Sunday, April 23, 2017


The success of a culture or country must not be based on the suppression of another.

Courtesy is a state of mind, not a momentary utterance, but I’ll take the latter any time.

Cell phones destroy human cells; it takes energy to do that. That is why they go dead so quickly.

Shopping is medicine for the bored mind.

When not asked, the only person interested in what you are saying about yourself is only yourself.

God gave us a beautiful earth; we gave ourselves the facility to destroy it.

How can you expect people to understand you when you don’t understand them - let alone yourself?

Whining works wonders for people to leave you alone – even when you want them to stay.

The noblest sibling is the one who gets shunned, yet never speaks negatively about the one who did it. 

A friend is like a flower in a field of weeds. If you pick one, water it every day to keep it blooming near you. As for the weeds, they're all around, so keep your eyes open for that flower. 

You never need to explain yourself to one who loves you. However, you will always be explaining to those who don't. 

Love is life's longest journey yet it only takes a second to fall from grace. 

Silence is not golden when you need someone to talk to you; tell them. 

Dogs never give up; humans barely even try. 

Feeling sorry for yourself is feeling like everyone else, so why 
doesn't it feel good? You know the answer.  

Criticizing people are usually not just unhappy with you, but also with themselves. Still, sometimes what they say you must consider; it sometimes shows you how you are perceived, and they may be right, but it shows you more about them. 

Have ever noticed that as we age, we become more balanced in our lives, yet our balance is one of the first things to go. Don't fall!

A lot of people can laugh at themselves wanting you to believe they really are humble; but deep down, they know they are prideful.  

Humans bond better and more profoundly with animals than they do with their own ken. That's because we are more primitive than we would like to think. We are beasts begging for love from our animal/pets. And we get it from them - far more and forever than we get from humans.

Love God, give yourself to him, and feel the peace within. 

Loneliness stalks us, but look not to others to fill your void. A simple greeting to a stranger works wonders. Enjoy the child you pass outside. Study the patterns in a leaf; look at a single cloud or blade of grass, and realize you are not alone. You are an integral part of it all - even though the universe is as infinite as a black hole.

Don't judge others, but judge yourself with gentleness with a view to eliminating behavior that harms you and others.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

KEMTIYU-SEEX ANTA (Directed by Ousmane William M’Baye) *

Archival stills and film clips attempt to reveal the genius of Cheikah Anita Diop. This brilliant Senrgalese man went to Paris’s Sorbonne to study philosophy as a young man, and also chemistry. He became an advocate for proving Egypt was not European , but a nation of blacks. In fact, it is African. He wrote volumes on African history, and upon returning to Senegal, opened up a carbon 14 laboratory. This wonderful man was arrested for his beliefs on Egypt, and only got his due after his death, when the University in Dakar’s name changed to take on his name.  He died in 1986 at the age of 63. What a loss! The film was far too long, and the assortment of people who were interviewed were so many that the film in trying to distil his life turned into a talking heads historical narration that did not truly capture this great man’s passion. (Screened at Vues d”Afrique)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


 It’s farewell to Alain Lefèvre – renown artistic director of Lanaudière Festival for decades, and hello to the highly gregarious Gregory Charles, a gifted man of superb artistic talents: a comedian, a pianist, owner of two celebrated radio stations and a passionate crusader for music. His career as an entertainer has spanned some 25 years. His popularity is second to none.

It’s a celebratory year for the festival as it enters its 40th season and new beginnings are afoot. M r. Charles expressed his determination to make the festival totally inclusive regarding classical music reaching far beyond Lanaudière’s pristine setting. 

Having grown up with music in his family, his global outlook is not surprising. After all, for ten years, he brought together more than 80,000 choristers from around the world as artistic director of Mondial choral de Laval, a musical event that reached over a million listeners, and his TV appearances are pretty much internationally broadcasted.

Kent Nagano

 The season’s opening concert fittingly presents Alain Lefèvre in an OSM concert with its music director Kent Nagano. The organ and orchestra will open this July1st evening program with a work by Samy Moussa performed by Jean-Willy Kunz . Ravel’s “Concerto in G” which is them followed with the final piece, Mahler’s mighty “Fifth Symphony”. Exciting music for sure.  

