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May 12, 2016

A Billion Lives has world première in New Zealand, revealing powerful forces aiding the tobacco industry

Jack Yan/11.16


Jack Yan

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 about—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 don’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 première 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 that’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 clips—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 isolation—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, ‘If you get powerful charities on side, you can do anything.’ The increasing restrictions on e-cigarettes in the US, the subject of federal lawsuits, was equated to ‘Prohibition II’.
   Dr Marewa Glover of End Smoking NZ, who introduced the film at its première, 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 country’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.
   ‘We need to cut the head off the monster,’ said Biebert, ‘and the monster is being funded by big business. We need more than the movie. People need to get the right information.’
   He added, ‘The truth ends up winning. Even condoms were illegal in the US at one time.’
   A Billion Lives will begin making its way to other countries. The website is at abillionlives.com, while the movie’s Instagram is at abillionlivesfilm.—Jack Yan, Publisher


Above: The author (centre) joins Aaron Biebert, director (left) and Jesse Hieb, producer, for a photo.

May 6, 2016

In brief: Paula Sweet releases new book; Kardashians and Jenners mobbed by paparazzi; Cannes controversies

Lucire staff/10.25


Many of you have enjoyed Paula Sweet’s photography in Lucire, and now you can have an entire volume of her work with her new book, Do Not.
   Paula has caught signs all over our planet during her travels, and asks in the synopsis, ‘In a world of limitation and regulation, how aware are you of the restrictions placed on your own existence?’
   The premise is an excellent one that encourages us to think: ‘In this collection of signs discovered all over Planet Earth, the artist and photographer Paula Sweet documents the shrinking area of personal freedom and encourages us to rethink the contrary: if a sign is to be placed, should it not encourage us to some productive or positive action?’
   Lucire readers can enjoy a 40 per cent discount for a limited time (US$39·56, marked down from US$65·94), commencing early May 2016, if you use this link here.
   Meanwhile, in the celebrity world, this latest compilation from Celebrity Wire shows how manic things are—and we don’t think there’s much personal freedom for some of these 2016 “names”. Except it isn’t signs restricting their freedom, but a gauntlet of paparazzi. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner and Kris Jenner are seen and photographed leaving homes and heading into clubs and restaurants; “it” couple Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom head into a waiting cab; new Calvin Klein fragrance face and rising actress Margot Robbie left her apartment; and Emma Roberts had lunch, and a dozen followed her home. Surprisingly, Justin Bieber kept a low profile as he walked through LAX, while Christina Applegate gave a thumbs-up but obscured the lower part of her face as she left the terminal. It’s definitely not the life, thank you!
   In our second video, Jane Fonda speaks about the second season of Grace and Frankie at the Netflix première. She notes that during the course of the new season, Grace realizes Frankie is good for her, and they become friends.
   Finally, with the Festival de Cannes about to kick off, Cover looks at five recent controversies to hit the event.


Celebritywire


Celebritywire


Cover

May 5, 2016

Margot Robbie to model in Deep Euphoria Calvin Klein fragrance campaign

Lucire staff/14.03


Neil Rasmus/BFA

Australian actress Margot Robbie is the new face of Calvin Klein’s latest women’s fragrance, Deep Euphoria Calvin Klein.
   The Coty fragrance will début in August, with Robbie appearing in print and on TV. It builds on the goodwill of the existing Calvin Klein Euphoria fragrance.
   ‘Ms Robbie perfectly embodies the modern femininity of the empowered deep euphoria woman that we believe will resonate with women around the world,’ said Vincent Brun, senior vice-president of global marketing for Calvin Klein Fragrances at Coty Inc.
   ‘We are thrilled to work with Ms Robbie on this exciting addition to the Calvin Klein Fragrances portfolio,’ said Melisa Goldie, chief marketing officer for Calvin Klein, Inc. ‘Her beauty and talent is an expression of the incredible legacy of women who have been captured in Calvin Klein campaigns over the years.’
   Robbie first came to prominence with her role in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, and had the female lead in Focus, opposite Will Smith. She also appeared briefly in The Big Short, based on the Michael J. Lewis book. She will appear this summer as Jane Porter in The Legend of Tarzan opposite Alexander Skarsgård, and as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, which reunites her with Smith, and which also stars Jared Leto.
   She follows in the footsteps of Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Christy Turlington, Natalia Vodianova, Rooney Mara, Diane Krüger and Doutzen Kroes.

