Posts Tagged Netflix

The Swimmers: Movie Review


The Swimmers on Netflix

Movie, The Swimmers on @Netflix is a heart-rending true story that centers around the Issa family of Syria. Directed by Sally El Hosaini, the film stars real-life sisters Nathalie Issa as Yusra Mardini and Manal Issa as Sara Mardini. Other stars include Ahmed Malek in the role of their cousin Nizar, Matthias Schweighofer as Sven, Ali Suliman as Ezzat Mardini, Kinda Alloush as Mervat Mardini. 

Yusra and Sara lived in war torn Syria and like typical teens, they focused on school and parties. Their father Ezzat was a swimming champion and coached his two older daughters, Yusra, Sara and his youngest daughter, hoping to help them make it to the Olympics.  He advised his girls, “forget everything and everyone – in the water you are on your own. Focus on the goal you want to achieve”. Yusra was immensely goal focused. And yet the realities of the war cannot be ignored. Some of their friends died in the bombings and sometimes bombs landed so close that they were lucky to survive. Sara was more spontaneous, a risk taker, independent minded and never felt limited by external boundaries. Sara made a case to her parents that she and Yusra should make their way to Turkey and from there to Europe and try to enter Germany and with Germany’s open door policy for Syrian refugees, obtain refugee status and seek asylum for the whole family.

After getting their cousin Nizar ready to go with them the girls managed to convince the parents to permit them to undertake the perilous journey.  The film documents their perilous journey from Syria to Turkey via plane, then on foot and bus to the coast, then via boat to Greece then on to Macedonia, through Serbia, Hungary, and Austria to Germany.  As the three young people make their way to Germany, they pay smugglers hefty sums of money, meet others in similar circumstances and make new friends like Shada (Nahel Tzegai), Emad (James Krishna Floyd), Bilal (Elmi Rashid Elmi) and others from various countries including Eretria, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia and more. Often their safety and their life is in serious jeopardy and in the end, some of them make it, some are caught to be sent back, and some sadly, perish on the way.

After finding refuge in Berlin, Yusra’s challenging path to swim at the Rio Olympics in 2016 begins with coach Sven while Sara is contemplating her future role in helping other refugees in their own journeys. 

The former President compared refugees to murderers and rapists and it simply shows massive ignorance and lack of understanding of how immensely perilous their journeys often are. Very rarely criminal elements will attempt such harrowing travel, to reach a destination where they can find new roots and live an honest life. When law and order is breaking down in war torn regions, criminal elements find plenty of opportunities, even as ordinary citizens lose livelihoods, limbs, lives and loved ones. 

In 2015 alone, nearly a million refugees and migrants arrived on the European shores, fleeing persecution, violence and conflicts. Currently there are 30 million people living as refugees worldwide. Nearly 6 million Syrians are estimated to have become refugees since 2011. Half of all the world’s refugees are under the age of 18. German Chancellor Merkel often asked for a coordinated world response to the refugee crisis. Understandably, every nation cannot take in every person fleeing a war torn region, every time. And yet, humanity cannot naively turn a blind eye to the plight of innocent people and what they have to endure simply because of the accident of their birth. 

This is an inspiring movie that shows the plight of real people leaving their homes and livelihoods so they can survive and their children get a chance to grow up. Sharing about the actual filming of the movie, the director said, “We quickly realized that the most authentic way was to do it for real. We really put a boat on the water and filled it with 25 people; there were children, there was a baby, we set sail, and filmed it for real”. People actually threw up in the choppy waters and there were people who had actually taken the harrowing journey themselves. Interwoven in the larger story around the refugee crisis, are human stories of various people including heart-rending dynamics of interpersonal ups and downs between two sisters with diverse mindsets and life goals and how they persevere to reach their goals. Both sisters now work in different capacities to shed light on the plight of the refugees and say that the filming of the movie helped them better understand one another and brought them closer.  On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie 4.8 and it’s currently streaming on #Netflix.

