Monday December 10, 2018

British filmmaker zooms camera on blind Indian chess players

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New Delhi: The world of visually challenged but skilled and calculative chess players in India enraptured Britain based sociologist and filmmaker Ian McDonald to such an extent that he captured their lesser known lives in his documentary “Algorithms”, releasing across India on Friday.

“Blindness is not so much a disability, just an alternative way of existence. It is a more humane world,” McDonald told IANS in a telephonic interview from Chennai, where a special screening of the film was held with an audio-described theatrical preview.McDonald, who was himself a chess player, said the idea for the film was born out of “sheer curiosity”.

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“I came across a newspaper report, which talked about blind children playing chess. I carried the newspaper report for two years and we did more research, and we contacted Charudatta Jadhav, the general secretary of the All India Chess Federation for the Blind.
“He invited us to the national blind chess championship in Mumbai in January 2009 where I saw hundreds of blind and visually impaired chess players playing. That’s why I thought to make a film on this subject,” he said.

The film, whose shooting began in 2009, culminated over a period of three years, said McDonald.

“January 2009 was the first shoot and then we invested three years into it. The last shoot was in January 2012. After three years, 250 hours of footage, we have a final product, which is a 100-minute film,” he added.

McDonald also stated that “Algorithms”, which was first premiered in India at the International Film Festival in Goa in 2012, is “very much an Indian film”.

“We took it to international festivals. We got selected in 30. It picked up quite a few awards and now we are bringing it to India again,” he said of the movie, which is being released in theaters across Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi by PVR Director’s Rare.

Talking about his experiences with the blind chess players while shooting the film, McDonald said: “I don’t direct, I don’t take interviews, I just capture the events as they unfold. I spend enough time with my subjects so that I can capture the drama. Even though they are aware of my presence, they are less conscious of the camera. They have a realistic response.”

As a filmmaker, McDonald believes he is “dependent” on technology, but the blind people are not.

“I’d follow them in hotel rooms, which would be poorly lit. And I needed lights for the shoots. To that, they would say, ‘That’s your problem, Ian. We don’t need light, you are the disabled one’,” he said.

“As a filmmaker, I am dependent on technology, but they are not. This was a revelatory moment. Of course it is a disability. We use technology to empower us, to overcome our inabilities. If the same technology would be used for the blind people, then I don’t see how they can’t participate in society,” he added.

(IANS)

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British Visa Process May Have Been Compromised Due To Russian Infiltration

Bellingcat and The Insider quickly exposed the agents' real names.

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Police officers stand outside the City Stay Hotel used by two suspected Russian military intelligence agents — who have been accused of attempting to murder former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia — in London, Britain. VOA

Investigative group Bellingcat and Russian website The Insider are suggesting that Russian intelligence has infiltrated the computer infrastructure of a company that processes British visa applications.

The investigation, published Friday, aims to show how two suspected Russian military intelligence agents, who have been charged with poisoning a former Russian spy in the English city of Salisbury, may have obtained British visas.

The Insider and Bellingcat said they interviewed the former chief technical officer of a company that processes visa applications for several consulates in Moscow, including that of Britain.

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The Internet Research Agency building, dubbed the Russian troll factory, is seen at Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg, Russia. VOA

The man, who fled Russia last year and applied for asylum in the United States, said he had been coerced to work with agents of the main Russian intelligence agency FSB, who revealed to him that they had access to the British visa center’s CCTV cameras and had a diagram of the center’s computer network. The two outlets say they have obtained the man’s deposition to the U.S. authorities but have decided against publishing the man’s name, for his own safety.

The Insider and Bellingcat, however, did not demonstrate a clear link between the alleged efforts of Russian intelligence to penetrate the visa processing system and Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga, who have been charged with poisoning Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March this year.

The man also said that FSB officers told him in spring 2016 that they were going to send two people to Britain and asked for his assistance with the visa applications. The timing points to the first reported trip to Britain of the two men, who traveled under the names of Alexander Petrov and Anatoly Boshirov. The man, however, said he told the FSB that there was no way he could influence the decision-making on visa applications.

British
British Columbia is willing to hire numerous skilled personnel for their technical industry. Pexels

The man said he was coerced to sign an agreement to collaborate with the FSB after one of its officers threatened to jail his mother, and was asked to create a “backdoor” to the computer network. He said he sabotaged those efforts before he fled Russia in early 2017.

Also Read: Heavy Cyber Attacks From Russia, US, China In India

In September, British intelligence released surveillance images of the agents of Russian military intelligence GRU accused of the March nerve agent attack on double agent Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. Bellingcat and The Insider quickly exposed the agents’ real names and the media, including The Associated Press, were able to corroborate their real identities.

The visa application processing company, TLSContact, and the British Home Office were not immediately available for comment. (VOA)