good-hearted purity." Set in modern day Tehran, the film is about a young boy, Ali, who charged with picking up his sister's only pair of shoes from cobbler, but on the way home he accidentally loses them (they are picked up by a blind trash collector). Knowing his parents can ill-afford to buy a new pair of shoes (and fearing their disappointment), Ali and his sister Zahra concoct a plan to hide the fact that the shoes are gone. When that doesn't quite work out, Ali hatches another plan . . . The film is sweet (particularly the relationship between Ali and his sister Zahra), touching and relatable. Even though it has subtitles, its a great film to watch with your kids. The film is extremely rich in "ethnographic" details, showing the everyday experiences of a family trying to live and love under difficult circumstances. It's beautiful.

May 8, 2020

Local Cultural News and Nifty Things to Do Whilst Homebound:
Some interesting, helpful and fun activities from our staff and friends (if you know of any more, send them along!) (Thanks Ciska!):

Patrick Stewart Reading a Shakespeare Sonnet a Day Stewart says he will continue these "Until this horror is over!"
Views of the Prettiest Skylines
Virtual Train Rides All Over the World
Online Cultural Experiences
A Virtual Safari, Women Trailblazers and More
Rainbows as Signs of Thank You, Hope and Solidarity
Shakespeare Performed Around the World
Learn Korean with BTS How about learning to speak Korean with one of the world's biggest boy bands!
Faces of Frida Online "Epic" Exhibit Over 800 artworks by Frida Kahlo (and cool VR stuff too!)

Kid's Corner: I say "Keep 'em busy!" (Thanks Chris!)

Art Is Where the Home Is Free art activity packs for your kids created by a group of well-known British artists
The New Children’s Museum - Resources for Children and Caregivers
Midway Little Skippers - Games, Coloring, and a 1945 Midway Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe
Smithsonian for Kids
YMCA San Diego - Family Resources
Scholastic Learn At Home

Music & Dance for Your Soul:

• Ongoing Shark Belly (download live concerts (audio only) held at the Belly-Up
Milton Nascimento Concert a mostly acoustic set from the remarkable singer-composer with a vocal artistry beyond comparison.
What's Goin On one of the best songs ever, done up proud by Playing for Change
Latin Music USA from PBS
How to Live Stream on YouTube Be a star!

Food Stuff:

Exquisite Moroccan Recipes Recipes and commentary from the wonderful Kitty Morse
16 Dishes That Define Taiwanese Food
Massimo Bottura Free Cooking Classes One of the very best chefs in the world invites you into his home kitchen.
90 Favorite Greek Recipes
17 Traditional Chilean Recipes

Books to Make You Forget You Are at Home (International Mystery Series) (Thanks to Sharon and Adrian!)

The Living Room Of The Dead (The Ray Sharp Novels - Book 1)
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (A Flavia de Luce Mystery)
A Carrion Death (Detective Kubu Series - Book 1)
Death at the Chateau Bremont (A Provençal Mystery)
Flower Net (The Red Princess Mysteries)

International TV:

Ghost Bride (Malaysia) Netflix

The Ghost Bride is based on the best selling novel Yangsze Choo. This week she attended (virtually) the Worldview Project Book Club meeting to discuss her meticulously researched and thrilling murder-mystery novel The Night Tiger. She kept us all spellbound. The Ghost Bride, set in 1890's colonial Malacca (a timeless city if there ever was one) is a story about a Chinese-Malaysian woman (Pan Li-lan) who agrees to "marry" a wealthy family's deceased son (Tian-ching)in exchange for financial help for her debt-ridden family. Ghost marriage has existed in many cultures throughout history, but in perhaps nowhere as practiced as in China. It may have originally occurred as a marriage between two people who are deceased, but evolved to include marriages between a living and a deceased person. Although the reasons for the existence of the practice are numerous, most common is that it provides companionship for the deceased in the afterlife. But in the series Ghost Bride, things get complicated when Tian-ching's ghost begins inhabiting Pan Li-lan's dreams. Turns out he was murdered, but he doesn't know by whom. He enlists Pan Li-lan to solve the murder mystery of his own demise.

