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Things We Like: “Footnotes in Gaza,” “The Short Films of Pascal Aubier” and Photos of Expo 2010

5 June 2010 Things We Like 4,149 views No CommentPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

Elliott Bay Book Company’s Suggested Reading: “Footnotes in Gaza” by Joe Sacco

For years I put off reading Joe Sacco’s definitive work “Palestine” for the simple reason that it took place so long ago (in the early nineties!). I like my news of religious/political/ethnic crises current and I thought that something over fifteen years old could not possibly ring with any lasting relevance. It is so good to be wrong. “Palestine” reads like a great novel, a travelogue, a history lesson, and a newspaper report meticulously stitched into one. Did I mention it is a comic book?

The relevance of “Palestine” lies in the reality that the condition it covers has only worsened year by year since its publication. It sets a marker in time — the lives of these people were this bad at this point in time — and it allots each current devastation the weight of the intervening years. It must have sat this way with Sacco himself, because his follow-up, last year’s “Footnotes in Gaza,” widens the lens considerably.

“Footnotes in Gaza” has the cartoonist reporter poking around the refugee camps trying to excavate information on a massacre from fifty years ago. It is an episode involving the Israeli Defense Force systematically executing hundreds of Palestinian civilians over the course of two separate days. Apart from a couple of lines from a UN report, these events were completely undocumented to the English-speaking world.

Sacco’s style is journalistic in magazine article fashion, meaning that he not only reports his findings, but he tells you what it was like to do the research. And in “Footnotes in Gaza” the events surrounding him often pull him away from his retelling of the past. It shows how the struggle is ongoing and how the routine atrocities continue. (Why, just this week…) Still, Sacco is beset on all sides by people who cannot comprehend his interest in old news. One young man says to him, “Forget the past; what about now?”

“Fifty years from now,” Sacco answers, “they’ll forget about you, too.” – Christopher Sabatini

Scarecrow Video’s Pick of the Week: “The Short Films of Pascal Aubier” (1986), directed by Pascal Aubier
French filmmaker Pascal Aubier is a master of the short film and has been called “the great hope of French cinema” by the one and only Andrei Tarkovsky. This videotape collects six of Aubier’s best and reflects the director’s humor and humanity. Frequently set in blue-collar working environments, Aubier shows quite a bit of sympathy for his downtrodden protagonists clinging to their dignity in a modern world.

The films make their points simply and humorously with minimal dialogue and silent comedy techniques. For example, in “Les Petits Coins,” a factory worker escapes the tedium of an automobile assembly line by entering into a fantasy accessible through a bathroom window. A typical film for Aubier, it features a grim view of cold modern technology that is counterbalanced with a beautiful world filled with genuine human connections. – Spenser Hoyt

Flickr: Photos of Shanghai’s Expo 2010

I don’t speak a word of Chinese, the fairgrounds are half-a-world away from me, and I’ve read that the USA’s Pavilion is a national embarrassment — but I’d still love to see the world’s fair that’s currently taking place in Shanghai, Expo 2010. Even though world’s fairs are pretty much window dressing at its finest, the view from those windows is undeniably rose-colored and scenic.

Judging by my most recent bank statement, it seems that this Flickr group is the closest I’ll come to the playful architecture of Expo 2010, and I guess that’s all right. I don’t want to get blamed for the USA Pavilion, which is comprised of — seriously, this is what I’ve heard — a couple of Disney movies and a food court.

Geoff Carter


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