Afroeurope: Zadie Smith about her mother, father and White Theeth
Best-selling British author Zadie Smith wasn’t in the news because she wrote a new book, but because she claimed her childhood home was brimful of books – but most had been borrowed from a local library by her mother and not returned. "I didn’t steal books from library, says mother of Zadie Smith," wrote the Daily mail. Her mother Yvonne Bailey-Smith, 56, agreed that her home had been full of books but insisted she bought most of them herself, spending up to £80 a time at local bookshops.
Claire Denis Interview For Her Brilliant New Film White Material
Claire Denis is undoubtedly one of the world’s great filmmakers. Her films are brimming with feeling and emotion, she doesn’t need witty or insightful dialogue to capture us or move the story along, she lets the feel of the film do that to a captivating effect. White Material is no different, set in an unnamed African country, the film is an entrancing portrayal of civil war, racial tension, stubbornness and at times complete chaos. I caught up with Claire Denis while she was in London to talk about White Material and filmmaking.
I really felt engulfed in the film, it’s extremely intense, how was your experience writing and directing White Material?
Claire Denis: It’s always intense, it’s never work as usual, I have never gone into anything thinking this is just work. Filmmaking is intense and it’s always different with every film you make. It’s always intense, everyday has a different challenge. It’s not tiring though, you just get into a flow. It’s like music and all the notes, you don’t count, it just flows. That’s how my work is to me, it just flows. Co-writing with Marie NDiaye was great.
As a writer and director do your films stick to how you envisioned them in the writing process? Or do you change things as you go along?
Claire Denis: On location, things happen sometimes you know. Weather conditions change subtle things, or even accidents, so on locations I’m ready to accept that certain things in the writing may have to change. But I don’t like that idea, I like it when everything’s settled, when everything goes to plan. It doesn’t disappoint me though, when I’m disappointed in the filmmaking process it’s not by these unplanned changes or accidents, I can only get disappointed by my own failures, you have to be able to adapt. As a filmmaker you have to sometimes accept that what you write may not exactly come to the screen like that.
What attracted you to the themes of the film? You see a lot of documentaries covering these themes, but you don’t see many films.
Claire Denis: I don’t know, maybe because I watched a lot of documentaries, I read a lot of magazine articles, the subject just reached out. I don’t even know to be honest (laughs). I had watched a lot of documentaries on the subject. Maybe because of that I thought I should try to describe these stories in a fictional way, so the point of view is different. The film originated with Isablle Huppert, she had wanted to work with me, we drew some inspiration from Doris Lessin’s novel The Grass is Singing. There were so many elements we used.
The cast in the film is fantastic, especially Isabelle Huppert as Maria. When you write do you have particular actors and actresses in mind?
Claire Denis: Thank you. It’s different every time, sometimes I write for a particular person, then sometimes its casting. We wrote for Isabelle for this. I knew Isaach De Bankole was going to be the Le Boxeur and I wanted very much Christopher Lambert to be Andre, so I knew the people I wanted. Isabelle was the one who urged me to do the film, she was my partner from the beginning, she’s fantastic, she’s fearless, and that was great for me as a director.
What have you got lined up next?
Claire Denis: Nothings ready yet, I’ve got ideas, but I’ve been so busy promoting White Material. I’m not sure what I’ll do next at the moment.
I have received your declaration of human rights and want to say frankly that I am greatly disappointed… You say under paragraph two of your creed: ‘No plea of sovereignty shall ever again be allowed to permit any nation to deprive those within its borders of these fundamental rights on the claim that these matters are of internal concern.’ How about depriving people outside the borders of a country of their rights?… Under paragraph five you appeal for sympathy for persons driven from the land of their birth; but how about American Negroes, Africans, and Indians who have not been driven from their land of birth but are nonetheless deprived of their rights? Under paragraph six you want redress for those who wander the earth but how about those who do not wander and nevertheless are deprived for their fundamental human rights?… In other words, this declaration of rights has apparently no thought of the rights of Negroes Indians, and South Sea Islanders. Why then call it the Declaration of Human Rights?
