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Revisiting the Salzburg Spirit and Opportunities for Connection
Elizabeth Power Robison at Salzburg Global Seminar
Revisiting the Salzburg Spirit and Opportunities for Connection
Oscar Tollast 
Elizabeth Power Robison is no stranger to Schloss Leopoldskron. In addition to being a Salzburg Global Fellow, Robison is one of a few who can count the palace as a former home. Robison interned at Salzburg Seminar – the former name of the organization – in the summer of 1992. While she’s returned multiple times since this internship, this was her first trip in her role as vice president of Center Advancement at the Milken Institute. Robison was one of more than 40 participants to attend Citizen Diplomacy at the Crossroads: Activating Networks for Change, a three-day immersive learning program hosted by Salzburg Global Seminar, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance. Alongside others, Robison took part in workshops, panels, and case-study discussions. She said, “When Ben [Glahn] said how much had changed at the organization, I kind of smiled because from an outside perspective, I haven’t been back at the Schloss since 2005, and it feels like nothing has really changed. I say that in a very positive way in that the culture of the organization… the energy, the spirit of the team that [is] here, I think have those important Salzburg values.” Robison suggested she may have been distressed if she had felt a change, as she expanded further on what the “Salzburg values” consist of. She said, “Interestingly, given the topic we have here, fellowship is, I think, a really core part of the Salzburg experience… I think connection both in our conversations and relationships here but [also] the interconnectedness of the world, especially at a time where our leaders are using rhetoric that’s so divisive… “For me, the Seminar represents that coming together of that community, that fellowship, but also a willingness to speak in candor and transparency that you might not find in another setting. There’s something kind of like a truth filter that comes out here.” Robison joined the Milken Institute in January 2018, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank “determined to increase global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs and improve health.” Robison says it’s also referred to as an “action tank.” It has offices in North America, Asia, and Europe. “My role there is quite broad but focused on what I’ve done for my whole career, which is raising funds and building relationships for the organization. It’s been great,” Robison said. One of her latest projects has involved interviewing world leaders about their dreams of impact, where they’ve come from, what they’ve achieved, and what education has meant in their process. Robison said, “It really is uplifting to talk to people who have really achieved great things, and you realize the challenges everyone faces in the world.” Robison was attracted to return to Salzburg to reflect on the idea of global leadership and the responsibility of organizations to cultivate global leadership through their fellowship programs. Speaking on the second day of the program, Robison said, “We haven’t even been here 24 hours, and people are friendly, communicative, [and] conversational. Everyone wants to engage. You don’t see anyone kind of drifting away. They’re in such a short time creating a connection and engagement, and it to me is spectacular. I feel like I’m right back in it.” Robison was born in Massachusetts but grew up in Vermont. In high school, she went on American Field Service and was given the opportunity to study in Israel. After graduating from college, she moved to Salzburg for her second experience of living outside the US. “I think the experience of Israel and then Salzburg, which are very different countries and cultures, really, I think gave me a sense of the diversity of the world, at least in the kind of European context. “It’s always been important in my whole career, even if my career didn’t seem aligned. International travel and experience and global communication [were] very important to me, so even working in higher education for 25 years I built international programs, funded international travel opportunities, created faculty-led trips and have continued to be very active in that.” The program Citizen Diplomacy at the Crossroads: Activating Networks for Change was held in partnership with The German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance, as part of the Global Leaders Consortium (GLC).
