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Protest At Embassy By Rejected Artists

Press Release: Protest At Embassy

Rejected artists up in arms about Wellington video awards.

Concerned artists donning former American president masks will protest at this year's Radio Active Handle the Jandal competition.

The awards to be held on Wednesday September 15 will be interrupted by director Stevie Starr, a musician, journalist and humanitarian concerned that his controversial music video was denied the chance to be judged in this year’s competition, despite meeting entry criteria.

The factual music video entitled “The Saddam Hussein Children’s Hospital” shows Iraqi children who have died as a result of US led sanctions.

Starr says radio station Radio Active who organise the competition told him his DVD was not the correct format, so it was not judged.

This is despite having a DVD category on the entry form.

“Their reasons seem politically motivated. We wanted to highlight the lack of democracy in the voting process by dressing up as George Bush, Nixon, and Regan” Starr says.

The masks are in reference to the 2000 American election which boasts one of the most controversial presidential vote counts, between George W. Bush and Al Gore, in American political history.

Radio Active events manager Mel James told Starr that she was too busy to call him to request that the DVD be formatted differently so it could be included in the judging process, Starr says.

Since then, the video has been accepted to be shown before the Noam Chomsky documentary “Brothers and Others” to be screened as part of the Date Palm Film Festival by festival organizer Nadra Zarifeh.

Starr's video was inspired after watching a documentary called “The Children are Dying” by Ramsey Clark. It shows the humanitarian effects ten years of sanctions have brought to Iraq’s children. Images of physically deformed children caused by uranium residue dominate the documentary.

"These images touched me profoundly," says Starr. "I wanted to do something. That night I wrote the first chords for a piece of music which would end up being called “The Saddam Hussein Children’s Hospital” a tribute to what was happening in one of the hospitals featured in Clark's documentary. I wanted to tell the mothers of those children that we Westerners are sorry.

"This message will be communicated when The Saddam Hussein Children’s Hospital appears on my debut album called “We Hope in All Things New” to be released later this year. Additionally, I wanted to extend this message of hope with a music video. My idea was to present a minimalist photo montage alongside poetry exploring the ideas of hope and peace for Iraq’s children. I contacted photo journalist James Longely who works in Iraq and along with other journalists he provided images of children who they had met and had died as a result of sanctions.

"The Saddam Hussein Children’s Hospital fits the classical music string quartet genre. It reflects my musical themes of beauty, reflection, silence and hope. The composition evokes moods similar to those from the classical music of Arvo Part, John Tavener, and Henry Gorecki. It's built around a crescendo of cyclic rhythms meant to reflect tiny emergency sirens asking for help."

It is the debut music video for experimental music group {:~o}{o~;} (yes that’s right the group is an unprouncable set of symbols!).

{:~o}{o~;} is two people; Steve Nicoll (aka Stevie Starr) & Simon Perris (aka the Superfly). The duo aim to create intensely beautiful ambient classical music. Their musical influences include Arvo Part, Sigur Ro’s, Boards of Canada, Mum, God Speed Your Black Emperor, and Keith Jarrott.

"I believe that music can change the world and hopefully The Saddam Hussein Children’s Hospital will make people think about implications of US foreign policy, justice, peace and hope.

"My only motivation is to get as many people as possible to view this video and witness the truth. That is why I entered. I was disappointed that the organisers didn't go out of their way to call me. The message of hope is too important to ignore, the children too innocent. The truth must be told and screened in public to make a difference," Starr says.

Handle the Jandle Music Video Awards
September 15
Protest at 7.00 pm
Outside Embassy theater Wellington

The Saddam Hussein Children’s Hospital can also be viewed on the web at; http://www.r2.co.nz/20040730/


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