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Film director Michael Haneke turns 75

Golden Palms, an Oscar, Golden Globes, European and German film awards - few directors have been honored for their work as widely as Michael Haneke. The Austrian filmmaker, now 75, is a living legend. At the start, nothing pointed to an exceptional career. No one could have predicted that the man who once directed a few TV films for a German broadcaster would be among the very few film directors to win two Golden Palms in Cannes. Followed by an Oscar. And Golden Globes. And almost a dozen European film prizes. Over the past years, Michael Haneke has been overwhelmed by awards. It wasn't until he began to work as a director for the big screen in 1989 that he really found his own style. He has directed 11 movies since then. Unforgotten: his debut "The Seventh Continent," a movie packed with relentless intensity that borders on the unendurable about a family that deliberately commits suicide. It is utterly disturbing. His next films are also characterized by glacial intensity and razor-sharp analysis. He appears to have little pity for the protagonists. Michael Haneke tells stories on the screen like a pathologist dissects bodies. "This is what it's like, take a look," he seems to be telling the viewer. "Life happens to be just the way I'm showing it to you." Distraction and escapism are not his thing, nor is glossy superficiality. Perception of reality In 2007, Haneke went to Hollywood to film the remake of his 1997 film "Funny Games" - but not before he had made sure he would also be granted the final cut. No one meddles with the likes of Haneke - that was a precondition for the Austrian director for his US stint. The remake of the psychological thriller is not among the director's best films. That was perhaps not such a disappointment because in 2013 the German-born Austrian director won an Oscar for "Amour," the captivating romantic drama about an elderly couple. A few years before he wining an Oscar, his film about a family in northern Germany before World War I, "The White Ribbon," made waves at festivals, award ceremonies and at the box offices. Haneke is one of the very few directors who won Golden Palms at the Cannes Film Festival not just once, but twice. He is bound to be proud of the many honors, but it's unlikely the director has an eye out for sparkling awards. The intellectual with the keen analytical mind is likely to find more gratification in the enthusiasm of a sophisticated movie audience than in a stroll over the red carpet. New movie in the works Hanecke's new film, "Happy End" - starring Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Mathieu Kassovitz - is scheduled to be released on October 12 in Germany and October 18 in France. The film tells the story of a couple that faces the European refugee crisis in the northern French town Calais.

Golden Palms, an Oscar, Golden Globes, European and German film awards – few directors have been honored for their work as widely as Michael Haneke. The Austrian filmmaker, now 75, is a living legend. At the start, nothing pointed to an exceptional career. No one could have predicted that the man who once directed a few TV films for a ... Read More »

Conductor Simone Young: ‘Germans adore a good discussion’

