Hungarian politics, like the Hungarian language, tends to be a mystery to outsiders at the best of times.
The arrival of the second Fidesz government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban in 2010 added more layers to the ‘paprika curtain’ already there by linguistic default: the rapid-fire PM generally avoids facing the foreign media (certainly en mass) and when travelling overseas invariably speaks in Hungarian – despite his competence in English – to address his real target audience, ie the viewers back home. Read more
On Valentine’s Day 2011, a court in Ecuador ordered Chevron, the US oil major, to pay $19bn to indigenous peoples and villagers to compensate for pollution caused between 1964 and 1990 by Texaco, which Chevron had bought in 2001. It was the biggest award ever against a corporation outside the US and was hailed by environmental and other campaigners worldwide as a landmark victory for usually voiceless and defenceless peoples over the usually all-powerful Big Oil.
But Chevron felt it had been treated unfairly and counter-sued in the US. On March 4 this year, Judge Lewis Kaplan of the US District Court in New York found Steven Donziger, the US lawyer who represented the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, liable for leading a multifaceted racketeering conspiracy. Read more
Fears that Brazil’s infrastructure would be overwhelmed have so far proven overblown. There have been some flight cancellations, poor communications at some games and other problems, but the FT’s Brazil bureau chief Joseph Leahy reports that generally things have gone smoothly
As Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, gets his feet under the prime minister’s table and as stories of rape continue to cloud India’s international image, The World Before Her tells poignant and provocative stories for Indians today.
The documentary, a 2012 film currently on cinema release in India, follows two young women in their very different worlds. One is Ruhi Singh, a determined Miss India contestant. The other is Prachi Trivedi, a leader at a youth camp run by the Durgha Vahini, the women’s wing of the Hindu fundamentalist movement. Read more
For Chinese, Africa is the new El Dorado. An estimated 1m Chinese have moved to Africa in the last two decades in pursuit of a more prosperous life. They are opening shops, buying land, and exploiting mines. But how welcome are the Chinese in Africa? And is their arrival a force for good?
Looking for answers to these timely questions, Howard French, a former Shanghai bureau chief of the New York Times, undertook a grand voyage through the African continent. He met with a diverse array of Chinese merchants, entrepreneurs and business men and asked them about their practices, methods, and outcomes. Read more
The most significant threat to today’s emerging markets is hidden in plain sight. No, it’s not education, it’s not health and it’s not income inequality. The most ignored threat to EMs development is violence. That’s the main thesis of “The Locust Effect”, a new book about emerging markets. Read more
Hollywood, Bollywood, Nigeria’s Nollywood; France’s arthouse cinema scene, British romcoms, Italian and Russian film from the likes of Fellini and Tarkovsky; the Korean Wave. The cinema culture of south eastern Europe may be rather less celebrated outside the region than those of its more famous peers, but there is growing recognition both of a resurgent home-grown movie scene and the competitive advantages of SEE as a location for shoots. Read more
No cheesy dance numbers. No clichéd story line. Cinematography so good you notice it.
Ship of Theseus, the debut feature film from Anand Gandhi, is a far cry from your typical Bollywood blockbuster. It’s been lauded as marking a revival of independent art cinema in India. Read more
Close your eyes. Picture the most innovative, most entrepreneurial, and most customer-driven company in the world. Got it? Now open your eyes. What company did you have in mind?
Chances are slim you were thinking of a company that makes refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines. But according to the authors of “Reinventing Giants” it’s exactly this industry’s global leader, Haier of China, that carries all the above-mentioned titles. Read more
By Matt Kennard
Ask your average political nerd to guess Noam Chomsky’s favourite newspaper and few would tender the Financial Times. But the emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at MIT, revered the world over by left-wing intellectuals and social activists, believes the pink ‘un is the only global newspaper “that tells the truth”. Read more
“I thought that if one wanted to be a writer, one has to go to Paris. Instead, what I discovered there, was Latin America,” said Nobel Prize laureate, Mario Vargas Llosa (pictured below), at the eighth edition of the Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia – a spin-off from the UK’s largest literary gathering that turns 25 in 2013.
Now, it seems Latin America has a lot to show to the world when it comes to culture. Read more
There could hardly be a more poignant or devastating reminder of divisive instability that has spread throughout the Horn of Africa.
On Monday, I moderated a discussion panel on how arts and literature can help rebuild society in the Horn of Africa. But I shouldn’t have been there at all. Read more
By Matt Kennard
Gael García Bernal is not your average Hollywood movie star.
He intersplices his long sentences with references to Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, and throws in a bit of French radical thinker Alan Badiou for good measure. “Right now I’m reading In Praise of Love by Badiou,” he tells me while unwrapping his sandwich. “I’ve never read him, I have to catch up!” Read more
‘Gangnam Style’ is not the only South Korean cultural export to achieve international glory this year. Last month Kim Ki-duk, a Seoul-based director known for his gritty, artistic films, picked up the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, confirming the growing foreign interest in South Korean cinema. Read more
When the World Shakespeare Festival invited Dmitry Krymov to stage A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the UK, the Russian theatre director known for his wildly imaginative visual productions was given free rein with the great bard’s fantastical play.
True to form, Krymov has plucked the story of Pyramus and Thisbe from Shakespeare’s original and left almost everything else out. Even the title, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It) has been adapted to, as Krymov puts it, “blur the boundaries of the work”.
“I want people to leave the theatre wondering which of Shakespeare’s plays they have actually seen.” Read more
The scene: you are a somewhat ageing rock star, in your (small) country. You pick up the phone to find an unknown, if enthusiastic, school teacher on the line: “We are doing our Christmas show next month, featuring your songs. Would you like to come and play with us?”
It means turning out on December 18, probably in the snow, driving 60 miles and rehearsing with a bunch of kids. The woman is mad keen on using her choir, too. You then have to play in what could turn out to be a musical disaster. If it is posted on YouTube, you will be a Yuletide laughing stock. Of course, you’ll get home late and there’s no money in this whatsoever. Read more
“They are zombies! They are the living dead!” explains a mysterious preacher towards the end of Cuban zombie comedy flick Juan of the Dead. It is only at this late stage that the zombies, by now thick on the streets of Havana, are identified as such. During most of the film, the increasingly ubiquitous undead are referred to as “dissidents”, backed, says the television news, by the US government. Read more
Brazil’s Xingu river most often makes headlines because of the controversial Belo Monte dam, a hydropower project being built on this tributary of the Amazon.
But while protests against the dam are flooding social networks, few Brazilians are aware that the river is also the scene of a Brazilian environmental success story, the Xingu indigenous park, the world’s largest, which completed half a century in existence last year. Read more
Do investors expect too much of emerging markets? Ruchir Sharma of Morgan Stanley Investment Management certainly thinks so, and has written a book to make his case.
He says investors should focus on today’s realities and not “the speculative titillation of futurology” imbedded in long-term forecasts of the Brics taking over the world. Here, taken from the FT, is Stefan Wagstyl’s review of ‘Breakout Nations’. Read more