Gord Downie y el oscuro pasado de Canadá

La música de The Tragically Hip y principalmente de su líder y letrista, Gord Downie, es clave para entender el rock alternativo de Canadá y, más importante todavía, ha ayudado a reconciliar a la sociedad canadiense con uno de los episodios más tristes de su historia reciente: el abuso sistemático a su población aborigen.

Arcade Fire fueron uno de los nombres más destacados en los pasados premios Juno 2018, que anualmente reconocen los mayores logros musicales en Canadá. La banda de Montreal se llevó el premio al Álbum del Año por su Everything Now y el International Achievement Award, que reconocía la carrera de la que, hoy en día, es una de las bandas canadienses más conocidas en el mundo. La gala también reconocía a Gord Downie, desconocido internacionalmente, como Artista del Año.

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Año Nuevo Chino en Londres

El pasado domingo, 29 de enero de 2017, el barrio de Chinatown en Londres celebró el nuevo año según el calendario chino, el Año del Gallo. Me pasé por allí para compartir lo que sucedía desde la cuenta en Snapchat de Código Nuevo, y este es el resultado…

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Maneki-Neko: els gats de la bona sort

El maneki-neko (招き猫), un petit gat d’origen japonès amb la pota alçada, ha guanyat popularitat en la cultura occidental durant els últims anys – tant te’l pots trobar a les prestatgeries d’un basar com protagonitzant els anuncis d’un refresc – però el seu veritable significat i origen és encara desconegut per a molts.

Existeixen diverses llegendes que expliquen l’origen dels maneki-neko. La més acceptada es remunta a l’època dels senyors feudals a Japó, en l’era Edo, a la fi del segle XVII. S’explica que un temple de Tòquio passava per greus dificultats econòmiques. El seu sacerdot, molt pobre, tenia una gata anomenada Tama.

Un dia, un senyor feudal de gran fortuna, Ii Naotaka, va ser sorprès per una tempesta mentre caçava prop del temple. Es va refugiar sota un gran arbre fins que la gata li va fer senyals perquè es refugiés dins el temple. Quan es va apropar, un raig va caure sobre l’arbre on inicialmente havia buscat aixopluc. Agraït, Ii Naotaka va finançar la reparació del temple i va ajudar econòmicament tant el sacerdot com la seva gata.

En morir Tama, la gata va rebre un enterrament amb tots els honors en el cementiri per a gats del temple budista de Gōtokuji, a la zona de Setagaya (Tòquio), que segueix en peus avui dia i va ser ampliat recentment.

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“Ernest & Célestine”

Movie review of the French animated comedy-drama film Ernest et Célestine (2012), based on children’s books by the Belgian author and illustrator Gabrielle Vincent.

This is not the first time that anthropomorphized animals are used to show the glories and miseries of our society. The technique is as old as humanity and is tied close to a little mouse that became the icon for a major animation film company (and for the 20th century in general) or even further, with the earliest fairy tales.

In the traditionally crafted animated film Ernest & Célestine, it is shown through two main characters, a little mouse and a big bear, outsiders of their respective societies, living in parallel worlds on the surface and in the underground.

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The Little Big Challenge: TRU’s Inexpert International Hockey Team

Participatory feature story where I share how a group of international and exchange students at Thompson Rivers University learned the most Canadian thing you can learn: how to play hockey.

We could barely balance standing on our skates: some of us had never skated before, and many of us didn’t know how to stop. For us, ice hockey was an exotic game. Even though we were familiar with other forms of hockey – roller or field – they were not the most popular sports in our home countries, not like it is in Canada.

The activity was organized by the International Students Activity Program (ISAP) of TRU World at Thompson Rivers University, and it had a group of international and exchange students, inexperienced or novices at ice hockey, getting together to try out the game.

“We know what we have to offer,” said Jilian Folk, ISAP coordinator since October 2012. “You can go out there and explore different things you may not feel comfortable doing on your own. I don’t know if you would go out there and rent hockey equipment, find someone to coach you… so I think this activity is a really good opportunity for you guys.”