One of the first internationally successful female conductors explains how working in Germany can be initially frustrating but very rewarding in the long term - and why so few German women conductors have emerged. The American Marin Alsop, the Mexican Alondra de la Parra, the Lithuanian Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and the Estonian Anu Tali have been stirring up excitement in the world of classical music in the past few years. But one of the first to crack the glass ceiling in this male-dominated profession is the Australian Simone Young. She's been professionally active in Germany for over 30 years, including 10 years as General Music Director and Opera Director in Hamburg. For the past year and a half, she's been a freelance conductor, and is in demand worldwide. Deutsche Welle: DW is soon to start a German-language television program with cultural and arts content. What do you think of that? Simone Young: I'm surprised it doesn't already exist. If I find myself in a train in England or America for example, and people are speaking German nearby, I can never resist the temptation to get involved in the conversation. Invariably, the internationally mobile Germans have a keen interest in culture. As a director of an opera house, you may have noticed, like I, that foreign critics are much kinder to new productions than German critics are. What does that say about Germans and their attitude towards the arts? It has a lot to do with the fact the arts take a very central position in life in Germany, in a way that they don't, for example, in the English speaking world. Here productions are expected to have a political commentary on current situations, or otherwise be socially relevant. A German critic comes to the performance with the expectation of being challenged, and of finding program notes revealing what was on the mind of the director. I applaud the idea that the arts should say something about humanity's current situation, that they remain alive and current and relevant, but dislike the kind of intellectual snobbishness that goes with some of this. Extrapolating on this, and drawing on your experience of working in German speaking lands, what would you say is the essence of being German? I think it's changing, but something I have always found fascinating about the Germans is that they are very politically conversant. I remember that in Australia, where I was born, you didn't talk about religion or politics in polite company! But when I first came to Germany, I was delighted and at the same time shocked by how readily my contemporaries would get into heavy conversations about politics - or about religion for that matter. I eventually realized that the idea of giving voice to your opinion is something that is very actively developed in Germany. Now, not every opinion is worth listening to. And there still is a sense here that everyone says their piece, and the one who says it loudest gets listened to. But I applaud a society that is as politically aware and as self-critical as this one. What are the kinds of messages and values that you think should be projected from Germany to the rest of the world? Or is there even a need for that? I think there is more and more a need for that. Let's put it bluntly: both with Brexit in the UK and Trump in America, I think we're moving into a time when countries are becoming very focused on their own needs and desires in a very selfishly inward-looking way, like: we'll deal with the rest of the world later. Germany carries with it, of course, the legacy and the guilt of the 20th century, and as such continues to engage with the world outside in a way that acknowledges the debts that contemporary Germany has to the rest of the world. Of course, I move in liberal circles, in that in the operatic, the symphonic, the arts world in general, you're dealing with a generally high level of education and social awareness. So I am in a little bit of a bubble. Maybe everybody's in a bubble in this increasingly polarized world. But with your intense connection to this country, do you see yourself in one way or another as a spokesperson or a representative for the German brand or German values? Actually, there are a number of very fine international Australian artists who really now have a sort of double heritage. While never denying our Australianness, our musical beings have been very much developed and enriched by our experiences in Germany. I'm quite honored to be lumped in with and described as a German conductor, for example, when I go to the States. I'm an Australian conductor, but I have very much a German style, and after all the years here, have a real affinity with the repertoire in Germany. So getting lumped in with German conductors is something I quite like, as it describes the kind of conductors whose work I admire too. How is work life in your field in Germany different from that in other countries? The tradition in Germany is highly professional. Everybody is good at what they're hired to do, but they carry no responsibility for the job of anybody else. I always say: when you come to Germany as an English speaker, the first sentence you learn is: "Es geht nicht" (That cannot be done). And the next one you get is: "Es war ja immer so …" (This is how we've always done it…) And the third one is: "Ich bin aber nicht dafür zuständig." (I'm not responsible for that). If you keep asking the questions, invariably you will end up finding and engaging with somebody who is really interesting, exciting and switched on. But it takes a little persistence. During your career, in many places you were the first woman to conduct this or that ensemble or to have this or that professional responsibility. A few more notable female conductors have emerged in the meantime. Do you see a general change in attitude, and have you personally experienced an evolution? As the makeup of symphony orchestras changed to being really fifty-fifty, there was a kind of inevitability that this would one day work through into the echelons of the conductors. Sure: I still see day-to-day ingrained, unthinking, unconscious sexism, but it's the same kind that you come across in any country. It can be as simple as turning up at a theater, asking for the key to the conductor's room and being looked at as though you're an alien. They might ask: "Why do you want the key to the conductor's room?" And you know that the thought in their mind is: "She's a woman." But you have to be pretty small to get too riled up by that sort of thing. The interesting thing is that there are very few German women coming through the system. My theory on this is that being a foreigner in Germany gives you a license to behave differently than a German woman is expected to behave. And having made the effort to come to Germany to pursue your career - now this gets into very controversial grounds, but: you don't take three years off per child to spend at home with your kids. In my case, if I and my babies were healthy, I was back at work eight weeks later. Among women in all areas in Germany - the current 25 to 35-year-olds - there's the expectation that they should be able to take 10 years out of their careers and then pick up where they left off. While that might be possible, and an enrichment in some professions, the world of conducting is still very different. It's late nights, it's weekends, it's traveling. It's not family-friendly. And I think that Australian, American, Russian and British women in this area have very different expectations. I'm not saying that the German women are wrong to expect this. I just don't think society has caught up yet.

