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why lets all be free

Why Let’s All Be Free?

Our Founder, Tariq Nasir, breaks down why we are Let’s All Be Free and where we came from…


The questions of what we do at Let’s All Be Free (LABF), and how we do it are easy ones to answer.

At LABF we get people together who are open to exploring the artistic and the creative.

We open spaces, solicit films and other forms of art; we screen, display and share ideas.

We encourage dialogue and discussion, through panels and group participation to foster tolerance and understanding around the world.

At LABF we ask hard questions, and uncover difficult truths.

Through this collaborative process we discover overlooked stories, unheard questions, and unseen experiences.

Together we help others to see the struggles people go through in their daily lives, and yet, through LABF we also find the beautiful, the unexpected, the heartwarming, and the inspiring.

The question of why we do what we do is probably harder to answer, but possibly more important.

Inequality exists in many forms, as I have witnessed, and experienced around the world. Is what has been created over many centuries what we want to pass on to our children?

I started the Let’s All Be Free project six years ago with the goal of raising awareness.

Through LABF I wanted to encourage people to think about their lives, and what they wanted out of those lives.

I wanted people to become more aware of the societies and cultures that we as humans have built and perpetuated around us.

I believe that we can change what may have grown outdated or now seems misguided.

Through coming together and sharing our experiences we can help one another expand our understanding of each other.

Let’s All Be Free is my attempt to encourage people to think about how they might change their lives for the better, and embrace an opportunity to live fully, freely, and with equality.

It is my hope that Let’s All Be Free will inspire a worldwide movement that will in turn inspire dialogue and discussion, which will lead to constructive and positive action and improve all of our lives.


Article written by Tariq Nasir

innu people

Innu: The Sub-Arctic Hunters

Everything you need to know about the indigenous nomadic Canadians…


GEOGRAPHY

The Innu inhabit a region in Canada that they themselves refer to as ‘Nitassinan’, which means ‘our land’ in their ancient language, covering a section of Quebec and parts of Labrador on the east side of the country.  The Nitassinan covers a vast subarctic area of forests, lakes, rivers and rocky barrens .

The communities in Labrador consist of Sheshatshiu, the meeting point of the Grand Lake and Lake Melville, and Utshimassit, which is an island just off the north coast of Labrador.

innu geography

POPULATION

They’re comprised of roughly 18,000 people in eleven communities in Quebec and two in Labrador, although these are spread out across different regions. Sheshatshiu contains 1000 Innu people, while Utshimassit holds around 500.

They are normally split into two groups. The first are the ‘Neenoilno’, sometimes called the ‘mountain people’ or the ‘Innu proper’, who reside lower down on the north shore of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in Quebec. The second are the far fewer Naskapi, who live further up north in the Quebec and Labrador regions.

The primary language of the Innu is ‘Innu-aimun’, but they also speak English and French, which is one of the native languages in Quebec. Most Innu are Christians and are members of the Cree, one of the founding nations of the aboriginal Canadians.

CULTURE

innu cultureTraditionally, the Innu people live in cone-shaped skin tents, relying on the caribou, a moose-like creature, as the primary resource for their materials in making their housing, clothing and other objects.

They also eat the caribou, along with squirrels, hares, geese, ducks, salmon, trout and many others. The Innu and their ancestors have always been known as hunter-gatherers, summed up by their tendencies to hunt for animals and use their skin to sustain life and shelter. They sometimes used the hides of the animals they hunt to create buckskin- used for boots, house covering and storage.

Another key tradition in Innu life is crafting, and it is custom that children are given the classic tea doll, which is a toy made out of cloth and caribou hide. The idea behind the tea doll is that children could play with it whilst also carrying small, yet important goods, such as tea, inside the doll.

CONTROVERSIES

While the Innu are a peaceful people, this has not prevented other groups, organisations and governments from innu strugglesattempting to sabotage their tranquil environment.

In a conflict known as the Beavers Wars in the 1600s, the Innu were subject to attacks from the Iroquois, a powerful Candian region at the time, and enslaved their women and warriors defending the tribes, as well as raiding their materials they had gathered over time.

More recently, the New York Power Authority has come under criticism for its contract with the province of Quebec to buy power from their hydroelectric dams, because the construction of electric transmission lines to harness the power would disrupt the Innu’s hunting lifestyle.


Article written by Oli Gamp

chiapas people

Misunderstood, Excluded and Abused: Who are the indigenous people of the Chiapas?

Pope Francis has spoken out against those who have mistreated and taken advantage of the indigenous population of the Mexican south: the people of the Chiapas, but who are they?

GEOGRAPHY

chiapas people

Chiapas is located in south-west Mexico- right a the foot of the country and near the border of Guatemala. It is the eighth-largest state in the country and neighbours the states of Tabasco, Veracruz and Oaxaca.

