How Kim Jong-Un smuggles his $500,000 Mercedes into North Korea

How Kim Jong-Un smuggles his $500,000 Mercedes into North Korea

Source:  The New York Times

Kim Jong-Un frequently shows off the luxury Mercedes he has obtained in open defiance of U.N. sanctions intended to ban luxury goods from North Korea.

Using shipping data, corporate records, satellite imagery, and interviews, The New York Times tracks the circuitous routes that North Korea uses to import illicit goods.

Watch “How Kim Jong-Un Gets His $500,000 Mercedes” above and read the story at The New York Times.

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“Angels are Made of Light” offers a stirring look at students and their teachers at an Afghan school

“Angels are Made of Light” offers a stirring look at students and their teachers at an Afghan school

Sources:  The Playlist and TIFF

“Angels Are Made of Light,” directed by Oscar-nominated director James Longley, traces the lives of young students and their teachers over a three-year period at the Daqiqi Balkhi school in the old city district of Kabul.

Interweaving the modern history of Afghanistan with present-day portraits, the Kabul on display in the documentary is a place fraught with poverty and instability, but by placing his focus on the next generation and the men and women who educate them, Longley has seized upon Afghanistan’s single most important resource: relentless, radiant hope.

“Angels Are Made Of Light” opens in New York City on July 24.

Read the story at Playlist and TIFF.

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When a Filipino transgender woman is murdered by a U.S. Marine, grassroots activists demand justice

When a Filipino transgender woman is murdered by a U.S. Marine, grassroots activists demand justice

Source:  WXXI

When Jennifer Laude, a Filipino transgender woman, is murdered by U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, three women intimately invested in the case – an activist attorney (Virgie Suarez), a transgender journalist (Meredith Talusan) and Jennifer’s mother (Julita “Nanay” Laude) – galvanize a political uprising, pursuing justice and taking on hardened histories of U.S. imperialism.

“Call Her Ganda” examines the marginalization of transgender Filipinos throughout the Philippines’ violent colonial history and raises complex questions about sovereignty, justice, and the right to self-determination.

The modern David and Goliath documentary fuses personal tragedy, human rights activism, and the little-known history and complex aftermath, of U.S. imperial rule in the Philippines, forging a visually daring and profoundly humanistic geopolitical investigative exposé.

Watch the POV presentation of “Call Her Ganda” on PBS.

Read the story at WXXI.

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In “Trapped in the City of a Thousand Mountains,” hip hop artists in China try to rap within censorship guidelines

In “Trapped in the City of a Thousand Mountains,” hip hop artists in China try to rap within censorship guidelines

Source:  The Guardian

A new phenomenon has taken the internet by storm: Chinese rap.

But behind its skyrocketing popularity, there’s a struggle for freedom of speech.  Rappers try to figure out what they can and cannot say after more censorship is announced.

In Chongqing, one of China’s biggest cities, surveillance is unavoidable.  Announcements echo across the vast squares warning that “morally suspect individuals” are banned from speaking in public.

It’s not exactly the most stimulating environment for young people looking for something more than collectivist slogans. They express their artistic resistance against the lack of freedom in their tattoos and underground hip-hop.

The rappers feel trapped in the immense city.

Watch “Trapped in the City of a Thousand Mountains” above, and read the story at The Guardian.

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Sundance award winner “One Child Nation” tells the story of China’s one-child policy

Sundance award winner “One Child Nation” tells the story of China’s one-child policy

Source:  The Film Stage

Amazon Studios has unveiled the harrowing trailer for “One Child Nation,” winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival,

Directed by Nanfu Wang (“Hooligan Sparrow”) and Jialing Zhang (“Complicit”), the documentary traces the untold history China’s one-child policy from its inception in 1979 to its dissolution in 2015.

Wang recently spoke about what she hopes audiences will take away from her film, speaking with Women and Hollywood: “I hope people leaving the theater will become aware of and remember what happened in China during the one-child policy.  I also hope people outside of China can think about their own situation and their own history.”  She added, “Propaganda doesn’t only happen in China.  It takes savviness to recognize what is propaganda around us, and more often than not, it’s more pervasive in our lives than we think it is.”

“One Child Nation” premieres August 9 on Amazon Prime.

Read the story at The Film Stage.

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Will a documentary take down the Polish government?

Will a documentary take down the Polish government?

Source:  The New York Times

Following sexual-abuse scandals in the United States, Great Britain, Ireland and Australia, it appears the Roman Catholic Church may be on the verge of a similar catastrophe in Poland.

But whereas the blowback from previous scandals has been largely confined to the church itself, this latest crisis could take down the country’s right-wing government as well — and undermine the tight grip the church holds over Polish society.

With just weeks to go before the European parliamentary elections — which in Poland will serve as a kind of opening act for its own parliamentary elections this fall — the country has been gripped by a shocking documentary exposing widespread child sexual abuse by Polish priests, and the subsequent cover up by the church.

Released on YouTube, “Tell No One,” by well-known journalist Tomasz Sekielski, was viewed 10 million times in its first two days of release.

The influence of the Catholic Church in Poland is immense — almost 40% of the population attends Mass weekly.  And it’s politically connected, particularly on the right: The church enjoys significant financial privileges from the state, while the ruling Law and Justice party benefits from the support of Catholic media outlets and church sermons.

The strength of the church is the strength of the Law and Justice party, and a crisis in the church is a crisis for Law and Justice.

Watch “Tell No One” (with English subtitles) above and read the story at The New York Times.

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