Taco Chronicles(Mexico) Netflix

For the past decade and a half, Worldview Project volunteers have traveled to Tecate (the most convenient way, by far, to visit Mexico) for a day meandering around the town enjoying the sights, sounds-and perhaps most of all-the food. One particular food (although the pastries at El Mejor Pan de Tecate and the fresh fruit popsicles are delicious) stands out, tacos. One of our volunteers (Ana) dubbed the day long sojourn as "taco madness". We have yet to sample a taco in San Diego that can match the exquisite ones from Tecate. But it seems that nowhere can you find people as intensely passionate about tacos as among the denizens of Mexico City. The Taco Chronicles series is loving tribute to this culinary obsession. Each episode focuses on a different kind of taco (yes, Virginia, there are more than one). "Volume 1" of the series is comprised of 6 episodes, each 1/2 hour show focusing on a different kinds of tacos; Al Pastor (my favorite!), Carnitas, Canasta, Asada, Barbaco, and Guisado. Gorgeously filmed, the series seeks to uncover the human stories and secrets of the myriad of taquerías found throughout Mexico's marvelous capital. If the show doesn't trigger your food lust, nothing will.

International Movies

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (French) Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, iTunes and Google Play

One might think that OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies is a parody of James Bond films, but the movie is based on a series of spy novels by the French author Jay Bruce, whose first novel in the series pre-dated Ian Flemming's first James Bond book by four years. Although Bruce died in a car accident when he was only 42, he managed to write 88 books in the OSS 117 series as well as penning many other novels. Interestingly the novels main character, super spy Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath is an American of French descent who works for a number of American spy agencies. Rather than being a spoof of James Bond, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies is a spoof of the original French novels. In the movie (and its sequel 'Lost in Rio') Agent 117 is a French Spy. Both films are flat-out silly and reminiscent of the Pink Panther movies. Agent 117 is played by the hugely funny and talented French actor Jean Dujardin (who among many other accolades won the "Best Actor" Oscar for the lovely film The Artist. It would be an understatement to say Dujardin steals the show. His OSS 117 is an unflappable (or perhaps just insensate) French chauvinist who believes that nothing the French government is completely and utterly infallible (despite hysterically funny evidence to the contrary) and French culture is the standard by which all other cultures should be judged. Both films in the series are unabashedly silly, but Dujardin's impeccable comedic timing and mannerisms elevated everthing to an entirely new level of absurdity. The 2nd film in the series ('Rio') is less comedically brilliant than the first, with the exception of perhaps the funniest chase scene ever filmed.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (New Zealand) Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, Vudu, iTunes and Google Play

Some films you just want to hug, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is one. Written and directed by Taika Waititi, this film is offbeat and immensely humorous. Waititi also wrote and starred in the recent film Jojo Rabbit for which he won the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the highest grossing New Zealand film of all time. The film is about the adventures of a 13 year old Maori hip-hop loving juvenile delinquent Ricky and his foster parent Hec, a cantankerous misanthropic reclusive farmer (played by the wonderful Irish New Zealander, Sam Neill). The film was poorly promoted in the US and only had a limited run, which is a shame because it is a gem. After the sudden death of his foster mother, Ricky (soon followed and then joined by Hec) sets out on the lam to escape having social services place him in another home. A rumor gets spread that Hec is a dangerous pedophile that has kidnapped Ricky and a nationwide manhunt ensues. The film features the exquisite natural beauty of New Zealand, and the chemistry that develops between Ricky and Hec in this off-the-beaten-path comedy will both warm your heart and tickle your funny-bone.

