Junkmotion and Junknation

One of the things I love most about Italian and French news networks is their diversity in terms of coverage.

I cannot recall the last time I tuned into a British news channel: while Channel 4 arguably provides the most pertinent stories of the British bunch, the general editorialship is scandalous low key.

As noted on a previous post, to follow British news one would not know there were conflicts still raging around the world.

Rather, the stories fall into distinct categories: parochial, twee, celebrity, and a smidgen of current affairs to sate those who can name more than three European capital cities.

Turn over to the Italian and French networks and you discover the world: news from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America; culture, science, economics, resources, security, and in the case of Italy, the latest juicy gossip on the arrest of yet another ‘Ndrangheta member.

(I have a theory that the ‘Ndrangheta is perhaps the most bungling of the Mafia clans: they seem to feature much higher on the arrest count.)

An additional theory lies in the relative political and global apathy endemic in my generation of Britons: the number of times I sat beneath a scissor-weilding hairdresser who has screeched a) “Jordan? Cool! Will you cover her divorce?!” shortly followed by b) “Oh. The country? Where’s that then?”; Β and even more worryingly, c) “Lebanon? Where’s that? In Africa? I don’t know.”

It makes me want to howl and cry in frustration.

When one of my British students asked what a fedayeen was, I did not want to laugh in derision, I was first shocked and then appalled – not at the student, but at the gaping chasms in our knowledge base in Britain.

The words fedayeen, PLO, and Arafat have been part of my vocabulary as long as I can remember.

This is not because my parents ritually drilled me over fried eggs and toast, but because I was exposed to world news through Italian and German channels as a bairn.

It should be our duty to know these things: to live in ignorance is a gross injustice to not just ourselves, but to the world around us.

While the post is now veering dangerously towards soapbox territory, the crux resides in a delightful mini-documentary caught yesterday on RAI News 24.

We are doubtless familiar with stop-motion animation by now, but in Zimbabwe filmmakers have taken it to the next level by combining the skills of local craftsmen and inventing a new genre: junkmotion.

The Legend of the Sky Kingdom (2003) is based on the eponymous book by Phil Cunningham, following the adventures of three orphans who escape from the Underground City ruled by the Evil Emperor in their search for the Sky Kingdom.

The puppets and all of the sets were built from pieces of junk that the filmmakers found – a necessity of the low budget as well as an artistic choice inspired by Africa’s folk artists, who often turn things that others have thrown away into works of art.

Thus, old coke cans and other scrap metal and glass is reincarnated as art – and mighty lovely it is, too.

And it is coverage such as this that broadens our minds and stimulates our imaginations; and, dare I hope, deals one more blow to the ignorance that results in the experiences detailed in the below post.

For the more we understand about not only culture, but also the politics and conflicts raging outside our borders, the more understanding and compassion we will nurture towards our fellow humankind.

Admittedly, the above statement would not be out of place in the category of ‘twee,’ but it is Monday morning and often a little twee goes a long way.

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This entry was posted on August 24, 2009 by in Africa, Culture, Europe, Pop culture and tagged , , , , , , , .
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