Sep 092016

Prolific and diverse, the Indian film industry produces more movies than any other country – about 1,500 or more annually, which is more than twice as many as Hollywood does. Focusing on the societal impacts of this huge film world, actor/director Prakash Belawadi and scholar/documentarian Shohini Ghosh joined moderator Lorraine Mahia Ali, a culture writer for The Los Angeles Times, to discuss the role cinema plays in influencing and reflecting India’s national dialogues.

Ghosh, a professor of media and a documentary filmmaker, said that because of the wide reach and popularity of Indian cinema, films are often at the center of public debate on issues such as cultural identity, nationalism, religion and sexuality. “Those debates usually center on the negative impact,” she said, “thereby holding cinematic media responsible for a variety of real and imagined societal ills.”

Belawadi, who is based in Bangalore, said that beyond the world of racy Bollywood blockbusters, India’s films are uniquely “divided by identities, territories, language, ethnicities, cost and languages. It is a challenge to reflect an Indian reality.” In fact, regional cinema in languages other than Hindi account for more than 40% of national box office revenue. Continue reading »

Sep 092016

“Working in a war zone is very hard,” commented Jawad Sukhayar, a reporter for The New York Times based in Kabul, Afghanistan, during an EWC Media Conference panel on “The War on Terrorism from the Journalists Who Report On It.” Though the statement might seem self evident, the panelists were there to describe just how hard it is to report on, and live, in an insecure region or state.

war-on-terror-webSukhayar was the first to speak among the panel of four journalists from Afghanistan, India and Turkey, each of them presently navigating imminent danger and political resistance in their beat. He began by telling stories from the too-numerous incidents of violent extremism and targeted killing of journalists in Afghanistan, punctuated by the most recent twin attacks in Kabul on Sept. 5 that killed at least 24 and came within half an hour of each other. Sukhayar commented that “as a journalist, I try to make it to the scene as soon as possible, but this attack was planned in such a way that they would kill journalists that had arrived at the first attack.” Continue reading »

Sep 092016

Selected snaps from EWC 2016 International Media Conference afternoon study tours to Old Delhi, diverse religious and historical sites, and a rehabilitation program at a women’s prison.

Sep 082016

verma-reception1-webThe East-West Center’s 2016 International Media Conference kicked off Thursday evening with a reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador Richard Verma at Roosevelt House, his iconic residence on the embassy grounds. About 400 guests mingled in the elegant halls and patio, many reuniting with colleagues from previous EWC media programs.

The ambassador spoke briefly about what he called “one of the strongest periods ever” in U.S.-India relations, including a recent visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for a comprehensive strategic and commercial dialogue, and a pair of meetings between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi in just the last few days on the sidelines of several international summits. Continue reading »