May on iwonder
May on iwonder (image - iwonder)

May on iwonder

May on iwonder – highlights include Jamala: Songs of Freedom, A Song Called Hate, Mama Africa, Do Care, The Role of the Soldier, Kyiv-Sofia-Hollywood, Mother Ukraine and Olga’s Search.

It’s Eurovision Song Contest time again, as one of the entertainment calendar’s most flamboyant spectacles creates a platform for both pageantry and political expression.

With the war in Ukraine serving as an ever-present backdrop to affairs in Europe, this May iWonder pulls together a number of films looking at the role of music in activism, and of activists’ and everyday people’s struggle through Putin’s invasion.

New to iWonder this May, ‘Jamala: Songs of Freedom’ charts the efforts of Ukraine’s 2016 Eurovision winner, Jamala, in her quest to raise awareness and crucial funds for her country’s plight, while ‘A Song Called Hate’ and ‘Mama Africa’ both pay homage to two very different artists’ use of music to advance their cause.

Then in this month’s iWonder Top Five, five documentaries, each new to iWonder, examine the lives that have been drastically and forever altered by the war in Ukraine, as ordinary people continue to count the cost of the conflict, while bravely standing against it.

Jamala: Songs of Freedom

#Activism #Opposition #Personal

Launches 2 May

Ukrainian singer/songwriter, Jamala, gained international fame in 2016 as the winner of the Eurovision contest, where she performed her song, “1944,” about the deportation of Crimean Tatars – including her great-grandmother’s family  –  to Central Asia.

Fast forward to the present day, ‘Jamala: Songs of Freedom’ follows Jamala from the early hours of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, through to her activism ever since that has seen her raise both awareness and money for her embattled homeland.

With performances spanning the world, from the Kennedy Centre in Washington, D.C. to the 2023 Eurovision contest in Liverpool, England, her latest album, QIRIM, which means Crimea, is a tribute to her Crimean Tatar roots, as she continues to shine a light on the most recent chapter of Russian aggression that began with the annexation of Crimea ten years ago.

A Song Called Hate

#Controversial #Brave #Middle East

When Hatari, a controversial BDSM techno band, represented Iceland at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, they decided to use the platform to put the spotlight on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians by staging one of the most internationally televised live political protests in the competition’s history.

Tracking the band’s voyage from Reykjavik to Tel Aviv to Hebron in the West Bank, this film examines how these young artists cope with criticism coming from all sides, as well as exploring the role of art as an agent of change.

For more on A Song Called Hate, click here.

Mama Africa

#Africa #Women #Racism

For nearly half a century, Grammy-winning South African singer Miriam Makeba—known to fans as “Mama Africa”—travelled the world with powerful songs of joy, love, and revolution that have resonated in the hearts of people across the world.

Against the disharmonious backdrop of Apartheid and international liberation movements around the world, Makeba’s captivating melodies exposed the brutality and racism of the South African government and made her an early icon of Black freedom.

Award-winning director Mika Kaurismäki’s inspirational tribute to Makeba is packed with five decades of rare archival footage, interviews, and excerpts from the legendary performances that exhilarated millions and inspired musicians, including French artist Jain, and her song Makeba, which has become a YouTube sensation with almost 300 million views.

Click here for more on Makeba on the iWonder blog.

iWonder when

Saturday 11th May

May on iwonder

The Eurovision Song Contest Final on 11th May marks the return of an annual celebration of music and culture, bringing with it memorable performances often accompanied by an undercurrent of political controversy.

Renowned for its flamboyant performances, eyebrow-raising costumes, and irrepressible artists, the contest has increasingly become a powerful platform for bringing together diverse cultures and musical traditions from across Europe and beyond.

The contest isn’t entirely free of criticism, as shown through the decision to host the 2019 finals in Israel, enflaming tensions around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and leading to widespread calls for boycotts, while highlighting the contest’s potential to amplify geopolitical disputes.