As an exchange student at TRU from Barcelona (Spain), I am often asked about Barça, my hometown soccer team, but I never cared much about soccer. Indeed, I’m not interested in sports, but for me, as for many students who signed up, this activity was a good chance to get deeply involved in a game that is rooted in the Canadian culture.

“Hockey dominates Canadian culture. It’s not that every Canadian loves hockey but it is something that connects us, much like football (soccer) is in Spain,” said Craig Engleson, manager of activities and events at TRU World. “Not every Spanish person loves soccer, but there is a common language, memories that are involved with that… It’s the same with hockey here. It’s common.”

This was the second year ISAP organized the winter semester activity.

Our little big challenge was to play a brief friendly game during the intermission, after the second period in the match between the Kamloops Blazers and the Vancouver Giants on Feb. 27 at the Interior Savings Centre (Kamloops), in front of more than 5,000 people. To learn how to play, we had three training sessions – Feb 12, 19 and 22 – at which we learned the basic rules of the game, what a puck is and how to control it.

This is the story of us, inexpert hockey players trying to do our best just for the fun of it. Continue reading “The Little Big Challenge: TRU’s Inexpert International Hockey Team”

‘A Little History’ of the Kamloops Film Festival

The Kamloops Film Society (KFS) originally started in 1972, when film fans gathered to watch and discuss classic and current cinema. First known as Cariboo College Film Club, they neramed as Kamloops Film Society in 1994, under the Societies Act, and focused on three significant types of cinema – independent, classic and foreign – shown in weekly series that eventually became seasonal.

In the early years, the Society independently booked films with distributors and booking agents directly but in 1994 they entered the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) film circuit. Before the Kamloops Film Festival became a reality, in the early 1990’s, a PR officer, from the local ski resort Sun Peaks, approached the KFS with the idea of bringing the best of the Vancouver Film Festival to Kamloops.

Meanwhile, a Vancouver organization called ‘Moving Pictures’ headed by John Duppong, began a travelling film festival throughout the BC interior. In 1992, Duppong approached the KFS for support on Shadows on The Wall: The Meeting of the Waters Film Festival, an event held over three days in two separate venues on opposite sides of the city.

The partnership continued and, in 1996, the third edition of ‘Moving Pictures’ The Travelling Canadian Film Festival stopped in Kamloops for the first time, March 29-31, and included Canadian and French dramatic film released from 1990 to 1995 plus documentaries and short films. Three film and short film directors featured in the festival – Michael Gibson (Defy Gravity), Gary Burns (The Suburbanators) and James Genn (Direct Lines) – were invited to the special event Short Cuts & Long Shots, a workshop about getting started in filmmaking.

A year after, the Kamloops Film Society took up the role of ‘Moving Pictures’ and organized their own first KFS Film Festival. From 1997 to 2000, the first editions of the festival brought to Kamloops movies from Canada, United States, Belgium, Italy, United Kingdom and Spain. Directors such as Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter), Bruce Sweeney (Dirty) and Ryan Bonder (DayDrifit): producers like Rosamon Norbury (Better Than Chocolate) and actress Gabrielle Rose (The Five Senses) visited Kamloops, attended the showings and accepted Q&A periods.

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TRU Actors Workshop is ‘starving’

Review of the play Curse of the Starving Class, written by the American playwright and actor Sam Shepard in 1978 and performed by students of the Theatre program at Thompson Rivers University (TRU).

Playwright and actor Sam Shepard wrote the play Curse of the Starving Class in 1978 but in the words of Wesley Eccleston, a professor with the TRU theatre arts program, it is still relevant because “families still struggle with the (same) challenges.” Eccleston directs the production, which starts Feb. 28 at the Actors Workshop Theatre in Old Main.

The characters are part of the Tate family, a dysfunctional American family where the dad, Weston (Michael Hogg), spends long periods away from home and comes back drunk and aggressive while son, Wesley (Justin Hall), pees on the floor of the kitchen, daughter Emma (Allison Clow) plans her escape and mother Ella (Alley Barton) wonders how to work it out and go to Europe.

“These characters are starving for the things they think will make them happy,” Eccleston said.

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