May 1, 2020

(Back Issues)

Local Cultural News and Nifty Things to Do Whilst Homebound:
Some interesting, helpful and fun activities from our staff and friends (if you know of any more, send them along!):

Hands of Peace Community Circles
Virtual Talk: European Response to Covid-19 & Implications for Transatlantic Relations San Diego Diplomacy Council
Free Online Screening of The Postcard courtesy of the SD Italian Film Festival
Museum of Photographic Arts Livestream Series
San Diego International Film Festival Online Series
Screening of Singing Our Way to Freedom by Media Arts Center San Diego’s San Diego Latino Film Festival
Screening of Nuestras Madres (Our Mothers) by Media Arts Center San Diego’s San Diego Latino Film Festival
Live Streams from the San Diego Zoo
Live Webcams from the Georgia Aquarium
Virtual Events from the California Center for the Arts, Escondido
New Grant for Balboa Park International Cottages
Things To Do At Home During Lockdown: The Best Online and Virtual Events Taking Place Today from London Inside
UNESCO Asks 'Little Artists' to Draw a World Heritage Site That Matters to Them
Around The World, At Home: Arts, Game Drives, Food, Wine '" From Ireland, South Africa, Napa, More
Virtual San Diego: Bringing Culture and Attractions to You
Air BnB's Online Activities Lots to do with folks around the world (most require payment but some are free)

Music & Dance for Your Soul:

Live Streaming from European DJs Techno anyone?
Live from Home Concerts Courtesy of Live Nation
Livestream Music Concerts from Discover Music
NPR's List of Livestream Concerts updated daily
The Dance Performances That Have Gone Online from Dance Magazine

More Museums and Cultural Sites to Virtually Meander Through:

Street Art from Around the World (Google Art Project)
YouTube Virtual Walking Tours of Cool Places
The Most Beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites
45 Abandoned Places Around the World That Are Eerily Beautiful
Virtual Tours of the Vatican

Food Stuff:

San Diego Magazine's List of Restaurants Offering Take-Out and Delivery
Comfort Food From Around the World
International Recipes from
International Breakfasts from Mr. Breakfast
Lots and lots of International Recipes from Curious Cuisinière

International TV:

Panchayat (India) Amazon Prime

Engineering student Abhishek sure wishes he had studied harder when he realizes that the only job he can find after graduating college is the job of secretary for a Panchayat (village council) in Uttar Pradesh (North India). Abhishek goes from a world of glitzy modern shopping malls and fancy restaurants to a dust-filled rural world of seemingly endless inconveniences hardly aided by ubiquitous cell-phones. The show does a great job of replicating the pace of village life: things don't happen, they evolve. The humor has no punch lines'"it's entirely situational. If you appreciate the daily ironies of human life, you will love this show. It's a rather realistic view of a side of India not much seen in the West. Relax and let it unfold.

Foyle's War (England) Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play

For health reasons Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) can't fight in World War II. But he fights in a very different war on the home front, fighting those who seek to take unscrupulous, sometimes murderous advantage of the wartime chaos in the Southeastern city of Hastings. Ably assisted by his driver (the effervescent Sam played by Honeysuckle Weeks) and the troubled-soul Detective Sergeant Paul Milner (Anthony Howell), Foyle is soft-spoken, methodical, empathetic but absolutely unrelenting in his efforts to bring to miscreants to justice. Written by the award-winning screenwriter Anthony Horowitz, the show frequently visits the moral complexities brought on by war for those struggling to survive far from the actual fighting.

International Movies

The Farewell (US/China) Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu and Google Play

Billi (Akwafina) was brought to the United States when she was only a child. At 30 years old, Billi lives in New York and is trying to make it as an writer. While visiting her parents for dinner, they let on that they are returning to China because "Nai Nai" (Billi's grandmother, played by Shuzhen Zhao) is dying. Shocking Billi to her moral core, she learns that no one has told her grandmother that she's dying. Billi's parents don't want her to accompany them because they believe that she won't be able to keep the secret if there. Looking for work and behind in her rent, Billi maxes out her credit card and catches the first flight she can to China. What follows is a tender drama (with occasional comic relief) that brings to the fore seemingly incompatible cultural differences between her Americanized family and the family they left behind in China who see the world very differently. Both cultural and personality differences bring forth very different manners of coping with the apparent demise of the family's beloved Nai Nai. A wonderful ensemble of actors and sensitive writing and deft direction by Lulu Wang (an the film is semi-autobiographical and "based on a real lie") will pull you into the family and this wonderful film.

