Journalist Jonathan Guyer examines the different forms of noir fiction addressing the failed revolutions, jihadism, and chaos in Egypt.
Away from caliphate building and sectarianism, a neo-noir revolution has been creeping across the Middle East, allowing artists and writers to act as ombudsmen in the current political climate. Jonathan meets the writers who are latching onto the adventure, despair and paranoia prevalent in genre fiction to tell stories that transcend the present. He looks at Ahmed Mourad's novel, Vertigo, and Magdy El-Shafee's graphic novel, Metro, which Egyptian authorities seized all copies of before release.
Drawing parallels with the golden age of noir in America, Jonathan argues that, while the Middle East offers an ethereal backdrop like that of post-war America, the Middle East's neo-noir revolution is anything but nostalgic, giving authors and scholars an opportunity to critique imported wars, local autocrats and arrested revolutions.
What's surprising, he finds, is not that detective fiction is showing a sudden popularity in Cairo and beyond but that the genre has been relatively dormant for the last several decades. Sorting through the discarded vintage dime novels in creaky Cairo bookstalls, he discovers that detective fiction has had a long relationship with Arab readers.
Presented by Jonathan Guyer
Produced by Sean Glynn and David Waters
An SPG production for BBC Radio 4.
A Call to Art
Protest art in Latin America. A continent-wide commitment by many artists to social activism makes Latin America not just one of the most diverse art scenes in the world - but also one of the most compelling, with music, visual arts and street art calling out injustice, often in the face of discrimination, oppression and impunity.
This first of three programmes examines the process of memorialisation in two countries which have suffered civil conflict and dictatorship - Guatemala and Chile. These brutal histories remain, in the words of Amanda Jara, "a sceptic wound". How can art help heal the trauma?
Amanda is the daughter of protest singer-songwriter Victor Jara, one of the first victims of Chilean dictator Pinochet's regime. She has been trying to re-open the notorious Estadio de Chile, now called the Victor Jara stadium and where war crimes took place under Pinochet, as a memorial and arts venue.
Meanwhile, in Santiago's Museum of Memory, an immersive installation by Alfredo Jaar, The Geometry Of Conscience, brings visitors face to face with victims of Pinochet's regime.
In Guatemala, artist Daniel Hernandez-Salazar uses photography to expose a history of genocide, while Mayan theatre group Mujeres Ajchowen resurrect the indigenous culture that the Guatemalan war tried to obliterate.
Picture Credit: "So That All Shall Know", copyright Daniel Hernández-Salazar
Dubbing Voices: Yuri Betancourt Garcia, Esmeralda Lobos, Maria Fernanda Reyna
Field Broadcast Assistant: Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn
Executive Producer: Sarah Cuddon
Video Editor: Nick Romero
Producers: Louise Morris, Andrew McGibbon
A Curtains for Radio production for BBC Radio 4.
Songwriting with Soldiers
Trevor Dann reports from the USA on an innovative scheme which helps military veterans suffering with post traumatic stress by pairing them with songwriters.
Former soldiers discuss the therapeutic effects of creating songs about their experiences. The founder of the programme, singer-songwriter Darden Smith, explains how the idea came from his song, Angel Flight, about the pilots who bring home the bodies of deceased servicemen and women. And we hear country artist Maia Sharp working on a song with John who lost the use of his arm in a combat incident which is still classified.
A Trevor Dann Company production for BBC Radio 4.
Jim - We Love You Because...
Tayo Popoola explores Nigeria's enduring love of Jim Reeves and country music.
Over 50 years after his death, American country music legend Jim Reeves has maintained his popularity to a truly remarkable extent. Up until the 1980s, his label RCA continued to release new records almost yearly, and his many fans would eagerly snap them up. Today, his importance is still hotly discussed online, in message boards and chat rooms.
Where is the happening? In Nigeria.
Few musical forms appear more quintessentially American than country and western. But despite the genre's deep ties to cowboys and open skies, Nigeria became entranced by the fiddle and yodel heavy music. By the 1960s, as Nashville-based performers like Reeves and his producer Chet Atkins moved country toward an increasingly slick sound, the music had become a part of everyday Nigerian life, where it has remained.
In this very personal journey, Tayo travels around Nigeria with his country music loving mother in tow, exploring how this continued popularity can be - at least partially - attributed to the spiritual qualities that Nigerian audiences hear in country. Too slow to work as dance music, filled with the otherworldly sounds of pedal steel and orchestral strings, and laced with a decidedly Christian morality, country music has become known as a contemplative style, designed to carry the listener beyond daily life.
Tayo considers the impact of Jim Reeves on Nigerian legends like Chief Ebenezer Obey (who appears and sings in person on the programme), as well as his influence on younger contemporary musicians like Ogak Jay Oke and Stephen Rwang Pam.
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.
Close to the Edit
Filmmaker Mike Figgis explores the story of edited film, audio and culture, and how the simple process of cutting and splicing has changed the way people view the world.
We are living in an age of the edit.
From the jump-cuts of Eisenstein and Hitchcock, to the fractured narratives of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, from the cut-and-paste sounds of musique concrete and hip-hop, to the sensibility of social media (to say nothing of the radio feature itself), it's the edit - the cut, the splice; montage and juxtaposition - that has ushered us into the present. To some, it's the stuff of life itself: chimps, for example, share 99% of our DNA; what matters is the sequencing, the edit.
There's a year zero to this story of the edit. From the moment we get up in the morning until we close our eyes at night, the visual reality we perceive is a continuous stream of apparently linked images. That's the way we experienced the world for millennia. Then suddenly, just over a century ago, human beings were confronted with something else: edited film.
But this isn't an exercise in cinema history. It's about our present culture. A culture in which the invisible mediating hand of the editor is ever-present. A culture of the 'creative commons' in which we can pull anything out of context and re-edit it (a gif, an internet meme, a mash-up, a parody of a political speech) and make the edit itself become an art form. Cutting, splicing, sampling -- it's all part of the way the world functions now. This is just the beginning.
With Vicki Bennett aka People Like Us, Margie Borschke, Walter Murch and Will Self.
Producer: Martin Williams.