Lest we forget

I asked my dear friend, Charlotte Whiteacre, to share these amazing photos of her Poppa, a soldier in World War II (1939-1945), to commemorate ANZAC day.

“My favourite one is of Poppa sitting on a tent writing a letter home. Also the one of him holding his fists up (boxing). All these guys were his mates right up until he passed away…”

Stuart Southall 20/1/1924 – 6/6/2011

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International Documentary Film Festival: Soldier on the Roof

Imagine living in a city divided by religion – everything is dust-coloured, it’s a blessing for your children to come home from school each day, you seal your windows for safety and privacy, and on every building there’s a soldier on the roof.

Until two nights ago, I never imagined a place like this would still exist – or perhaps even worse, I chose to ignore it. Any ethereal dream-land I was previously floating around in came to an abrupt end when I saw Soldier on the Roof at the International Documentary Film Festival. It was, to say the very least, an insightful and educational 80 minutes into the ancient West Bank city of Hebron.

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Hebron is described in songs and books (including the Bible, Quran and Torah) as the holiest place on earth; a city of enlightenment. However after immersing herself in the city for three years with nothing but her handheld camera, the documentary director Esther Hertog gave a much less majestic, and a much more accurate portrayal, of what exactly goes on there. Hertog’s raw depiction of Hebron focusses on a small enclave at the centre of the city’s oldest neighbourhood, where Israeli soldiers are posted on the rooftops to protect the 800 Jewish colonists who live among 120,000 Palestinians.

It is near impossible to accurately articulate the thousands of years of history that have caused the seemingly irreversible damage between the local civilians. But I can say this – the children of Hebron aren’t born with the knowledge of this history, nor are they born with a grudge. It is therefore time that adults pass down lessons of wisdom rather than lessons of war. This is the only way they can ensure the safety of their childrens’ futures. If that’s not reason enough, then I don’t know what can save them.

Soldier on the Roof has won multiple awards, including Best Dutch Documentary IDF Amsterdam 2012.

International Documentary Film Festival: The Island President

I was fortunate enough to stumble across The Island President at the opening of the Documentary Edge International Film Festival last week – The-Island-President-600x405This international documentary sensation closely follows Mohamed Nasheed, the former Maldives’ president, through his fight for democracy and then an even bigger challenge – tackling global climate change.

The 1,200 islands that compose the Maldives lay merely 1.5 metres above water, making it the lowest lying country in the world. In the last five years, shores have eroded by 5 metres, sand walls have begun to border the beaches, palm trees have gradually slipped off the coastline, and fish have become scarce.

After touching on his country’s tyrannous past, which saw him imprisoned and tortured on many occasions, Nasheed takes us through his first year in office where he faces a battle like no other – to stop his country from sinking.

The documentary offers a rare and unprecedented insight into the politics behind climate change, culminating in the futile disagreements between world leaders at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, where Nasheed’s touching speech prompted the first sort of global climate change agreement.

The humble and humorous Mohamed Nasheed manages to make such a harrowing topic inspirational – he is our “Global President.”

Imagine

“Either write something worth reading about or do something worth writing.”

– Benjamin Franklin

“I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
– Roger Ebert

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