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Diversity & Inclusion Data in Netflix Productions


Netflix shares D&I data in its productions

Netflix, Computer, Snacking, Cushion

What has entertainment got to do with diversity and inclusion? Actually plenty. As a Diversity & Inclusion training provider, I was thrilled to see Netflix keeping track and providing D&I data in its productions. Diversity promotes inclusion, appeals to a larger audience, and gives people a chance to learn about different cultures. Recently, the streaming giant Netflix commissioned a study to look at its own 2018 and 2019 productions. The study analyzed 126 movies and 180 series released during 2018 and 2019.

Findings are not only striking and breath-taking but inspirational. The study found that fifty-two percent of Netflix films and series in 2018 and 2019 had girls or women in starring roles and 35.7 percent of all Netflix leads during this time came from underrepresented groups, compared with 28 percent in the top 100 grossing theatrical films. 

An example is #BridgertonOnNetflix that not only casts women and under-represented groups but also tackles race and gender in interesting and contrasting ways. In this period drama series, set in Regency England, a color blind society emerges in sharp contrast to a gender biased one.. Following a wedding between their white king and black queen, the society has achieved true racial equality. On the other hand, gender is left alone. So here, “a wayward touch or heaven forbid a kiss would banish any young lady from a society in a trail of ruin” and yet all the delicate issues pertaining to women’s honor are considered men’s affairs and it then becomes men’s duty to solve these issues, sometimes through deadly duels. Sarcastic wit is both entertaining and illuminating.  My review is at link https://bit.ly/2KbVyzr .

Or consider Never Have I Ever, coming of age drama series. Fifteen year old heroine, Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) is an insightful teenager. Stereotypes are tackled with sarcasm. When she tells her therapist that she wants to have sex with a hot kid in the class, in order to join the grownup world, her therapist assures her that he may be hot but he still has problems. To that Devi replies, “Hot people don’t have problems. I have seen people in your waiting room — they are mostly uggos”.  Clever use of sarcasm in another netflix serial, Kim’s Convenience also helps break down stereotypes and stars as Korean family, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Jean Yoon, Andrea Bang, and Simu Liu. 

And then there are other films like the movie “Sir”, starring Tilotama Shome & Vivk Gomber. With understated dialogues and masterful use of silences, the movie brings in the forefront crucial issues of class and caste in Indian society. Here is link to my review  https://bit.ly/38NehLe . In Hillbilly Elegy, (link to my review https://bit.ly/3qgHEeR),  light shines on the chief divides in the USA, poverty and its accompanying scourges, social isolation, lack of medical resources, drug use and religious and political divides.  

Movies and serials on Netflix still do have glaring deficiencies in achieving better gender and racial parity. For instance, 96 percent of stories did not have any women onscreen who identify as American Indian/ Native Alaskan, 68.3 percent of the content evaluated did not include a speaking role for a Latina and LGBTQ characters were often marginalized.

Group of children smiling and looking at the camera diversity Group of children smiling and looking at the camera Child Stock Photo

What is interesting however, is that the streaming site is paying close attention to the issues of diversity and inclusion in entertainment and acknowledges the importance of its role in changing things in society.  Netflix’s film chief, Scott Stuber acknowledged its importance and Netflix’s chief executive Ted Sarandos said, “the company is committed to releasing a new report every two years through 2026”. He further said, “our hope is to create a benchmark for ourselves, and more broadly across the industry”.

This is leadership. And I can’t wait to hear Netflix co-founder, chairman and co-Chief Executive Officer, Reed Hastings speak at #TiEcon2021. I hope he will speak to the issue of the importance of diversity and inclusion in entertainment. I hope he will also share how and  in what other ways Netflix is taking this seriously in how it weaves in D&I internally. Register for www.tiecon.org for the virtual tiecon and May 6-8, 2021. With an exemplary lineup of keynotes, speakers and panelists, you will not want to miss the virtual conference. 

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Sir – Movie Review


Writer/ Director Rohena Gera’s Hindi, English and Marathi language movie “Sir” was released at Cannes Film Festival and at New York Indian Film Festival in 2019 and is released in theaters in November, 2020. 

