Friday 31 March 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 31/3/2023

The Monocle Minute

Breaking news

A grand jury in the US has voted to indict Donald Trump, making him the first former president in American history to face criminal charges. For the latest, and our editors’ analysis, tune in to The Globalist on Monocle 24.

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Karen Krizanovich

Cannes of worms

The Cannes Film Festival, which holds its 76th edition this May, is well known for its glamour and frequent controversies. This year’s topic of debate isn’t whether women should be allowed to wear flat shoes on the red carpet (as in 2015) or the appropriateness of accepting sponsorship from Tiktok (see last year’s event).

Earlier this week, the festival’s longtime director, Thierry Fremaux, suggested that the best film category at the Oscars should focus solely on home-grown US cinema, just as the César goes to a French film and the Goya is awarded to a Spanish work. The idea is not only counterproductive but would also be difficult to implement. The Oscars serve a global public, so eliminating international contributions from its main prize would deprive audiences of the chance to celebrate a diverse cinematic universe. Given that Cannes goes by the moniker “The International Festival of Film”, perhaps Fremaux was trying to claim that his festival should have the top spot when it comes to celebrating pictures from around the world but he didn’t need to suggest limiting the Oscars’ remit to find a point of difference.

The film landscape has changed significantly over the past decade. Streaming platforms have encouraged audiences to watch content produced around the world. The precise origins of a film are becoming increasingly complex: the approach of the so-called “Euro-pudding” movies of the 1970s, which were mocked for their multitude of backers from different countries, has now become the norm. Almost every film seems to be an international co-production; meanwhile, South Korean media conglomerates are buying up chunks of Hollywood. The idea of cinematic nationalism is a mere provocation – little more than a gesture for the cameras.

Karen Krizanovich is a film journalist and broadcaster. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Myanmar

Shopping for change

Myanmar’s ruling junta dissolved 40 political parties this week, including Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), after they refused to register for the forthcoming general election as a form of protest. The junta called the summer election hoping to gain public support, yet it is widely considered a sham. While governments in the UK, US, Japan and Australia have issued statements condemning the development, not all international businesses with links to the country have been as quick to act. Japanese company Fast Retailing, which owns Uniqlo, announced that it will stop sourcing clothing from Myanmar later this year, joining the likes of Britain’s Marks & Spencer and Irish multinational Primark. But companies such as Sweden’s H&M and Spain’s Inditex have yet to sever ties with the country. More than two years after Myanmar’s military coup, many businesses still need to evaluate their supply chains – and look for viable alternatives.

Image: Getty Images

Healthcare / UAE

Chain reaction

The government of the United Arab Emirates launched an initiative this week that seeks to map the DNA of every Emirati. By better understanding their genetic make-up, the National Genome Strategy aims to provide the UAE’s citizens with more personalised medical care and limit the spread of disease. More than 400,000 citizens have already submitted DNA samples.

The programme will be carried out over the next decade and is expected to collect one million samples, which will help scientists to identify specific health risks for patients and allow for early treatment. The UAE is heralding the scheme as a bold step towards the future of healthcare but potential problems regarding privacy and genetic discrimination need to be considered. Let’s hope that these complications get treated early too.

Image: Cibus

Food / Italy

Stuck in the pasta

From balsamic vinegar to cannoli, Italy’s formidable food industry was on full display at Cibus, a large fair that wrapped up yesterday in Parma. Heavyweights such as pasta brand Barilla predictably had a large presence in the halls but there was also a new section dedicated to plant-based ingredients and meat substitutes, presided over by innovative Parma-based company Hi-Food.

The fair came at an odd time for the country’s food sector: while Italians have always been proud and protective of their cuisine, the far-right government is intent on pursuing a particularly jingoistic “Made in Italy” agenda. The country’s agriculture minister, Francesco Lollobrigida, has said that he would like a global taskforce to check that the food served in Italian restaurants abroad is up to scratch (though it’s not clear what the punishment would be for those falling foul of the carbonara police). Those behind the baffling and unworkable idea fail to understand that Italy’s future success lies in not only preserving its traditions but also adapting to the times.

Culture / Syria

Peaceful sounds

Though the conflict in Syria rarely features on the front pages of newspapers, Unicef estimates that one third of the five million people born in Syria since 2011 suffer from anxiety and sleeping problems. To help raise awareness for the millions of Syrian children whose bedtime soundtrack includes falling bombs, singer-songwriter Ghaliaa Chaker (pictured) worked with neuroscientists and music therapists on an initiative called Frequencies of Peace.

Every evening since World Sleep Day on 17 March, her composition has been broadcast from most radio stations across the nation at 20.00 to help children and adults drown out the difficult realities of everyday life. “This project taught me how impactful any tune can be if science is involved,” she tells The Monocle Minute. The project is a timely reminder that the world must keep its eyes open to the suffering that continues in Syria.

Monocle 24 / Tall Stories

Mother of Georgia, Tbilisi

Sally Howard visits the Mother of Georgia statue in Tbilisi to see what this monument to femininity says about the role of women in the post-Soviet state.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: April issue, 2023

What’s in store for retail? Monocle’s Retail Survey checks out the global benchmarks in shopping, while our spring Style Directory rounds up the labels, designers and products on the radar of the sharpest dressers. Elsewhere, we go in-depth on the mystery of who blew up Nord Stream and reveal Paris’s best sandwich – and how to make it.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00