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Nisimazine A Magazine by NISI MASA, European Network Of Young Cinema

30//11//11

editorial

photo by Lucille Caballero

Ein zentrales Problem bei der Produktion politischer Dokumentarfilme ist meistens ein ganz praktisches: Politische Prozesse nehmen meistens keine Rücksicht auf den Drehplan des Filmemachers, im Ernstfall kann man immer nur reagieren – oder eben nicht. Dass dasselbe auch für Dokumentarfilmfestivals gilt, wurde bei der gestrigen Eröffnung von One World Bratislava klar. Eigentlich sollte die slowakische Premierministerin Iveta Radičova das Festival eröffnen–

wenn da nicht besagte Eigendynamik der Politik wäre. Bis zu unserem Druckschluss blieb es spannend, ob sie diesen Termin im Angesicht einer mittelschweren nationalen Krise einhalten können würde. Eröffnet wurde das Festival trotzdem und so können wir uns auch in der zweiten Ausgabe von Nisimazine den Arbeiten einiger FilmemacherInnen widmen, die die Kamera zum rechten Zeitpunkt am richtigen Ort auf solche

dynamischen Prozesse richten konnten: Inside Disaster: Haiti begibt sich mitten in die katastrophale Situation auf Haiti nach dem Erdbeben 2010, während sich Poster Girl eher mit unsichtbaren psychologischen Dynamiken unter der Hochglanzoberfläche eines Werbeplakats widmet. Im heutigen Fokus Burma stehen zwei Filme im Mittelpunkt, die sowohl hinter die sprichwörtlichen und die ganz realen Mauern der Diktatur zu blicken versuchen, die den Menschenrechten

in Burma engste Grenzen setzen. Und schließlich spricht die Filmemacherin Alka Sadat über ihre aktuellen Arbeiten und die praktischen Schwierigkeiten bei deren Produktion. Und auch die übrigen Filme und Diskussionen im Programm versprechen einen spannenden Festivaltag voller unvorhersehbaren Dynamiken. Jens Geiger


reviews

Dievča z plagátu Sara Nesson, Spojenè štáty americké

Inside Disaster: Haiti Nadine Pequeneza, Canada Le tremblement de terre qui secoua Haïti en janvier 2010 est l’une des plus terrible catastrophes naturelles vécues par l’homme. Le bilan est impensable: 250 000 morts, 300 000 blessées, et 1,5 million de personnes sans abri. En regardant ces chiffres, il est difficile d’imaginer l’immensité de cette tragédie. Comment trouver les bons mots et images pour parler d’une telle catastrophe et expliquer la souffrance subie par la suite, sans tomber dans le pathos?

Dievča z plagátu rozpráva príbeh o vojačke, ktorá sa rozhodne vyjadriť svoju nespokojnosť a naštvanosť a popísať svoju premenu z optimistickej vojenskej fanúšičky na protivojnovú aktivistku. Robynn Murray je jednou z tristo tisíc veteránov a veteránok vojen v Iraku a v Afganistane trpiacich posttraumatickým syndrómom. Na ceste za vlastným sebapoznaním ju režisérka Sara Nesson sledovala dva roky, čím vzniklo silné dielo nominované na Oscara v kategórii Najlepší krátky dokumentárny film za rok 2010. Robynn pochádza z vojenskej rodiny a do armády vstúpila v roku 2003 bez toho, aby vedela, do čoho sa dala. Odchádza do Iraku ako dôstojníčka pre civilné záležitosti, aby pomáhala budovať školy, nemocnice, infraštruktúru. Avšak od druhého dňa nastupuje ako guľometníčka a jej optimizmus sa stratí rýchlosťou blesku. Stáva sa svedkom zabíjania civilného obyvateľstva a postupne zisťuje, že je na zlej strane. Po návrate do Spojených štátov začína trpieť depresiami a úzkosťami a myšlienkami na samovraždu, a nakoniec sa nezvláda sa zapojiť do ‘normálneho’ života, čo lieči alkoholom a liekmi. Avšak Robynn nájde spôsob, ako vyhrať nad svojimi psychickými nočnými morami, a touto cestou je umenie. Sama seba rekonštruuje písaním básní a svojmu telu dá hlas vytváraním