Burt’s Bees and Pink Tartan launch limited-edition T-shirt to help save the bees in Canada

Lucire staff/13.06

Burt’s Bees Canada and Kimberley Newport-Mimran of Pink Tartan have teamed up to create a limited-edition T-shirt for Burt’s Bees’ fifth Wild for Bees campaign.
   The latest campaign (hashtagged #PinkTartanXBurtsBees and #beechic) sees Burt’s Bees and Wildlife Preservation Canada plant 10,000 wildflowers to support bee health and sustainability for each Pink Tartan × Burt’s Bees Bee Tee sold.
   The T-shirts retail for C$49 each, and are available from Pink Tartan directly (at stores and online), Holt Renfrew’s H Project, and select London Drugs locations.
   Burt’s Bees has supported Wildlife Preservation Canada since 2012 to help save at-risk bumble bees.
   ‘Bees play an integral role in our ecosystem and our partnership with Pink Tartan allows us to share that message in an exciting way,’ said Carolyn Hungate, Burt’s Bees’ marketing manager. ‘We want people to recognize the hard work bees do for our planet and understand that, by doing simple things, like planting wildflowers, they too can help the bee population thrive.’
   Pink Tartan has modified its ‘Be chic’ tagline to ‘Bee chic’ on the limited-edition T-shirt, and Burt’s Bees says it will be accompanied by two of its natural lipsticks in Tulip Tide and Iced Iris, Newport-Mimran’s favourite shades of pink.

April 23, 2016

Prince cremated in private ceremony

Lucire staff/18.45


Above: The artwork for Prince’s 1987 album, Sign ‘O’ the Times.

The late music idol Prince has been cremated in accordance with his Jehovah’s Witness faith. The private ceremony took place on Friday afternoon, said his publicist, Anna Meacham.
   She said, ‘A few hours ago, Prince was celebrated by a small group of his most beloved: family, friends and his musicians, in a private, beautiful ceremony to say a loving goodbye.’ Sheila E and Larry Graham were among those attending the service.
   Tributes continue coming in the wake of the death of Prince, who was found dead in a lift at his Paisley Park estate near Minneapolis on Thursday, aged 57.
   Filmmaker Spike Lee hosted a block party in Prince’s honour.
   Police say they have no reason to suspect foul play in Prince’s death. No cause of death has been released, though he had been suffering from ’flu in recent weeks.
   Born Prince Rogers Nelson, he was particularly talented, playing nearly all the instruments on his first five albums, and produced since he first signed with Warner Bros. Born into a musical family in Mineapolis, he started playing the piano at age seven. His very prolific professional output began in 1978, with his first album, For You. Upping the eroticism in his work, Prince’s work became more widely known in the 1980s, with more hits from each of his albums, and his 1999 (1982) went platinum, featuring the song ‘Little Red Corvette’ and ‘Delirious’, as well as the title track.
   His 1984 film, Purple Rain, was a hit, spawning a very successful soundtrack album, on which further hits came: ‘When Doves Cry’, ‘Let’s Go Crazy’, ‘I Would Die 4 U’, ‘Take Me with U’, and the title track.
   Further hits included ‘Sign “O” the Times’ in 1987, and ‘U Got the Look’ with Sheena Easton the same year. His soundtrack album for the 1989 film Batman was another high-profile success.
   In the 1990s, Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, and on radio was usually announced as ‘The Artist formerly known as Prince’, or even ‘The Artist’. He eventually returned to using the name Prince in 2000, and converted to the Jehovah’s Witness faith in 2001.
   In all, Prince sold 100 million albums, won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.


