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The Berlin Wall: “My part in its downfall”

On 1st October 2009, Creative Culture attended the launch of The Berlin Wall - My part in its downfall by Peter Millar at the Frontline Club in London

As the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s downfall approaches, Peter Millar’s book is the opportunity to look back at this fascinating event that would change Germany forever.

At the time, Peter Millar worked as a foreign correspondent for Reuters news agency and was based in East Berlin, the communist capital city.

In his novel, Peter shares his experience of living in East Berlin and Moscow while history provided him with so many stories to tell. Life in the communist city was interesting but not easy when freedom seemed to be something as inaccessible as the goods in Western showcases. The GDR tried to control every part of their citizen’s life. In fact, Peter had to get used to microphones in the walls and would later, when his Stasi files were accessible, discover how meticulous the surveillance had been (it included comments like “He has crossed the road illegally while the pedestrian light was red”). But the author also enjoyed the unpretentious way of living in East Berlin.

With the GDR’s reins slackening and the protest movement intensifying, Peter would later witness first-hand the socio-political revolution that eventually brought the Wall down. He also describes the famous misunderstanding that led to the Wall’s downfall and the following non-stop party in Berlin: in a press conference that was broadcast live on television, a member of the communist government declared, not completely aware of what had actually been decided, that every GDR citizen was from now on allowed to cross the border (in reality, the government had only decided to loosen travel regulations in the near future).

The event was as delightful as the novel. Peter Millar read extracts from his book to a very interested and diverse audience to start with. Later, we also got the chance to question and exchange opinions with the author in person.

Peter Millar’s book is highly recommendable for everyone seeking to gain insight into one of the most important events of German contemporary history.

We also invite you to read the fascinating summary written by the author himself: http://timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6814696.ece?token=null&offset=0&page=1

By Julia Sahm

International Translation Day

The International Translation Day is celebrated today

The art of translation is as old as written literature. One of the oldest known literary works, the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, was already available in several Asiatic languages as early as the second millennium BC.

Today, the International Translation Day enables us to pay tribute to this long lasting form of art.

It is celebrated every year on 30th September, St. Jerome Day. He was the patron of the Saint Libraries and was born in 347 AD. He helped translate the Old and New Testament into Latin. The day was established by UNESCO upon the suggestion of the International Federation of Translation (FIT) in an effort to show solidarity with the international translation community. After all, it is the translators that give us the privilege to enjoy our favourite literary work in local languages, to understand Japanese electronic brand user guides without a major headache and to gain insight into creative works done by foreign artists we would otherwise never comprehend.

Each year, a different theme is chosen on International Translation Day. In 2009, the organizers have chosen “Working together”. They invite us to think about the importance of collaborating and joining forces in a world that is growing more complex every day.

As the importance of information grows and art and literature resources have left behind big-city libraries and become available for everybody, it is all the more important to have translators and linguists that help export these treasures to the world.

The International Translation Day is celebrated in a multitude of countries in the world. We invite you to look out for the activities which have been organized in your own city/country.

By Julia Sahm

Hungarian Film Festival: Check The Gate

The Hungarian film festival in London starts on Thursday 25th June.

Check the Gate, the second Hungarian film festival in London, will take place from 25th to 30th June 2009. Organised by the Hungarian Cultural Center in London and hosted at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, it will focus on Hungarian films before and after 1989.

Not only will the films selected introduce the audience to various genres, but they will also give a good understanding of the evolution of the country from WWII through to the cold war and post-communism. Some movies will also present lighter subjects such as love stories and street culture.

This festival is a great opportunity for Londoners to discover Hungary which is not often under the spotlight.

The programme and tickets for the viewings are available online on the ICA website: http://www.ica.org.uk/Check%20the%20Gate+20079.twl

For people who attend the viewings, feel free to share your thoughts with us!

LINK: http://www.checkthegate.ord.uk/

By Melanie Chevalier

Death and the King’s Horseman

The clash of two cultures in WWII Africa

If you live in London and haven’t seen this play yet, run to the National Theatre as it will be on until 17 June only. Based on a true story, Death and the King’s Horseman depicts with beauty, taste and strength a cultural clash between the British colonial community and the local traditions of Nigeria.

It has been one month since The Alafin (King) of Oyo has died and as per the tradition, the community is preparing for the night’s ritual: the burial of the King along with the ritual suicide and wedding of his ‘Horseman’ who will accompany him to the other world. Having heard about the ritual, the British colonial officer in charge of the area is on his way, in order to prevent this ‘murder’ from happening, along with what could be regarded as chaos in his hierarchy.

Full of authenticity, this play tells the story of two ‘co-living’ communities who due to cultural differences do not understand each other and probably never will. The interaction within each of the communities is alien to the other one.

A subject approached with subtlety, which is still relevant to this day in various parts of the World.

http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/horseman

-The original story took place in Nigeria in 1946. For the purposes of the play, Wole Soyinka set the story back in 1943-

By Melanie Chevalier