“There’s a picture from a time when you are wearing a short-sleeved striped shirt and with a plastic cup in your hand are toasting with a friend. You’re smiling and have the same gap in your teeth on your left as I have now. I checked all your photos for our similarities and collected them together. For a long time you existed only in pictures, until Marc sent me this recording…”
Amelia Umuhire tells the story of Innocent Seminega – her father – as a young student, teacher, husband and parent up until his death at the hands of the Hutu extremists in Rwanda. Tracing her family history as she addresses him, she weaves together threads from his love of linguistics, his romance with her mother, parenthood, and life lived amidst violent conflict – until unfurling her own story of her childhood and movement between countries – critiquing the white gaze which might try and frame her family’s story.
“They called these violent outbreaks, when the President was overthrown by his cousin, Juvénal Habyarimana, the ‘winds’. That’s how the Rwandan language is sometimes. Pogroms become winds, humans become cockroaches. Man-made violence becomes a force of nature and, like a bad harvest or other natural disasters, it comes and goes.”
Amelia Umuhire is a Rwandese filmmaker and artist based in Berlin. She wrote, directed and produced the award-winning web series ‘Polyglot’,which won Best German Webseries at the Webfest Berlin in 2015, the award-winning short experimental film ‘Mugabo’ and the Prix Europa nominated sound piece ‘Vaterland’ (Fatherland). Her work has been screened at the MOCA LA, MCA Chicago, Victoria and Albert Museum, 10th Berlin Biennale, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and many more. She is a current laureate of the Villa Romana Prize in Florence, Italy and completing her first feature film.
Pointing At Canopus was composed by Arif Mirbaghi and edited by Michelle Macklem and Jess Shane. It was made with the voices of over a dozen friends. Special thanks to Michael Eckert for his pedal steel improvisation and Parva Karkhaneh for her patient guidance.
The tortoise, you know, carries his house on his back. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot leave home. – The Anvār-i Suhaylī or Lights of Canopus
Pointing At Canopus is a meditation on the nature of home, not in the brick-and-mortar sense, but the broader idea: a place of rest. Children of immigrants often separately compartmentalize these ideas. Home is a place we live but heritage is a space we occupy. There is a daily pivot between the cadences of interaction with our family and those of our friends or co-workers. Inevitably the lines blur, and as individuals we find ourselves on different points along a gradient.
Coming to Iran reversed this pivot for me. The language of my home life suddenly spilled out in the streets, flooded my conversations, my day to day. For the first time I was utilizing Farsi beyond the comfort of my family home— I became a Farsi speaker.
At the same time, English became a place of thoughtful saudade. I would be lulled to sleep by audiobooks. The meter and ornamentation of the language felt familiar but distant like a kind of reverb— I became an English listener.
Pointing At Canopus explores the waxing and waning of home and heritage. I hope to evoke in listeners a sense of transit. A feeling neither here nor there. The idea that home is the pivot, not the point. Sounds of moving vehicles. Extra-lingual umms & ahhs while a speaker connects sentences. ‘Here’ is a space, but ‘there’ is a mythology, a fable. We orbit our fables like atoms around a nucleus. Wherever we go, there we are again.
ARIF MIRBAGHI is a Canadian-born composer & arranger based in Tehran. He has performed with dozens of ensembles throughout the world, in styles varying from folk, jazz, progressive rock, and beyond. His work explores the relationship of disconnection and reconnection for communities in the diaspora. More from Arif on his Soundcloud and on Spotify.
A lonely walk in the dark, skeletons and floating body parts caught in the beam of a flashlight… in the ‘The Night Watchman’, Detroit-born Stephen Schwartz pioneers his landmark interview technique known as the ‘moments interview’ or the ‘full Schwartz’. You can learn more about it here.
Stephen Schwartz was awarded the Prix Italia for features in 1982 and 1992. He passed away in 2013.
Made in collaboration with DR – you can listen to The Night Watchman (Nattevægteren) and more montages on their archive website.
“The story is about a doctor who was the main person in one of my features a few years ago – and about the price he came to pay for his participation, a price he had nothing against paying, but – as he asks – where am I in all this. We got so close to one another during the recording session, he feels, but I ‘wasn’t really present’.” – Christian Stentoft, 1984
An exploration of the dynamic between interviewer and interviewee – when you ask someone to reveal themselves to you in an interview to what extent should you reveal your own soul? Are you a human being or a tape recorder?