Euronews


Celebritywire

April 20, 2016

Get in NOW for Footnote: four entertaining dances, representing our times

Jack Yan/14.06


Courtesy Footnote

Footnote New Zealand Dance’s NOW 2016 (New Original Work) programme, which hit Wellington tonight after performances in Auckland, presents four original works by New Zealand choreographers Julia Harvie, Sarah Knox, Lucy Marinkovich and Jessie McCall. It’s a particularly enjoyable programme, mixing meanings, humour and, in the case of Elephant Skin, a lot of balloons.
   Each performance begins with a voice recording that sets the stage for the dance that follows, although viewers are still invited to make their own interpretations.
   Centerfolds (sic) begins with a humorous look at gender stereotyping, with the company’s male and female dancers wearing masks with a bun and dresses, signalling that we often take these cues and make automatic assumptions about a strict male–female duality. Marinkovich looks at roles such as waitress, housewife, heroine, songstress, supermodel, and others, questioning our conditioning; and while not every role appears as costumed characters, they are represented through the varied music choices. Masks play a part throughout, along with multiple costume changes, ensuring that Centerfolds never drags for a moment.
   Your Own Personal Exister is one of our favourites, as it examines not only existentialism but its opposite, inauthenticity. McCall does this with the notion of how, at a children’s birthday party, we feel the centre of attention when we wear our paper “crown”, but what if that crown was never removed? It’s an allegory of the selfie era, the “look at me” validation some seek. Three of McCall’s dancers don crowns, but one doesn’t, although he is unaware of this till some way into the performance. Yet this need consumes him eventually, and he joins the inauthenticity of the others.
   One of the regular techniques here had dancers opening their mouths facing upwards while recorded voices played, which worked particularly well, and the voiceover was poignant at the conclusion of the performance (which we won’t spoil here). And what happens when that crown is removed, where does that leave us? Despite the smaller number of Footnote dancers involved, this was a particularly powerful work that was danced beautifully.
   Elephant Skin takes a humorous look with balloons landing on stage at random points, sound effects creating more laughs, and a particularly brave dancer blowing up a balloon till it popped. Harvie explained in a post-show forum that she wanted freshness and tension in the performance, because as humans, we are problem-solvers, and the dance, too, should solve the problem of the randomly placed balloons. There was, of course, an overall structure which the dancers worked around, and one scene where white balloons stood in for clouds as one performer floated across the stage, before the others began popping the cloud around her.
   Harvie also noted that she has a fascination with balloons and that they have a human element to them.
   Disarming Dissent is the most energetic of the four in terms of getting the dancers to generate forceful movements, and by this time one is marvelling at their stamina. Rowan Pearce’s music reached crescendos twice as the energy built up. Dance, exercise and martial arts combine here as Knox talks about the fight we have against the system, but then how we pacify ourselves, drawn back by either that very system or our own impulses.
   The Wellington première at Te Whaea had a unique forum at the end which featured the dancers, Harvie, general manager Richard Aindow as host, and artistic liaison Anita Hunziker.
   The Auckland performances have been (April 15–16), Wellington has one more night (21st, at Te Whaea), Dunedin is on April 28 at Mayfair Theatre, and those in Invercargill will see NOW 2016 on May 1 at Centrestage during the Southland Festival. For tickets and information, head to footnote.org.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher

April 18, 2016

Fashion Cities Africa gives a snapshot of four cities on a varied, rich continent