One of the first internationally successful female conductors explains how working in Germany can be initially frustrating but very rewarding in the long term – and why so few German women conductors have emerged. The American Marin Alsop, the Mexican Alondra de la Parra, the Lithuanian Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and the Estonian Anu Tali have been stirring up excitement in the ... Read More »

Patti Smith: the poet with a punk heart turns 70

An icon for over half a century, Patti Smith remains an enigma to those who try to pigeonhole her. At 70 years young, Smith continues to find poetry in unlikely places. Happy birthday to the reluctant Godmother of Punk! Some have called her the Godmother of Punk, others the Grande Dame of Alternative Rock. But what Patti Smith really is, deep down in her heart, is a poet. Her music takes second. Born on December, 30, 1946, in Chicago, Smith grew up in New Jersey together with three siblings. While her father was an atheist, her mother was a Jehovah's Witness, raising her kids to be religious. She wanted to become a teacher. During her studies, she got pregnant and had the baby, but gave it up for adoption. Then she quit her studies, and - not even 20 years old - found her way to New York's art scene where she got involved in art, drugs, parties and music. Back then, her idols were the poets Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud, and the musicians Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and Jim Morrison. Poetry in a punk club In clubs and bars, Smith opened for rock bands by reciting her poems on stage. She had her first big performance in February 1971. As part of a planned poetry series, Smith recited her work for New York stars like Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Sam Shepherd and others, eventually publishing two volumes of poetry. During that time she also jammed with guitarist Lenny Kaye and keyboarder Richard Sohl. "Our songs consisted of three chords," she told the US radio magazine "Fresh Air" in 2006, "so that I could improvise on them." The three musicians kept playing around with Van Morrison's song "Gloria" for a long time until Smith decided to work in her famous poem "Oath" into that song: "Christ died for somebody's sins, but not mine (...) Christ, I'm giving you the goodbye, firing you tonight. I can make my own light shine." The reference to her mother's suffocating religiosity could not be overlooked. The birth of garage rock In 1975, the Patti Smith Group was complete. The first album, "Horses," was created with the help of producer and Velvet Underground veteran John Cale. On the cover, Smith appeared almost like an androgynous being with a wild dark mane - slim, delicate, clad in a men's shirt and jacket, and wearing a black ribbon looking like a loose tie. The album contained pure poetry, sometimes loud and uncontrolled, sometimes intense and enchanting. Smith made full use of her voice, implementing melody, rap, recitations and improvisations. "Horses" made it into the charts as the very first so-called new underground album. The magazine "Rolling Stone" included the disc in its list of 500 best albums of all time. Godmother of Punk? Reacting to Smith's wild performances, the music world put her squarely in the punk box, and even called her the Godmother of Punk. In an interview with BBC, she later said she regretted having been given all kinds of titles, like "princess of piss," or "wild rock 'n' roll mustang." She also said she and her band were never really punk. And yet, Smith definitely played a key role in punk - at least in the US. Yet the quintessence of Smith's music wasn't anarchism and nihilism, but rather the firm belief that rock 'n' roll could change the world - just as her rock heroes of the 1960s had demonstrated. Even today, "Horses" still stands for music that comes from the streets, transports dirt and feelings, and is ruthless, honest, unsparing and uncomfortable. Smith said she speaks to those who are like her - the disenfranchised, the mavericks - and tells them, "Don't lose heart, don't give up." A break after 'Frederick' The second album of the Patti Smith Group, "Radio Ethiopia" (1976), wasn't quite as successful. According to some observers, Smith was overdoing it a bit with her intensity that at times bordered on "extravagant confusion" ("Rock Rough Guide"). At the same time, though, the album was respected for its rough rock sound. In 1978, the album "Easter" followed with Smith's first big commercial hit. She released "Because the Night," with some support from Bruce Springsteen. It became her international breakthrough, and was followed by even more hits. The album "Wave" (1979) contained two famous songs - "Dancing Barefoot," and "Frederick," both lacking some of Smith's original wildness. After that, Smith's musical life came to an end - for a while, at least. With her husband Fred Smith and their children, she withdrew into family life. Once again, she wrote poems, and in 1988 she produced a record with her husband that nobody wanted to listen to. The mid 1990s were a dark period for her, as, within a few months only, she lost her husband, her best friend, and her brother. She also went broke - but was not forgotten. After all, she always continued to fascinate musicians, among them Kurt Cobain and Michael Stipe of R.E.M. So she started to perform again, here and there, as old friends started calling on her once again. And then came Bob Dylan Finally, Bob Dylan brought her back into the limelight. Smith reactivated her old band, and before they knew it they were opening for Dylan's show. The audience was thrilled. Twenty years after the release of "Horses," the band returned into the studio to produce the album "Gone Again" - a collection of somber and touching songs in memory of her deceased husband. Smith still continues to produce music today. Her wild mane has turned grey but the power of her songs hasn't diminished a bit. Whether she sings her old hits attempts to cover rock classics like "Smells like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana, she remains a poet who transports her verses via music.

