My idea for this mixtape comes from the surreal juxtaposition of cultures and time periods we are allowed to experience through the internet. Many of the songs were discovered in a state of self-induced hypnosis, while exploring YouTube and blog sites where record collectors freely share their rare relics with...

February 14th is known to many -- whether they are coupled or single, in love or without it -- as a day for amorous celebration, through intimate experiences and the exchange of roses, chocolates, and kisses. But beyond the major consumer holiday of Valentine's Day lies a global activist movement of a similar name, called V-Day. Violence against women and girls can take many forms, and V-Day draws special attention to rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation, and sex slavery through a worldwide network of regionally-supported performances, documentaries, plays, rallies, and a variety of other events.
To call attention to this cause in our own way, we have decided to use the delicate work of Romanian and United Kingdom photographer Dana Popa as a foundational point. After learning of the horrible realities of the sex trafficking trade, Popa set about to unveil the stories of its former victims, all of whom were around seventeen years of age and in various stages of recovery when Popa met them. The result of Popa's genuine quest was a piercing series called not Natasha, “Natasha" being the generic name given to Eastern European sex slaves. Many series about sensitive topics shock one into sympathy. Not so with not Natasha; its images are often profound in the most mundane of ways, focusing not only on the women themselves but on the things that they leave behind -- while, in Popa's own words, capturing "a glimpse of their souls". It is beyond the photos themselves where the heart-breaking tales often lie, in the form of deception and betrayal from former lovers, neighbors, and friends, and of societies that allow women to be sacrificed to patterns of abuse and pain. In the full Q&A interview to follow, Popa recounts incredible stories -- some of which are difficult to believe -- while motivating us with powerful imagery. For more details on how you can be involved in V-Day events, please visit their website, or see more of Popa's work on her website.
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"This work is dedicated to Dalia and all the girls who allowed me to have a glimpse of their souls and dig up a hidden, painful past. I hope I did it in the most delicate way."

 

What circumstances led you to the not Natasha project? What triggered my work was purely finding out what sex trafficking really means. At the time, there was not much visual coverage of the illegal trade. Sex trafficking is the most profitable illegal business since the 1989 fall of the Soviet Union; it's a form of violence against women from my society. Little do people realise what this illegal trade is and how big and profitable it has become. So I decided to try and get a closer look at sex trafficking and record what it means for the women to survive sexual slavery. I chose to have a glimpse of their souls -- which at the time seemed very difficult to do, but that is what I was most interested in. After having heard their stories, I wanted to look at their traces -- at what women who had disappeared for years and who are believed to be trafficked and sexually enslaved leave behind. This became essential angle and part of the narrative. After being involved with this project I realised that its beginnings might have been triggered by my interest and knowledge of the woman's position in societies like the one I was born in. I acknowledge this story as a way of standing up against the societies that know what happens to their women and hide it without even doing anything about it.

 

The Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) is upon us again, and we have whittled down their list of 100+ international shorts and full-length films to summarize the most interesting, socially-conscious, and boundary-pushing of the bunch. This year's festival runs from February 7th through the 23rd, beginning with an Opening Night celebration featuring Blancanieves, a silent Spanish reworking of Snow White. Purchase tickets and find out more. Our festival preview begins below with this year's top five picks, followed by the rest in alphabetical order.

Beyond The Hills Directed by Cristian Mungiu (Romania) Based on the novels of Tatiana Niculescu Bran, which are real-life documents of demonic possession, Beyond The Hills is a bleak and stark religious drama set an Orthodox monastery in Moldovia. Though Alina (Cirstina Flutur) heads to the monastery to convince her friend Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) to leave and return to Germany, Alina finds herself sucked more and more into the environment and its callings. Flutur and Stratan both shared the Best Actress Prize at Cannes Film Festival for these performances.          Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 8:30 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 7:30 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 4)
Hannah Arendt Directed by Margarethe von Trotta (Germany) Based on the life of German philosopher and writer Hannah Arendt, Hannah Arendt chronicles her writings for The New Yorker on the 1961 war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann covered a scenario that was not black and white but veiled in greys, causing great conflict and protest amongst an American public and the publication's editing staff. Hannah Arendt is a drama about journalism, and the social duty of reporting as one sees as truthful, rather than as it is idealized or pressured to be.          Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 8:45 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 5:15 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 4)
Laurence Anyways Directed by Xavier Dolan (Canada) Despite being happy and in love, high school teacher Laurence finally reveals to his girlfriend Fred his long-standing desire to become a woman. Fred agrees to support him on his quest, though once the transformations begin, social complications begin to pressure, ostracize, and place fear into the hearts of the couple. Through it all, Laurence Anyways is a tale of love and the ability to weather storms for it.          Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 8 PM (Cinema 21)          Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 7 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 10)
Leviathan Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel (United States) Leviathan presents experimental filmmaking at its finest or its worst, depending on your opinion of macro-view, immersive documentary art. The New York Film Festival describes Leviathan as "a hallucinatory sensory experience quite unlike any other", and the trailer is seems to assert this with views of commercial fishing, as presented with only abstract sounds and imagery.          Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 6 PM (Cinemagic)
Lore Directed by Cate Shortland (Australia) After World War II and the death of Adolf Hitler, five young children are left to fend for themselves when their Nazi SS parents are captured. In an attempt to reach their grandparents in Hamburg, they traverse 500 miles of changing landscapes, meeting unfortunate families along the way and finding a savior in a young Jewish man whose kindness goes against all of their programmed teachings.          Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 7:30 PM (Whitsell Auditorium)          Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 5:45 PM (Regal Lloyd Center 10)

 

Human trafficking is one of those things that it seems the world overall turns a blind eye to. Minus a few well-to-do NGOs and agencies desperately trying to create awareness, each year hundreds of thousands of individuals are illegally trafficked across the globe.  Some are sent for labor, some are...

Portland International Film Festival (PIFF) is upon us again, and we have whittled down their list of 100+ international shorts and full-length films to pick what we have determined to be the best and most interesting of the bunch. Portland International Film Festival 2012 runs from February 9th through the 25th,...

Directed by Adrian Sitaru, Romania / Hungary Best Intentions has been dubbed part of the categorical oeuvre "Romanian New Wave." The movie is about the hospitalization of a woman and the coping of her family and friends. I walked a half-hour late into the screening and felt like I didn't miss...