We love ideas that challenge convention (otherwise this title wouldnâ€™t exist), and Chris Fonsecaâ€™s work does just that.
Heâ€™s a dancer, choreographer and dance instructor who happens to be profoundly deaf after suffering meningitis as a child. But that didnâ€™t stop Fonseca from developing a love of dance, and itâ€™s that love that the Smirnoff Ice Electric Flavors range taps into with its latest campaign.
This hasnâ€™t been created cynically for marketing Smirnoffâ€”Fonseca has been teaching in South London, where both deaf and hearing people go to learn how to dance. He has, however, taken the idea across the Atlantic thanks to Smirnoff, and you can see his New York class for yourself on social media (check out Fonsecaâ€™s Instagram at instagram.com/cfofficial for more). Among those at one New York class were Jeremy Strong, a choreographer for Jason DeRulo, and C. J. Salvador, a dancer for Justin Bieber, notes Vibe, which attended in May.
Fonsecaâ€™s absolutely right: thereâ€™s no reason a deaf person cannot be great at dancing, and he gets his students to count the beat through vibrations, especially the bass. He further incorporates the lyrics of the song into his dance. His aim is to break barriers, and to make sure that that deaf people can do whatever they wish. â€˜[Being deaf] does not stop me from making everyday achievements,â€™ he told the BBC.
â€˜I always say to those young people not feeling body-positive to keep going, like everyday barriers, challenges, keep going: you donâ€™t know how close you are to making a breakthrough. Keep believing anything is possible. Your time is coming soon.
â€˜My motto is: dreams donâ€™t work unless you work. Dreaming, believing, and achieving.â€™
A very telling image on his Instagram shows Fonseca leading his class and on the mirror are the words, â€˜How do you know if you donâ€™t try?â€™, a term that he has hashtagged as well. Smirnoff, meanwhile, has taken more polished shots for its Ice Electric campaign, promoting its non-carbonated, plastic-bottled lineâ€”their idea is that you can take your Smirnoff drinks on to the dance floor more readily than when it was bottled in glass.
His teaching has reached the media, including a cover story for the British Deaf News, which he hashtagged as his proudest moment.
Above: The team behind A Billion Lives, and Doc Edge organizers Dan Shannon and Alex Lee.
Those of us outside the vaping world have probably looked at e-cigarettes, wondering why on earth these could be better for your health. Or we may have thought they were a fad, since the only people I knew who vaped were tech hipsters, who enjoyed vaping as though it was a matter of course, and nothing to be curious aboutâ€”thereby keeping their habit a closed shop. But then, perhaps they were tired of repeating themselves, and had settled into being comfortable with their e-cigs. A Billion Lives is a documentary that takes a look into this world, but it does so much more. The title refers to the number of people who can be saved if they give up smoking, but there are powerful forces at play to ensure that people donâ€™t. And those forces have ensured that there is misinformation about vaping and the potential for the technology to save lives.
Filmmaker Aaron Biebert, who directed and narrated the film which had its world premiÃ¨re in Wellington as part of the Doc Edge Festival, journeyed to 13 countries on four continents to find similar patterns worldwide: here is a life-saving technology of e-cigarettes, but governments were banning them or fining citizens over their use, ignoring the science and deciding to be complicit with the tobacco industry in keeping people addicted to a harmful product. Instead, governments spend money spreading lies about e-cigarettes, calling them a gateway to cigarettes, or that one could get formaldehyde poisoning, claims that the film demonstrably refutes. E-cigarettes are not completely safe, and the film acknowledges that, but they have proven to be a successful tool to help those giving up smoking, especially where mainstream solutions have failed.
In his own country, the US, Biebert points out that governments collect far more revenue from cigarette taxation than from several industries combined, and have no real incentive to cut off the flow of dollars. E-cigarettes, which were invented by pharmacist Hon Lik in China, were conceived as a way to give up smoking, and have been successful for 30 million people around the world. A Billion Lives points out that nicotine is not what causes lung cancer, and that the US Surgeon-General has said as much. What are harmful are the tar and 4,000 chemicals in modern cigarettes. It equates nicotine with coffee in terms of addictiveness, and the figure of 95 per cent less harmful than a typical cigarette featured prominently in the film. Vaping essentially allows one to get the pleasure of nicotine without the harm of the tar and toxins.