An icon for over half a century, Patti Smith remains an enigma to those who try to pigeonhole her. At 70 years young, Smith continues to find poetry in unlikely places. Happy birthday to the reluctant Godmother of Punk! Some have called her the Godmother of Punk, others the Grande Dame of Alternative Rock. But what Patti Smith really is, ... Read More »

Pop icon George Michael dies, aged 53

The British pop star and former singer of Wham!, George Michael, has died at the age of 53, according to his publicist. The global superstar reportedly "passed away peacefully at home" in England. In a statement released late on Christmas Day, George Michael's publicist said: "It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period." Emergency services reportedly attended a property in Goring, west of London, at 13:42 local time (1442 UTC) on Sunday. According to authorities, there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.Thames Valley police said a "post-mortem will be undertaken in due course." The 53-year-old shot to fame in the 1980s as a member of pop duo Wham!, which he formed with school friend Andrew Ridgeley. The group - which became the first western pop act to play a concert in China - was best known for the songs "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," "Club Tropicana" and the Christmas hit "Last Christmas." Global success Michael - born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou - went on to enjoy a hugely successful solo career, spanning almost four decades and selling more than 100 million albums worldwide. His 1987 debut solo album "Faith" alone sold more than 20 million copies across the globe. The singer-songwriter won numerous music accolades, including four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, three Brit Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations. Following years of speculation over his sexuality, Michael disclosed in 1998 that he was gay after being arrested for "engaging in a lewd act" in a public toilet in California. Negative headlines As his music career waned, Michael continued to hit the headlines, but often for the wrong reasons. In October 2006, Michael was banned from driving after pleading guilty to driving under the influence of drugs. Two years later, the singer was cautioned for possessing class A drugs, including crack cocaine. Within a year, Michael crashed his car into a shop in north London. He was later handed an eight-week prison sentence. In 2014, Michael released his sixth and final album "Symphonica." The record was his only live album and marked his first album of new recordings since "Patience" in 2004. Michael had remained out of the public limelight in recent years. In 2011, he postponed a number of concerts after being hospitalized with pneumonia where he remained unconscious for some time. After recovering from the respiratory infection, Michael said it had been "touch and go" whether he would live. Fellow musicians pay tribute Prior to his death on Sunday, Michael's 1990 album "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1" had been due to be reissued. A new film featuring Stevie Wonder, Elton John and the supermodels who starred in the video to his hit single "Freedom! '90" was set to accompany the album's re-release. In the early hours of Monday morning, fellow musicians and entertainers paid tribute to the late singer, including his former Wham! bandmate. "Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog," Ridgeley tweeted. "Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx" 1980s pop band Duran Duran also tweeted their sympathy to Michael's family, referring to the so-called "curse of 2016," which has seen the deaths of a host of stars, including David Bowie and Prince. Musician Elton John reacted to the news on Instagram, posting a photo of himself and Michael. "I am in deep shock," the singer-songwriter wrote. "I have lost a beloved friend - the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans." In 1991, John and Michael re-recorded the former's 1974 hit "Don't let the sun go down on me" - reaching number one in both the US and UK charts. Michael was also a patron of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. In 1984, the singer starred alongside a host of contemporaries to form Band Aid. The supergroup's Christmas charity single "Do they know it's Christmas?" raised £8 million ($9.8 million / 9.4 million euros) for the famine in Ethiopia within twelve months of release.

