Working with the film Babel

Babel (2006)

We talk about the border as a place only, instead of an idea. I believe that the real borders are the ones that exist within us.

Alejandro González Iñárritu, director of Babel

Discussion questions to the film:

  1. What does the Biblical story of Babel in chapter 11 of Genesis illustrate?
  2. In which countries does this film take place?
  3. What languages are spoken by the main persons?
  4. Where do you find acute misunderstandings between persons?
  5. Give a short summary of the plot and the main conflicts in the film.
  6. How well do the actors portray the main characters, do you think??
  7. Which scenes do you think are the most important ones?
  8. Is the story chronological? Are there any flashbacks and/or flash forwards?
  9. What techniques are used to tell the story? (sound-color-camera use)
  10. It is claimed that this film is filled with emotions that need no translation. They are universal. Give examples of this.
  11.  Does the film have a clear message, or does it leave room for different solutions?
  12. Your personal evaluation of the film. Give reasons for your view.
  13. To whom would you recommend the film “Babel”?

After having watched the film, write a blog post on one of the following tasks:

  1. The title and the actions in the film strongly indicate that communication and lack of communication, or rather breakdown of communication is a main theme. Discuss and explain how this is reflected in the film.
  2. Another theme related to this might be intercultural communication and challenges represented by globalization. Why is it so difficult to reach out to each other across cultures? Discuss and explain by referring to the film. You may focus on:

    Japanese vs. Western culture
    Mexican vs. American culture
    American vs. Arab culture
  3. Yet another theme related to communication might be loneliness. How is this reflected in the film? Give examples and explain.

Ingunn

NB! Postponed because of home school – see itslearning for link and task to the film Desert Flower instead.

Western Sahara

Western Sahara is often called Africa’s last colony and also a forgotten conflict. On March 3, you were so lucky to have a visitor via Zoom – Asria Mohamed. She works for The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, and talked  about the Morroccan occupation, life in Algerian refugee camps, and the part of the UN in this conflict.

Write a blog post about what you learned about this conflict and activism to support the Sahrawi people in their struggle for independence. Comment on the lack of media attention for this conflict and find out why the media wrote about in again in November/December 2020.

Asria said in the meeting that she feels she has no choice when it comes to her activism for the Sahrawi people – what do you think she meant by that?

Hope you enjoyed the visit – Asria is an excellent speaker and a brilliant woman.

På flukt: Asria Mohamed er født i et telt i en flyktningleir i ørkenen. Nå ønsker hun å gi informasjon til norske studenter om konflikten.

Picture from: https://universitas.no/sak/60458/politiet-kaster-murstein-pa-barn/

Deadline: March 10

– Ingunn

Democracy under attack

Have you heard about the military coup in Myanmar? Read more about that here

Yesterday, the second impeachment trial again former President Trump started. This video was made by the managers of his trial in the US Senate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9Xd5s0boWc

“Democracy was dealt a major blow in 2020. Almost 70% of countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index recorded a decline in their overall score, as country after country locked down to protect lives from a novel coronavirus. The global average score fell to its lowest level since the index began in 2006.” (Economist Intelligence Unit, https://www.eiu.com/n/campaigns/democracy-index-2020/)

The Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index map for 2020

The USA falls under the category of “flawed democracies”. Read more about that here: https://sites.uci.edu/energyobserver/2020/02/04/the-us-and-key-countries-in-the-democracy-index-2019/

Discuss in your groups:

  • What impressions are you left with regarding democracy development after working with these sources?
  • Are you optimistic or pessimistic regarding the future of democracy?

Death to 2020 – working with a mockumentary

Discussion questions after watching this film on Netflix:

  • Say something about (some of) these characters from the movie. How did they strike you? What kind of “stereotypical persons” are some of them portrayed as? In what ways do you think the filmmakers used humor/irony with them?
  • How did the movie present US politics and the presidential election? Do you think the movie chose a side? Discuss how the movie portrayed this.
  • How did the movie portray fake news and how they spread?
  • Was it difficult to separate irony from facts in this mockumentary? Give examples from the film.

Ingunn

My Son the Fanatic and Free for All

“My Son the Fanatic” is a short story written in 1997 by Hanif Kureishi about a father and a son living in London, and struggling to adapt. The father left Pakistan and loves England, he wants to become as English as possible, because “you can do almost anything here.” The son has never been outside England, but still struggles to find his place in the English society, and is looking for something else, going back to the culture and faith of his ancestors, and becoming more and more angry with the society he sees around himself – the society his father is so in love with.

“Free for All” is a short story written by Moin Ashraf in 1999. This story too depicts a father and a son, this time in the US, the father doing everything “right” to become an upright and successful man in his new country, and being frustrated at seeing his son leaving the ideals of his own country and tradition. It is a culture clash, between a son who has grown up American, and a father who still looks back to and values of his Pakistani homeland.

Write a blog post where you EITHER compare these two stories in terms of father-son relationships and the question of identity and belonging, OR discuss what these two stories say about being an immigrant, and raising a family in a different culture. What are these two stories saying about multiculturalism?

