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N + R event description and analysis

by Rachel Mayeri Friday, Dec. 07, 2001 at 4:28 AM

Below is a discription and discussion of the N + R event.

In the context of media monopoly, and the censorship of

network news by the military, alternative media is

scoring some successes. A well-attended event at Los

Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, organized by Nomads

and Residents, brought together three activists who are

using video and the internet to bring about political

and cultural change. The presentation stimulated an

energetic debate among the participants and the

audience about media representation and U.S. actions in

Afghanistan, demonstrating the continued importance of

face-to-face discussions outside of university and

other institutional forums.

Meena Nanji began the evening by showing a pilot for

her documentary about Afghan refugee women in camps in

Northern Pakistan. When asked about her thoughts about

the now well-known documentary, "Beneath the Veil," by

Sarai Shah, she said that the documentary had failed to

provide political and historical context for the

condition of women in Afghanistan. She spoke about the

difficulty for documentary-makers to receive funding or

be distributed (as Shah's piece was by CNN - with

substantial editing) when their work does connect

social realities with political action. She left the

day after the discussion for Pakistan to continue to

work on her project.

Shahid Nadeem, a playwright and TV director from

Pakistan, showed an episode of his series of television

dramas which were shown in Northern Pakistan, in the

ethnic Pashtun region. The episode was based on an

actual account of an honor killing that, surprisingly,

occurred among the professional class. A woman who was

pursuing a divorce from her abusive husband was killed

by her own brother, with her mother and father's

support, in the office of her lawyer. The series has

apparently created an active dialogue among its

audience when it was shown last summer.

Sonali Kolhatkar, part of an organization dedicated to

supporting human rights for Afghan women (Afghan

Women's Mission), discussed the state of the

Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

(RAWA). A 0-a-head celebrity-studded fundraiser for

RAWA was occurring later that week at Track 16, an art

gallery in Bergamot Station. Kohatkar noted that the

internet was substantially responsible for spreading

the word about RAWA around the world (although she

bemoaned the endless email petitions spawned by an

naïve activist with an inadequate server).

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