umeleckým objektov z vojenských uniforiem a tetovaním. Motív finančných problémov hlavnej predstaviteľky, byrokratické vojenské zdravotníctvo a jej súboj za normálny život sa navzájom prepletajú a tvoria hlavnú dejovú linku filmu. Vojnové zábery sa striedajú so zábermi obyčajného života v Spojených štátoch, s ktorým Robynn zápasí. Vojna proti terorizmu je bežným námetom súčasných dokumentárnych filmov, avšak nie často sa stane, že je rozprávaná z pohľadu ženskej veteránky. Robynnin otvorený popis vojnového násilia, jej sklamanie vojenským systémom, ako aj úprimná výpoveď o jej psychickom stave poukazujú na novú stránku veci: diškurzy, v ktorých sa vlastné ja musí od nuly vybudovať a rekonštruovať, aby mohlo ďalej existovať v post-vojnovom svete. A tak osobnosť a silný hlas hlavnej predstaviteľky spolu s rozprávačským umením režisérky Sary Nesson spoluvytvárajú osobitý a silný dokument o následkoch vojny v Iraku zanechaných nielen na obetiach, ale aj na vojakoch a vojačkách samotných. Michaela Pňačeková

La réalisatrice Nadine Pequeneza choisit de raconter le terrible évènement du point de vue d’un groupe de volontaires de la Croix Rouge internationale. En suivant ce groupe qui tente tant bien que mal de s’organiser dans le chaos total, nous découvrons petit à petit la taille du désastre. Ainsi, nous aurons accès uniquement à un couple de témoignages parmi les millions de réfugiés qui existent. A travers un petit morceau, on devrait être capable de concevoir le tout. La question des cadavres restant incontournable (250 000 personnes ont étaient écrasées par les ruines), il est tout de même nécessaire de dégager les corps et de les enterrer correctement, afin d’éviter les complications d’hygiène. Mais alors, combien doiton montrer dans un film et combien doit-on cacher ? Pequeneza trouve un compromis très intéressant. Une fois l’extraction de plusieurs cadavres montrée, elle donne immédiatement la parole à l’un des témoins de la scène, qui avoue : «maintenant on peut les voir, maintenant ils sont là». Malheureusement, à cause du style narratif choisi, le documentaire devient rapidement une espèce de film catastrophe. Le chef de l’équipe deviendra le héro du film, celui qui n’abandonnera jamais; le sage mais sympathique vieux volontaire aura le rôle d’assistant du héro; et bien sûr, la belle et jeune volontaire sera courageuse à côté des réfugiées, mais vulnérable aussi. On les verra partager des moments durs, héroïques, mais drôles parfois aussi. De plus, le choix d’inclure des entretiens filmés en studio consolide la connotation fictionnelle du film. Les volontaires racontent leurs souvenirs en plan serré et avec un décor légèrement flou et nuageux, ce qui contribue à rendre irréel le récit. Le besoin de maquiller des images réelles ici nous semble totalement inutile et déplacé ici, et surtout, très dommage. Lydia Castellano


// NISIMAZINE BRATISLAVA

WEDNESday 30 November 2011//# 2 A magazine published by the NISI MASA in the framework

from This Prison Where I Live by Rex Bloomstein

of a film journalism workshop for young Europeans Avec le soutien du Fonds franco-allemand en pays tiers, de l’Institut Francais et du Goethe Institut

EDITORIAL STAFF Director of Publication Matthieu Darras Editor-in-Chief/Layout Maartje Alders Editor Jude Lister VIDEO TUTOR Severine Beaudot Contributors to this issue Lucille Caballero, Lydia Castellano Jens Geiger, Michaela Pnacekova

NISI MASA 99 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010, Paris, France. Phone: +33 (0)9 60 39 63 38

Burmese Resistance

in Cannes: +33 (0) 6 32 61 70 26 europe@nisimasa.com, www.nisimasa.com

// Action over Heroism

Imagine waking up one day, getting dressed, eating your breakfast, and then hearing the phone ring. Fearfully, you pick up the receiver and before speaking, you think twice just in case you say something inappropriate and the conversation is being recorded. You speak quietly too, because someone might be listening through the door. Now stop and search on a map of the world the possible places where people have to live in such conditions today, in 2011. One might be the country of two names: Myanmar (for the military dictatorship and for the UN since 1989) and Burma (for ex-colonizers). It is no secret that Myanmar has been a living hell for several decades now. Every year, newspapers inform us about crimes against humanity which are taking place there. Recently, there was the peaceful 2007 Saffron Revolution - in which civilians and monks were killed, the 2008 typhoon - during which there were 250 000 deaths and international help was blocked by the Burmese government, and the 2010 rigged elections. Even if many NGOs are trying to improve the situation, Myanmar hasn’t faced any kind of official warning or embargo. The documentary Into the Current: Burma’s Political Prisoners by Jeanne Hallacy summarises recent Burmese history by putting a spotlight on the active resistance which uses non-violent methods against the dictatorship, both from the inside and the outside. The peaceful struggle for the right to freedom of speech in Myanmar is the central subject here. Nevertheless, the fact that the film lists

