Monthly Archives: November 2010

Human Rights (where the liberty starts)

VERZIO International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival has just finished in Budapest. It was organized by Open Society Archivum (OSA), together with the Open Society Institute (OSI), Russian State Film and Photo Archive and some other local institutions/partners. A one-week event aims at screening wide variety of films about ordinary people’s rights across the world and, particularly, in such countries as Afghanistan, Congo, Kenya, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, China and many others.
Volunteering during the festival in October 2010, I was lucky to watch some films two of which I was most of all impressed by.
The first documentary is called Nairobi Love Story, directed by Maria Weber. It is about two young lovers from Kenya, Eric and Margareth. Belonging to the different tribes (Kikuyo and Luo) they are strictly condemned by the society and, in particular, their own families for their relationship. Kenyans from Kikuyo and Luo cannot marry each other because of the continuous conflicts between the two tribes which at the same time represent different ethnic groups. However, in spite of all the blames and difficulties a couple has to overcome, they purely love each other and dream of their future family. At the same time, managing together a household, at some point they also face a problem of division of their domestic duties. So, another problem raised in the film is gender roles in the family. Eric, quite typically for a man, believes that laundering and cooking, as well as supposedly, other household works, are not man’s duties. Therefore, doing chores, he only helps Margareth. Meanwhile, since he does it voluntarily, he correspondingly expects to be appreciated for that. But Margareth perceives this kind of “help” as something natural: if they both have jobs, both need some food, drink, clean clothes and house, then both have to be equally responsible for handling all that.
The second documentary, Afghan Star, directed by Havana Marking, is about “Afghan Star” music talent TV show in Afghanistan. Afghan people, who have been suffering of the severe wars and Taliban rules for decades, were not allowed to sing. Moreover they did not even have a chance to watch TV or listen to radio. With the end of Taliban rule Afghanis got an access to some of the broadcasting media, along with the simple rights to sing, dance and laugh. So, they perceived freedom as a possibility to sing and express their feelings in the combination of notes and words.
The “Afghan Star” became the most popular TV show in Afghanistan not only for the participants, but also hundred thousands of people across the whole country watching them. Afghanis enthusiastically voted for their beloved singers and sincerely believed that their voice would influence the results of voting. This was not, though, the only crucial point of the film. The young lady, who at some point received the least votes, stayed behind other competitors and had to leave the project (as it happens in “Super Star” and other similar programmes). According to the tradition of the project, before leaving the stage, she had to make a final performance in front of the audience. She was supposed to sing, but never to dance. And several simple dance elements she dared to make while singing were considered as a deadly sin. When she was asked of the reason of her impudent behavior, she guiltily said that had followed the feelings she had been full of at that moment.
For some of us it might be hard to believe that in the 21st century human happiness depends on the possibility to love or sing. And what is even harder to believe in is that in the closed societies there are very few people who dare to defend their universal right to be happy.
Both films revealed an absolutely simple truth to me: our liberty starts from easy words, sounds and feelings. We never realize it though. Otherwise, our everyday life would have a different value.



Filed under Human Rights, People, Political, Society

Leonid Afremov

Art is my life and I paint every single day
Leonid Afremov

Several minutes ago I have discovered an absolutely lovely artist Leonid Afremov. Surprisingly I had never heard about him, though he turned to be quite popular. He paints with palette knife with oil on canvas and does it amazingly.
Thank you Nune Melkoumian for exploring his paintings to me.

I am posting some of them below and going to print them and post on the walls of my small room in the dormitory.
The source of the pictures is “Look At Me
More information about Leonid Afremov, his paintings, blog discussions, etc. can be found on his official website at
Finally, you can watch how a new painting is being created here
Enjoy it..


Filed under Culture, People

How it feels to VOTE

Yesterday, on November 2, 2010 elections to the United States Senate were held. If I was in Armenia I would know about it from the breaking news on CNN or some fresh newspapers. Here, in Budapest where I have a pleasure to study together with the lovely young people from 20 (or so) countries, I had a different experience of learning about the upcoming event in the US political life. Besides the number of posters at school and in the student dormitory reminding to the US citizens to Vote From Abroad, I could notice Facebook statuses by my American classmates on the same topic as well as discussions in class and during the breaks.

And the thing that made me write this post is the way they talked about it and precisely the way they perceive their participation in the elections. They were so excited discussing the upcoming event. Why? – i was asking myself. Well, just because they believe in their direct (through the inderct means) participation in the national event. They value their vote and believe in its power.
Well, I am not discussing the level of democracy in the US in this post. I am not discussing whether each citizen’s vote is really to decide who will become the Senate members, etc. I am talking about people’s belief in and enthusiasm for their role in their country’s political life.
That’s what I miss as a citizen of a proclaimed democratic country, that’s what I am eager to feel going to the polling station and that’s what, unfortunately, I never felt yet.
So I wish myself and my compatriots to live a day in our lives which we will be looking forward to in order waking up in the morning to go voting to express our will and deliver our position, strongly believing that those will be heard and considered as a priority for the authorities.
And then, I promise, I’ll write another post and I’ll call it: I KNOW HOW IT FEELS TO VOTE!


Filed under Political, Society, Thoughts Aloud