Reporters on the Job

Cool reception: Reporter Dan Murphy and his team in Iraq found out firsthand how much ill-feeling can be generated by terrorist attacks like those that struck the two main Kurdish parties in Arbil Sunday. Driving north from Baghdad with the Monitor's Arab driver and interpreter, the three men were searched three times once they reached Kurd territory, and twice more inside the city. Requests for directions to party headquarters and other offices were typically greeted by five minutes of questions on why they wanted to know and requests for their passports. Previously, suspicion was low in the Kurdish areas.

"After getting stopped a few times, our interpreter began muttering under his breath about the unfriendly Kurds, and though none of us speak Kurdish, it seems the Kurdish police were muttering the same things under their breath about Arabs. In a small way, it's a reminder of the large ethnic gulfs here."

Screens of Rio: Reporter Andrew Downie says these are boom times for Brazilian cinema. "It started at the end of the 1990s with Walter Moreira Salles's 'Central Station,' says Andrew. That film - one of whose leads, a shoeshine boy in Rio, had never set foot in a cinema - turned heads at the Sundance Film Festival and won Best Film at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival.

Andrew points to a spate of successful recent documentaries, including "Bus 174," which took on a 2000 case of a man who hijacked a bus, and the docudrama "City of God," which has garnered four Oscar nominations.

The digital boom in Brazil, Andrew says, is expected to further boost local filmmakers. "It's mostly a gleam in the eye still, but aspiring producers won't need big backers or have to pay fortunes to make their film."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

Cultural snapshot
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