It has 111 villages, 12 towns and 18 major cities, the largest of which is San Cristobel de las Casas, where the Pope made his speech about the Chiapa

It is home to some notable geographical landmarks, such as the Lacandon Jungle, the beautiful Miramar Lake, the waterfall at Agua Azul and the Tacana Volcano, which is still considered active and a threat to the indigenous populations that reside nearby.

POPULATION

chiapas people

In the history of the indigenous people of Chiapas, there have been three known groups: the Mixes-Zoques, the Mayas and the Chiapa. It’s thought that there are roughly 3.5 million indigenous people in this state, which accounts for 13.5% of Mexico’s entire indigenous population. That makes it the fifth most ‘indianised’ state in the country.

It is thought that most of the indigenous groups in the state descended from the ancient Mayans, and their speaking language has been derived from them. Although the Chiapa people all fight for the same cause, they are split up into several closely related native languages. These include: the Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Ch’ol, Tojolabal, Zoque, Chuj, Kanjobal, Mam and Lacandon. 

CONTROVERSIES

chiapas people

Chiapas is Mexico’s poorest state. While widespread poverty is suffered across Latin America, the people of the Chiapas are the ones who are suffering particularly badly with 76% without homes, and the balance of wealth between its indigenous people and the rest of the population is becoming more uneven with every day that passes.

In 1994, the indigenous people of Chiapas revolted as a group known as the Zapatistas rose up against the government after tensions grew when fears emerged that their independence and agriculture felt threatened. The initial uprising was crushed by the government, but has been prolonged for decades, and indigenous groups have rebelled against the Mexican government as recently as 2014.

In some communities, tensions have also been at a high level between Catholics and Protestants. In some residential areas, people who have converted to Protestantism have been expelled from their homes, excluded and had their land taken over. They’ve also been known to have been denied their basic rights to water and electricity.

LEGACY

chiapas people

The indigenous people of Chiapas have been protected by many leading figures throughout their history, but their most well-known and beloved defenders were Samuel Ruiz and Bartolome de las Casas, who were both Bishops in San Cristobel.

Bartolome de la Casas was alive in the 16th century, and was known by his title ‘Protector of the Indians’. He was born in Spain but moved to Mexico and felt strongly opposed to slavery and was soon appointed Bishop of Chiapas, and set out specific laws to protect indigenous people, which outlined that anyone who mistreated them would be ex-communicated from the church.

Samuel Ruiz died as recently as 2011, and was also Bishop in Chiapas. He is held in high regard by people in Chiapas for acting as mediator during the infamous Zapatistas Uprising- attempting to calm the violence and encourage peace talks between the two parties. He was eventually forced to resign in 1998 after accusing the government of ‘simulating’ a peace resolution.

Hope For the Future

While the Chiapas people have certainly had their fair share of suffering, not only in last few decades, but continually over centuries gone, if ever there was someone they needed to vouch for their support, it was Pope Francis.

The Pope is one of the most influential figures on the planet, as well as one of the most respected. Hopefully, now that Pope Francis has spoken out about the terrible manner in which the Chiapas people are being treated, action will now be taken.

The indigenous population can at least rest assure that more awareness to their cause has been raised, as sometimes the only way to send a message is to get the world talking. The revelations made by the Pope were truly shocking and together with other campaigners across the world, there might be optimism that the Southern state of Mexico can find the independence and the freedom that they crave.


Article written by Oli Gamp

being free

Being Free with Tariq Nasir

“LABF will be the beginning of a movement of people who want to make a better life for themselves and their families.”

tariq nasir

Tariq Nasir was born in New York to a Palestinian father and American mother, living in Palestine as a child before fleeing to Jordan as a refugee with his family during the 1967 war. Being free became a very important focus in his life.

After growing up in Jordan, he studied International Business in the U.K. and worked for many years in the financial industry, before making the decision to move into film and live with the purpose he had taught his children about for years – making a positive difference in the world.

That is the main reason he founded the Let’s All Be Free Festival. We spoke to Tariq about freedom and what we can learn from Let’s All Be Free…

What does it mean being free?

In one word it is equality. Being given equal status is an important part of what it means to be free in my opinion. When I was a child I was a witness to war and was made a refugee with my family.

During that period of time I was not given the same rights as others, and was put in a position where I was seen less deserving than the occupiers who had taken our home.

If people are given the same rights, they can then through hard work and education make a life for themselves and their families and feel what it is like to live freely.

Why do we need to be free in our lives?

I would say that we don’t HAVE to be free in our lives, it is up to us to choose how we want to live our lives in the end. I’m just asking for people to be conscious of the decisions they make about how they live their lives.

LAFFFS2014_-1076

I think too often people are living unconscious lives and don’t realize they are as free as they think they are. It is my personal opinion that people are much happier when they live free lives to pursue the things that inspire them.

What can we learn from Let’s All Be Free?

We can learn that everyone has a story. A story that can be shared and appreciated by others.

