November 11, 2023
Grim yet hopeful
A new, permanent addition to the sprawling National WWII Museum in New Orleans is a three-story complex with displays as daunting as a simulated Nazi concentration camp bunk room, and as inspiring as a violin pieced together from scrap wood by an American prisoner of war. The Liberation Pavilion opened Nov. 3 with ceremonies attended by surviving veterans of the war, Holocaust survivors, historians and Actor Tom Hanks, a longtime supporter of the museum. "Everybody should see this," proclaimed John Cristando, one of about 40 surviving WWII veterans attending opening ceremonies. The new pavilion is ambitious in scope. Its exhibits, which fill 33,000 square feet, commemorate the end of the war's death and destruction, emphasize its human costs and capture the horror of those who discovered the aftermath of Nazi atrocities. Films, photos and recorded oral histories recount the joys and challenges awaiting those who returned from battle, the international effort to seek justice for those killed and tortured, and a worldwide effort to recover and rebuild. Underlying it all is the idea that almost 80 years later, the war's social and geopolitical legacies endure — from the acceleration of civil rights and women's equality movements in the U.S. to the formation of international alliances to protect democracy. "We live in a world created by World War II," Rob Citino, the museum's Samuel Zemurray Stone Senior Historian, said when asked what he wants the pavilion's visitors to remember. It's a grim tour at first. Visitors entering the complex pass a shimmering wall of MILITARY dog tags, each imprinted with the name of an American killed in action, a tribute to the more than 414,000 American war dead. The first centerpiece exhibit is a large crate used to ferry the coffin of an Army private home to his family in Ohio. Steps away is a recreation of the secret rooms where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam. Then, a dimly lit room of wooden bunks and life-size projected images of the emaciated survivors of a Nazi concentration camp. Amid the bleakness of the pavilion's first floor are smaller and more hope-inspiring items, including a violin constructed by an American prisoner of war. Air Force 1st Lt. Clair Cline, a woodworker, used wood scavenged with the help of fellow prisoners to assemble the violin as a way of fighting the tedium of internment. "He used bed slats and table legs. He scraped glue from the bottom of bits of furniture around the camp," said Kimberly Guise, a senior curator at the museum. The pavilion's second floor focuses in part on what those who served faced upon returning home — "the responsibilities at home and abroad to defend freedom, advance Human Rights, protect democracy," said Michael Bell, a retired Army colonel and the executive director of the museum's Institute for the Study of War and Democracy. Black veterans came back to a homeland still marred by segregation and even violence against people of color. Women had filled non-traditional roles at home and abroad. Pavilion exhibits make the case that their experiences energized efforts to achieve equality. "Civil rights is the '50s and women's equality is more like the '60s," Citino said. "But we think both of those seminal changes in American society can be traced back in a significant way to World War II." Other second-level exhibits include looks at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, the post-war emergence of the United States as a world superpower and the formation of international alliances meant to sustain peace and guard against the emergence of other worldwide threats to freedom. "We talk about NATO or the United Nations, but I don't know that most people understand that these are creations, American-led creations, from the war," said Bell. "What our goal is, at least I'd say my goal, is to give the visitor a frame of reference or a lens in which way they can look at things going on in the world." The third floor includes a multi-format theater with moving screens and a rotating audience platform featuring a production of images and oral histories that, in Bell's words, "really lays out a theme about freedom under pressure and the triumph of the American-led freedom." It was a recurring theme in speeches heralding the pavilion's opening. "We are lucky. We are fortunate. We are blessed that we live in the United States of America, where that concept of liberating the oppressed, no matter how long it takes, is part of our national fight," said Hanks. Museum officials say the pavilion is the final permanent exhibit at the museum, which opened in 2000 as the National D-Day Museum — a project spearheaded by two University of New Orleans professors and historians, Gordon Mueller and the late author Stephen Ambrose. The Liberation Pavilion is the latest example of the museum's work to maintain awareness of the war and its aftermath as the generation that lived through it dies off — and as the Baby Boom generation raised on its lore reaches old age. "World War II is as close to the Civil War as it is to us. It's a long time ago in human lives, and especially our media-drenched culture. A week seems like a year and 80 years seems like five centuries," said Citino. "I think the museum realized a long time ago it has a responsibility to keep the memory of this war, the achievement of that generation alive. And that's precisely what Liberation Pavilion's going to be talking about."
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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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