The British pop star and former singer of Wham!, George Michael, has died at the age of 53, according to his publicist. The global superstar reportedly “passed away peacefully at home” in England. In a statement released late on Christmas Day, George Michael’s publicist said: “It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend ... Read More »

Cellist Heinrich Schiff dies, age 65

One of the world's foremost cellists and a highly-regarded conductor, Schiff passed away in a Vienna hospital early Friday morning (23.12.2016). Born on November 18, 1951 in the Austrian city of Gmunden, Heinrich Schiff achieved his career breakthrough with contemporary music. Debuting in London and Vienna in 1971, he regularly performed as a soloist with a number of major orchestras in the most important music capitals and festivals in Europe, the US and Japan. His first record release in 1978 earned him the distinction of "Artist of the Year" from the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, Germany's equivalent of the Grammy Awards. Ten years later he performed at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in northern Germany with Prince Charles of Great Britain in attendance. Schiff studied at the Vienna Music Academy, perfecting his performance technique under teachers including the French cellist André Navarra. In the course of his career he recorded nearly all important works of the cello repertory - from Vivaldi and Haydn to Lutoslawski and Bernd Alois Zimmermann - and worked with a number of important musicians of his day. In the late 1980s he began a second music career: conducting. He was also an instructor at the Academy of Music and Dance in Cologne, the University of Basel, the Mozarteum in Salzburg and the University of Music and the Pictorial Arts in Vienna. Prize-winning recordings Schiff's recordings of Bach's cello suites and Shostakovich's cello concertos earned him distinctions including the "Grand Prix du Disque," the highest-profile French award for performances on recordings. More recent releases include a recording of duos by Bach and Ravel in collaboration with the violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann. Health reasons forced Heinrich Schiff to give up his activities as an instrumentalist in 2012, but he remained active as a conductor.

One of the world’s foremost cellists and a highly-regarded conductor, Schiff passed away in a Vienna hospital early Friday morning (23.12.2016). Born on November 18, 1951 in the Austrian city of Gmunden, Heinrich Schiff achieved his career breakthrough with contemporary music. Debuting in London and Vienna in 1971, he regularly performed as a soloist with a number of major orchestras ... Read More »

KINO favorites: Top 10 science fiction films from Germany

Dystopian visions, futuristic fairytales and hands down the coolest sci-fi dance scene in movie history made our list of best sci-fi films to come out of Germany. "Metropolis," of course, was the mother of them all. The future, for most German filmmakers, has rarely seemed as interesting as the past. There are German movies, it seems, about every minute aspect of the rise of National Socialism and the horrors of World War II, but good German sci-fi films are hard to find. So for our KINO favorites edition on the best in German sci-fi, we had to go digging through the archives for forgotten gems and scan more recent attempts to imagine the world of tomorrow. What we discovered was cult gold, a midnight-movie goers' delight. Some of KINO's previous favorite lists have tended toward the high-brow, but our sci-fi selection is unabashedly pulp. We've got a silent thriller featuring a pianist possessed by the transplanted hands of a murderer, a paranoid horror tale set on a shuttle in deep space, and a post-apocalyptic drama that plays out on (literally) scorched earth. (Spoiler alert: It also involves cannibals!) Our list includes features from as far back as 1924 and as recent as 2015. If there's a common theme in German sci-fi, past and present, it seems to be fear. The future that awaits us in these films is a catalogue of horrors: environmental disaster and dictatorial mind-control, wars over natural resources and atomic annihilation. Thankfully, with the exception of a few state-of-the-art features (and one amazing low-budget debut from "Independence Day" director Roland Emmerich), our selection also includes some of the cheesiest special effects known to man, and, in one case, a vision of the future of dance that has to be seen to be believed. Check out our picks and let us know what you think. And yes, we have seen Fritz Lang's groundbreaking 1927 sci-fi masterpiece, "Metropolis." It was one of our KINO German drama favorites. But we think "Metropolis," as the mother of all sci-fi movies, is in a class of its own. Without "Metropolis," this list of favorites, and, arguably every other great sci-fi film out there, would never have been the same.