Also in the concert series are I Musici de Montréal and Les Violins du Roy. A banquet of timeless composers are being featured this summer, but it’s rare to hear Emily Oulousian, winner of the Virtose 2016 play “Grieg’s Piano Concerto”. That same night, (Saturday, July 15th), Zhan Hong Xiao, winner of the Virtose 2017, will be playing Liszt’s “Piano Concerto No.1”. The final concert for the festival is Wagner’s 4-hour “Parsifal” – conducted by

Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Yannick Nézet-Séguin. This opera has not been heard in Quebec for a century. Now you have the chance to hear it. Wow!

Music will be spilling out of everywhere in the area, including chamber music and more inside four churches. The pickings, including jazz and Broadway musical numbers are so exciting, so please consult the website for the line up of concerts, ticket reservations and venues.  You can also call 1-800-245-7636 or 450-759-7636.The festival runs from July 1st to August 6th.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A RIDE IN THE COFFIN (Directed by Pluvio Benko) **

A cute film that brings two people hitchhiking at separate times together in the back of a pick-up truck in Rwanda. One hides in a coffin; the other is one her way to to meet the journalist who has
made an appointment with her. The guy in the coffin has a secret crush on her, and that’s why he made the appointment, but the greatest story occurs during the ride. An unusual little story for a shorat Vues Festival)

the two actors in the film

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

SANS REGRETS (Directed by Jacques Trabi)****

 In the Ivory Coast, Gaston works on the docs, but he needs 20,000$ to get his son into the police academy. His dock friends lend him the money, but he is mugged one night, and loses it all. He finds the guy who stole it, and this encounter leads to Gaston’s new life. The thug introduces him to Coffin, his boss, and soon Gaston has given up his duty to hard work and justice, and enters a violent life of easy money. Corruption is everywhere in the city at every level. Gaston gives his family riches, but in the end, he pays an exorbitant price. A good captivating film that provides a glimpse into a country in tatters.  (Screened at Vues d"Afrique Festival)        

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Desiderius loses Latina during a possession Tromba cult in Madagascar. Desiderius, a photographer, films parts of Cuba as he looks for Latina. In so doing, he talks to several people who attest to the magnificence of the Revolution.

 An annoying motif of Latina’s face, a young woman, is shown as silly music plays to mark several moments when the searcher travels in a car to another place rumoured to be where Latina is. Lines from Dali and Buňel pop up as supers. Life and death topics are touched upon as people tale to Desiderius. Latina is really Oshua, spirit God. Cuba never looked so dull. (The film was screened at Vues d’Afrique Festival) in Montreal)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

HUGO PRATT: TRAIT POUR TRAIT (Directed by Tierry Thomas) *****

Acclaimed creator of the strong character, Corto Maltese, genius larger than life  comic book artist Hugo Pratt, this great black and white film presents his adventuring life, sexual antics and loves and his travels all over the world.

 A superb communicator, he instantly made friends; his passion for life was thrilling. His drawings are brilliant. Few men exist like him today. (Screened at FIFA).

Thursday, April 6, 2017

DOCUMENTARY SERIES ON MODERN ART (Amélie Harrault, Pauline Gaillard, Vélerie Loiseleux)*****

A brilliant series of six films spanning the early 1900s to 1945 in France. Meet all those amazing artists, including Malraux, Matisse, Cocteau, Soutine, Picasso, Apolinaire, Max Jacobs, Gide, Modigliani, Stein and more. Witness the suffering, sacrifice, free thinking and commitment to freedom that cost several of them their lives. Did you know that Sartre and de Beauvoire cycled from Paris to Southern France to win supporters from their friends against the Nazis? Old black and white film clips with animations superimposed bring back to life the startling lives of these bohemian geniuses. Literati and painters left their inspiring mark on the world.  The series graphically brings to the lens the wars which devastated these Jewish artists. (Screened at FIFA)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Now into its 33rd year, Vues dAfrique, founded director, Gérard Le Chêne (now International Festival Director) – with his daughter Géraldine now acting as general director – is North America’s largest and most important pan-African film festival. This year, Morocco is being spotlighted. In fact, journalists assembled in Montreal’s beautiful Moroccan Cultural Centre to get a taste not just of great Moroccan food but an earful of news that also presented us with consul generals from Gabon, Madagascar and Cuba. VIPs also include nine jury members, such as the brilliant Andre Boulerice, Doris Posch and Iolande Cadrin-Rossignal.  Author and actress, Maimouna N’Diaye led the press confernece ceremony as the opening speaker. She’s a star in her own right.  “L’Oeil du Cyclone” by Sékou Traoré garnered her several acting awards in many festivals.