Sir movie review: A courageous traverse into difficult territory |  Entertainment News,The Indian Express

Movie centers around Ratna (Tilotama Shome) who got married and widowed at a very young age and her circumstances boxed her inside a life void of dreams. However, in the hope of saving money in feeding an idle mouth, her family from the village allowed her to work as a maid in Mumbai. This allowed Ratna to both nurse her dreams as well as save money to help her younger sister complete her education. Ratna herself hopes to be a fashion designer. 

Ratna works as a domestic worker in the home of Ashwin (Vivek Gomber) who has recently returned from the USA, after the untimely death of his younger brother. Ashwin’s guests rarely see beyond Ratna’s status, though Ashwin is a kind man. Ratna may not be highly educated and may not be very articulate in her speech. But Ratna has pride, resilience and persistence that can generate respect in anyone, if only they see beyond her status and class. 

Here is a brief dialog between Ashwin and his friend that is rather ordinary from one angle and also extraordinary from a different viewpoint.

Friend: she is your maid
Ashwin: Put that aside for a minute
Friend: How? How can you put that aside?

I won’t say more about the film although there also isn’t much in the plot or the storyline to give away.  The beauty of the film lies in the masterful use of silence and understated dialogues between people divided by uncrossable red lines, considered sacred by the society. Equally understated ending is at the same time beautiful and brilliant. While to some extent, it may be up to luck and only time may tell what fruits are borne by romance and love, enabling someone to do better, to help them fulfill their dreams, to assist them in upgrading their status, is an undisputed act of love.

Sir movie is streaming on @Netflix and on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie 4.4.

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નિયતિ ની દીકરીઓ (Daughters of Destiny) – સીરીયલ સમીક્ષા


સફળતા શું છે?

Shanti Bhavan (@ShantiBhavan) | Twitter

કાળી મજૂરી કરતી અને માથા ઉપર પાણા ઉપાડતી વિધવા મા ની દીકરી જયારે ભણીગણી ને વકીલ બને ત્યારે આપણે તેને સફળતા માનીએ ખરું ને? પણ ત્યારે કોઈ તેને કહે કે અમે તેને સફળતા નહિ ગણીએ તો આપણને વિસ્મયતા થાય। સત્ય ઘટના ઉપર આધારિત ડોટર્સ ઓફ ડેસ્ટીની ઉર્ફ નિયતિ ની દીકરીઓ નામની સીરીઅલ માં આ વાત નું વર્ણન છે.

ડૉક્ટર જોર્જ ભારત થી અમેરિકા શિક્ષણ માટે આવ્યા અને ત્યાર બાદ એક કંપની શરુ કરી. ખુબ સફળ એ કંપની વેંચીને પૈસા બનાવ્યા બાદ તેઓ પૈસા લઈને ભારત પાછા ફર્યા અને શાંતિ ભવન શાળાની સ્થાપના કરી. બાળકો ભણવા આવે અને પાછા પોતાના ઘરે જતા રહે તે તેમની સ્થિતિ માં શક્ય જ નહોતું. ઘણા બાળકો ઝૂંપડામાં રહેતા હતા, ભણવા માટે એકાંત, વીજળી વગેરેની વ્યવસ્થા નહોતી, ઘણા બાળકો ઉપર સાત, આઠ વર્ષે માતાપિતા ના કામ માં મદદ કરવાનું દબાણ રહેતું. અને તે ઉપરાંત આ બાળકોને કોઉન્સેલિંગ, મેન્ટરીંગ અને એક્સટ્રા કૅરીક્યુલર એકટીવિટીસ ની પણ જરૂર હતી. આજુબાજુના સૌથી ગરીબ દલિત બાળકોને સર્વોત્તમ ભણતર, સાંસ્કૃતિક શિક્ષણ સાથે તેમના રહેવાની વ્યવસ્થા કરી. પછી ઝૂંપડીમાં જઈને ગરીબ માં બાપ પાસે તેમના બાળકો ને શાંતિ ભવનને સોંપી દેવાની વિનંતી કરી. એવા માતાપિતા જે કોઈ પણ સમયે પોતાના બાળકોનું ભલું ઇચ્છતા હોય છે તેમણે પોતાના દિલ ઉપર પથ્થર રાખીને તેમના નાના નાના ભુલકાઓને શાંતિ ભવન શાળા માં ઉછેરવા માટે સોંપી દીધા. બાળકો વર્ષમાં બે વખત પોતાના ઘરે વેકેશન ગાળવા જતા અને તે સિવાયનું બધુજ શિક્ષણ અંગ્રેજીમાં લઇ અને પછી શાંતિ ભવન ના ખર્ચે કોલેજ માં ભણવા ગયા. અને ત્યાર બાદ તેમને સારી સારી નોકરી ઓ મળી. ત્યારે ડોક્ટર જોર્જે બાળકોને કહ્યું કે તમે આ તમારી સિદ્ધિને સફળતા નહિ માનતા.

