Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.
The possibility of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula re-joining Russia is – in many ways – a return to the past.
Russia's Soviet Empire once spanned all the way from the Kuril Islands – North of Japan – to Ukraine and Crimea in the West. That empire was quickly dismantled at the end of the Cold War, splitting into fifteen independent states.
Despite the geo-political changes brought about by time and history, Crimea remains a region that looms large in both Eastern and Western Europe. It's a place that has featured in literature, artwork, and national myth-making.
We look back at the Crimean peninsula's role in historic conflicts, and popular lore.
As '12 Years a Slave' took top honors at the BAFTA Awards, all eyes were on the film's black cast – and especially director Steve McQueen. If he wins the Best Director prize at next month's Academy Awards, McQueen will become the first black director ever to win.
Atika Shubert spoke with John Akomfrah, a Former Governor of the British Film Institute. She asked him what McQueen's BAFTA win meant for diversity in the film industry.
"I think Steve winning is confirmation of a trend taking place anyway," Akomfrah said. "And by that I mean, for instance, 12 years ago, if you had a film called '12 Years a Slave,' the idea would be that it would go to a white director because it's big and so it's appropriate that it should go to a white director. The fact that a major African diaspora story is done by a black director of black British heritage and descent is, I think, significant."
Atika also asked what Akomfrah would consider to be a true sign of diversity in cinema.
"If Steve's example became a trend, so that there were more people like Steve," he replied. "If a range of black acting talent continues to be both affirmed and endorsed by both BAFTA and the Academy."
After the French first couple called it quits, former first lady Valerie Trierweiler headed off to India on a long-planned charity trip. While the role of first lady is well established in the United States, recent revelations of Francois Hollande's love affair and subsequent break up have led the French to re-examine the position of president's partner.
Becky spoke with Betty Boyd Caroli, author of "First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama," about how the role differs around the world. Caroli said it's not an easy job.
"It's a very narrow line that the spouses walk," Caroli said. "On the one hand, we expect them to be very involved and we expect to know everything about them. And yet, we really don't think they are the official voice of the president."
Becky asked how challenging the role is for a woman like U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, who sacrificed her own career to support her husband's political ambitions.
"I think it must be very difficult for a high profile professional like Michelle Obama to quit a job that she evidently loved and be basically out of sight for most of the time," Caroli said.
One of the year's most talked-about films revisits a dark chapter in American history. '12 Years a Slave' tells the story of Solomon Northup – a man born free, but sold into slavery in 19th century America. The film won big at the Golden Globes, and is nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Film and Best Director.
Becky spoke with John Ridley, the screenwriter behind '12 Years a Slave' – who himself is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Ridley said that although writing the script was challenging, he had strong original material to work with – in the form of Solomon Northup's memoir.
"Solomon's memoir is a truly special document. The way he speaks, the eloquence, the depth of reportage, at a time when many Americans were not familiar with the institution of slavery," Ridley said.
Becky asked Ridley about one of the main criticisms of the film – its depiction of brutal violence. Ridley says that response from viewers tells him the filmmakers have done their job in making audiences aware. "We had no idea what the system of slavery is like, and for a lot of us our recollection of slavery is 'Gone with the Wind.' It's 'Song of the South.' It's 'Birth of a Nation. And for people to genuinely – not in a dismissive way – say 'this is powerful stuff' – it really sort of tells me that we as people have not done a very good job at educating ourselves on what it takes to enslave people."
Many of the graves are completely hidden by undergrowth, ivy snaking its way around the crumbling headstones. An abandoned cemetery in south west London is an unlikely location for a gathering of football insiders early on a cold December morning. They’ve gathered to pay tribute to the man they call the founding father of modern football.
One hundred and fifty years ago Ebenezer Morley and a group of football enthusiasts created the Football Association, the body that would oversee the game in England until this day and would set a precedent for the global professional sport. After a series of rowdy meetings, Morley led his first FA committee to agree on the thirteen “Laws of the Game”: common rules for all teams to abide by.
These laws included many of the rules we recognise today: the definition of a goal, outlawing handball and banning tripping. But others give an idea of the chaos of nineteenth century football: “No player shall wear projecting nails … on the soles or heels of his boots”.
The first match under these new rules was played in London on December 19th 1863 between Morley’s Barnes team and neighbouring Richmond. It was an unspectacular event that ended in a goalless draw, but it set the way for the rise of the game that is now the most played and watched in the world. The original laws still form the basis for football around the globe. The parks, streets and fields where, on FIFA’s last estimate, 265 million people around the world regularly play.
Becky went to find out more about Ebenezer Morley – the man who revolutionized the game of football – and to see the very book in which he first penned the rules of the “beautiful game”.
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