Dystopian visions, futuristic fairytales and hands down the coolest sci-fi dance scene in movie history made our list of best sci-fi films to come out of Germany. “Metropolis,” of course, was the mother of them all. The future, for most German filmmakers, has rarely seemed as interesting as the past. There are German movies, it seems, about every minute aspect ... Read More »

Canadian folk singer Leonard Cohen dies aged 82

Canadian folk singer Leonard Cohen has passed away at the age of 82. Cohen was also an acclaimed poet and novelist whose work explored politics, religion and sexuality. Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has died at the age of 82, according to a statement on his Facebook page on Friday: "It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries," the statement read. "A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief." Cohen told the New Yorker recently: "I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me." Known for intense lyrics with subjects ranging from love and hate to spirituality and depression, Cohen had a deep singing voice and was accompanied by distinctive guitar patterns. His career began in the 1960s and continued until this year with his 14th and final album "You Want it Darker." Tributes pour in As news broke of Cohen's passing, musicians and writers took to social media to honor the late musician. Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, issued a statement Friday mourning the Montreal-born singer-songwriter: "Leonard, no other artist's poetry and music felt or sounded quite like yours. We'll miss you." Cohen, Trudeau said, would be "fondly remembered for his gruff vocals, his self-deprecating humor and the haunting lyrics that made his songs the perennial favorite of so many generations." Quebec to New York Born in Quebec in 1934, he learned guitar as a teenager and formed a folk group. But after reading Spanish writer Federico Garcia Lorca he turned toward poetry. He graduated from McGill University and moved to the Greek island of Hydra where he wrote three collections of poems. In 1966 he moved to New York and met folk singer Judy Collins who recorded two of his songs, including "Suzanne" on an album she released that year. He met Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, and German singer Nico. His "Songs of Leonard Cohen" released in 1967 were presented and sung in a similar style to Nico's. Cohen wrote more songs for Collins and also for James Taylor, Willie Nelson and others. More albums followed and in the 1970s he began the first of his many long tours around the US and to Europe. His best-known song "Hallelujah" was included on an album which Columbia Records declined to release in 1984 and it was not until Jeff Buckley recorded it in 1994 that the song came to light. Cohen also wrote and performed comedy. His first comic novel "The Favorite Game" was published in 1963 and the DVD "Ladies and Gentlemen: Mr Leonard Cohen" shows him performing as a stand-up comic. Buddhist monk In 1995 he halted his career to enter the Mount Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles where he became an ordained Buddhist monk, taking on the Dharma name Jikan which means "silence" although he never abandoned Judaism. He released more songs in 2001 and 2004 before suspicions grew that his longtime manager, Kelley Lynch, was embezzling funds from his retirement account. Robbed of $5 million (4.6 million euros) Cohen started to perform again to recover his finances. From 2008 until 2010 he performed 247 concerts around the world. He recorded two more albums, in 2012 and 2014, ahead of "You Want it Darker" in October, 2016. Cohen said he appreciated his resilience and capacity to continue: "It means a lot more at this age than it did when I was 30, when I took it for granted."

Canadian folk singer Leonard Cohen has passed away at the age of 82. Cohen was also an acclaimed poet and novelist whose work explored politics, religion and sexuality. Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has died at the age of 82, according to a statement on his Facebook page on Friday: “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter ... Read More »

Survivors return as Sting reopens Bataclan concert hall in Paris

Scores of traumatized survivors have revisited the reopened Bataclan concert hall in Paris, one year after terrorists killed 90 at a rock concert. British singer Sting told the crowd that "nothing comes from violence." British singer Sting led a minute's silence at Saturday's concert for the 130 people killed in coordinated attacks across Paris on November 13, 2015, in a renovated Bataclan concert hall smelling of fresh paint. His first song "Fragile" saw many guests weep, but Sing soon brought the crowd to its feet, clapping and stamping to his hit "Message in a Bottle." "Nothing comes from violence and nothing will," said Sting, referring to last year's attacks claimed by the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) group. Guests who were able to get tickets underwent extensive body searches and barricades to reach the packed hall. Some survivors stayed outside the Bataclan in a quiet vigil. Others such as Aurelien, who only gave his first name, went inside, saying he was determined to have a good night. "There's an obligation to be here, because there are 90 people who can't come anymore," he told the Agence France-Presse, referring to those killed at the concert hall. "I'm drinking my beer and I'm hoping to have a good time," he added, saying that he kept "getting flashbacks of that night." Georges Salines, who lost his 28-year-old daughter Lola at the Bataclan, said the concert was "almost a taking back of the space for music and fun from the forces of death." Another survivor, Mariesha Jack Payne, said she traveled from Scotland to Paris' Barometer bar, where she had sheltered during the attack. "Even if I'm not inside [the Bataclan], it's symbolic for me to be here nearby," she said. Proceeds will go to survivors Sting, 65, who played at the Bataclan back in 1979 as the lead singer of The Police, said the proceeds from Saturday's concert would go to two charities helping survivors. More than 1,700 people have been officially recognized as victims of the horror that unfolded at the Bataclan, cafés and France's national stadium. Nine survivors remain hospitalized, while others were paralyzed or suffered life-changing injuries. The Bataclan will remain closed on Sunday's anniversary of the attacks, when President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo are scheduled to unveil plagues at the half-dozen sites where revelers were murdered. 'Threat remains' In remarks to several European newspapers on Saturday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that the "heavy and constant threat" of more terror attacks hung over France. "Yes, terrorism will strike us again," he said, but stressed that "we have all the resources to resist and all the strength to win." Concerts at the Bataclan resume next Wednesday with performances by British singer Pete Doherty, Senegalese star Youssou N'Dour and British singer Marianne Faithfull.