Sound engineer: Torben Brandt
Made in collaboration with DR – you can listen to A Kiss Refused (Afslag på et kys) and more montages on their archive website.
In 1996, Allan told the story of his life on the radio programme ‘Koplev’s Lounge’. The broadcast inspired Thomas Vinterberg to make his dogma movie ‘The Celebration’ (Festen) in 1998. Now Allan and Thomas meet for the first time.
Winner of the 2003 Prix Italia.
Made in collaboration with DR – you can listen to After The Celebration (Efter Festen) and more montages on their archive website.
Price of Secrecy is a fictionalised podcast series that addresses some of the legal, social, cultural and familial constraints that contribute to the silence around the issue of child sexual abuse in Iran. At the heart of the series is the question – ‘why, as members of society, are we failing to listen to the victims of child sexual abuse?’. A question that takes the responsibility of breaking the silence away from the victim and introduces it as a social responsibility.
It’s normally available via the Russian messaging app Telegram – a popular home for podcasts in Iran: https://t.me/hazinehrazdaripodcast
Zoha Zokaei is an Anglo-Iranian artist, academic and PhD researcher currently living and working in London. She holds an MFA from Goldsmiths College, University of London and is currently studying for a PhD at the University of Sussex where she was awarded a CHASE scholarship. Her research interests include the following areas: ethics of representation (particularly representing the pain of the other), decentring and problematizing voice, practice as research, storytelling for social change and tactical media.
Price of Secrecy was supported by CHASE (Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England). You can find further episodes and information at the project website.
Recorded in the pre-internet dating days, Lotta Erikson searches for a partner through telephone contact agencies.
Lotta Erikson has been a freelance for the Swedish radio (SR) and Swedish national television (SVT) in various forms since 1992, making around 15 radio documentaries and several TV-documentaries. Her productions have been presented at festivals and have won awards. In recent years she has written scripts for both feature films and TV-series, including the TV series The Hunt for a Killer, for SVT-drama with director Mikael Marcimain. Lotta Erikson has also made several sound art installations, written stage plays, radio dramas and a book about the human voice “The Alphabet of the Voice”.
Translation by Klara Erikson
According to numerous statistics, Czechs are a nation of dog-lovers. On average, there is a dog in every second household in the Czech Republic, resulting in the most hounds per capita in all of Europe.
In Eva’s house there’s Tonča. Tonča is Eva’s French Bulldog who lives with her and her husband in Prague’s Vinohrady district. She wants to sleep with them in their bedroom so badly that she stakes her claim by barking at their bedroom door and leaving little puddles of protest. Eva’s husband, however, is strongly against it. What do you when you have a dog at home with separation anxiety?
‘Man: A Dog’s Best Friend’ was a runner up for Best Documentary at the Prix Bohemia (2019)
Editor: Brit Jensen
Sound: Jiří Slavičínský
Director, screenwriter, and producer Eva Lammelová (1986) studied sociology and andragogy at Palacký University in Olomouc, as well as film and theater science. She filmed an episode of the series Nedej se! for Czech Television entitled Free Food For All (Ji.hlava IDFF 2015) and the documentary AsexuaLOVE (2018).
Sometimes immigrants want to stay super connected to their home countries because they feel that connection slipping away. And well, they can go overboard. At least, that’s what Eduardo Bolioli noticed.
This story was produced by Martina Castro as part of an audio documentary series she made with her class at the University of Montevideo for her 2015 Fulbright grant. The series, called ‘Los Retornados’, features first-person stories from Uruguayans who had left their country to seek better opportunities and who ended up returning – many as part of a wave of reverse migration triggered by the worldwide financial crisis in 2009. The series was also turned into an audio exhibit at the Museum of Migration in Montevideo, Uruguay where it is currently being integrated into the museum’s permanent collection.
Martina Castro is the founder and CEO of Adonde Media, a globally-minded podcast production company based in Brooklyn, New York.
Over the past fifteen years, Martina has produced and edited award-winning audio content in both the U.S. and Latin America. She has worked at NPR, KALW-FM in San Francisco, CA, and NPR’s Radio Ambulante, a Spanish-language narrative journalism podcast she co-founded in 2011. She is a frequent speaker and workshop leader on the art of narrative radio storytelling. Martina launched Adonde Media in 2017 and has worked with clients such as TED, Duolingo, NPR, and Vice News to create podcasts that aim to bring new audiences to the medium.