Nevertheless, the contest remains a beloved global spectacle, showcasing the rich tapestry of musical talents and fostering cross-cultural exchanges. It serves as both a reminder of the unifying power of music to transcend political divides and unite people from different backgrounds, as well as music’s power to serve as a platform for activism and opposition.

iWonder who

Susana Alimivna Jamaladinova

May on iwonder

Susana Alimivna Jamaladinova, known as Jamala, is a Ukrainian singer, songwriter, and actress, and the subject of ‘Jamala: Songs of Freedom‘, launching on 2nd May on iwonder. Born on August 27, 1983, in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, to a Crimean Tatar family, her childhood was influenced by her cultural heritage and the struggles faced by her people. Jamala’s music reflects her diverse background, blending elements of jazz, soul, folk, and electronica.

She rose to international prominence after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016 with her haunting ballad “1944,” which recounted the deportation of the Crimean Tatars by Soviet authorities during World War II. This victory brought attention to her powerful storytelling and vocal prowess.

Beyond her music career, Jamala is an advocate for human rights, particularly for the rights of the Crimean Tatar people and other marginalized groups. Her artistic expression serves as a platform to shed light on social and political issues, making her a respected figure both in Ukraine and abroad.

For more on Jamala, click here.

iWonder what

Ukraine up close

May on iwonder

In this May’s iWonder What Top Five, we showcase five films each with personal, and often painful, accounts of the lives that have been torn apart by the relentless war in Ukraine, and the daily bravery on display as people attempt to piece their lives back together, or create new ones.

1) I Do Care

#Justice #Freedom #Education

On the night of February 27, 2015, journalist Zhanna Nemtsova’s life was forever changed. Her father, Boris Nemtsov, a Russian politician and vocal critic of Vladimir Putin, was fatally shot near the Kremlin.

In the wake of his assassination, Zhanna left the country to continue his legacy of free speech and democracy. Relocating to Germany, she founded the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom to champion educational programs, including a journalism school for Russian-speaking students promoting critical thinking and a free press.

As the Ukraine war began, her work to assist students from Ukraine became a lifeline, and this work is far from over.

2) The Role of a Soldier

#War #Journalism #Frontline

Launches 16 May

Sergei Loiko, a journalist for the Los Angeles Times, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin a question at a press conference in 2013: “Is it in the realm of possibilities to send Russian troops into Ukraine?” Putin then replied that the idea was “complete nonsense.”

Nine years later, Loiko, a Russian citizen and longtime U.S. resident, watched Russia invade Ukraine and decided to join the Ukrainian army. In the trenches, he meets the Ukrainian citizens alongside him—doctors, teachers, businessmen, actors—who have taken up arms to defend their country, trading in their old line of work for a new one: the role of a soldier.

3) Kyiv-Sofia-Hollywood

#Movies #Escape #Moving

Launches 3 May

May on iwonder

Fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, two mothers find themselves in an unusual place, Nu Boyana Film Studios, in Sofia, Bulgaria. Eastern Europe’s largest film company, it has participated in the production of over 400 Hollywood films.

This moving work, Kyiv-Sofia-Hollywood, follows these two women as they rebuild their lives in a new country and find their way in the film industry. On their journey, they overcome challenges and find success, begging the question of whether they will eventually ever return to their homeland, Ukraine.

4) Mother Ukraine

#Military #Personal #Emotional

Launches 8 May

May on iwonder

Against the backdrop of the Russian war in Ukraine, Christina must undergo pregnancy alone while her husband fights for their motherland. Walking to her ultrasound, she passes war debris and a memorial for fallen soldiers.

After months of moving around for safety with her mother and son while pregnant, Christina is back in Kyiv. As she waits for delivery, she hopes the commanders will release her husband in time for the birth of their twins and give him extra vacation days to celebrate as a family.

#Heartbreaking #Search #Family

May on iwonder

Olga Streltsova, from Gelendzhik, Russia, is looking for her son, who disappeared in the war with Ukraine. Despite already being wounded in a previous operation with the Russian military, Artur was sent back to fight not long after surgery.

In December 2022, he went missing in Vuhledar, Ukraine, and Olga remains desperate for answers. She undergoes a DNA test in case there is a match with one of the bodies in the military morgue.

She also writes and sends hundreds of letters to the Ministry of Defence, Artur’s military unit, and the President to no avail. Her last hope is to go to Ukraine and find him herself. But how?

May on iwonder

May on iwonder

About iwonder

May on iwonder

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May on iwonder

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May on iwonder

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