Over 107 films will be presented this year of every genre, and with Morocco more or less being the master of cinema highlight this year, “La main de Fadma” by Hakim Belabbes will open the festival, and four more of his films will be presented, as well. His notable feature, “Sueur de Pluie” also by Hakim Belabbes won best prize at Tanger’s national film festival last year.
“Raja Bent El Mellah” by Abdelilah Elijaouhary will have his documentary film shown. 
There’s even a Moroccan short, “Ima”, and many more that will be presented from this and other sister countries.
The panel speakers from Dar al Maghrib area of Morocco are sure to engage all who attend as they speak about the Moroccan experience as a filmmaker.  Canadian panellists will also join this event. After all many of the festival 107 films are co-productions. Filmmaking is rigorously flourishing in every country in African, and Vues d’ Afrique as snagged the best of the lot.
The festival runs from April 14 – 23. An exciting mix of artistic activities, including educational projects with participation from children are on the agenda.


For information on tickets and more visit:

Reviews follow

(Directed by Nicolas Deleveux)

 Virunga is the oldest national park in Africa. It is the biodiversity jewel of Congo. But poachers, a 20-year war and militia have killed not just so many animals there, but the guards and many more villagers who live in this park that spans 500 kilometres x 30 kilometres.  In 2007, great massacres occurred. With stunning mountains to its north and south, the park was founded by King Albert of Belgium in 1925 after he first came here seven years prior. The protection of flora, fauna and the gorilla population has involved all who inhabit the park and Unesco. Emmanuel de Merode who was once shot during an ambush, directs the park, and it is during this film that we meet the princess of Belgium, whose father was Leopold III. he came to this park.


As Princess Esmeralda is taken on an amazing in-depth tour of all the park’s facilities, its school, hospital, newly built hydro electric plant and the guard garrison of brave people, we begin to realize that it takes a village to create a miraculous park. We are moved by the close relationship one man who has risked his life to be with the gorillas. 

We meet many brave villagers and experts whose life work is the park. The park’s 800,000 hectares I is hope to a love nest of gorillas who live high up. The princess and a group of park experts and two soldiers take the long trek to be with them. The volcano looms in the distance, as does Rwanda and the imminent dangers incurred not by animals but by vicious human beings whose only mandate is to kill for profit. The camera work was astounding. You felt like you were there with the princess. The interviews with all the people involved in the park were telling and unrehearsed. The park sustains the 4 million people whose live is in some way dependent on the stunning reserve of river, and greenness. Deforestation has happened, but with the brave people who are educated to combat man’s insidious disregard for natural wonders, the park will endure and develop properly, guided by the mindful, supremely wise and caring experts. (Screened at Vues d'Afrique Festival).



                                   WELCOME TO GONDWANA (Directed by Mamane) **

Somewhat ridiculous but an obvious farcical satire on France playing big brother in   African countries. This  fictitious one happens to be Gondwana –  toted as the “very very democratic state”. Of course, it’s anything but. France sends a delegation to observe voting during the elections, and it seems everyone in the group has his/her own agenda. The French deputy wants fairness and a girl he meets.

 There’s a businessman who is more intent on selling his asparagus to VIPS than doing his job as an official observer, and there’s a female whose revolutionary actions cause havoc.
The French know how to create fun characters, but this 100-minute film is childish. Still, its light-hearted tone works well. (Screened at Vues d’Afrique Festival)

                                          A MILE IN MY SHOES (Directed by Said Khallaf) ***

It is very difficult to make a film with several characters and to attempt to chart their entire unlucky lives from childhood to adulthood. Editing is key in this type of film, and it failed. Plot-wise Said endures a life of abuse and blame. Violence stalks him in all kinds of life stages, and the two loves of his life – his aunt and his girl friend suffer through the turmoil. Staged like a theatrical play at times, with melodrama setting the tone, then switching to raw reality, the film is a mix of confusion. It ends happily, but the worst side of Moroccan life as shown in this film loses credibility. (Screened at Vues d’Afrique Festival).