We can learn that it is just as important to listen and hear other people’s stories, as much as it is important for others to hear our stories.

We can learn that great and important things can come from dialogue, and from including a whole community to share in what it means to be free, and what it means to be alive.

We can show others what great potential lies in all of us as humans to do good and constructive things for the world we live in.

In conclusion, why did you found Let’s All Be Free?

My hopes are that Let’s All Be Free will be the beginning of a movement of people who want to make a better life for themselves and their families through constructive means.


Article written by Alex Izquierd

Interview with filmmaker Ina Sotirova

We spoke to Ina Sotirova, whose film ‘freedom2dance’ was screened at Let’s All be Free Film Festival 2014, and found out more about her inspiration and filmmaking process.

 Tell us about your job, what you do.


I’m a freelance multimedia journalist, meaning that I tell real world stories in writing, images and video. I enjoy the freedom of my profession, how it both stimulates and engages my curiosity, how much I learn about the world with every project. In terms of freedom2dance and other short films I’ve made so far, I’ve been what they call a one-woman-band: I produce, I shoot, I edit and I also try to market and publicize my work, although that last part still escapes me. I also do field and associate production work on feature-length documentaries. Going forward with CosMuSart Productions, the multimedia production company I co-founded with sound artist Tamara Montenegro, we’re looking to build a solid creative team for projects ranging from documentaries and travelogues to music videos and other editorial and commercial work.

[…]

Exploring Freedom Through Immigration in ‘Vanishing Borders’

Alexandra Hidalgo is a documentary filmmaker, an assistant professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University, and the co-founder and editor-in-chief of agnès films, an online community of women filmmakers that seeks to support and foster the work of women behind the camera. image credit – Aidan Tyson

I am fascinated by the ways that freedom and immigration intersect. I grew up in Venezuela but immigrated to Dayton, Ohio when I was 16. In my new home, I experienced how liberating yet constricting the immigrant experience can be. I had no past in Dayton, no history. I was able to choose what I loved best about myself and craft a new story. And yet, I was limited by my lack of knowledge about the nuances of American culture and the intricate hurdles of expressing myself in a tongue that wasn’t my own. I had a blank canvas upon which to invent myself but only a few colours available to me. As the years went by, however, I acquired more and more shades and hues as the American culture became an integral part of who I am.

When I was trying to decide what to make my first feature documentary about, the immigrant experience made the most sense because it had shaped who I am and because immigrants are an often maligned and misunderstood population. I wanted to tell a story that would humanize immigrants for viewers. The resulting film, Vanishing Borders, explores the immigrant experiences of four women—Teboho Moja, Melainie Rogers, Daphnie Sicre, and Yatna Vakharia—who came from various places around the world to settle in New York City. The more I got to know these women and their spectacular stories, the more clear it became to me that they are bringing richness and complexity to those who interact with them in their new home.

[…]

A Woman’s Place

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Tina Ledger is author of ‘The Angry Lesbian’: a gender, sexuality and current events blog, dedicated to continuing discussions on queerness & feminism.

From an incredibly young age, our society’s gender expectations are made evident; young girls are given dolls houses, hair accessories and toy kitchen wear/dinner sets to entertain themselves with, whereas boys are handed fishing rods, footballs, tennis rackets and other sporting equipment. Essentially, boys are handed freedom, whereas girl’s gendered toys keep her confined in the home.
[…]

Interview with Jennifer Reeder, director of ‘A Millions Miles Away’.

tuff guyWe spoke to Jennifer Reeder, who’s film ‘A Million Miles Away’, was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015 and won numerous awards internationally. She gives us an insight into her inspirations, her filmmaking process and why you should apply to film festivals.

Tell us about your job, what you do etc. 

More and more, I am making money as a filmmaker, but my “day job” is as a professor in the Moving Image area of the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I teach filmmaking and screenwriting.[…]

Interview with Armaan Uplekar, director of Eternal

UplekarArmaan_2
Armaan Uplekar. Photo by Jon Sams

In 2014, ‘Eternal’ was officially selected for the ‘Let’s All Be Free Film Festival’. A heartbreaking documentary of the tragedy that took place in August 2012, when a white supremacist entered the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and murdered six people. In the aftermath, family members of the victims move to cope and understand the tragedy.

Eternal is a brilliant short film that inspires kindness to people from all different backgrounds, religions and race.

We interviewed the director, Armaan Uplekar, about the film, his inspiration and what he working on at the moment.

[…]

A Life Apart by Henrietta Ross

A guest article by Henrietta Ross, a writer and blogger with bipolar disorder. Henrietta explores a variety of topics through her blog, including issues of mental health, and writes monthly for the International Bipolar Foundation, as well as for Black Dog Tribe - Ruby Wax's mental health organisation. She also writes for online magazine Blirt, and is working on her first novel. In the below piece, she shares her perspective on how her mental illness - and society's treatment of her - makes her feel free.

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