Tuesday 5 September 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 5/9/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock


Cultural front

Istanbul’s parks were full on Sunday night as fans cheered the Turkish team to victory in the Women’s European Volleyball Championship. For the crowds, it was a rare political victory as well as a sporting one. Star player Ebrar Karakurt (pictured, on left, with team-mate Melissa Vargas) is openly gay and has been targeted by the country’s pro-government Islamists. By standing her ground, she has won legions of supporters who never previously cared much about volleyball but are determined to resist Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s drive to culturally Islamise their country. Karakurt broke down in tears as she sang the Turkish national anthem after her team’s victory.

Erdogan has pursued a dual-track strategy since he narrowly won the election in May. Internationally he is trying to rebuild damaged bridges with Western allies and position himself as an indispensable mediator in Ukraine; yesterday, for example, he was in Sochi to discuss a new grain deal with Vladimir Putin. At home, however, he is amplifying his Islamist rhetoric against LGBT+ communities. In 2021, Turkey pulled out of the Istanbul Convention against gender-based violence and femicide rates are rising. That is all part of his strategy to win back Istanbul in local elections in March 2024. The opposition won it from Erdogan’s party for the first time in 25 years in 2019; the city is almost evenly split between religious and secular voters. For Erdogan, it’s symbolic: Istanbul is his home city and the place where he started his political career as mayor.

The nation’s political opposition is in tatters, with the main party divided over its leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who has refused to step down following his election defeat. But in Istanbul, the charismatic and popular serving mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, will stand again in the local elections. The city’s response to the volleyball team’s victory shows that cultural resistance to Erdogan is still alive and well. Imamoglu’s job is to convince his city that the political opposition is also far from dead.

Hannah Lucinda Smith is Monocle’s Istanbul correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Getty Images


Hot-button issues

The inaugural Africa Climate Summit opened this week in Nairobi. Over three days, the continent’s leaders will try to establish a unified approach to their countries’ green-energy transition, ahead of the Cop28 summit in Dubai later this year. Many will also be seeking to present Africa as a hub of environmental investment, rather than just a victim of extreme-weather events.

In his opening speech, Kenya’s president, William Ruto, spoke about the “immense opportunities” that the summit offers in terms of economic possibilities and the potential of Africa’s huge mineral wealth. But sceptics ask why African nations are being told to develop in cleaner ways when some of the world’s richest countries are responsible for the most harmful emissions. Meanwhile, it will be up to the international community to ensure that encouraging statements are matched by substantive support.

For the latest on the Africa Climate Summit, tune in to ‘The Briefing’ on Monocle Radio at 12.00 London time.

Image: Simon Simard


Gliding ahead

Rhode Island-based company Regent is developing a new electric sea-gliding vehicle that it says will revolutionise travel for coastal and island communities. The 12-seater Viceroy is restricted to flying over water so it operates more like an airborne ferry than a traditional aircraft. Billy Thalheimer and Michael Klinker (pictured, on left, with Thalheimer) co-founded Regent in 2020 and its prototype Viceroy is expected to conduct its first test flight in 2024.

Regent is betting on the vehicle’s efficiency to keep costs down on short flight routes. “So much of the cost of aviation is about maintenance,” Thalheimer tells Monocle. “With the Viceroy, there’s no oiling and you don’t need to take apart a jet engine.” The vehicle has already piqued the interest of island-hopping commuter carrier Mokulele Airlines in Hawaii and Brittany Ferries in France, which has signalled that this could be used as an alternative way to cross the English Channel.

For more agenda-setting stories on business and mobility from around the world, pick up a copy of Monocle’s September issue, which is on sale now.

Image: Sydney Contemporary 2022, Carriageworks


Setting the scene

Sydney Contemporary, Australasia’s largest and most diverse gathering of contemporary art galleries, kicks off on Thursday and runs until Sunday. This year’s fair, held at Sydney-based contemporary arts organisation Carriageworks, is the seventh and largest to date. Visitors will be able to browse and buy the work of more than 500 artists from 96 leading galleries from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore.

As well as gallery presentations, talks and printmaking demonstrations, the fair’s highlights will include 13 major installations by renowned Australian artists such as Abdul-Rahman Abdullah and Lindy Lee. Thursday’s Art Night, meanwhile, promises live performances, music and food. Sydney’s cultural scene has been boosted in recent years by the opening of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s Sydney Modern extension and the return of the multipurpose Artspace centre. Sydney Contemporary is fast becoming a mainstay of the city’s increasingly exciting arts calendar.

Image: Les Films des Tournelles


Family affair

The fourth film directed by French actor Louis Garrel, The Innocent (pictured) tells the story of a widower who finds out that his 60-year-old mother is about to marry a man serving a prison sentence. The crime comedy has been a critical success in France, winning two Césars and also being nominated for several Lumières Awards. Garrel joins Monocle to tell us about his latest work, which is out now.

You have described the film as being personal to you. Can you tell us why?
When I was a teenager I had a similar experience: one day my mother, who had been working in a prison for a long time, told me that she was going to marry a man in jail. I built the premise of the film around this but obviously it’s not strictly autobiographical. I invented a lot of it.

You have said that you initially wanted to make a noir but there’s a lot of lightness in the film.
I love to combine elements that are not usually mixed. For example, here we have comedy, romcom and noir. I wanted it to be original, entertaining and light. In general, when your narrative is lighter, people tend to be more open to receiving your story.

What was your approach to filming the action scenes?
When you’re shooting action scenes, there’s a risk of accidentally entering a competition with the US industry and losing your European identity. I decided to make the scenes more original. For example, we have romcom elements in the middle of a heist.

For Monocle’s full interview with French actor-director Louis Garrel, tune in to the latest episode of ‘The Monocle Weekly’ on Monocle Radio.

Image: Max Miechowski

Monocle Radio / Meet the Writers

Mark Vanhoenacker

Belgian-American pilot, author and writer, Mark Vanhoenacker, joins Georgina Godwin at Monocle’s studio in London to discuss his third book Imagine a City: a Pilot’s Love Letter to the World’s Greatest Cities. The book chronicles his journey from dreaming of glittering metropolises as a child in Massachusetts to exploring the world as a pilot. Vanhoenacker discusses everything from his love for language learning, his affinity for Japanese culture and his lengthy aviation career.

Monocle Films / Health

‘Sisu’: The art of Finnish fortitude

Finland is a swimmer’s paradise and residents take to the water year-round. In colder months the practice often involves carving a hole into ice – a demonstration of sisu, the unique Finnish concept of fortitude in the face of adversity. Monocle joins journalist Katja Pantzar on an icy dip, to explore the mindset that dates back more than 500 years. Discover more stories and ideas from the region with The Monocle Book of the Nordics, available now from The Monocle Shop.


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