Yet as a society, we have come to equate nicotine as being the evil, addictive substance, and thatâ€™s no accident.
This point is made halfway into the film, with a good part of the first section looking into the history of cigarettes (Flintstones sponsor announcements for Winston cigarettes elicited laughs from the audience), and David Goerlitz, the Winston male model from the 1980s, being a particularly effective interviewee, discussing how he went from a smoking advocate earning millions to having a crisis of conscience when his brother developed lung cancer and died. Goerlitz went to the other side, and became a high-profile spokesman who was able to talk in plain language just what governments, Big Tobacco, and Big Pharma (which sells patches and gum, and would like to continue doing so) were doing. Health professionals were being marketed to far more than the public, permitting Big Pharma to continue to sell its products, the film notes.
Biebert was able to get other interviewees at a very high level, including Dr Derek Yach, the former executive director of the World Health Organization, and Dr Delon Human, former president of the World Medical Association, among others, speaking plainly about how lives could be saved through vaping e-cigarettes, a tool which could get smokers to kick their habit.
Meanwhile, the pro-smoking side was represented through historical clipsâ€”you get the feeling that we had only touched the surface of what was out there, with corporations spending thousands of millions to fund biased studies and get on to our airwaves.
Beautifully shot and scored, this independently funded feature tells a story about our times and just why so many citizens today are wary of their governments and multinational corporations. Those who oppose global trade agreements, for instance, do not do so in isolationâ€”and while A Billion Lives takes no political side, it does tap into the Zeitgeist of our modern suspicion about what is on our airwaves and what are the motives behind it. Like Adam Curtis, whose documentaries seek to explain the complex in simple terms, Biebert has done the same, narrating and directing, although he appears on camera as well when narrative gaps need to be plugged. He is an honest, frank speaker, and gives the film a personal touch.
Young smokers who tried e-cigarettes were often people who already smoked and saw them as a way to give up their addiction, and most, Biebert pointed out in a post-screening Q&A, were not even using nicotine in their e-cigarettes.
Yet the state of California, where Biebert is based, spent $75 million telling us about the evils of e-cigarettes, said the director in his Q&A; while in the film, he points out that US federal funds were being illegally used for lobbying activities. The American Lung Association had deceived the public, too, notes Biebert, who told the audience, â€˜If you get powerful charities on side, you can do anything.â€™ The increasing restrictions on e-cigarettes in the US, the subject of federal lawsuits, was equated to â€˜Prohibition IIâ€™.
Dr Marewa Glover of End Smoking NZ, who introduced the film at its premiÃ¨re, said that young people were using e-cigarettes as a way round peer pressure, when people in their circle smoked.
However, Australia has already banned e-cigarettes, with one interviewee, Vince, who sold them, telling a story about being raided by authorities and now faces losing his home as he fought the government on principle. He believed firmly he was saving lives. There are massive fines for vaping in Brunei and Hong Kong. There were restrictions in New Zealand, too, noted Glover, although those who sought to misinform were technically in breach of the countryâ€™s health legislation.
Biebert says he is neither a smoker nor a vaper; but all good documentary-makers, he had a commitment to get the right information out there. He acknowledges that vapers have not given themselves the best image, either, and that A Billion Lives can only be one small part of getting the truth out.
â€˜We need to cut the head off the monster,â€™ said Biebert, â€˜and the monster is being funded by big business. We need more than the movie. People need to get the right information.â€™
He added, â€˜The truth ends up winning. Even condoms were illegal in the US at one time.â€™ A Billion Lives will begin making its way to other countries. The website is at abillionlives.com, while the movieâ€™s Instagram is at abillionlivesfilm.â€”Jack Yan, Publisher
Above: The author (centre) joins Aaron Biebert, director (left) and Jesse Hieb, producer, for a photo.
