Thursday February 21, 2019

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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Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May Survives Through Vote Of No-Confidence

If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?

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Theresa May
Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Jan. 16, 2019. VOA

British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote in parliament Wednesday, one day after lawmakers voted overwhelmingly against her plan to divorce Britain from the European Union.

Surviving the vote enables May to refocus on getting a Brexit deal through parliament. She has until Monday to offer a new proposal to the House of Commons, but it isn’t clear what she will propose.

Shortly after the 325 to 306 vote allowing May to remain in office, she invited party leaders for Brexit talks Wednesday night.

More talks?

May said before the vote Wednesday that Britain would leave the EU on the March 29 target date, and that the bloc would only consider extending the negotiating period if there were a realistic exit plan.

Aides to the prime minister said she will try to buy more time and return to Brussels to try to cajole EU leaders into a renegotiation.

EU leaders have repeatedly rejected the possibility of renegotiations since the deal was concluded in November, but British officials hope Brussels now may offer enough concessions to secure parliamentary backing on a replayed vote on an amended deal.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labor Party, filed a motion of no confidence in the government immediately after the result Tuesday.

Britain would have held a general election had May lost the vote. Most analysts said they expected her to survive the vote, and the minority Northern Ireland party she relies on to keep her minority government in office had said it would back the government.

Tuesday’s vote was the biggest parliamentary reversal ever handed a sitting government, with lawmakers — including more than 100 rebels from her ruling Conservative Party — refusing to endorse the highly contentious Brexit deal.

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Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labor Party, talks during a no-confidence debate after Parliament rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal, in London, Jan. 16, 2019. VOA

The government’s defeat plunged into greater disarray Britain’s scheduled March 29 exit from the EU. Major questions remain about how and whether it will happen.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Wednesday that after the British parliament’s rejection of a draft agreement detailing the country’s divorce from the EU, the risk of reaching the deadline with no deal in place is higher than ever.

The vote against the agreement was the biggest parliamentary reversal ever handed a sitting government, with lawmakers, including more than 100 rebels from her ruling Conservative party, refusing to endorse the highly contentious Brexit deal.

Just 202 lawmakers backed May’s deal with 432 voting against it. The defeat dwarfed the previous 1924 record when then-Labor Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald lost a vote by 166, triggering the collapse of his government and a general election, which he lost.

After the vote, May said, “The vote tells us nothing” about what the House of Commons would agree to regarding Brexit.

Second referendum

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A pro-European demonstrator protests in front of a Leaver campaign board opposite the Houses of Parliament in London, Jan. 15, 2019, ahead of lawmakers’ vote on whether to accept British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Later, the plan was soundly defeated. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29. VOA

The defeat of May’s plan will give further momentum to a burgeoning campaign in the House of Commons, and among Remainers in the country, for a second referendum, according to analysts. Remainers hope a replayed referendum would reverse the Brexit plebiscite of 2016, which Leavers narrowly won.

The vote on the deal — which originally was due in December but was delayed by the government when it became clear there was insufficient backing for it to pass — also leaves hanging in the balance May’s future as prime minister. Her aides maintained at the end of a day of high political drama that she wouldn’t resign.

“She is the person who has to deliver Brexit,” said British Business Minister Claire Perry, who said May didn’t need to resign.

“There will be other attempts at this. There will be strenuous efforts to improve on the deal,” Perry said.

The sheer scale of the defeat throws into doubt whether even a reshaped Brexit Withdrawal Agreement would secure parliamentary approval in the future, even if the EU is prepared to reopen negotiations.

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British Business Minister Claire Perry arrives to attend a Cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London, Jan. 15, 2019. VOA

‘Hopelessly optimistic’

“Her Plan B, more of the same, is hopelessly optimistic,” said commentator Isabel Oakeshott.

Also Read: British Lawmakers Rejects Brexit Deal, PM Faces Vote Of No-Confidence

EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted when news of the historic vote broke: “I take note with regret of the outcome of the vote in the House of Commons this evening. I urge the UK to clarify its intentions as soon as possible. Time is almost up.”

EU President Donald Tusk reflected the frustration of many in Brussels, tweeting: “If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?” (VOA)