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Manjeet Kripalani - "Our Arrival Has Changed the Dynamics in the Think Tank World"
Manjeet Kripalani, pictured, is the co-founder of Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations (Photo: Gateway House)
Manjeet Kripalani - "Our Arrival Has Changed the Dynamics in the Think Tank World"
Oscar Tollast 
Manjeet Kripalani is the co-founder of Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. She is also a Salzburg Global Fellow, having attended Mass Media in the Age of Globalization in October, 2000. At this point in her career, she was the bureau chief for Business Week magazine in Mumbai. Kripalini recently spoke with Salzburg Global to discuss the role of Gateway House, its successes, its challenges, and where its focus lies in the immediate future. SG: Manjeet, thank you for taking the time to talk with Salzburg Global. To begin, can you tell us about Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, and the purpose behind it? MK: We are a foreign policy think tank in Mumbai, established to engage India’s leading corporations and individuals in debate and scholarship on India’s foreign policy and the nation’s role in global affairs. We are membership-based, independent, non-partisan and not-for-profit. We are located in Mumbai for several reasons, to get a non-Delhi, non-landlocked perspective of India but also because Mumbai is India’s most international, cosmopolitan city, one with historical links to the outside world. Mumbai is also at the heart of the changing international matrix – globalization, terrorism, energy, environment, innovation, technology, nation-building, and the new geoeconomics. And it is home to the country’s leaders – corporate, financial, media, artistic and technological. Mumbai is, as our logo and brand depicts the gateway to India and our face to the world. SG: As I understand it, you were inspired to establish Gateway House during your time as an Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. What was it, in particular, that gave you that lightbulb moment? MK: Three reasons: 1. The similarities between Mumbai and New York are obvious and were made even more apparent when I was at CFR. The pragmatic impact of business on America’s foreign policy is clear; it makes that country’s positioning and diplomacy more compelling and closer to the reality of people’s lives. 2. The participation of business, as members, of CFR, whether in meetings and discussions, in providing input on papers, in fund-raising and board positions, was active and impressive. I thought then – we can easily have a similar institution, a home for India’s internationalists, in Mumbai. As a business journalist who worked in both New York and Mumbai, I knew this was possible, and would be welcomed in India. 3. The time was right – India was changing thanks to the outsourcing of software, it was becoming a global participant, and it was the software business that was leading our diplomacy at that moment. The actual moment when we became a reality for the public was [on] the 26th November 2008 [after the] attacks on Mumbai. No one knew who these attackers were, and the need for a think tank in Mumbai, which could study international affairs both economically and security-wise, was felt. Our funding came in right after this. SG: What, in your opinion, are some of the success stories Gateway House can recount? MK: There are several: 1. We are now nine years old, and still, the only major non-Delhi think tank in India, one which is independent, private and membership based. Our model is unique, and I don’t think easily replicable. 2. Our arrival has changed the dynamics in the think tank world, injecting a dose of cordiality into what is a fiercely competitive think tank landscape in India. 3. Because we are in Mumbai, our study area is geoeconomics and international finance, multilateral engagements – studies that have not been a focus in India. We parley that into global geoeconomic conferences and a deep study into the G20 financial agenda. We study with maritime affairs, given Mumbai’s coastal position, and data security, so important for India’s IT and other businesses. 4. We are the only think tank in India that creates visual research – maps and infographics, usually the preserve of consultants. It has given us the edge in our industry, and globally.   5. We are perhaps the only think tank in the world founded by two women – one diplomat, one business journalist. We don’t play this up or parley it well enough in today’s politically correct world because we ourselves don’t feel any different from other entrepreneurs. But the input we receive from others is that the workplace is more congenial and that the special talents of individuals are nurtured and enabled to blossom. SG: What are some of the challenges you've faced since establishing Gateway House? With hindsight, are there things that you would have done differently? MK: Primarily, being founded by two women means that male-led institutional bastions do not treat women-led institutions with the same seriousness that they do the men’s club. We live with it, but we hope that soon it will change in India. I don’t think we would do anything differently. There isn’t much recognition of the work and necessity of a think tank in Mumbai, for Mumbai. But as India is rapidly globalizing, we find that the knowledge of world affairs is gaining currency – and that’s where we come in. SG: There are evidently a wide number of foreign policy issues to tackle. What's one area where more focus is required? MK: A greater study of finance, of economics, of business, of media, of maritime affairs, of the blue economy, of technology. And less of a western lens in viewing the world. We need to build a body of literature and analysis, case studies, on India and its foreign policy. SG: You've had an illustrious career. You've had an extensive career in journalism and gained significant experience in politics. In your current role, do you feel as if those experiences help you and provide you with an advantage in your work? MK: No question that it does. A reporter is a researcher, a questioner, a tracker, following a quest that is persevering and who never gives up until the