Man from Reno (US) Tubi, Amazon Prime and iTunes

Several years ago I saw this film at the San Diego Asian Film Festival. As one of the film's stars is the venerable Mexican-American actor Pepe Serna (who plays a sheriff), the film would have been just at home at the Latino Film Festival. Written and directed by Dave Boyle, Man from Reno is a cross-cultural murder mystery in a neo-noire style with a plot filled with mysterious twists and turns. Best-selling Japanese crime novelist Aki-Akahori (played by Ayako Fujitani) is hiding out in San Francisco to escape the pressures of fame in Japan who accidentally becomes involved in a real life murder mystery. Sheriff De Moral (Serna) has his own mystery to solve and the two plots run parallel to each other until they intersect. Much of the movie is in Japanese (with English subtitles); but that is no artifice, it is cleverly integral to the plot. If you enjoy artfully constructed but complex murder plots, you will enjoy this movie.

April 24, 2020

(Back Issues)
Things to Do Whilst Homebound:
Some interesting, helpful and fun activities from our staff and friends (if you know of any others, please send them along!).
Music for Your Soul: More Museums to Virtually Meander Through: Food Stuff: International TV
Two very different comedies to brighten your evenings.

Kim's Convenience (Canada) Netflix

Kim's Convenience is a sitcom about a convenience store owned and operated by an immigrant Korean family in Toronto, Canada. The writing is wonderfully clever and the acting is generally spot-on. Janet, the college student in the family, is trying her hardest to be a properly "woke" person, but ends up realizing how maddeningly difficult that can be with even the best of intentions. Her brother Jung is the black sheep of the family who is estranged from his father Mr. Kim (Appa, “Father”). For the first part of the series, Janet suffers as the go-between between Jung and his dad. Janet is also driven crazy with Appa's constant chiding (dads and daughters everywhere will understand!). One of the best comic portrayals is turned in by "Mrs. Kim" (aka Umma), who is earnest and kind but just can't help meddling with the lives of'"not just her family members'"but everyone she encounters. Jung and his partner-in-past-crimes (which landed Jung in Juvie despite being innocent) work at Handy Car Rental. The flighty and funny Shannon is their boss. She's got the hots for Jung, but as you know, these things get complicated! Really one of the most genuinely funny programs streaming.

Servant of the People (Ukraine) Netflix

This is art imitating life imitating art. In this comedy a surreptitious phone video of a high school history teacher's profanity-laced tirade about corrupt Ukrainian leaders goes viral and, without his knowledge. he is placed on the presidential ballot and wins! Now its put up or shut up as the teacher populates his cabinet with folks he thinks are ethical (sometimes regardless of their particular expertise) and they go to battle with the corrupt oligarchy. After the series was completed, Volodymyr Zelensky, the comedian who plays the corruption-fighting teacher who becomes president, ran for the actual presidency of the Ukraine won! The whole world learned about him when the President of the United States "encouraged" (I could use a stronger word here) Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son's actions regarding Ukraine leading to the impeachment of the U.S. President. I watched the series before these real world events took place and I highly recommend it as unique peek into another political culture. I'm sure in real life, the situation is not so funny, but this series is a blast!

International Movies
Two beautiful and quietly captivating films that challenge social norms of their time (and ours).
Shoplifters (Japan) Hulu
Shoplifters is a film that challenges conventional wisdom and norms regarding what constitutes "a family" and healty familial relations. Set in Tokyo, the film centers on the experience of a family living on the outskirts of society who subsist not just on shoplifting but a number of economic pursuits that are generally considered improper. It is almost impossible to relate anything about the film's actual events without revealing the plot or doing the film an injustice. The film is, in turns, sweet, beautiful, melancholic and heartbreaking. The acting (by everyone in the family) and direction (by the prolific Hirokazu Kore-eda) is sublime and beautifully crafted. The film won the 2018 Cannes film festival Palm d'Or (the highest award). The film is paradoxically both powerful and gentle a welcome antidote in a cinematic universe that too often favors shocking spectacle over embraceable art.

