The Sundance Institute has announced the six projects set for this year’s New Frontier Story Lab, a hands-on initiative for developing content that converges at the intersection of “film, visual art, media, live performance, music and technology.” The 2014 creative teams and projects are Karim Ben Khelifa and Chloé Jarry (The Enemy), Dandypunk and Darin Basile (Heart Corps), Tracy Fullerton and Lucas Peterson (Walden, A Game), Braden King and Matthew Moore (Weather), Hasan Minhaj and Greg Walloch (Sakoon/Paint The Town) and Navid and Vassiliki Khonsari (1979 Revolution). Previously supported projects include #PostModem (from 25 New Faces Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva), Kill Shakespeare, 18 Days in Egypt and The Silent History.

Workshopping at the Lab, which runs from October 22 – 27 at the Sundance Resort in Park City, includes individualized story sessions, conversations about key artistic, design and technology issues, and case study presentations from experts in diverse related disciplines. Detailed descriptions of each project can be found below.

The Enemy

Karim Ben Khelifa and Chloé Jarry

The enemy is always invisible; When he becomes visible, he ceases to be the enemy. Two combatants from opposing sides observe each other. Each of them explains why they are fighting – what made them decide to take arms in order to defend their beliefs, their family, their country, their clan or their faith.

Karim Ben Khelifa is an award winning photojournalist and war correspondent who has freelanced regularly for Time Magazine, Vanity Fair, Le Monde, the New York Times Magazine, Stern and dozens of others. He was the 2012 Carroll Binder Fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, where he has also given talks and lectures.
He is currently a Visiting Scholar and Artist-in-Residence at the Open Documentary Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. (more…)

Waste collectors like Sayyid Ahmed, known as zabaleen, work in an informal economy, but they provide a remarkably efficient recycling service and become experts on their neighborhoods. Credit Photograph by Rena Effendi / Institute

The New Yorker has an excellent piece by Peter Hessler on Cairo as seen by the Zabaleen, the traditional garbage collectors.

A new Youtube music video on the nightmare in Syria…

لبلادي عمل من إعداد وإنتاج وتنفيذ مجموعة شباب يقيمون في السويد وهم من سوريا و العراق و لبنان و فلسطين. على أمل السلام…

“To Our Countries” is a project produced by a group of youths who live in Sweden and are originally from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine

The following commentary is about the famous Arabic language cookbook of Naziha Adibe, published half a century ago in Baghdad and known throughout the Arab world.

Samarqand merchant in 1911

There is a wonderful website with photographs of various places in Russia, including Islamic areas, from the early 20th century at Mashable.

By Timothy Daniels, Guest Contributor, New Mandala, October 6, 2014

There appears to be no end to the war between several western powers—leaders in the global capitalist world order—and Muslim militants. Both sides are spiralling into some form of mutually assured destruction. Fragile “modern” nation-states, formed under the influence of European colonial forces in the early twentieth century, are crumbling and revealing their inability to deliver the promised fruits of secular modernity. Millions of Muslims are being killed, thousands are fleeing for their lives, and centuries old sites of Islamic civilisations are being decimated, while war-stressed western economies are declining into the shadows of China’s great industrial leap forward.

In the face of the current phase of this violent confrontation ushered in by the emergence and establishment of a militant-led Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, many officials of western governments and Muslim leaders are making public statements that include the positive representation of Islam as a “religion of peace.” Linguistic anthropologists or any other social scientists seeking to provide a serious scholarly analysis of such discourse would examine the context and what the speakers are trying to do. Here, some of the social meanings of these statements may include efforts to reinforce the peace-loving posture of the majority of Muslims and to calm the fears of non-Muslims, many of whom have already begun to resort to acts of violence against fellow citizens perceived to be Muslims. However, this scholarly tack is not the approach Clive Kessler chose.

Clive Kessler, a Columbia University trained Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of New South Wales, chose to interrogate the truth value of discourse expressing the positive representation of Islam “as a religion of peace.” In the article, “The Islamic State and ‘Religion of Peace,’” published online in the Quadrant on September 26, 2014, Kessler tells us that he finds this description of Islam to be “bland, disingenuous, intellectually lazy, delusional, politically evasive, and altogether simplistic.” He wants us to have a clear idea of what we’re confronted with in order to devise an “effective response.”

Istanbul, where minarets share space with commercial signs

Having spent a short eid vacation in Istanbul, I had the opportunity to walk around the Sultan Ahmet and Eminönü areas. The main streets near the Sultan Ahmet mosque and Topkapi were full to overflowing with tourists from just about everywhere. The lines to enter the major sites stretched for hour-long waits, so I decided it was more prudent to simply walk the back streets with no particular goal in mind. On the way to the Spice Suq, where many of the shops remained open to satisfy the crowds of tourists and merchants’ pockets, I saw the iconic duality of modern Turkey in full force. On one building is a commanding mural of Ataturk, but across the street rises a conservative Islamic center. Down the road from an Ottoman religious shrine there will be a Starbucks or Burger King. Outside a fashion store is a giant image of a vivacious woman in Victoria’s Secret-like underwear, as a woman in niqab walks by. East and West, Ottoman vs. Republic, liberal and conservative: contemporary Turkey is where academically unfashionable binaries rule the streets, if not the hearts and minds of many Turks.

Of course this is the touristic center of Istanbul, complete with the tram stop that always seems to have a crowd outside. There must be a hundred or more small hotels and just as many restaurants and cafes. Kebab (or Kebap, if you prefer) is cuisine’s sultan here today. We stayed in the delightful and relatively inexpensive World Heritage Hotel, where the hospitality and ambiance are superb, and only a short walk from the Sultan Ahmet mosque, whose majestic minarets we could see from our breakfast table. Of the many restaurants nearby, my favorite was Amedros, which offers a wide range of dishes beyond the ubiquitous kebab fare. For authentic Ottoman cuisine, be sure to visit Asitane, which is near the Kariye Camii and Chora Church Museum. Of course, the joy of being in Istanbul is the constant discovery of something you will enjoy. If you have never walked these streets and alleys, you are missing a jewel outside the museums, splendid as they are.

/© Muhammad Hamed / Reuters/REUTERS

Al Jazeera has a series of photographs of this year’s hajj to Mecca.

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