Jack Yan/3.51

The second largest continent on the planet is, logically, home to a massive number of fashion designers and movements, although out of Africa, there hasn’t been as much recognition of them till recently. Fashion Cities Africa, the book, inspired by the exhibition of the same name at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery that opens at the end of April, is one high-profile development which seeks to shine a light on the variety present on the continent, while on a similar note, next month’s Africa Fashion Festival in Wellington will do the same for its designers.
   Hannah Azieb Pool, who edits the new book, is a Eritrean-born, London-based journalist, who, along with Helen Jennings, has co-writing duties, resulting in a cohesive, beautifully presented book that examines contemporary fashion in Nairobi, Casablanca, Lagos and Johannesburg. It doesn’t pretend to be a fully comprehensive guide, stating from the outset it is meant to provide mere glimpses on a continent that is incredibly diverse. The foreword by Binyavanga Wainaina, a flâneur, reminds us that there are clusters scattered throughout the land that have their own tendencies, and that her favourite designer is Nigerian, Chioma Chukwulozie.
   The reader is thrown in to the colour of Nairobi, where sibling bloggers Velma Rossa and Papa Petit (a.k.a. Oliver) take one half of the first spread with their über-stylish and proudly urban Kenyan clothes, and stylists, musicians, designers, bloggers and artists profiled on following pages give slices of their lives that shake occidental sensibilities with their own palettes and ensembles. Nairobi, for the most part, emphasizes comfort, and the clothing shot on these pages by Sarah Marie Waiswa demonstrate that the city’s fashion could easily translate to other places, spanning everything from casual to luxury. Adèle Dejak has shown in Milano, for instance, and appeared in Vogue Italia with her collaboration with Salvatore Ferragamo, while John Kaveke and Nick Ondu show the sort of sartorial elegance that could easily influence menswear in other fashion capitals.
   Profiles of some of the personalities from the city follow, reminding us that Nairobi is a crossroads: Ami Doshi Shah is of Indian descent, her family brought there by the British when both countries were under Crown rule, while Ann McCreath is a Scots émigrée who fell in love with the fashion there. There’s a dose of youthful energy, too, with Anthony Mulli, a jewellery designer who started when he was 16, pointing the way forward.
   The book follows a similar structure for subsequent cities, moving on to Casablanca next.
   Lucire readers will be familiar with Morocco thanks to travel editor Stanley Moss’s writings, and Jennings’ chapter, with photographs by Deborah Benzaquen, takes us on a similar journey through the country’s largest city. It was, of course, a home for Yves Saint Laurent at one point, as well as a drawcard for many western celebrities, when a first wave of Moroccan designers became known outside of the region. A second wave, Jennings explains, emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, with Zineb Joundy a graduate of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. A greater sense of artistic freedom and Casablanca’s position that blends Arabic, European and indigenous cultures has resulted in some looks that may seem familiar—perhaps thanks to the likes of Saint Laurent and his influence. Again the profiles are well selected, a cross-section of the highly varied cultures in the city: Amine Bendriouich, Amina Agueznay, Yassine Morabite, Saïd Mahrouf, and Zhor, Chadia and Aida Raïs each cover a very different parts of the fashion spectrum, from T-shirts to traditional caftans.
   Once the book gets to Lagos, it’s apparent that there’s a sense of “bubbling under”, with Lakin Ogunbanwo’s photographs, paired with Jennings’ words again, showing slightly more subdued looks for men, but prouder, more flamboyant looks for women. Jennings notes that civil war and Nigeria’s military juntas stalled its fashion scene for some years, before a revival when democracy returned in 1999. Foreign labels were seen as cool till recently, with the country discovering its confidence in its own æsthetic, to the point where one of her interviewees, stylist Bolaji Anumashaun, says that fashion can be one of Nigeria’s ‘greatest exports’. Anumashaun founded thestylehq.com with a pan-African fashion focus, and Arise magazine, founded in 2008, also stepped up the promotion for Nigerian designers. With Nigeria’s GDP now greater than South Africa’s, that confidence is bound to increase, and Jennings looks at Nike Davis Okundaye, who owns the biggest gallery in West Africa in Lagos, and happy to promote young talent. Others, such as Yegwa Ukpo and Amaka Osakwe, both were schooled in the UK before returning to Lagos to found their brands, while PR consultant Zara Okpara and luxury concept store owner Reni Folawiyo complete their city’s picture.
   Johannesburg completes Fashion Cities Africa, and it’s perhaps fair that Pool chose to put it last. Many mistakenly think of South African fashion when they refer to ‘African fashion’, spurred in part by the Republic’s sporting ties to many other countries in the Commonwealth. Victor Dlamini has the photographic duties here, and Pool pens the words, and she goes through the various Jo’burg neighbourhoods, noting that its fashion is more established than Nairobi’s but less self-conscious than Lagos’s. There is a western infusion here in some parts, she notes, but on closer examination there are accessories that reference Soweto streets or Zulu culture. The city even has two fashion weeks: South Africa Fashion Week and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg, making the city spoiled for choice when it comes to giving its designers a platform. David Tlale, whom Lucire readers will have heard of, and who has shown at New York Fashion Week, hails from here, and Jo’burg designs have a greater sense of familiarity thanks to western media exposure. It oozes colour and vibrancy, much like the photos chosen for Pool’s first chapter on Nairobi, and in similar fashion (pun unintended) there are profiles from across the spectrum: designer Thula Sindi, creative collective, the Sartists, accessories’ and shoe designer Maria McCloy, and womenswear designers Marianne Fassler and Anisa Mpungwe.
   It’s our hope that we can cease talking about ‘African’ fashion and instead replace the dialogue with specific cities or countries, just as we do for smaller continents such as Europe. Just as there is no such thing to fashion observers as ‘European’ fashion, there is equally no such thing as ‘African’ fashion: it is impossible to generalize at a continental level. Both as an informative volume and a coffee-table flick-through (as it is softcover), Fashion Cities Africa succeeds, and it’s exceptionally good value with full-colour photographs (needed for its story, over 196 pp.) at £20 (available via Amazon UK here, or Book Depository here) or US$28·50, (Amazon link here). It is published this month by Intellect Books, as part of its Street Styles series.—Jack Yan, Publisher

March 17, 2016

Lily Cole shines a light on social enterprise at Chivas Regal’s the Venture panel discussion

Lucire staff/22.46



John Phillips

In line with the movement that began in the early 2000s for more responsible brands—something this title, along with organizations such as Medinge Group in Sweden, have promoted—Chivas Regal’s the Venture search seeks to find and support the most promising social entrepreneurs creating profitable businesses that also makes a positive impact on people. Lily Cole added credibility as well as celebrity power to the panel discussion in London’s Natural History Museum on Thursday, and debated whether social enterprise would ever grow to a point to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, and whether big business, government and investors should do more.
   Cole herself is a social entrepreneur, having founded Impossible, a social giving network that enables people to share their time, skills and objects. She was joined by Sonal Shah of the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University, Rajeeb Day, CEO of Enternships, and Thomas Davies, CIO of investment platform Seedrs.
   Alexandre Ricard, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard‏, hosted the event.
   Also in attendance were 27 start-ups who had been chosen to compete for a share of the Venture’s $1 million fund. The finalists were taking part in a programme created by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University. The public can vote for their favourite finalist between May 9 and June 13, and determine how the first $250,000 in funding is split among the finalists. They already feature at the Venture’s website at www.theventure.com.
   The remaining $750,000 will be awarded at the Venture’s final in July.







John Phillips

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