A Special Day (Italy) for rent at YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime and iTunes
With her husband and six kids out at the fascist rally for Hitler's visit to Rome, the overworked and unappreciated housewife Antonietta (Sophia Loren) goes about her daily chores. Also at home in the towering but drab apartment complex is Gabriele (Marcello Mastroianni), a radio announcer who recently was fired because he is homosexual. The two meet when Antonietta's family's mynah bird escapes, and in her search for the bird, she meets Gabriele who is methodically and calmly closing his affairs before his planned suicide. He stops his fateful preparations to help Antonietta and the two end up spending the rest of the day together. They are'"in almost every way'"polar opposites, but the relationship that evolves over the course of the day is moving, thought-provoking, and bittersweet. They both lead lives of desperation and humiliation, but very differently. They both seek some sort of solace and a more gentle touch in each other. Loren and Mastroianni are bigger-than-life stars that deftly tune down their performances and play against their normal typecasting, delivering sensitive and performances that will linger in your heart for some time. If you like quietly subversive films, this is one of the best. Two notes: The background sound for most of the movie is the live broadcast of the Hitler/Mussolini rally creating constant counterpoint to the tenderness that Antonietta and Gabriele share. Film geeks will discover a bit of cinema magic in the very first and last scenes in which Sofia Loren appears. In a world turning towards intolerance, the film's message has renewed significance

April 17, 2020

(Back Issues)

Online Film Festivals
Kansas City International Film Festival Online
Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival Online
San Diego International Film Festival Online Series
Hawaii International Film Festival Online

International Live or Streaming Music, Dance or Theater Performances:
One World AccuRadio with many culture specific channels. It's cool!
Live with Carnegie Hall Tuesdays and Thursdays from New York (11:00 AM here). World class talent live.
• Pickathon Concerts Recorded Live, on Youtube and Facebook. Every day at 1:00 PM until June 3rd!
National Theater at HomeFree full-length plays every Thursday (in Britain could be Friday here) Each performance available for a week.
The Shows Must Go On! Full Length Theater Shows Every Saturday at 11:00 AM (each available for 48 hours)

Museum Virtual Tours:
Virtual Tour of Egypt's Giza Plateau (Pyramids!)
Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac - Paris, France
Lahore Museum - Pakistan
Museum of Ethnic Cultures - Minzu University of China
Museo Arqueológico de Granada - Spain
The State Hermitage Museum - Saint Petersburg, Russia

World Cuisine Recipes
Global Table Adventure
World Cuisine at
Recipes Around the World
Global Recipe Guide from
Easy International Dishes from Patty Saveurs' blog

Another Practical Link
Ok, some folks really need to get their hair cut. If you decide to cut your own hair, check out this resource from Cosmopolitan. How to Cut Your Own Hair at Home Without Totally Effing It Up which gives tons of info on how you can cut your hair in a variety of different styles.

Atelier (Japan) Netflix

Ateliers are designer's workshops. This series is about a high-class lingerie shop, Emotion, located in Tokyo's fashionable Ginza district. The firm was established by Ms. Nanjo (played by Mao Daichi) as a one off or limited production shop producing lingerie for women who want the best no matter what it costs. Nanjo is extremely dedicated to creating the most beautiful and most comfortable lingerie possible. She is considered to top designer in Tokyo. She knows what she wants and her staff works tirelessly to make Mayuko's vision a reality. However, Mayuko (Mirei Kiritani) a young undisciplined upstart with big ideas and considerable ambition joins the firm. Mayuko is an obsessed fabric geek who wants to expand the line and use new patterns and fabrics, so that women with more modest budgets can afford Emotion lingerie. Mayuko frustration with Ms. Nanjo's resistance to change is only made worse by Mayuko's tremendous respect and awe she has for her employer. While the individual plotlines are perhaps not that unique, wonderful acting, high production and insights into uniquely Japanese ways of understanding the world makes Atelier a captivating show.