                                                          CAHOS (Directed by Hervé Roesch) ****

 High up in the mountains of Haiti is Cahos and the few inhabitants who for centuries were able to make a living out form the coffee bean plants that grew beside them. But those days are over. Faced with deforestation, cyclones and rain, where soil falls into the river and the plants no longer grow, the future is dismal.  What to do, but have cock fights, sit and look out at the mountains, and drink the little coffee they roast.  Ironically, the inhabitants are forced to cut down trees to make coal.

 The lack of trees provide no buffer to protect potential growth of coffee bean plantations.
The pickings are few; but the villagers' humour prevails.


KEMTIYU-SEEX ANTA (Directed by Ousmane William M'Baye) *

Archival stills and film clips attempt to reveal the genius of Cheikah Anita Diop. This brilliant Senegalese man went to Paris’s Sorbonne to study philosophy as a young man, and also chemistry. He became an advocate for proving Egypt was not European , but a nation of blacks. In fact, it is African. He wrote volumes on African history, and upon returning to Senegal, opened up a carbon 14 laboratory.

 This wonderful man was arrested for his beliefs on Egypt, and only got his due after his death, when the University in Dakar’s name changed to take on his name.  He died in 1986 at the age of 63. What a loss! The film was far too long, and the assortment of people who were interviewed were so many that the film in trying to distil his life turned into a talking heads historical narration that did not truly capture this great man’s passion. 

LA MAIN DE FADMA (Directed by AHMED El Maanouni)****

In Jamaa El Fna in Marrakech, Fadma is a wonderful mother whose grown-up so, Karim is a joker and lovable stay-at-home devotee to his mom. He makes her laugh and is dependent on her.

 But he has dreams and eventually fulfils them, and he does by the end of the film with his uncle and Ahmed, his  computer addicted business man brother and his family and their friends. This happens six months after Fadma travels to France to visit her son and wife. The teenage daughter is a real brat. Fadma finds a way to endear her granddaughter to her, even joining her in the play “Romeo and Juliet” in which the daughter stars. Fadma is a woman of great warmth and several talents. The ending of the film is happy, and makes a message that being Arab is a joy that one should never hide when one lives in Europe. Indeed, it seems that Marrakeck and its inhabitants really know how to live and love.


LA COLERE DANS LE VENT (Directed by Amina Weira) *****

A living hell in the dust bowl town of Arit. Here inhabitants are suffering from uranium toxicity from the mine in Areva, Niger. The two mines there have doctors that ignore x-rays showing illness.

 Their homes are full of toxic material from the mines, as the bricks are using Argyle Company’s deadly chemical. The wind, the forlorn sadness is uncovered by the filmmaker whose father tries to rally the men against their situation. She herself is on camera. An important moving film that uncovers a little-known huge problem in this region of Niger.

Amina Weira

more reviews here:

Sunday, April 2, 2017

ZOROASTRE! MOI, GIACOMO CASANOVA (Dircted by Gianni Di Capua) *****

A stunning presentation of the  Italian opera with orchestra (Theresia Youth Baroque), and the three Baroque singers with narration on camera using Galatea Ramzi. 

She lends her voice as Giacomo Casanova as he worked in the 18th century on the translation of the opera with music by Jean-Philippe Rameau; the librettist was Louis de Cahusac. It was first performed on 5th December 1749 at the ... Evil and goodness vie for the Queens who misses Zoroastre, the king. Hell breaks out in a revolution, and the message is a modern one for sure. Dancing also filled instrumental parts by a modern soloist. The music is beautiful. (Screened at FIFA)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

THE PUPPETS’ CEMETERY (Directed by Elena Molina) **

In Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, a highly strong-minded independent woman who makes her living as a hairdresser, pig farmer, musician and more insists that she learn puppetry from a man who is a master. They retrieve old objects, including puppet remains and turn things into puppets. 

A short 14-minute film that does not give the entire story or show for that matter. But it speaks loads about hope and creativity and the power of imagination.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Directors are many in this 4-part TV PBS series that started in 2001. The fascinating up close testimonies and presentations of art explores various innovative artists as they explain their philosophies and show their art. It focuses on artists in four different cities: Mexico City, Chicago, Vancouver and Los Angeles. These artists choose totally subversive ways to distinctly express their visions and talents  as they attempt to overthrow staid conventions and restrictions that society imposes.  Both photos display works by Mr. Ortega (FIFA presentation).

a work by Mexican artist, Damian Ortega