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Kavery Kaul on mission to explore ‘shifting sands of culture’

Kavita Kaul's documentaries tell stories that cross boundaries to explore the shifting sands of culture, race, class and belonging.

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New York: Kavery Kaul is addressing the engagement between people of different cultures and faiths via her film “Streetcar to Kolkata”. The filmmaker, who is a name to reckon with in the world of documentary-making, says she likes to pan the camera to mirror the “shifting sands of culture, race, class and belonging”.

Kaul shared that her journey from India to a different culture of the US turned out to be an inspiration for her to explore the film-making business.

“Every family has its own treasure chest of stories. I grew up with stories about India’s fight for independence from the British and the partition that followed. And then, there were stories of life at the sometimes-challenging, sometimes-comic, always-memorable intersection of the India my family came from and the America we came to. For all of us, the stories we’ve heard shape our beliefs, our practices and our perspective of the world,” span.state.gov quoted Kaul as saying.

Kaveri Kaul interview Image: Youtube
Kaveri Kaul interview. Image: Youtube

A graduate of Harvard University, Kaul has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Artist’s Fellowship, multiple New York State Council on the Arts grants and two National Endowment for the Arts awards.

Also Read: Khundongbam: A young filmmaker who wants the world to know about Manipur

The Fulbright Fellowship gave her the opportunity to research and film her latest documentary “Streetcar to Kolkata”. Kaul teaches at Columbia University in New York, where her courses include works by people of different races, cultures, religions and genders.

Kaul, who picks up subjects like brain injuries, Calypso music, religion and Cuban art, added: “In my case, as a student at Harvard, I heard that a new and unusual course on the films of the Indian director Satyajit Ray was being offered by an Englishman on the faculty. How could I not be inspired by Ray’s nuanced stories of the human experience in the face of overwhelming social and economic forces?

“In those days, I also frequented New York City’s art-house theaters. There, I saw Sarah Maldoror’s ‘Sambizanga’, a film about the Angolan War of Independence against the Portuguese. It was such a strong, moving story of a struggle against colonial powers. These stories held resonance for me. These directors made me want to be a filmmaker too.”

Talking about cross-cultural themes, she said: “My documentaries tell stories that cross boundaries to explore the shifting sands of culture, race, class and belonging. Like the girls in ‘Long Way From Home’, I attended American independent schools and, later, an Ivy League college.”

As an advice to young Indians boarding flight to the US to pursue a career in the arts, Kaul says “Keep an open mind. Remember that America means Mark Twain and Toni Morrison, Junot Díaz and Jhumpa Lahiri. Take it all in. At the same time, hold on to who you are and the creativity that only you can offer as someone whose artistic vision stems from India, even as those roots mingle with your discovery of America.”(IANS)

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NATO Advances Its Weaponry And Technology

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said increasing military spending by NATO members would help tackle some of the challenges.

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A general view of USS Mount Whitney of the US Navy at sunrise as it approaches the port during the NATO-led military exercise Trident Juncture, Nov. 3, in Trondheim, Norway. VOA

NATO is developing new high-tech tools, such as the ability to 3-D-print parts for weapons and deliver them by drone, as it scrambles to retain a competitive edge over Russia, China and other would-be battlefield adversaries.

Gen. Andre Lanata, who took over as head of the NATO transformation command in September, told a conference in Berlin that his command demonstrated over 21 “disruptive” projects during military exercises in Norway this month.

He urged startups as well as traditional arms manufacturers to work with the Atlantic alliance to boost innovation, as rapid and easy access to emerging technologies was helping adversaries narrow NATO’s long-standing advantage.

NATO
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for the NATO summit in Brussels, May 25, 2017.Source-VOA

Lanata’s command hosted its third “innovation challenge” in tandem with the conference this week, where 10 startups and smaller firms presented ideas for defeating swarms of drones on the ground and in the air.

Winner from Belgium

Belgian firm ALX Systems, which builds civilian surveillance drones, won this year’s challenge.

Its CEO, Geoffrey Mormal, said small companies like his often struggled with cumbersome weapons procurement processes.

“It’s a very hot topic, so perhaps it will help to enable quicker decisions,” he told Reuters.

NATO
A Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) weapon is prepared for testing at the Eglin Air Force Armament Center on March 11, 2003. VOA

Lanata said NATO was focused on areas such as artificial intelligence, connectivity, quantum computing, big data and hypervelocity, but also wants to learn from DHL and others how to improve the logistics of moving weapons and troops.

Also Read: Weapons, Bombs Easily Detected by Wi-Fi: Study

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said increasing military spending by NATO members would help tackle some of the challenges, but efforts were also needed to reduce widespread duplication and fragmentation in the European defense sector.

Participants also met behind closed doors with chief executives from 12 of the 15 biggest arms makers in Europe. (VOA)