Originally published in fDi magazine February/March 2012

Larry Claunch probably has one of the world’s most breathtaking commutes into work. The American businessman, who moved to Fiji 10 years ago and owns four islands in the northern reaches of country, flies several times a month by private seaplane over the exquisite greenish-blue tropical waters for business meetings on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. While Mr. Claunch openly admits he loathes leaving his tropical island paradise for long periods of time, he’s pretty excited for the casino license that his company, One Hundred Sands, was granted by the Fijian government last December. It is the first gaming license the government has given and it means One Hundred Sands will hold the exclusive rights to operate up to three casino gaming facilities in two locations. The $290 million (Fijian) investment will break ground in March on Denarau Island—close to the country’s main airport in Nadi—and will include 2,700 square meters of casino space, 500 slot machines, 57 game tables and an exclusive 160 square meters high stakes gaming area. The luxury property—at the end of island that is also home to exclusive hotels like Sofitel, Hilton and Westin—will also include 190 hotel rooms and villas, a 1500 seat conference space, an outdoor amphitheatre, two pools, two bars and a nightclub. A second phase of the resort will add an extra 200 hotel rooms, golf course apartments and a themed water park. Read more

SUVA, Fiji— Though it has been more than 15 years since Korovou Vakaloloma built a traditional Fijian canoe, he does not need to refer to any blueprints.

“It’s all right here, eh,” he said with a laugh, pointing at his head and continuing to sand the boat’s mahogany hull.

Mr. Vakaloloma, 61, who is from the island of Ogea in the southern Lau archipelago of Fiji, has spent the last few months in the boatyard at the School of Maritime Studies, part of Fiji National University, working on a prototype for a new canoe that could be both economically and environmentally sustainable for the island nation. Read more


LONDON — It was little wonder that Mila Turajlic looked a tad weary during a recent interview in a London cafe.

The 32-year-old Serbian documentary filmmaker had flown overnight from Chicago and was off again the next day for short trips to Portugal, France, Prague and Belgrade before returning to the United States to promote her documentary, “Cinema Komunisto.”

The film, which won Best Documentary at the Chicago International Film Festival, tells the story of the golden years of the Yugoslav film industry, from the 1950s to the 1980s. Ms. Turajlic, however, believes that the best days of filmmaking for the countries of the former Yugoslavia — Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo — may still lie ahead. “I think there is a fresh energy in the Balkans in terms of filmmaking,” said Ms. Turajlic, sipping her tea. “So this is an exciting time.” Read more


originally published on 16.2.2011 on Global Post

Adrian Ghenie, a master of dark, surrealist painting, has an east London studio flooded with light from large windows and scattered with bright tubes of paint. In fact the Transylvanian artist is pretty jolly himself. And why wouldn’t he be? A darling of the international art scene, Ghenie now has a solo exhibition in Ghent, Belgium and more in the works.

Ghenie isn’t the only Romanian hitting the global marquee. Since the mid-1990s, compatriots including Victor Man, Ioana Nemes and Ciprian Muresan have burst onto the art scene. They are matched by colleagues in film, music and design. Read more

(originally published in Newsweek–October 15 2010)

Three years ago, during a stopover in Hong Kong on the way home from Australia to Poland, Slawomir Swierzynski and his bandmate popped into a karaoke bar in search of a drink. The place did not sell alcohol, but it did have a stage and microphone. So the two men—members of the band Bayer Full—jumped onstage and had a go. The local Chinese crowd went mad for their music. After performing three songs, the duo handed out several of their CDs to the audience and left to catch their flight. Read more