As its name would indicate, the Fira Mediterrània de Manresa showcases music from Catalonia and also from all around the Mediterranean. It provides a lively music trade fair where business connections can be made and deals closed, but it is also a citywide festival. Every resident can participate and the main streets are full of families taking advantage of the public performances and general party feeling.
I'll be covering the festival in greater depth soon, but for now, here's a dose of medieval secular music from Els Berros de la Cort who were playing at El Sielu, one of the smaller club-like venues. As you will see the band uses authentic instruments, with the addition of some contemporary percussion and amplification. So while the sound is probably quite similar to what one might have heard at a medieval festival, there are definitely heightened rhythmic color and dynamics.
The lyrics for the first a capella piece come from the "Speculum al Foderi," which was a kind of medical sex manual for the lay person (no pun intended, but hey...). The very title, which contains some rather blunt language, suggests that it was not published for royalty, who would usually be reading a book in formal Latin. The words themselves, which the band has set to original music describe various attributes of a woman: her fair parts, her dark parts, her round parts, her petite parts, and her sweet-smelling parts.
The full translation is available upon request ;-)
This is followed by an instrumental which is a free adaptation of "Molt Eram Dolz Mei Conzir," a composition by Arnaut de Maroil (sometimes written Arnaut de Mareuil), an Occitan troubadour of the late 12th century.
This all leads me to believe there was lot more to medieval culture than we are commonly taught!
For more information about Els Berros de la Cort, visit: elsberrosdelacort.cat
For more of Michal's world music videos visit inter-muse.com
US-approved Syrian opposition group forms governing body
After US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a "more trustworthy" Syrian opposition last week, New TV reported that a leader in the Free Syrian Army announced that the Free Army is reorganizing its ranks to gain the trust of the international community, adding that his leadership has started to settle inside Syria. The Syrian opposition also announced during its ongoing meetings in Doha that it accepted a proposal to establish a transitional government headed by opposition member Riyad Saif. The initiative, headed by Saif, stipulates creating a unified leadership dubbed the Syrian National Initiative, from which a government in exile will be formed.
World groups organize global day of action in support of Myanmar's Rohingyas; Suu Kyi under fire for ignoring violence
Myanmar's Rohingyas are fleeing Rakhine State after a new wave of attacks from the Buddhist majority. Press TV reported that Rohingya groups around the world held a global day of action for the Rohingyas on November 8. International rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, have also criticized Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi for her silence on the issue. The president of Arakan Rohingya National Organization, Noor al-Islam, added in an interview during a rally in London that if the persecuted had been Rakhine's Buddhists, Suu Kyi would have spoken out. Additionally, the aid group Doctors Without Borders says its workers have been threatened and stopped from reaching violence-hit areas in Myanmar. The group says thousands are left without medical care in the western Rakhine State as a result, adding that many of the victims are extremely vulnerable.
Tens of Thousands Demand Nobel Peace Prize for Malala Yousafzai
BBC Arabic reported that over 60 thousand people signed a petition calling for Pakistani rights activist Malala Yousafzai to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The 15-year-old girl is recovering in The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, Britain, after suffering an armed attack by the Taliban movement in Pakistan. Malala and her campaign for education gained notoriety around the world after she wrote her memoirs in the Urdu section of the BBC about life under the teachings of the extremist Taliban movement that rejects girls' right to an education.
Oil Giant Shell Undercuts Iran Sanctions with $1.4B Grain Barter
Dubai TV reported that the Royal Dutch Shell Company aims to circumvent international sanctions imposed on Iran by concluding a swap through which it would pay its USD 1.4 billion debt to the Iranian national oil company with a grain barter deal through the American agribusiness Cargill. Through the deal, Shell would deliver grain to Iran worth USD 1.4 billion, or what amounts to nearly 80 percent of Iran's yearly grain imports. Sources also revealed that the Royal Dutch Shell company, Tehran's second largest customer, imports 100,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day, and continued to purchase oil until the sanctions went into effect on July 1st.