Call My Agent (France) Netflix

The in movies and TV shows talent agents are usually portrayed as having the ethics of an ambulance chasing lawyer. Call My Agent is series set in a Paris talent agency. The agency represents the most well-known stars of French cinema. Like the series Extras (starring Ricky Gervais) many notable French actors appear in the show, playing themselves but in a way that may be somewhat contrary to the public's perception of them. In addition to comedic tension, the show is often quite human and tender. We feel for the stars but also for the agents who have to manage them. All normal cut-throat shenanigans happen in Call My Agent, but differing from most TV and movies that involve talent agents, Call My Agent looks at the world from the viewpoint of the agents and not the stars. These agents go to rather extreme lengths to please their famous client's needs whilst doing their best to maintain their own dignity and personal integrity. The French name for the show is 10 Ten Percent, the agents normal fee, but earning that fee is no easy feat. This comedy is well acted and often rather clever. The comedy is entirely situational and avoids descending into cheap laughs. All the characters, in the own unique ways struggle to make it and even though it is a comedy, none of the characters seem overly caricatured. It's a decidedly different sense of humor than normal TV offers.

We are living in challenging times, for many the hardest times they have experienced. These two films, one a documentary, the other based on a true story show how remarkable humans can be when the chips are down in ways most of us may never know.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Malawi) Netflix

The movie depicts the real life experiences and best selling autobiography of William Kamkwamba. William grew up in a farming community in Malawi that was on the verge of famine. The film is quite sophisticated in showing the myriad ways, both subtle and extreme, political corruption, corporate agendas, climatic and environmental conditions (changed by human activity) have conspired to make rural life in much of Africa near impossible. Watching the film you will have a deeper understanding, at a more personal level, how these forces have compelled people to move to urban slums where life is extremely hard but more survivable. His parents unable to pay his school fees 13 year old William is expelled from school. His mother, Agnes, wants her son and daughter to do well in school and go to college. William is an earnest, but not great, student. But he is absolutely consumed by the wonders of electricity and electronics having a side-gig of repairing radios and cassette players for his neighbors. Farming is dependent on both sun and rain, but rarely do the two factors seem to work together well for farming. It's either flooding because of too much rain or the earth is too dry because of long droughts. The have water wells but no practical way of getting the water to the fields. But William thinks he can change this equation if he builds a wind mill that drives a small generator and pump. But under conditions where neighbors are fighting to survive by either fleeing to the city or trying against all odds to continue farming, it's hard for William to convince people to buy into his plan. His biggest obstacle is his own father who is at his whit's end trying to ensure his families mere survival. William loves his father but he has tremendous faith that his idea is worth the sacrifices required. As you might guess, William succeeds. Most reviewers loved this film, the ones that didn't complained about the film craft, not the underlying story or the treatment of the issues involved. I found the film to be wonderfully anthropological in the sense that it brought out the intricacies of everyday life without cinematic fanfare. There are strong performances throughout and it is really a story worth telling.

Honeyland (North Macedonia) Netflix

Honeyland has won numerous "best documentary" awards and a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Set in a remote mountain village of North Macedonia, Honeyland chronicles the real-life experiences of a traditional bee keeper named Hatidže Muratova, who lives with her blind and aged mother. With neither running water nor electricity she ekes out a life by selling the honey that her bees produce. Hatidže's life changes dramatically when Hussein and his family of 9 and 100 head of cattle take up residence next door. Relations between Hatidže and Hussein's family are great. . . at first. What makes the movie particularly captivating is Hatidže herself. She has real grit but still has a softer side, a wise humanity about her and she embraces the few joys that come her way. The film is less about triumph than it is about perseverance, it's deeply touching.
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