truth is found. A think tank does that and more – it develops an analysis of the same, and makes recommendations on policy-making. Also writing is essential to communication. It is a skill, an art, a passion for me. Our website and papers do well because we do not write in dry, academic, jargon; we write in simple, clear language, so that ordinary people, young people – and in India, less literate people – can understand even the nuances of foreign policy. SG: You attended a program of Salzburg Global Seminar called Mass Media in the Age of Globalization. What can you remember about this program? Did it have an impact on you in any shape? MK: This was very long ago, but I do remember that it brought together groups of people from different parts of the world and from different areas of expertise and experience, all of whom were put together to bring forth a common solution. That has stayed with me as the defining characteristic of Salzburg. It taught me a lot. #s3gt_translate_tooltip_mini { display: none !important; }
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Salzburg Global Fellow Shahidul Alam Profiled for TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year” Feature
Shahidul Alam speaking at Salzburg Global Seminar
Salzburg Global Fellow Shahidul Alam Profiled for TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year” Feature
Oscar Tollast 
TIME magazine has profiled Salzburg Global Fellow Shahidul Alam as part of its “Person of the Year” feature. The Bangladeshi photographer and activist is a part of TIME magazine’s spotlight on “the Guardians” and the “War on Truth” – this year’s winner. The Person of the Year feature profiles a person, group, idea, or object that has done the most to influence the events of the year. The magazine honored several journalists, including Jamal Khashoggi, Capital Gazette staffers, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. It also highlighted numerous examples of journalists who have been attacked in the course of their work, including Alam. Karl Vick, writing for TIME, said, “In 2018, journalists took note of what people said, and of what people did. When those two things differed, they took note of that too. The year brought no great change in what they do or how they do it. What changed was how much it matters.” Earlier this year, Alam was jailed for more than 100 days in response to statements he made during student-led mass protests in Dhaka. Speaking with TIME, Alam said, “The world over, journalism is under threat. Whether you’re a teacher, a dancer, a painter, or a journalist, each one of us needs to be constantly fighting.” In August, Salzburg Global expressed its concern for the welfare of Alam and helped spread information about his situation with the wider Fellowship. Last month, Alam was granted bail by Bangladesh’s high court. He had previously applied for bail four times. Alam still faces up to 14 years in prison on charges of spreading propaganda against the government under the Bangladeshi’s International Communication and Technology Act (ICT), according to TIME. Despite this possibility, Alam remains undaunted and plans to cover elections in Bangladesh this month. Alam has previously attended two Salzburg Global programs. In 2013, he joined Salzburg Global as a faculty member for Power in Whose Palm? The Digital Democratization of Photography. In 2016, meanwhile, he was a participant at Beyond Green: The Arts as a Catalyst for Sustainability. At both programs, he shared his photography and activism with Fellows from around the world.
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Salzburg Global Fellow Randal K Quarles to Chair Financial Stability Board
Randal K. Quarles at Session 563 - Financing the Global Economy: How Can Traditional and Non-Traditional Sources Be Integrated?
Salzburg Global Fellow Randal K Quarles to Chair Financial Stability Board
Oscar Tollast 
Salzburg Global Fellow and US Federal Reserve Governor Randal K. Quarles has been appointed the new chair of the Financial Stability Board (FSB). Quarles, 61, replaces Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and will serve a three-year term. Klaas Knot, president of De Nederlandsche Bank, has been appointed vice chair and will replace Quarles in 2021. The Financial Stability Board is an international body which monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system. Quarles said, “Under [Mark Carney’s] leadership, the FSB has played a central coordinating role in building a resilient global financial system in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Ten years on, the FSB’s work remains just as relevant. “With its broad membership, it is uniquely placed to promote resilience and preserve an open and integrated global financial system in the future. I look forward to working with Klaas and all FSB members towards this goal.” Quarles became President Donald Trump’s first confirmed Fed nominee in October 2017. He serves as the Federal Reserve’s vice chairman for supervision. He previous worked in the Treasury Department under President George W. Bush between 2002 and 2006, serving first as assistant secretary for international affairs and then as undersecretary for domestic finance. Quarles has taken part in several programs at Salzburg Global. He first attended Schloss Leopoldskron in 2013 for Out of the Shadows: Regulation for the Non-Banking Financial Sector. The following year, he was a participant at The Future of Banking: Is There a Sustainable Business Model for Banks? He took part in his third Salzburg Global Finance Forum in 2015 when he attended The Future of Financial Intermediation: Banking, Securities Markets, or Something New? His most recent appearance at the Forum and Salzburg Global was in 2016 when he attended Financing the Global Economy: How Can Traditional and Non-Traditional Sources Be Integrated? The Salzburg Global Finance Forum tackles issues critical to the future of financial markets and global economic growth and stability. Created in 2011, its annual meeting facilitates candid in-depth analysis of strategic challenges and emerging risks by senior and rising leaders from financial services firms, supervisory and regulatory authorities, and professional service providers.