Hilde / Hanna

Snowden and Assange – Heroes or Criminals?

Edward Snowden – Wikipedia
Edward Snowden

Norsk PEN til stede under rettssaken mot Julian Assange - Norsk PEN
Julian Assange


What do these men have in common?

Julian Assange is the head of WikiLeaks and faces a harsh prison sentence in the USA if he were to be extradited from Britain. He released over 750,000 documents which showed corruption and human rights abuse at the hands of the American government in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as at the prison camp on Guantánamo. The documents were given to him by private Chelsea Manning, who was arrested in 2010 and served 7 years in prison. Just yesterday, a British court decided against extraditing Assange, on the grounds of his mental health.
Edward Snowden is a former contractor for the National Security Agency who in 2013 transmitted to journalists 1.7 million classified documents detailing NSA online surveillance of American citizens. He was charged under the Espionage Act, but gained asylum in Russia.

So, are these people heroes or criminals? How crucial is it for a democracy to have whistleblowers? And where is the line between warning the public and exposing wrongs on the one side and breaking the law and putting your country at risk on the other? What is more important, freedom of speech and the right to privacy, or loyalty to your employer and country? And what costs does this come with for the individual who has to make that choice?

A court sketch of Julian Assange at the Old Bailey in London for the ruling in his extradition case on Monday, January 4, 2021.

A court sketch of Julian Assange at the Old Bailey in London for the ruling in his extradition case on Monday, January 4, 2021.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/04/uk/julian-assange-extradition-wikileaks-us-gbr-intl/index.html

Spotlight

spotlight

(Picture from http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS8FoV_CqN1-EetgwddDzbfaFYsOlAufiupBdzDTGLm6l8ty-F1)

“Spotlight” is a film dealing with real events, and how investigative journalism lead to reveal several crimes committed by members of the Catholic Church.

Investigative journalism is an important part of the media – it takes time and serious effort to do research and to find out the truth about a topic. It can be expensive, and therefore many do not make it a priority. But the work and the findings are important for the freedoms and protection of freedoms in our society. Read more about investigative journalism here.

Choose two of the questions on the film study work sheet (if you have lost it you can find it on It’s Learning under Resources) and write a blog post where you discuss your answer to these questions.

At the end of the post, sum up briefly what you learnt from this film, and how you liked it.

IF YOU DID NOT GET TO WATCH THE WHOLE FILM: write a blog post about the importance of investigative journalism, using what you can read here about Watergate as examples to prove your point.

Hanna

The Social Dilemma and The Great Hack

You have now watched two documentaries about social media and how it can be used to influence people without them even knowing it. Write a blog post where you briefly summarize what they were about and compare the two documentaries in terms of genre and form. Which of the two did you like the best, or did you feel you learned the most from? Give reasons for your answer.

Ingunn

Group project: Foreign media

Press freedom and journalistic independence are values that democratic societies cherish. Unfortunately, too many countries do not respect these values.  Today we will look at press freedom in the world. Each group will be allotted a country. Spend the rest of the lesson doing research on this country’s treatment of the media, and condition and status of free press.

In the groups make a Prezi or Google presentation of media usage in the country you have been researching. Use the websites Reporters Without Borders (https://rsf.org/en and https://rsf.org/en/ranking) and Committee to Protect Journalists (https://cpj.org/). You may use other sources as well. If you come across specific stories about journalists/bloggers/ others who have somehow been punished for their involvement in and use of media, tell us! Be ready to present your findings at 14:00 today.  

Group Erika: Hong Kong

Group William: Brazil

Group Victoria: Russia

Group Verner: Egypt

Group Dejen: India

Group Øystein: South Africa

Find out:

  • do they have a free press or any kind of censorship? Why/why not?
  • do they have state media or not? What could be the importance of this?
  • What are the biggest newsproviding media in this country?
  • Who owns these media?
  • How many use these?
  • Are they politically minded – liberal, conservative etc? If so, how is this seen?
  • Find at least two of the biggest newsproviding media in this country and look at their frontpages: compare headlines, choice of causes, focus, read a story from each and comment on the journalism. Also, find them on social media; check out their Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram account. How are they on social media? Many followers? What kind of profile do they have here? What kind of cases are their fronting on their social media?

Hanna

One story, many truths?

How has president Trump met the Covid-19 pandemic? Fox reports that his vice president could not have been more proud, Alternet repeats allegations of him being a mass murderer, while the New York Times asks questions. How can the same issue cause so different “truths?” And what is true?

Keeping the five C’s in mind (context, credibility, corroboration, construction and compare) – visit the three links above and read/watch how the different news outlets respond to how Trump has handled the pandemic.

Then, use the post-its you have been given to answer the questions below. One post it per answer, and then put up your post its around the classroom.

  1. how do the different articles portray Trump’s reaction to the pandemic?
  2. What adjectives/loaded words are used in the different articles?
  3. Can you tell which article is more liberal and which is more conservative? How
  4. Which of the articles were easiest to read? Why?
  5. Which of the articles do you find most believable? Why?
  • Hanna