The 31st edition of Gala Italia certainly proved to be a lavish, elegant and classy event at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. The Italian Wine & Food Instituteâ€™s (IWFI) event combines delectable wines with good food amongst enjoyable company. Chef Ashfer Biju and pastry chef Michael Mignano served enticing dishes with appetizing, high-end ingredients, paired with a selection of nine different wines ranging from sparkling to deliciously sweet, each intended to revive the senses. The variety of wines were: 2006 Ferrari, Riserva Lunelli, Trento DOC; 2014 Planeta, Chardonnay, Sicilia IGT; 2013 Tenuta Santa Caterina, Silente delle Marne, Monferrato Bianco DOC; 2011 Marchesi Antinori, Villa Antinori Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva; 2008 Tenute Lunelli, Carapace, Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG; 2008 CondÃ¨, Sangiovese di Romagna DOC Riserva; 2007 Mezzacorona, NOS Teroldego Rotaliano DOC Riserva; 2012 Bertani, Villa Arvedi, Amarone della Valpolicella Valpantena DOCG; and 2011 Sorrentino, Fior di Ginestre, Passito IGT Pompeiano. They provided various tastes for different palates with immensely flavoured textures to accompany the five-course menu, including a cheese platter.
Ferrariâ€™s Riserva Lunelli, made using a traditional method called metedo classico evoked succulent flavours in one sip. A bouquet of savoury aromas erupted while sipping on delectable Tenute Lunelliâ€™s Carapace, appropriately accompanying a tasty citrus semolina olive oil cake.
Roma-based Eredi PisanÃ²â€™s menswear fashion collection featured a number of pieces as the company toured the Grand Ballroom to introduce guests to sophisticated ensembles. As the intimate crowd continued to indulge in a delectable meal in the midst of this exquisite ambiance, a select few, who had contributed to the victory of Italian wine in the US, were recognized for their work and honoured with an award by the IWFIâ€™s president, Lucio Caputo. Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato (the Serafina Restaurant Group), Sirio Maccioni (Le Cirque), Mary Ewing-Mulligan, MW (the president of the International Wine Center), Florence Fabricant (a New York Times food writer), John F. Mariani (a food and wine editor and author) and Adam Stru (founder and chairman of wine enthusiast companies), were recognized for their contributions to the wine industry.â€”Lola Cristall, Paris Editor
On Monday, the Rock Style exhibitionâ€™s official opening was celebrated at Sotheby’s S2 gallery in London. Hosted and curated by famous fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and art dealer Jeffrey Deitch, the exhibition celebrates the innovative connection between music and fashion, as examined in Tommy Hilfiger and Anthony De Curtisâ€™ book, Rock Style, written in 2000.
Hilfiger himself has been a notable figure of fashion for 30 years and has dressed celebrities such as Lily Aldridge, Zooey Deschanel, Snoop Dogg and Naomi Campbell. Although he no longer runs the company, Hilfiger is still heavily involved in the fashion industry. De Curtis complements him perfectly with his music-critic background, writing for publications such as Rolling Stone, The New York Times and Relix, making them the perfect duo to have written the book Rock Style.
The show exhibits numerous photographs of rockers over the years, as well as paintings of idols such as Deborah Harry, Joey Ramone, Sid Vicious and George Harrison done by street artist and graphic designer Shepard Fairey. The exhibition emphasizes the nature of fashion, music and identity, and how the three collaborate to create the worlds that these stars lived in. The very essence of nostalgia and fashion experimentation is captured in the large images, ones that depict the unique identity of each performer. The iconic leathers and studs of Sid Vicious, the radical prints and colours of Jimi Hendrix, and the very photogenic nature of David Bowie, is captured in these prints. In creating a visual exhibition, the show brings the book to life and provides a sentiment and fond memory of the rock star idols of the â€™50s through to today.
Notable attendees of the Rock Style exhibition launch included Tommy and Dee Hilfiger, Melissa Odabash, Harrods fashion director Helen David, editor of British GQ Dylan Jones, Sir Philip Green, Bob Gruen, Gered Mankowitz, Tim Jeffries, Fru Tholstrup, Justine Picardie, Katie Martin, Tamara Beckwith, Melissa Odabash, Don Letts, Caroline Rush, Stephen Webster, Mark Quinn, Henry Hudson, Philip Colbert, Steve Varsano, Lisa Tchenguiz, and Jaye Kamel, as well as other artists and socialites.â€”Alex Barrow