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Young Cultural Innovators Present at Better Together Challenge 2018
Rebecca Chan speaking at Better Together Challenge 2018 in Daejeon, the Republic of Korea
Young Cultural Innovators Present at Better Together Challenge 2018
Oscar Tollast 
Salzburg Global Fellows Rebecca Chan and Yu Nakamura have expressed their delight after appearing at an international conference in the Republic of Korea. Chan, a program officer at LISC National Creative Placemaking Program, delivered a <C!talk Global> presentation on arts, culture, and equitable development at Better Together Challenge 2018. Yu Nakamura also delivered a <C!talk Global> talk about her current project, Grandma’s Happy Recipes Storybook, a book in which Nakamura gathers recipes from octogenarians who lived through the Second World War and other significant events. This event was organized by World Culture Open and the Presidential Committee on National Balanced Development of Korea. It took place in Daejeon at the beginning of September. Nakamura has recently published a Korean edition of her book and produced a 10-part YouTube series featuring some of the grandmas she spoke to. She was invited to talk about her project and how her experiences in an earthquake in 2011 led to its creation. She said, "I was in Tokyo [during the earthquake] and of course I was scared but what made me more scared was the fact that we cannot eat anything if logistics didn’t work… If we consider innovation as evolution, then people who [have relied] on systems, have they really evolved since [our] grandmas’ era?" She concluded her talk by challenging the audience to think about how “our world now is so convenient thanks to technology but our lives [are] relying on a visible system too much, and we are not good at dealing with contingence." Speaking about the conference, Nakamura said, “It was [such a] fruitful event where I [got] to know [what] Korean young people were passionate about, and talking to other global speakers, includ[ing] Rebecca was super inspiring.” Rebecca Chan, who lives in Baltimore, Maryland, said, “My work at LISC is usually hyper-local, yet there are so many parallels between US community development and what I heard and saw presented in Daejeon; challenges of gentrification, urban/rural divides, waning civic engagement, and how to leverage cross-sector partnerships. “I am so thankful for the opportunity to share and learn, and to witness the dynamism and rigor with which these challenges are being tackled in Korea. I am ever more inspired by and grateful for all the intrepid local leaders I encounter in this work. [They] are the real deal. “Thank you to World Culture Open, in particular, Joo Im Moon, [and] Salzburg Global Seminar for building an international network of cultural innovators, and of course, my Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) colleagues for constant inspiration. Finally, [I would like to give a] shout out to my fellow <C!talk Global> presenters, Ivan Mitin, Yu Nakamura, & Thomas Cavanagh.” Chan attended the second program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in October 2015. At the time, she was a program officer at the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, a Baltimore-based philanthropic organization which promotes innovation in science and technology, arts, education, and social justice. Chan has also served as the program director of Station North Arts & Entertainment Inc. Nakamura attended the third program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2016. She is the co-founder of 40creations, which amongst other things sells local hand-made wine, and she currently working on a project that introduces European wine and Japanese sake to Thailand. To learn more about the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, please click here.
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Can Games Help Senior Officials Govern in the Age of Artificial Intelligence?
This case study was used at Mechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves?
Can Games Help Senior Officials Govern in the Age of Artificial Intelligence?
