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The state of Kurdish cinema

WHEN Zaradasht Ahmed, a Norwegian-Kurdish director, began shooting his war documentary, a complicated process spanning more than five years awaited him. “Nowhere to Hide” (2016, pictured), an immersive account of a male nurse working and raising a family in Iraq, was shot collaboratively by Mr Ahmed and the nurse himself, …

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Italy’s World Cup exit is far from an apocalypse

“FINE” (“the end”), howled the front page of La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy’s most popular sporting newspaper. “Apocalisse, disastro” wailed Corriere dello Sport, one of its rivals. Muted supporters, some of them weeping, filed out of bars across the land. An impotent 0-0 draw against Sweden in Milan’s San Siro stadium on November 13th, following a …

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How the world changed around Sergio Aragones and Mad magazine

THE world in 2017 is a confusing place. It is often difficult to tell whether a news story is genuine, fake or an advertisement. Hollywood studios churn out repetitive superhero franchises with sequels veering dangerously close to double digits. Politicians, entertainers and media professionals across the spectrum are being exposed …

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A modern history of Iran

Iran: A Modern History. By Abbas Amanat. Yale University Press; 1,000 pages; $40. To be published in Britain in January; £30. ABBAS AMANAT is an authority on Iranian culture and political history. In his new book he presents the past five centuries of Iran’s history in its Persian, Shia context. …

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The rise and rise of performance art

BY THE late 1990s, the small and marginal world of performance art seemed stunted by nostalgia and self-parody. “I would go to [New York’s] Lower East Side and see these scruffy works that felt like a repeat of the 1970s,” says RoseLee Goldberg, a South African-born curator and art historian …

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What does America’s Second Amendment really say?

JUST weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, in Las Vegas, America faced its fifth-worst attack, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5th. Both assailants were armed with military-style rifles. Why does American law let people buy such weapons? The answer is the Second Amendment to the constitution, …

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A British travel writer evokes the magic of the Baltic Sea

Ice trap Icebreaker: a Voyage Far North. By Horatio Clare. Chatto and Windus; 213 pages; £14.99. “ICEBREAKER” by Horatio Clare, a British nonfiction writer, is an encounter with the void. It describes ten winter days on a Finnish icebreaker, one of a fleet that works at perilously close quarters with …

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Jaron Lanier’s memoir recalls a life spent in virtual reality

Dawn of the New Everything. By Jaron Lanier. Henry Holt; 351 pages; $30. Bodley Head; £20. WHAT is virtual reality (VR)? Over 21 chapters and three appendices, Jaron Lanier, a tech pioneer, puts forward 52 definitions. Some are geeky: “a media technology for which measurement is more important than display”. …

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Hybrid models are changing the piano market, too

HYBRID is all the rage. Buyers want the reliability and beauty of the traditional product but are also keen on the flexibility, cost-effectiveness and modernity provided by electric innovations. With a hybrid, they can have it both ways. We are, of course, talking about pianos. Sales figures for acoustic pianos …

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Robin Hood Gardens and the divisiveness of brutalism

IT HAS an almost mythical status in the canon of post-war British buildings. Clad in precast concrete panels, with apartments rising and descending from wide, raised decks (referred to as “streets in the sky”), Robin Hood Gardens embodies the brutalist desire to renegotiate the relationship between architecture, citizens and society. …