Insight into Mexico City

Mexican author Ángeles González Gamio lectured on the history of Mexico City at the Instituto Cervantes in London

Mexico City, the country’s economic, industrial and cultural centre, represents the second largest metropolitan area in the world with a population of more than19 million people.  Ángeles González Gamio, who has written several books on the history of the capital, made the perfect fit for this passionate introduction, taking the audience on a historical tour of the city in her lecture last Thursday.

With Mexico City’s buildings breathing history, there was a lot to say about its architecture. According to Ángeles, the building structure reflects the mentality of the city which has seen many different rulers and cultures in the course of its history. Interestingly, the huge metropolis used to be a small settlement in a valley surrounded by several lakes. It was originally called Teotihuacán and stood between the lakes. Later, the Aztecs would install their empire on the lake’s shores. They managed to create an effective system of dams and canals. When the Spaniards arrived (mistaken for the god Quetzalcóatl and his people, therefore warmly welcomed by the Aztecs), they were amazed by the beauty of the city’s fertile gardens, canals and temples. History shows that they took it over brutally and began to build a Spanish city they called Mexico. The colonial rulers brought wealth to the capital and started building an impressive city. Its architecture  became renowned by the eighteenth century. It was in no way inferior to what the best of Europe had to offer.

When Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, the cut with the Spanish mentality was also mirrored in its buildings. The Mexicans started looking towards France and imitating their architecture. The 19th century was generally chaotic, with the Mexican rulers trying to curb the power of the Catholic Church  and by the twentieth century Mexico City had become a modern city.

In 1910 the social movement changed Mexico’s way of thinking. The result was a new nationalist feeling with the aim of recovering the indigenous heritage. As a consequence, art became accessible to everybody, Mexican music emerged and a Neo-colonial and Art Deco style started to appear in the city.

Ángeles completed her historical tour by showing pictures of her favourite spots managing to transmit her passion for Mexico City to the audience, making it a very insightful evening. Later, the lecture was nicely brought to an end with original Mexican beer, courtesy of the Mexican embassy.

By Julia Sahm

Losing two brothers and gaining one

The remarkable documentary “Good Intentions” crowned the UK Jewish Film Festival that took place in London from 7th to 19th November.

Eluding the tribulations of the economy and stepping into the wonderful world of cinema was the invitation headline of the 13th UK Jewish Film Festival this year which included the inspiring documentary “Good intentions”, and offered much more to the festival than mere escapism and entertainment.  This “groundbreaking TV drama” centres around two female chefs from Palestine and Israel, who are invited to co-host a cookery show in Israel. This is a novelty in the ongoing dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, in their world of opposed communities, full of prejudice towards each other. Amal and Tamil, the two chefs, face enormous hostility when they decide to become friends.  “Should I say 'I can’t kill you because you are a friend of my mum’s'?” is the outrageous question of Tamil’s son as he is getting ready to join Israel’s army, to which Tamil’s husband exclaims wearily: “We can share as much humus as we want – there will never be peace. It is either them or us!”

Meanwhile, her partner Amal is declared a traitor and has to cope with the opposition from her embittered brother who lost his legs in an Israeli attack. Battling against the walls of prejudice and fear, Amal and Tamil decide to overcome these obstacles and to build bridges through the cookery show.

“Good intentions” is part of a drama series aired on Israeli television showing both Arabs and Jews interacting for the first time on prime time television broadcast both in Arabic and Hebrew. It is based on true stories, inspired by “The Parents’ Circle – Family Forum”, a peacemaking organisation that brings together Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost loved ones in the conflict. Their stories have been woven into the series, making the experience even more absorbing and intense.

In a discussion following the documentary, two members of The Parents’ Circle shared their experience as peacemakers in Israel. “Each of us must choose a path” explained Robi Damelin, whose son was killed in the conflict.

Her choice was to follow a road of education. Her knowledge grew as she discovered and learnt that Israelis and Palestinians generally don’t know or speak to each other – and therefore don’t understand one another. Robi passionately believes that her work can make a difference. “This is real, there is no fiction” added Ali Abu Awwad, the narrator of a fascinating story, and former anti-Israel activist. “I have lost two brothers in the conflict” he said, “but I have gained one”.

Attending the festival was throughout an enriching experience and the impact that the documentary had on us will surely endure.

If you are interested in learning more about “The Parents’ Circle – Family Forum”, please feel free to visit their website:

By Julia Sahm

Global Marketing and finding the right words

A challenging equation which can build or destroy a brand

Creative Culture would like to share an article about Global Marketing and the importance of choosing the right words.

A study conducted by e-spirit shows how major global brands sometimes still under-estimate the importance of the global roll-out and finding the right partners to make their messages travel the world, in the most relevant and impacting way, culturally and linguistically.

Creativity does not translate, it adapts. This requires briefing, de-briefing and teams of talented creative specialists who understand the global needs as well as the local requirements.

The investment will always reveal being worth it.

By Melanie Chevalier

Greek Film Festival: Films for cultural explorers

The Hellenic Centre in London turned into an international meeting point for fans of Greek culture from 30th October to 1st November.

The influence of Greek culture on the world is undeniable. Having impacted so many different fields of society from architecture and sciences to sports and politics, there is hardly any part of Western culture without Greek traces. In the humanities, the Greeks initiated the detailed study of humans including history and philosophy instead of simply registering human events. There would be no Olympic Games and certainly no drama without the Greeks, for their civilization  brought theatre forms like drama, comedy and tragedy into being. What is more, they provided us with practical words like psychology, biology, philosophy or anthropology to talk about arts and science. We should therefore not be surprised that it was the Greek community that took up the cause of building bridges between their country and the rest of Europe as they hosted the second Greek Film Festival in London earlier this month.

Thanks to the detailed and warm-hearted organisation of the team around the film director Christos Prossylis, participating in the festival was like diving into the Greek culture with all the senses. Greek wine and the trendy drink “Mastika” were given out to greet the visitors, and later a band performed popular Greek songs like “Ta paidia tou peiraia” (“The Kids of Piraeus”) and “Nychtose choris feggari” (It is Dark without a Moon”). Greek food including filled vine leafs, Tzaziki, garlic bread and meat balls completed the picture.

“The country of myth, light, sea, sand, warm and friendly people” - that is how Sofia Panagiotaki, director of the National Tourism Organisation, enthusiastically presented the country in her speech. She invited film producers to shoot documentaries in Greece, describing it as a “fertile breeding ground for tales” and as “the nicest place in the world for documentaries”.

Her speech was underlined by Bettany Hughes, a British historian and journalist who explained how she fell in love with Greek culture and started to make documentaries about historical themes like the Spartans. To the pleasant surprise of the producers, these historical films became a huge global success. However, for Bethany Hughes one of the greatest achievements was when a Muslim activist wrote her an email saying that he had been inspired by one of her films to build bridges between cultures rather than to destroy them with violence.

The range of films presented at the festival was extremely varied – it included feature fiction films, short films, documentaries, animation and video art. For the first time this year, the festival also invited international artists with an interest in Greece to participate showing the country from different angles, through their own eyes.

The film festival organisers wanted to present Greek people as open-minded, enthusiastic and creative – and that is definitely the impression we had after the festival.
By Julia Sahm