Oscar Tollast 
The growth of artificial intelligence (AI) has been steadily rising. Visions of the future once only present in films and books are becoming a step closer to reality. There is a pressing need to understand the risks and opportunities of AI and what it means for societies across the world. With this argument in mind, one could argue the time for fun and games is over. However, that might not be the case, according to Kevin Desouza, a professor in the School of Management at the Queensland University of Technology. Desouza and others believe one way to examine the potential for advances in AI in transforming how we govern is through gamification. The concept was floated at this year’s annual retreat of the Public Sector Strategy Network, a multi-year series held at Salzburg Global Seminar in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and in cooperation with Apolitical. This initiative is designed to build a “mutually-supportive coalition of individuals and institutions on the frontline of digital, financial and societal disruption, promoting effective public leadership and strategic communication.” The meeting – Mechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves? – involved participations taking part in a simulation devised by Desouza and two co-authors: Richard Watson from the University of Georgia and David Bray from the People-Centered Internet Coalition. Participants were presented with three consecutive cases and were asked to reflect on multiple possible solutions and how they might react to events given their own differences in experience, expertise, or government role. The case study takes place in the world of Intelligensia. Players are assigned roles such as minister of health, chief information officer, or as a patient with a terminal illness. Together, they work through a scene and capture responses to several questions. In a brief explaining the case study, which can be downloaded in full here, Desouza, Watson, and Bray write, “The case study is deliberately focused on issues that take place 6-24 months from now, a technological reality about to challenge society’s conventions. The case is intended to stretch the imagination of participants and to encourage independent thought regarding potential challenges and opportunities based on current R&D trajectories for AI as well as deliberative political, social, and economic systems.” The idea for the case came from discussions with public managers and senior leaders from public, private and non-profit institutions. Speaking with Salzburg Global, Desouza said, “In my discussions, two things became clear. First, individuals needed a more nuanced introduction to the implications of machine learning systems… Second, they needed tools to help them envision how the future of autonomous systems will impact all facets of society to think through the economic, political, and policy implications.” Writing a case study appeared to be a “natural idea,” according to Desouza. It would give people something tangible to work through, both as individuals and in group settings. Desouza said, “The case study allows people to get their minds and hands dirty as they wrestle with scenarios, fill in incomplete information, make their assumptions explicit, and debate responses and logic behind them.” Desouza believes it is important for senior officials to get ahead when it comes to the future of autonomous systems. When it comes to AI, Desouza says, “What we do not yet understand is how autonomous systems operating at the ecosystem level… will shape outcomes and interactions across all levels of our society… This is where we need a more holistic approach to imagining the future of these systems. We need to think about their design implications and their influences and impacts on the principles and values of our societies.” To download and read Desouza, Watson and Bray’s case study in full, please click here. Alternatively, view the publication on ISSUU
Desouza attended Mechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves? This meeting was part of the Public Sector Strategy Network, a multi-year initiative held in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and in cooperation with Apolitical. More information on this session can be found here.
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Salzburg Global Fellow Animates Campaign Against New Hydropower Development in Albania
Kleidi Eski, a design professional and multimedia artist, at Salzburg Global Seminar in October 2017
Salzburg Global Fellow Animates Campaign Against New Hydropower Development in Albania
Oscar Tollast 
The Valbona River flows through northern Albanian Alps and this beautiful, wild river forms part of what local activists like to call the “blue heart of Europe.” But, they warn, “the Blue Heart of Europe is at risk of a heart attack” thanks to the proposed development of hydropower plants along this biologically diverse artery. Enter the eco-cardiologists determined to save the Balkans’ rivers from such destructive development. One such activist is multimedia artist and Salzburg Global Fellow Kleidi Eski, who was inspired to take action, in part, thanks to his participation at the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2017. Eski currently runs Light and Moving, a multidisciplinary design and animation studio in Tirana, Albania, and attended the fourth program of the YCI Forum alongside four other “YCIs” from his country thanks to support from the Albanian-American Development Foundation. Since leaving Salzburg, Eski has collaborated with others to campaign against the development of hydropower plants along the Valbona River. Campaigners believe the development could cause much of the river to dry up, which would have a knock-on effect on the ecosystem and local communities who use water for drinking and irrigation purposes. Construction has been ongoing inside Valbona Valley National Park since 2016. Earlier this year, Eski was asked to conceptualize a protest billboard campaign to be utilized in Tirana. He created “Po Flet Valbona” (“Valbona Speaks Out”) as a slogan and logo. Working alongside Collective68, an open source web agency, Eski also helped set up a website providing information around the campaign and details on how people can join. Eski says the streets of central Tirana were filled with “Po Flet Valbona” adverts for 10 days earlier this spring, while campaign brochures and