W.E.B. Du Bois (1944) The Correspondence of W. E. B. Du Bois: Volume 3
”—W.E.B. Du Bois (1944) The Correspondence of W. E. B. Du Bois: Volume 3; 1944-1963 p. 23
I say, yes, you can rent out a hostage pit. You can also close your browser. It’s called willpower. If you can’t muster the will to lay off Gawker, how are you going to write a book? I can’t blame modern technology for my predilection for distraction, not after all the hours I’ve spent watching lost balloons disappear into the clouds. I did it before the Internet, and I’ll do it after the apocalypse, assuming we still have helium and weak-gripped children.
”—Colson Whitehead - Better Than Renting Out A Windowless Room: The Blessed Distraction Of Technology
I was grappling with this, with a world in which the fact of blackness had non-arbitrarily, and necessarily, to be a fact of inferiority. That’s what I was grappling with, the refusal, the challenging, of that premise.
- Sylvia Wynter | interview with David Scott in Small Axe (p.134)
- Sylvia Wynter | interview with David Scott in Small Axe (p.134)
Reading this Janelle Monaé’s lyrics from ‘Locked Inside’ came screeching to mind “The color black means it’s time to die / And nobody questions why”. Black as abject category … I think we’re still grappling with this in many guises.
Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes - Agua es vida, Defiende tu vida
Water is life, defend your life. It is so simple, we are connected to the land we live on, if the land gets sick so will we. Water is one of the primary things need for life to exist, if we poison the water or we experience drought cause by climate change we will cease to exist.
The lesson of [the 1992 U.S. intervention in] Somalia is the urgent need to build an anti-imperialist movement opposed to all U.S. military action—one that is unswerving in opposition to all interventions, regardless of whether they cloaked as “humanitarian.” As Somalia shows us, there is no “humanity” in humanitarian interventions.
Chiapas, 1959-2006. Indigenous Tzotzukna. One of the most outstanding representatives of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). She fought to defend the rights of indigenous women and craftswomen, for the right to education and the valuing of craft work. She went to great effort to demand the creation of hospitals, markets where craftswomen could sell without middle-men, crèches, diners, against racism and discrimination, for the freedom to choose a life partner, for freedom and access to the use of contraceptives, because this ends the traffic in women. Comandante Ramona participated in the composition of the Revolutionary Law of Women, approved in 1993.
“This ‘Negro’ was a wholly distinct ideological construct from those images of Africans that had preceded it. It differed in function and ultimately in kind. Where previously the Blacks were a fearful phenomenon to Europeans because of their historical association with civilizations superior, dominant, and/or antagonistic to Western societies (the most recent being that of Islam), now the ideograph of Blacks came to signify a difference of species, an exploitable source of energy (labor power) both mindless to the organizational requirements of production and insensitive to the subhuman conditions of work. In the more than 3,000 years between the beginnings of the first conception of the ‘Ethiopian’ and the appearance of the ‘Negro,’ the relationship between the African and European had been reversed.”
Cedric Robinson in Black Marxism (via whatijustread)
Bereits die Zeitung wird mehr in der Senkrechten als in der Horizontalen gelesen, Film und Reklame drängen die Schrift vollends in die diktatorische Vertikale. Und ehe der Zeitgenosse dazu kommt, ein Buch aufzuschlagen, ist über seine Augen ein so dichtes Gestöber von wandelbaren, farbigen, streitenden Lettern niedergegangen, daß die Chancen seines Eindringens in die archaische Stille des Buches gering geworden sind.
A Hole in My Head: A Life Revealed—The Story of Vertus Hardiman
Vertus’ parents as well as the other black parents were told that their children were going to be part of study that helped to cure wing worm scalp infections. However, what they ended up being a part of is the testing of radiation on the human body and mind.