Dance and film remember the impact of war and resistance

1-NZDC Rotunda HERO Landscape Hi Res Photo by John McDermott L1000135The theme of war and its impact continues this week in dance, film and discussion. Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, May 13, at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, is New Zealand Dance Company’s Rotunda.

The unique production evokes the rotundas that were such a feature of popular entertainment in parks in Australia and New Zealand in the early 20th century. (There’s one in Prince Alfred Park, just across Market St from the theatres and adjacent to the war memorial.) Rotunda combines the strident sound of the traditional brass band – this time City of Holroyd Brass Band – with dramatic contemporary dance and a strong Maori influence. Rotunda tells the story of those who stayed to care for home and country while fearing the news that might come from the battle front of the 1915 ANZAC Gallipoli campaign. Photo above by John McDermott.

Rotunda continues to Saturday, May 16. Riverside Theatres is calling for names of the fallen, the survivors who returned from World War 1, and the women who served at home. Each name received will be projected on a commemorative veil in the theatre prior to each performance of Rotunda. Click here for bookings and to share your family story.

1-ICE_Palestine_Final-rev1-WebOn the following Sunday, May 17, Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) in partnership with the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine, will present an evening of film and discussion curated by the Arab Film Festival Australia. Palestine – Commemorating the Catastrophe 1948, is an evening of screenings, memories and media representations offering different perspectives on Al Nakba, 67 years ago.

Patrick Abboud, reporter and producer of The Feed (SBS2), hosts a program which includes the 1967 TV documentary Days Of Destiny by Australian filmmaker John Dixon, courtesy of Channel Nine, reporting on the Six Day War from a distinctly Western perspective. In sharp contrast is the 2007 feature documentary Leila Khaled Hijacker, above, by Palestinian-Swedish filmmaker Lina Makboul, about the woman who became the icon of Palestinian resistance, both courted and vilified by the media. In addition there will be a filmed interview of Palestinian elders, a couple now living in Australia.

Point of View takes place from 5pm to 8pm, at ICE – 8 Victoria Road, Parramatta
Tickets: $10 + booking fee (includes light refreshments) – bookings essential.

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So much to celebrate – Arab film, Sydney sacred music and Aboriginal dance

Arab FF - When I saw you 2014Now in its 14th year, the annual Arab Film Festival screens at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, from Thursday, August 14 to Sunday, August 17, before touring to Melbourne and Canberra. When I Saw You, left, opens the festival on Thursday evening. The 2013 award winning film is set in 1967 in Jordan. After several years in a refugee camp, a Palestinian mother and son long for reunion with their family in the midst of war. In his quest to find his father, Tariq makes some surprising discoveries and finds hope in the changing spirit of the times.

The following night, Scheherazade’s Diary documents the process of a 10 month drama therapy and theatre project developed with women prisoners in Baabda Prison. Facilitated by Lebanese actress, director and drama therapist Zeina Daccache, the project required extraordinary tenacity and commitment. Some of this is recorded in a complementary film also directed by Zeina, Schererazade in Baabda, which Arab Film Festival screened a year ago at Riverside. Zeina was present to answer questions. The women inmates, described as “murderers of husbands, adulterers and drug felons”, reflect on their personal experiences of drugs. sexual abuse, forced marriage and domestic violence and reach for the opportunity to change their lives. In the tragi-comic documentary the women challenge societies that oppress women.

On a different note, The United is a film for those who love football and dream of a united Arab world. In this film, a legendary Egyptian football coach trains a team of pan-Arab misfits to compete against France. Sponsored by the Asia Cup 2015 and the Western Sydney Wanderers. It screens on Sunday 17 August, 5pm, Riverside Theatres.

Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra - 6 of 14 membersOn September 5, Riverside Theatres hosts the launch of the fourth Sydney Sacred Music Festival developed by Cultural Arts Collective, under the direction of Richard Petkovic. This year, they are taking a step further by establishing a non-profit organisation, Sacred Currents. It aims to steer the festival to international renown in the next few years with an innovative program of events throughout the year.

Richard says, “This year, two new cross cultural music performances at Parramatta and Campbelltown are taking on the challenge of working with the ‘moment’ to produce new Australian work, using different approaches. One showcasing established and international legends of world music and the other sharing the hidden musical talents of Western Sydney.

“At Parramatta, the debut performance of the Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra and their ‘sacred symphony’, the Three Sides of Love and Death, will use world instruments to bring a new life to the classical music form, while at Campbelltown, Simon Barker’s ‘Mujing’, inspired by the art of Chinese Bonsai, will craft and meld Buddhist chants and instrumentation into improvised song cycles.”

The photo above is of the first six members of the Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra, who have now expanded to 14. The Sydney Sacred Music Festival travels to Mosman, Blacktown, Sydney CBD, Campbelltown, Bondi, Parramatta, Blue Mountains and several places in between and ends on September 21.

Ce1-Wagana after Glasgow on NITV Newslebrating their recent successes at the Glasgow International Youth Dance Festival preceding the Commonwealth Games, are the Wagana Aboriginal Dancers. The senior members who travelled to Glasgow are pictured with younger members at Wentworth Falls – all glad to be back on Wiradjuri and Darug land in the Blue Mountains. They assembled for performance and conversation with NITV News earlier this month.

Director and choreographer Jo Clancy conducted 15 workshops for 400 young people from other Commonwealth countries. Wagana Dancers were thrilled to find keen international interest in their work. They felt very proud when some of the other dancers, like the English, expressed the wish that they could have the connection to culture that the Aboriginal dancers experienced.

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