KARACHI, March 10: Cultures of Resistance, a 72-minute documentary film about resistance movements all over the world, is a beautiful kaleidoscope of the show of resilience through expressions.
Its filmmaker/director Iara Lee, a Brazilian of Korean descent, believes that it is good to vent frustrations through art and culture. At the screening of her film at the T2F on Sunday the director was introduced by classical dancer, teacher, drama artist, women’s rights activist and founder of Tehrik-i-Niswan, a Karachi-based theatre group, Sheema Kermani as her twin.
Come to look at it this way, both women activists have used art and culture as form of non-violent conflict.
Music, song, dance, art, cartoons, graffiti, calligraphy, photography, literature, poetry can all be used to express frustration and agitation of people.
Iara Lee’s documentary is a collection of snapshots of examples of how people in different parts of the world struggle peacefully.
She embarked on a two-year five-continent trek to film the Tuareg resistance rising from the desert in Mali, monks acting in the tradition of Gandhi to peacefully take on a dictatorship in Myanmar, the musicians reaching out to slum children while transforming AK-47 guns into guitars in Brazil and to the photography, music and films coming out of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
The film highlights non-management of resources in Congo, violence against women and children in Liberia, the genocide and rebuilding in Rwanda, the reaction of the people in Iran to the rebellion in Syria, the rhymes of peace in Colombo.
It has the Medellín poets for peace, Capoeira masters from Brazil, Niger Delta militants, Iranian graffiti artists, women’s movement leaders in Rwanda, Lebanon’s refugee filmmakers, US political pranksters, Israeli dissidents, hip-hop artists from Palestine, and many more all venting their frustration through different forms of expression.
“It is all interconnected if you think about it,” the talented filmmaker said while speaking to her audience after the film.
“And such kind of a connection is important for promoting global solidarity,” she added while informing that she had also set up a foundation, the Cultures of Resistance Network, to support the issues she covers.
“The stories of conflict never end. You learn about one and there are five more. So if everybody will do a little something, things will eventually change. If you do not do your bit, the others will win. It is a life commitment. Perseverance gets you results. And change may not come in your lifetime but your next generation may benefit from what you started,” she said.
Her most recent project is a documentary titled The Suffering Grasses, which explores the Syrian conflict through the humanity of the civilians who have been affected. As an activist, she has collaborated with numerous grass-roots efforts, including the International Campaign to Ban Cluster Munitions. While residing in Lebanon in 2006, she experienced firsthand, the 34-day Israeli bombardment of the country.
She already knew a bit about the struggle of women under the Taliban rule. “But if I go to Balochistan, I don’t want the intelligence following me,” she joked but then justified her statement by telling about her experience in other countries. “The governments have been my biggest problem to get permission from to shoot,” she said.
The film can be followed through English subtitles as it is in some 16 languages. “One amazing song, one amazing photo, one amazing poem … you never know what kind of creative endeavour may catch the world’s attention about a problem in your country. I know that the problems I have heard about in Pakistan cannot be as big as they seem to be. It is for you to play your role to defend your country and break the illusion by showing that it is only a small portion of people here getting you those negative headlines. Just see how easily the US is getting away with drones. They do not want to lose one pilot but do not care about the poor civilians who are killed as a result of the drone attacks. Your artists should work through creative resistance to let the world know what your country is going through. Right now if I post something beautiful from a country known for something bad, people cannot believe that it originated from there,” she said.