November 02, 2023
‘There’s not a day I don’t think about him’: A mother’s grief turns into a celebration on Day of the Dead
Even though her oldest son died more than two years ago, Jessica Torres waits for him to visit every Nov. 2. She sits in front of the ofrenda — an altar she creates to honor his memory in their home — surrounded by her husband and their other four children until the clock hits midnight. Per tradition, that is when those who have transcended to the other life, return in spirit to visit their loved ones. So Torres, like thousands, perhaps millions of people around the world, embraces the Day of the Dead as a way to celebrate with those who have passed, rather than grieve their loss. Advertisement “I look forward to this day all year long,” Torres said. Though she said there’s not a day she does not think about Chris, the celebration eases her pain. He is present in every hug when she is greeted by his friends, in every laugh when they remember something he did, and in every tear when she is reminded of how loved he was, she said. Advertisement On Wednesday night, despite the cold, she rushed to the cemetery where he had been laid to rest right before it closed to drop off fresh flowers and make sure the decorations on his tombstone were intact. It’s part of the celebration in Mexico, where cemeteries come to life the night of Nov. 1, when hundreds of families decorate their loved one’s tombstones with thousands of marigolds, candles and their favorite foods. Sometimes there are live bands and some people paint their faces like a skull. Gladys Martinez places a hand-written note from one of her children on the grave of her nephew, Chris Jonathan Torres, along with items for Day of the Dead memorials at All Saints Cemetery on Nov. 1, 2023, in Des Plaines. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune) That is not yet a tradition in the Chicago area, perhaps because most cemeteries close before the sun goes down. At All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Torres’ son’s tombstone stands out, she said. For her, it is a sacred space where she can connect with her son. Sometimes, for his birthday or other special occasions, the family brings in a live band even though it is not allowed. “He was a happy and humble boy,” his mother recalled. After he died in a car accident early in the morning of June 17, 2021, she visited the cemetery every single day for over a year. The pain of losing him has cut deep, she said. He was her first son. “My first love,” she said. Somehow, the Mexican tradition has helped her to live with the pain and remember her son with love and joy, Torres added. He died too young, “but left a huge impact in our lives,” the mother said. Advertisement His dream was to start a construction company that he would run with his father. In his memory and under his name, Torres and her husband finally registered their business recently. It’s called CJ Torres Construction. People create ofrendas during the Día de los Muertos Xicágo event outside the National Museum of Mexican Art on Oct. 28, 2023. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune) Celebrations for the Day of the Dead have become more popular over the last few years, according to Cesáreo Moreno, chief curator and visual arts director at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. He attributes the increase to pop culture, such as movies and other shows, but also to a younger generation invested in preserving their culture and the true meaning behind it. Every year for the past two decades, the museum has hosted Día de los Muertos Xicágo on Oct. 28 where hundreds of families from all over the city come together to celebrate the life of their late loved ones by creating and showcasing ofrendas. Day of the Dead is a sacred holiday for many. It is an emotional one for those who are still learning to cope with a loss and also serves as a comfort for those who refuse to accept that someone is gone. Gabriela Lopez lost one of her brothers, Roberto Jesus Lopez Jr., in September. Though she and her family had celebrated Dia de Muertos for a long time, her brother’s passing was sudden, leaving the whole family in shock, she said. Advertisement “It was too painful to create an ofrenda this year,” Gabriela Lopez said. But some of his Friends decided to participate in the event at the museum and invited his family to see the ofrenda they created to honor Roberto. When Gabriela Lopez and her family arrived, they cried. “It was as if he was there,” she said. There was a grill and his garden tools, his photo, of course, and even some drinks. Right before he died, he had invited his friends, Elizabeth Fernandez, Patricia Martinez and Erika Guzman to a carne asada cookout. It didn’t happen, so the gathering in his honor was “healing,” Elizabeth Fernandez said. Advertisement “As if nothing had changed for a moment.” larodriguez@chicagotribune.com
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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