I pay scant attention to the bazillions of posters stuck up on the quadrillion notice boards around the few buildings I have to get to each week for my job. Recently a new one appeared which I almost completely managed to ignore, except for the fact that it was of a fairly bold, strong design.
It featured a picture of a strangely shaped puddle within a field of freshly turned, roughly hewn raw earth. The ground was a reddish brown, and it looked like a barely cooked pile of minced meat, badly flattened with a fork.
It was not until I recognised the image from a note posted by a facebook friend that I realised what the poster signified: the 15th Gwangju Human Rights Film Festival. It turns out that the festival starts tomorrow.
When I looked a little closer at the picture on the poster I realised that in the center of the puddle stood a lonely, lost-looking heron-type bird. Suddenly again, the poster instantly had new meaning. Not two months ago I was standing on the bridge on the road to the Gwangju airport, gazing down in dismay at the massive earthworks taking place on the river-bed below. Among the piles of freshly turned earth were oddly shaped puddles, and standing around forelornly within those puddles, looking lost and confused as to the lack of fish and bugs, were several skinny heron-type birds.
According to the schedule, at least one movie within this festival will be focused on the ‘Four Rivers Grand Canal Project‘ initiated by South Korea’s current president Lee Myung Bak. I am glad to see this will be a feature of the film festival; however, there are also many other fascinating and intriguing films on offer. Furthermore, however many movies feature the plight of Korea’s already haunted non-human populations, unfortunately, it will be too little, too late for many, many birds and much wildlife around this otherwise fair peninsular. But the focus is on human rights, not the rights of birds or bugs. I wonder how the film makers will address the issue of big business interests versus the owners of the Paldang Organic Farm which is being removed to make way for the canal, let alone those who simply appreciate and enjoy nature. I look forward to reading reviews from any students or friends who can attend the screenings over the next few days.
Having had a look at the schedule for the movies showing at the film festival, I am pleasantly surprised by three things. Firstly, the movie theatre is just around the corner from the front gate of my work place. Secondly, there seems to be a good variety of different topics and themes covered. Thirdly, I am very glad to see that the one movie from the just finished Gwangju Women’s Film Festival which I really wanted to see is being screened again for this festival.
I think it is fair to say that the Topp Twins are ‘world-famous in New Zealand,’ where they could be called cultural icons. They certainly used to be house-hold names. I grew up watching Jools and Lynda on television.
The Topp Twins were early examples of entertaining and fairly trailblazing out and openness at a time when the 1986 law reform was still taking a bit of getting used-to for more conservative viewers. They were not the earliest; the flamboyant TV chef stars of their own cooking show Hudson and Halls were definitely established throughout the nation as a great and famous duo, but their story is sadly no longer ongoing. It is great, therefore, to see that the Topp Twins have not just beaten time and breast cancer, but are also continuing to win awards.
This comedy duo helped white New Zealanders learn to laugh at themselves. As someone who prefers not to eat meat, I still often quote from one skit I saw them perform more than a decade ago. They were hosting a good old ‘Kiwi’ barbeque on stage in front of a live studio audience. One of them says: “Here’s a special dish for the vegetarians!” and promptly pours some tomato sauce (ketchup) straight onto a paper napkin, and hands it off to the nearest audience member in the front row.