Scores of traumatized survivors have revisited the reopened Bataclan concert hall in Paris, one year after terrorists killed 90 at a rock concert. British singer Sting told the crowd that “nothing comes from violence.” British singer Sting led a minute’s silence at Saturday’s concert for the 130 people killed in coordinated attacks across Paris on November 13, 2015, in a ... Read More »

Swedish Academy member describes Bob Dylan’s Nobel silence as ‘impolite and arrogant’

Bob Dylan's silence since being named a Nobel laureate has been described as "impolite and arrogant" by a member of the Swedish Academy. But the committee said it was up to the singer if he decided to accept. The Swedish Academy, which selects Nobel Prize winners, has failed to contact 75-year-old singer-songwriter Bob Dylan since he became the first musician to win the literature prize in the Nobel's 115-year history last week. Dylan has been silent on the subject since he was awarded the honor for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." The award has been mentioned on Dylan's Twitter and Facebook accounts, but a mention was removed from his website on Friday. On Saturday, Swedish media reported comments by Nobel committee member Per Wastberg, who said that if Dylan remained silent, it would be "rude and arrogant." The academy issued a statement saying that Wastberg's comments did not reflect their view. "The author awarded the Noble Prize makes up his or her own mind regarding the ceremonies involved in the presentation of the prize," said Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the academy. The choice of Dylan has been controversial, with some commentators questioning whether the singer's work qualifies as literature and others suggesting the academy missed an opportunity to bring attention to lesser-known artists. First to ignore If Dylan continues in silence, he would be the first award winner to ignore the academy's decision. Only two people have declined a Nobel Prize in literature. Boris Pasternak did so under pressure from Soviet authorities in 1958, while French writer Jean-Paul Sartre refused it in 1964. Harold Pinter and Alice Munro missed their respective ceremonies in 2005 and 2013 for health reasons. Each Nobel Prize is worth 8 million Swedish kronor ($930,000/825,000 euros). The literature prize and five other Nobel honors will be officially conferred in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of award founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.

Bob Dylan’s silence since being named a Nobel laureate has been described as “impolite and arrogant” by a member of the Swedish Academy. But the committee said it was up to the singer if he decided to accept. The Swedish Academy, which selects Nobel Prize winners, has failed to contact 75-year-old singer-songwriter Bob Dylan since he became the first musician ... Read More »