stickers still continue to decorate many popular bars. Eski and his peers are continuing their efforts to stop construction of the plants. He worked alongside a group of musicians, including singers Elina Duni and Eda Zari, to produce a song and animated music video in support of the campaign. The video has already received thousands of views on YouTube and Facebook and has been shared across social media, attracting the attention of mainstream media outlets. Eski told Salzburg Global his time at Schloss Leopoldskron had a significant effect on his way of thinking. He said, “The YCI Forum [at] the Salzburg Global Seminar has profoundly influenced me in believing that culture, art, and design can affect the world around us. “More importantly, this experience proved [to] me that in order to create impact, it is important to join forces with everyone who shares the same ideals. Of course, I have done a little part of it, but this is already a [motivator] to do more in the future.” You can learn more about the campaign here. #s3gt_translate_tooltip_mini { display: none !important; }
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Sridhar Rangayan – My Film is Not Just a Coming Out Film, It’s a Film About the Subjugation Women Face in Patriarchal Societies
Sridhar Rangayan pictured at Salzburg Global Seminar in 2015 during the first-ever program of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum
Sridhar Rangayan – My Film is Not Just a Coming Out Film, It’s a Film About the Subjugation Women Face in Patriarchal Societies
Oscar Tollast 
Sridhar Rangayan has given a voice to social issues in India for more than two decades. The filmmaker, writer, activist, and festival director has won multiple awards all over the world and is someone at the forefront of the queer cinema movement. Earlier this year, he presented at TEDxNITKSurathkal, at his alumni college, discussing his journey to coming out proud and accepting his individuality. Rangayan, a participant at the first ever program of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, recently spoke with Salzburg Global to discuss his latest film. Salzburg Global spoke with Rangayan prior to India’s Supreme Court overturning a colonial-era law known as section 377 – a victory for India’s LGBT community. This decision has decriminalized same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults in private. Following this historic ruling, Rangayan got in touch with Salzburg Global again to add his thoughts. Rangayan said, “The Supreme Court verdict reading down the colonial law Sec 377, and thereby decriminalizing same-sex sexual relations between two consenting adults in private, is a historic decision by the highest court in India. The judgement far exceeded our expectations - the wordings in the judgement by all the judges, and also the firewalls they have built so no one can challenge the decision ever - these made the entire LGBTQ community very elated. It is still sinking in, that we are now living in a free India and not considered criminals because of our sexual orientation. It would impact the coming generations of LGBTQ youth and pave way for other rights - marriage rights, inheritance and adoption rights. “The change in law is just the first step, because in India we have to work towards changing social mindsets. We would have to put into motion numerous advocacy projects and my work is cut out to make more films like Evening Shadows and fight to have them seen by a large audience.” The Q&A with Rangayan below has been edited for length and clarity. Salzburg Global: Can you explain the thought process behind Evening Shadows and what inspired the story? Sridhar Rangayan: We always felt that there was no mainstream film that youngsters can show their parents as a means of helping them understand their true feelings and also for families to understand more about their LGBTQ children… Evening Shadows is a personal story of one family that is coming to terms with the challenges of acceptance, but the story is universal in its sensibility and emotional reach. The film is more than a coming out film. It is about a woman steeped in traditions and conservative social mores, standing up for her son against all the odds. Evening Shadows is a film of hope and courage. The film has been made with a simple, heartfelt narrative with no auteur flourishes so it can appeal to a large family audience in India and across the world.
SG: When did the thought emerge to push ahead with the project and how long did it take to film? SR: Fortuitously, our first film The Pink Mirror (Gulabi Aaina) made in 2002 got sold to Netflix, and we came into some money which we decided to invest in Evening Shadows… Then we started crowdfunding for the project. We received amazing support from 180-plus contributors across the world. This support gave us the necessary impetus to push forward with the production of the film. It took us about a year and a half to complete production and post-production. It was really amazing to get permission to shoot at the places we had visualized the film being set – the charming small town, the riverbank, the centuries-old temples… excavated from under the sand, the roads winding between paddy fields… some of them being archaeological monuments, which is a treat for the audiences… SG: Regarding the feedback you’ve received so far, has there been a particular review that’s stood out or a comment that’s been made which has been stuck in your mind? SR: The screening of Evening Shadows at KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival in May 2018 was one of the most amazing. It was the closing film, and it was a home audience, but the reaction far exceeded our expectations. There were some 1,100 people in the theater, and they clapped, cheered, cried, and emotionally reacted to almost every dialogue in the film. It was an uproar, a rollercoaster of emotions that crescendoed and filled the huge art deco theater. It gave us all goosebumps; it still does. Another very touching moment was - though sad - when a young Indian youth came up to me after the screening at Toronto and said, “I wish my mother was as understanding and accepting as the mother in your film. I have come out to her three years ago, and she hasn’t accepted me yet.” He hugged me and cried. I tried to assure him that Bollywood films have happy endings in a short span of time, but in life, happy endings may take a long time. I asked