તમે જે ભણતર અને નાગરિકી શિક્ષણ પ્રાપ્ત કર્યું છે તેના દ્વારા માત્ર તમારી જિંદગી માં તમે વ્યવસાયિક અને ભૌતિક રીતે સ્થાયી થાઓ, જિંદગીમાં ક્યારેય ન પ્રાપ્ત કર્યું હોય તેને મેળવી શકો તે તમારા નસીબ અને અમારી ખુશી. ભારત માં તો કહેવાય છે કે વિધાતા લેખ લખે તેને કોઈ ટાળી નથી શકતું. અને છતાં પણ તમને મદદ મળી ત્યારે તેમાં તમારી અખંડ પરિશ્રમ નું મિશ્રણ કરીને વિધિએ લખેલ લેખ ને તમે બદલી શક્યા। તમારી ખુશી અને આ આનંદ ના પ્રસંગે અમે તમારી જોડે જોડાઈએ છીએ અને આનંદ અનુભવીએ છીએ. પણ અહીં અટકતા નહિ. આ સફળતા નથી. અમે તમારી ખરી સફળતા ત્યારે ગણીશું જયારે તમે ઓછા માં ઓછા બીજા સો બાળકોને જિંદગીમાં આગળ લાવો અને તેમના નસીબ ને બદલવામાં મદદ કરો.

પેલી વકીલ છોકરીએ શું કર્યું? તેણે વકીલાત શરુ કરતા જ સૌથી પહેલો કેસ લીધો તેની વિધવા માં માટેનો અને તેની સાથે 30 વર્ષ થી પથ્થર ની ખાણ માં પથ્થર કાપતા અને ત્યાંજ રહેતા બધા મજૂરોનો। દરેક કુટુંબને તેના હકની જમીન, મકાન, દાક્તરી સગવડ અને બાળકો માટે શાળાની સગવડ માટે ની કોર્ટ માં અરજી કરતો તે કેશ આગળ વધી રહ્યો છે. જિંદગીમાં સફળતાનો કોઈ માપદંડ નથી અને કોઈની સફળતાને આધારે કે તેની સરખામણી કરતા આપણી સફળતા નક્કી નથી થતી. બલ્કે જિંદગીમાં આપણી સફળતા શું છે તે તેની અસર ને આધારે અને આપણા સિદ્ધાંત પ્રમાણે આપણે જ નક્કી કરવાનું છે. આ સીરીઅલ નેટફ્લિક્સ માં જોવા મળી શકશે.

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Cloud-based eClinical Systems – Myths, Challenges & Opportunities


Al Gicqueau, CEO & President at Clinovo talked about Cloud-based eClinical Systems to make clinical trial process more efficient and cost-effective, at www.bio2devicegroup.org event.

Cloud has been a big buzz word, significantly impacting the economy, in the last few years.  Cloud is growing 3X faster than traditional internet infrastructure, said Gicqueau.  Worldwide public cloud services market will total to over $73 billion, by 2017.  There is also simultaneous cloud-bashing.  According to Citrix research, majority of the Americans don’t understand it and over 51% think it has something to do with the stormy weather.  Most also believe they have never used it but over 95% of us have used cloud based services.

