Latin America’s media battlefields – Listening Post – Al Jazeera English

realtalklogoOne continent, multiple media battlefields. This year, some of our most compelling stories have come from Latin America. During the Mexican presidential elections, the country’s media giant Televisa stood accused of colluding with the man who is now president of the Republic, Enrique Pena Nieto and his party. Meanwhile, the media death toll continued to rise in the country’s bloody drugs war. In central America, journalists continued to face the dangers of reporting impunity in a region scarred by the legacy of civil war. Otto Perez Molina, Guatemala’s former army chief and new president pledged to protect journalists and freedom of expression – but will he succeed? And the mother of all media stories: the battle between media conglomerates and democratically elected left-wing presidents around the continent. Ecuador’s Rafael Correa was one of those leaders: press freedom pariah for some, press freedom fighter for others. This year he took the country’s media to court for trying to incite a coup to overthrow him – and he offered WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. As the year comes to an end, we have put together a special edition with three very different stories. In Argentina, the legal showdown between the government and the country’s most powerful media group Clarin. In 2009, the Kirchner government pushed through a media reform law that was as contentious as it was comprehensive. The law is designed to break up media conglomerates. Media reform has been on the cards since the end of the dictatorship and her supporters say the reform is long overdue. Critics say the target of the legislation is just Clarin and that freedom of expression and the president’s credibility is on the line. This is one of Argentina’s most contentious struggles over power and public influence in years and its only just heating up. In Mexico, journalists are some of the first in the firing line in a drugs war that has claimed more than 60,000 lives. This year alone, at least 27 journalists have been killed; media outlets have been bombed and even those who thought social media might be a safer way to report have died in the attempt to fill the information vacuum. In this part of the show, we team up with Al Jazeera’s documentary programme Witness to bring you the story of a photographer Ernesto Martinez working in the western Mexican state of Sinaloa. Filmed by Rick Rowley and John Gibler, the report follows Martinez for two days and reveals the risks some journalists are prepared to take to report what has become one of the world’s deadliest beats. CONTINUE READING

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Future: To Infinity and Beyond

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Future’s in-demand sound is the source of some of the best work to come out of Atlanta in years. Mike Will Made It, record label executives, and the man himself recall how it happened.

It’s a Friday night in late November at NYC’s Highline Ballroom and the lights start to dim after Funkmaster Flex’s DJ set. There’s a video of Atlanta rapper Future riding around in his hometown that’s playing at center stage. Through the screams of fans, it’s Future narrating his struggle to fame, and soon enough the man himself bobs up to the stage to “Straight Up.” He’s decked in a black crewneck sweater with “Rich” penned across his chest in red, dripping-blood font. His dreadlocks are tucked tightly into his black beanie, his wallet chain smacks across his thigh every time he jumps around the stage, and a Sprite bottle filled halfway with what can only be promethazine-codeine cough syrup occupies his left hand. The introduction track embodies his successful year in music—“I’m fly like a plane/And I ain’t go never land,” he screams.

The crowd is energetic and Future plays into it, sparsely rapping over full song instead of traditionally instrumental backing tracks. But Future’s not on stage to showcase his talent; the crowd’s already aware of that. Instead, he’s basking in his own glory.

It’s unrealistic to expect a perfect live performance from the Epic artist, as most of his tracks rely heavily on Auto-Tune and vocal distortion. Between the hits that launched his career, “Tony Montana” and YC’s “Racks,” he pleases fans with new music from his Pluto 3D re-release. On “My,” each line’s ending syllable reaches a screeching height. He wasn’t able to hit those high notes live. Still, he breezed through tracks like “Loveeeeeee Song,” his feature on Rihanna’s Unapologetic, and his No. 1 hit, “Turn On The Lights.” It became abundantly clear that Future wasn’t looking for a good review of the showcase. He was celebrating the most successful year of his life.

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MY BROOKLYN

My Brooklyn follows director Kelly Anderson’s journey, as a Brooklyn gentrifier, to understand the forces reshaping her neighborhood. The film documents the redevelopment of Fulton Mall, a bustling African-American and Caribbean commercial district that – despite its status as the third most profitable shopping area in New York City – is maligned for its inability to appeal to the affluent residents who have come to live around it.

mybklyncropAs a hundred small businesses are replaced by high rise luxury housing and chain retail, Anderson uncovers the web of global corporations, politicians and secretive public-private partnerships that drive seemingly natural neighborhood change. The film’s ultimate question is increasingly relevant on a global scale: who has a right to live in cities and determine their future?

mybklynshabazzstillMy Brooklyn premiered at the Brooklyn Film Festival in June 2012, and after two sold-out screenings it took home the festival’s Audience Award. Since then, the film kicked off Filmwax’s acclaimed Brooklyn Reconstructed series and has been showing to packed audiences all over the city. It went on to win Best Documentary and Best Director at the Red Hook Film Festival, and has screened internationally at the Architecture Film Festival in Lund, Sweden and the This Human World Human Rights Film Festival in Vienna, Austria. “Anyone who cares about real cities, and real rights to the city, needs to watch My Brooklyn,” says Don Mitchell, a Distinguished Professor of Geography at Syracuse University and the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Award. This coming spring the film will be at the Oxford Film Festival in Oxford, MS, as well as in a film series in Oakland, CA that explores connections in urban planning between Brooklyn and Oakland.

www.mybrooklynmovie.com