him to continue conversations with his mother gently and keep his hopes up. SG: What messages do you hope audience members will take away from Evening Shadows? SR: Evening Shadows is not just a coming out film of a gay youth, but also a film about the subjugation a woman faces within a patriarchal society… believe me, a dominant patriarchal mindset exists not only in Asian countries but also in many other cultures. The film is as much about women empowerment as it is about LGBTQ right to love. Most of the audience members are taking back this message, and we are glad. We would also like to underline the idea that the film is about the divide between two generations and their thoughts and ideas; how so many misunderstandings can arise from not accepting others’ points of view. SG: Congratulations on the awards you’ve won for the film. What does it mean to have the film recognized and celebrated in different parts of the world? SR: The awards are recognition of the narrative and technical excellence of our film Evening Shadows. They do mean a lot to the entire team as all of us have put in hard work and passion into this film. But the feedback and reactions by the audiences across the world have been the best awards we will always treasure. From an 80-year-old gay man in Kansas City, who has had an uphill struggle coming out in the ‘30s, to a young 18-year-old boy in Bengaluru who still faces similar challenges in India, the smiles, the tears and the hugs they have given are the best awards one can aspire for… the highest award is the thanks expressed by parents of LGBTQ children who watch the film and decide to embrace the child. SG: When creating the film, was facilitating Sweekar – The Rainbow Parents support group something you anticipated doing? SR: Evening Shadows, being a film about a son coming out and the challenges his mother faces in understanding him, the focus was always about the film being a support to parents and families. Facilitating a support group was a natural extension of this mission. Even when we began crowdfunding the film’s production, we had mentioned that we would earmark 10 percent of the money we raise to support the formation of a parents’ group… even as we progressed with the production of the film, we started the process of facilitating the group. The Sweekar – The Rainbow Parents’ group – started off with a first-of-its-kind closed door daylong structured workshop with parents to chalk out what they thought were the challenges faced by parents and how a support group can help address these. The aims and objectives of the group and its mission statement emerged from this workshop formulated by the parents themselves. SG: Please could you tell us about your experience at the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. What can you remember from your program, and what impact did it have on you? SR: My participation at the first-ever Salzburg Global LGBT Forum program in 2013 couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. It was a time when I had founded the KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival and was building a good foundation for the festival, which now over nine years has become not only South Asia’s biggest LGBTQ film festival but also an important mainstream event in Mumbai’s cultural calendar. Some of the ideas that all of us participants shared brought in a focus for the work I was doing. It also brought a lot of clarity to the two LGBTQ documentary films I was working on – Purple Skies and Breaking Free. Purple Skies about the Indian LBT community was completed in 2014 and went to play at many festivals and, more importantly, became the first-ever lesbian-themed film to be shown on Doordarshan, India’s national television network. My other film, Breaking Free, about the law section 377 and the Indian LGBT community was completed in 2015 and, among several awards, also won the National Award for Best Editing from the Government of India. These couldn’t have been possible but for the learnings at the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum about how important it is to work with the governments, policymakers, and stakeholders – instead of trying to work in opposition. The diversity of the participants and the spectrum of the experiences make the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum unique and very useful in formulating a broader view of LGBTQ movements across the world. The other learning was about the intersectionality of religion and sexuality, which many participants from different faiths expressed so clearly at the program – how it is important to synergize the two so as to lead a fulfilling and peaceful life. This learning will form the basis of my next feature film Songs of Eternal Love… of course, most importantly, the amazing location of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum offered a tranquil atmosphere to meditate upon one’s work and more crucially about one’s life.
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Young Cultural Innovators to Host Celebration of Afropunk
Young Cultural Innovators to Host Celebration of Afropunk
Oscar Tollast 
A celebration of Afropunk featuring photographs, live music, discussion, and dancing will be held in Detroit, Michigan, later this week. “Here You Can Be Whatever You Want: A Celebration of Afropunk” is taking place at The Baltimore Gallery, Detroit, on September 14 between 6 pm and midnight. The free event has been organized by Salzburg Global Fellows Lauren Rossi and Karah Shaffer, in partnership with Facing Change: Documenting Detroit. Rossi, creative industries program manager at Creative Many, and Shaffer, co-founder and executive director of Facing Change: Documenting Detroit, both attended the fourth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in October 2017.   After taking part in this program, the duo received support and funding from Salzburg Global, the Kresge Foundation, and the Knight Foundation to inspire innovation and collaboration at a local level. On Friday, visitors will be able to view an exhibition of images made at Afropunk festivals around the world by photographers Kholood Eid and Bunni Elian. Music will be provided by internationally acclaimed DJ and vocalist Shaun J. Wright and DJ Holographic, a local emerging artist also known as Ariel Corley. For more information about the event, please click here.
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