It is therefore important to understand what constitutes cloud based services.  There are 5 essential components of cloud based services.
Self Service, On Demand: Cloud based services are available, when the consumer needs them.  Further, for the most part  they are autonomous and the user can perform the actions without going through the IT department.  They are easy to use and on-site training will increasingly become a thing of the past.  Any training required has to be available on-line and has to be very short and for the most part the service has to be intuitive and should not require training.
Broad Network Access: Cloud based services provide a broad internet access.  For instance, consider gmail.  It can be accessed through desktop, laptop, tablet, smart phone etc.  Cloud based services enable an ability to easily synchronize information over multiple devices.
Resource Pooling: Amount of traffic over the internet is rapidly growing. Because of the distributed nature of the internet, there is no single point of measurement for total internet traffic.  But it is a fact that the total global IP traffic will pass the zettabyte threshold by the end of 2015.  By the year 2017, the total internet traffic is expected to reach 5.3 zettabytes.  To put it in perspective, if the 11 oz coffee on your desk equals one gigabyte, a zettabyte will have the same volume as the great wall of China!  Cloud based services enable customers to pool their resources and save cost.

Rapid Elasticity: In the world of internet activity there are lot of peaks and valleys.  Cloud can scale based on demand peaks, without incurring penalty for the period of low traffic.
Measured Service: Cloud offers and ability to pay as you go.  People can pay for the internet infrastructure as they pay for electricity.
Some of the examples of cloud based services include, SalesForce, Netflix, Gmail and Amazon.

Clinical Data Trends

Spiraling costs have been a grave concern in healthcare.  Typically, efficiency has not been very high in the area of healthcare. Costs of clinical trials is likely to increase even more significantly, in future, on account of increasing costs of medical research and changing and tightening regulations, among other things.  Increased costs for clinical trials will push the cost of drugs higher.  On the other hand, there is strong public criticism of higher costs of medicines and there is a lot of pressure on drug companies to contain costs.  Companies have pressure to cut the middle layers and manage clinical trials on their own.  Citing CISCRP (Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation) study, Gicqueau said, currently, only 6% of clinical trials are completed on time, whereas 72% run late by over a month.

Compliance issues and regulations specified in 21 CFR, part 11, prohibit use of public cloud, for clinical data.  Clinical data has to be stored in a private cloud.  Clinovo’s ClinCapture is a cost-effective EDC (electronic data capture) system.  It is tailored to specific clinical studies teams and offers intuitive navigation and one-click access to routine functions.  It reduces time for data entry.  ClinCapture is also flexible and can be customized and deployed rapidly.  “We validate our software like medical devices are validated”, said Gicqueau.

Mobile is next major trend, as more data entries are happening through tablets and smart phones.  Tables are also very useful in remote regions of the world where cell phone reception may be spotty or non existent, where information can be easily synchronized later.  Data entries can also be structured  by getting patients involved.  Data integration is another big challenge.  Everyone hopes to make sense of the data and make meaningful use of the data.  However, making sense of the data and putting it to good use remains expensive.  Gicqueau said, meaningful data integration is another promise of the cloud.

Clinovo is launching CloudClinica, next generation, cloud-based eClinical platform.  With its easy to use, pay as you go platform, CloudClinica will eliminate IT dependency and allow small companies  to manage clinical studies in a sophisticated manner, without high level programming skills.  About 30% of cost and 60% of time associated with clinical trials is about data management, and almost 80% of clinical trials are still conducted on paper, said Gicqueau.  Paper has many pitfalls.  Paper can get lost, it is inefficient, there is challenge of mis-reading someone’s handwriting, it has regulatory risks and other hidden costs.  CloudClinica is FDA compliant and it can scale.

HomeClinovo had revenues of over $4 million in 2013 and raised $500,000 from business angels over the last few months to execute on their business strategy.   The company is profitable, and has 30+ clients that include Gilead, Roche and others.  Clinovo is now targeting small to mid-size companies, said Gicqueau.  Current market of $2.3 billion can be rapidly growing in the coming years.  MediData and Oracle are two dominant players but are relatively more pricey.    Clinovo’s CloudClinica will fill in the gap and broaden the use of eClinical systems and will empower and bolster the biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies, said Gicqueau.  The event was followed by Q&A.

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