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ARTS & BOOKS February 2006
On Hollywood message films, South Africa’s black Jesus and Michael Jackson’s abaya.
by Pauline LAVAGNE d'ORTIGUE


Messages from Hollywood
Syriana, Good night and Good Luck, The Constant Gardener, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Munich, Jarhead... this year's list of nominees for Golden Globe awards mostly contained ‘Big Idea' films, giving an indirect insight into US current cultural and political debates. King Kong was pretty much the only 2006 representative of the feel-good escapist factor in the American film business.
Sources: "In Movies, Big Issues, for Now," The New York Times 18 January 2006.


South Africa's black Jesus
Son of Man, directed by Mark Dornford-May, premiered on January 22 at the Sundance film festival. It offers a new interpretation of the Bible switching the story from first-century Palestine to 21st-century Africa. Shot in rural Eastern Cape and Khayelitsha, the film depicts Jesus Christ as a political activist fighting oppression under a regime not unlike Zimbabwe's.
Sources: « SA 'black Jesus' film to premiere at Sundance, » The Mail & Guardian 21 January 2006 ; « Christ as a black revolutionary, » The Mail & Guardian 27 January 2006.


Michael Jackson's abaya
Michael Jackson was recently spotted in an abaya, or full-length robe, in a shopping mall in Bahrein's capital, Manama. The pop star was wearing a traditional women's dress with a veil covering his face and black gloves - but he was still wearing men's shoes. Michael Jackson is a guest of the royal family and rumours are that he will settle in the Gulf state for good.
Sources: "Jackson goes shopping dressed as a woman," The Times 25 January 2006; « Michael Jackson shops as woman, » The Australian 26 January 2006.

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