Image: Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai talks to her father, Ziauddin Yousufzai, as she recuperates at the The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, in this undated handout photograph released to Reuters on November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham/Handout
Iranian rial falls to all-time low as Western sanctions take hold
The rial has hit an all-time low against the American dollar, trading at 37,000 to the dollar this week, Future TV reported. And as objections against his government have risen, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the presence of a shortage of hard currencies in the Iranian market, and clarified that the Iranian rial was devalued because of international sanctions on Iran. He also said that he sees a psychological war accompanying this external international pressure, which led to the devaluation of the currency.
Tunisian woman accused of indecency after being raped by security forces
Dubai TV reported that the Tunisian judiciary charged a girl with public indecency on Wednesday, after police said they had arrested her in a car under what they described as "suspicious circumstances" this past September. The girl had accused security agents of raping her. After a number of protests worldwide, Tunisian President Moncef al-Marzouki offered a state apology to the girl, and viewed the security flaw as not being within the security institution, but rather in the mindset of some of its members.
Turkey strikes Syrian targets in retaliation for deadly shelling
Press TV reported that tensions simmered between neighbors Turkey and Syria, as Turkey hit targets on Syrian soil in retaliation for mortar shelling from Syrian territories that hit Akcakale in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa on Wednesday. At least five people were killed and over a dozen others injured.
On Thursday, Al Jazeera reported that Turkey's parliament agreed to allow the government to wage a military operation outside the border if found necessary. Following the decision, anti-war protestors gathered around parliament and clashed with riot police there. Turkey's shelling eventually stopped, but New TV reported that at an AKP gathering on Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a new warning to Syria of the consequences of another shelling in Turkish territory.
Jailed Bahraini activist Mohammed Mushaima dies in custody
On Tuesday, 24-year-old Bahraini activist Mohammed Mushaima died of an illness while in custody. Press TV reported that he was in jail serving a prison term of seven years for taking part in anti-regime protests. Manama officials said that he was suffering from a hereditary disease. Lawyers said that they asked the court to release Mushaima because of his health, but their request had been denied.
Al-Alam reported that Bahraini regime forces launched a crackdown on his funeral procession in Manama on Wednesday, which was attended by "tens of thousands" of protestors. Al-Wefaq Society accused the Bahraini regime of being behind Mushaima's death, through depriving him of medical treatment and fabricating accusations against him.
Thousands of Jordanians take part in Friday protests despite king's dissolution of parliament
On Thursday, Jordan's King Abdullah II decided to dissolve parliament and call for early parliamentary elections in his country, reported Dubai TV. This was likely a preemptive move to head off the massive protests being called for by opposition groups on Friday. However, BBC Arabic reported that thousands still gathered in Amman on Friday for a day of protests dubbed "Friday to Save the Homeland," as called for by the opposition parties, most notably the Islamic Action Front.
Image: Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration against charges of indecency filed against a woman raped by two police officers, in front of the court in Tunis October 2, 2012. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi
Egyptian President-Elect takes oath in Tahrir Square
New TV - Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi took an oath before the Egyptian people in Tahrir Square, and vowed to respect the constitution and the law. In the evening, he took an oath to begin his term under the eyes of the Military Council; and away from formalities and the usual protocol, the Egyptian president-elect chose to address his opponents before his supporters. He went to Tahrir Square, which is packed with Egyptians denouncing military rule. Morsi began his presidential term from al-Azhar al-Sharif Mosque, where he performed Friday prayers amongst thousands of Egyptians. The holy mosque was packed with Egyptians who welcomed him in their own way. Al-Azhar’s courtyard held a demonstration giving their allegiance to the president-elect, on a Friday that Egyptians named "The Friday of Handing over Power."
Saudi women launch campaign to defy driving ban
BBC Arabic - The "My Right to Dignity" campaign, in which many Saudi women are active, continues to promote "The Friday of Women Driving". It is an attempt to urge the women in the kingdom, and those in solidarity with them, to drive in the streets of the kingdom today, in order to push for a lift of the driving ban imposed on them. It is a ban among many others, social and political, that are imposed on Saudi women. Advocates for women's driving rights insist that the key to the car may be the key to change in the kingdom.