Why star children’s author Cornelia Funke distrusts words

She launched to fame with "Dagon Rider" 19 years ago and just released the sequel. Star kids' author Cornelia Funke tells DW why words can be challenging and why she's buying up a huge plot of land. Cornelia Funke cheerfully answers the phone at 9:30 a.m. California time. She had already been to the ocean, written a bit, made a few calls, and drunk her coffee. Every workday begins with a good cup of coffee, she says. Funke laughs sincerely and frequently, then speaks thoughtfully about her life, her work with words and pictures, and her relationship to fantasy and reality. Her children's fantasy novels, which she illustrated herself, have sold 20 million copies and been translated into 37 languages. DW: Ms. Funke, you have said that the world is full of stories. Which do you find particularly worthy of telling? Cornelia Funke: I am always interested in stories about people. Although I increasingly think that our species is a problematic one on this planet, I am still fascinated by it. I'm also fascinated by stories that stem from a particular place. That started with "The Thief Lord," which wouldn't have come into being if it weren't for Venice. In the stories I choose to tell, places always play the role of a hero. I have also always been interested in the non-human and our relationship to that - whether plants or animals or imaginary creatures. I'm interested in everything that scratches at and questions the so-called reality that we perceive. What scratches at your reality? When I'm standing on the street in Hamburg and there is one of those stepping stones under my feet, which is there to remind me of the Jews that were deported from the house I'm standing in front of, then that hugely scratches at the reality I find myself in at that moment. I might just have come back from a peaceful walk across the "Isemarkt" market square, for example. It scratches at my reality when a bird flies by me and I imagine how it views reality. It scratches at my reality when someone passes me by who has a different color of skin. How does that change the experience with world? We all know it does. It constantly scratches at my reality that we can perceive this world so differently. I find it absurd I'm asked so often why I write fantasy, because I think that reality is fantastic. And the only way to get closer to it is to write fantasy. Is that how you create your fantasy worlds? The world is fantastic. I don't have to create anything. Everyone who tries to get closer to the reality of this world will realize that it is, in its essence, fantastic. You just need to stand in a big city and look around. You'll notice that all of it has been created by humans. And humans really like to believe in the illusion that they have control over everything. That we decide how our lives work and how this world works. That we are the ones who can destroy this planet. But it's the other way around: This planet will destroy us. In this regard, humans are surprisingly immature and think their own reality to be so important. But this way of seeing the world is in the end always challenged, by illness, loss, love, death…our own mortality. You are also a skilled illustrator. Does thinking in images help you to write? What came first - the chicken or the egg? Am I an illustrator because I think visually? Or has my visual thinking grown stronger because I've always liked to draw? I would say that the visual thinking comes first. If you can draw well - which I thankfully have always been able to - it's sometimes easier to first capture an idea in images. So yes, my writing is deeply impacted by the fact that I am a visual person and distrust words. You distrust words? Can you give us an example? We constantly use words to try to get closer to what has no words. Music is in that superior to words, because it can easily express the wordless things - words always have something abstract about them that is controlled by our minds. Poetry gets often closer to what music can do. But when you write prose like I do, then the aim is to weave that which has no words in between the words. You can do that for example through the sound of language. The sound still contains more than the word itself. Are you being self-critical? hmmmm, I wouldn't call it self-criticism. Instead I would call it criticism of the material I work with. I see myself as a craftsperson, as a sculptor of words. The word - my raw material - has its limitations, which I constantly struggle with. And sometimes I am more successful and sometimes I'm less successful. It's as if I were painting a picture - sometimes it looks better and sometimes it looks worse, depending on how I use the brush and the paint. In the sequel to "Dragon Rider," The Griffon's Feather," the main protagonist Ben embarks on a dangerous mission. He wants to rescue the Pegasus from extinction. Do you want to convey a message to your young readers with this story? I'm always very careful with messages, but with this book I have actually gone the furthest in this direction. I believe that the alienation of our children from the natural world is far more dangerous than getting upset about children not reading anymore. Children spend too much time at school. Time to experience the world directly is taken away from them. The world is conveyed to them through adults' filters and what we consider to be important knowledge. Children no longer have time to play outside. They're not left unsupervised anymore. I'm currently in the process of buying 10 hectares (nearly 35 acres) of land in the Santa Monica Mountains to create a wilderness sanctuary – I’ll call it the Rim of Heaven - and I intend to offer workshops up there and bring city children into nature. I'm very concerned that children will be afraid of the natural world one day and will loose their feeling for this world. Then "The Griffin's Feather" is an encouraging book? Yes! I would be very happy if children do something after reading it - if they rescue frogs or want to see an orangutan in its natural habitat. You've said that children should take their dreams very, very seriously and shouldn't believe anyone who tells them that they can't reach them. What is it that you dream of, Ms. Funke? At the moment, I'm dreaming of this piece of land. And of the tree houses and teepees that will be on it, and that I'll have city children there that lose their fear of picking up a lizard. That's my big dream at the moment.

She launched to fame with “Dagon Rider” 19 years ago and just released the sequel. Star kids’ author Cornelia Funke tells DW why words can be challenging and why she’s buying up a huge plot of land. Cornelia Funke cheerfully answers the phone at 9:30 a.m. California time. She had already been to the ocean, written a bit, made a ... Read More »

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