Bilal Qureshi

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's debut film, The Lives of Others, won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 2006, bringing the enduring trauma of Germany's recent history to international attention.

Set in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the film told the story of two artists who are monitored, surveilled and threatened by an East German intelligence officer. It was hailed as a groundbreaking film both abroad and in Germany for its blend of political history and cinematic drama.

"Rapturous," "Soaring," "Masterful!" It's that time of year again when critics use their hyperbolic best to preview the fall's most anticipated films. Starting at the end of August, studios show their Oscar hopefuls to accredited press across a trinity of prestigious film festivals – Venice, Telluride, and Toronto – the last of which concluded on Sunday night.

This story originally aired on Feb. 28, 2017 on All Things Considered.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Finally today, jazz pianist and composer Randy Weston died this weekend. He was 92 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF RANDY WESTON'S "HI-FLY")

At the height of the Cold War, the United States was also fighting a culture war. To counter Soviet propaganda, the U.S. State Department launched a public relations campaign called the Jazz Ambassadors program, sending Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Dave Brubeck and other leading jazz musicians on tours around the world.

Shahzia Sikander is one of the contemporary art world's most celebrated stars. She's projecting her hypnotic video installations onto Times Square billboards; she's led exhibitions at major art museums across the world; and she was recognized by the MacArthur Foundation as a "genius" fellow in 2006.

Here's a phrase you don't hear a lot in the US: "Pakistani pop music." In fact, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has a thriving music industry — and singer Zebunissa Bangash, or Zeb for short, is one of its stars.

There has been violence and threat to Pakistani culture since the country was founded 68 years ago, both for political and religious reasons. Zeb was never subjected to that scrutiny: She studied art history at college in the US before returning home to form a band with her cousin, Haniya. Their accessible pop songs found a devoted following.

Last night was Empire's season finale, and at one of D.C.'s biggest Empire watch parties, a sharply dressed crowd of hundreds is huddled around every flat-screen in The Stone Fish Grill Lounge downtown.

"Here we go! Here we go! Here we go, come on everyone! Round of applause!" shouts one of the hosts for the night. "It's Empire time!"