Sudanese opposition fails to sign post-Bashir political charter
Dubai TV - International condemnation did not prevent Khartoum's government from waging a new arrest campaign targeting Sudanese opposition parties, especially since they started a new movement under the banner of "toppling the regime." But the meeting that was held to sign two proposed charters to manage the country during the transitional period following the regime's collapse, was postponed until next week after they failed to reach an agreement.
UN warns of rising sectarian killings in Syria as gunmen attack pro-Assad TV channel
BBC Arabic - Emad Sara, Director of the news channel Al-Ekhbariya, denounced the attack on the channel. He said the opposition has no desire to convey the opinions of others. He said "Three of our journalists were martyred, and of course, their only crime was conveying words; words that you all know well, words of truth, words that express the other point of view. They conveyed the message of their freedoms in their own way. As such, they were targeted". Human rights investigators in the United Nations released a report today that says the violence in Syria is spiraling out of control. According to the report, the Syrian government is using combat helicopters and artillery to shell residential neighborhoods. It points to the increasing number of sectarian attacks. The report adds that a number of Syrian regions have descended into civil war since the UN-backed ceasefire this past April.
Yemenis take to streets of Sanaa in a massive car rally
Al-Alam - The streets of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, witnessed demonstrations that were the first of their kind, in the form of a procession of cars. Protestors chanted slogans demanding the ouster and trial of those loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, stressing the importance of continuing to mobilize the revolutionaries. Revolutionary youths say that it symbolizes the beginning of a new revolutionary mobilization with the aim of protecting the revolution through various methods.
Image: Egypt's Islamist President-elect Mohamed Mursi (R) delivers a speech while surrounded by his body guards in Cairo's Tahrir Square, June 29, 2012. Mursi took an informal oath of office on Friday before tens of thousands of supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, in a slap at the generals trying to limit his power. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Many films have been made about street children. Some good, some not. The kids are rewarding targets for filmmakers like myself, as we ardently become sponges for their heartfelt stories. With so much done already, why then, I was often asked, make another documentary about one?
The answer is simple: by means of a compelling story which accompanies a young street mother and her baby for over a year, I want to draw attention to the alarming reality of homeless kids who are setting out to start their own families. This is new. During several years of research, we found that the proliferation of a next generation of street children is largely undocumented. Governments, NGO's, academics, filmmakers' not even UNICEF manages data on children who are born on the city streets. Statistically, they are all treated the same, while the social differences between parents and their children are enormous.
In Nicaragua, as in most countries, children and teens end up on the street because they are running away from extreme poverty, domestic violence and/or sexual abuse. Arriving alone in the city, they will befriend others their age and are quickly absorbed in a street community that becomes their family. Having enjoyed some years of basic education, kids tend to be between 6 and 12 years old when they spend their first night on a piece of cardboard under the stars. I often refer to them as the first generation. They are the ones who some years later decide to have children themselves.
The second generation -- babies like Karla in Karla's Arrival -- are not on the run from some previous life. They are homeless from day one. Unlike their parents, they won't know what it's like to live under a roof or have a family in the traditional sense of the word (although the street community haphazardly offers some alternative). They might not ever go to school and won't be registered as citizens of their country. Chances are that, according to their governments, they won't exist at all and, as a result, will have no right to education or health care.
It's no small problem either. Estimations are that there are 75 million girls living on the world's streets. Most of them will at least bear one child before they turn 18. This is an enormous, worldwide, complex yet unknown problem.
Ironically, the baby can be part of the solution. While a young mother's low self-esteem might inhibit her from leaving the streets, a son or daughter can mark a turning point. Their babies offer them something which will have been lacking in their own lives -- unconditional love -- and are seen to be more important than themselves. A desire to offer their child a better life is reason enough to seek help, which generally is not hard to come by.
I believe it goes without saying that becoming a parent is the most basic human right that should be available to all. I made Karla's Arrival to open a dialogue around the question of how we can create the conditions to make this a reality for everyone. And, luckily, we came across a touching and hopeful story.
Koen Suidgeest (Amsterdam, 1967) is a Dutch filmmaker based in Madrid, Spain. He is the director of Karla's Arrival, which will air May 6, 2012, on Link TV's DOC-DEBUT, funded in part by ITVS.