a mass of absurd and dreadful sentences imposed by the authorities gives an image of these activists which is tantamount to martyrdom: a characterisation which is more than a little uncomfortable. It seems that in order for us to understand that a dictatorship is something wrong and that we have to stop it, Hallacy needs to give us the example of people who consent to be hurt in the fight against the system. Yet a dictatorship is something wrong in itself, and absurd sentences are a direct consequence of it. Activists are subjected to punishment, not the opposite. It’s interesting then to think about another documentary, This prison where I live by Rex Bloomstein. With an unashamedly British way of making nonfiction, the director focuses on the figure of Zarganar, a famous Burmese comedian. The story is built as follows: Bloomstein narrates in the first person that he wishes to make a documentary about Zar-

focus

ganar. The latter is presented as a hero, because he fights the dictatorship by creating and distributing controversial comic films, sketches, written works and songs. Bloomstein thinks his subject is an extremely courageous person. But when he shares this feeling with the comic, the reaction is one of surprise: is he a courageous person because of his work? Zarganar disagrees. For him, the essential thing to report is the action of bringing democracy to Myanmar, no matter who succeeds in doing it. The action is more important than the subject. In this case, one can’t help but wonder if it’s really necessary in a documentary about common action against a dictatorship to use the main characterhero-martyr figure as a way of explaining a sociopolitical situation. Could it be possible to make a film without this traditional narrative structure, in order to better fit what is happening in real life? Let’s face it; in a world with 7 billion individuals, it’s not realistic for one person to represent the whole. A network-like narrative might better suit the depiction of a real crisis event, and without pathos. Just one current example is the excellent and innovative Standby Task Force Online Volunteer Community for Live Mapping. Collecting and combining information from citizen reports, the association has created an interactive visual crisis map for response and recovery. The aim is to connect calls for help to aid providers, and vice versa. Here, as Zarganar feels, the action of making links is more important than the subject who made them. Even if this is too abstract to transform directly into a documentary narrative yet, it might be a first step to creating a new kind of storytelling in non-fiction films. But of course, if you are looking for a traditional melodramatic spectacle, please help yourself to feature films such as Luc Besson’s latest fiction, The Lady. By Lydia Castellano


interview

Alka Sadat

Director of Half Value Life (Afghanistan)

Alka Sadat’s 25-minute work Half Value Life (2009) is one of the films in the Jeden Svet Festival’s Female World section. In this poetic and poignant documentary we have the opportunity to meet mistreated young girls through the daily work of Marya Basher, the first woman in Afghanistan to have become a senior provincial investigating officer. 25-year-old filmmaker Alka Sadat was born in Herat, Afghanistan. Together with her sister Roya Sadat, she founded the Roya Film House production company and has already won several awards with her own moving documentaries (Aljazeera Interna-

tional Documentary Film Festival 2011, Women’s Voices Now Film Festival Los Angeles 2011, Bilder vom Film Festival 2008, International Film Festival Trevignano 2007, International Film Festival Almata 2006).

Why did you start making documentaries? My dream was to become a journalist but during the Taliban’s reign, girls were not permitted to go to school. I had never watched any documentary film, but when I was 17, in 2003, I got the chance to make my first short documentary. Since then, I have liked shooting real things. It is extremely useful for Afghan women to shoot their daily life problems, and above all, the way to correct them.

Alka Sadat was invited by the festival to come to Bratislava and share her experience with us. Nisimazine planned a meeting with her here this week, but unfortunately because of a last-minute visa problem she was unable to attend. Nevertheless, we decided to get over geographical borders and make the interview by Skype, even with the most unstable internet connexion imaginable...

Do you make fiction films too? Yes, I have made a short film called We are all postmodern, about a young boy expressing his feelings - without speaking - to a young girl with a burka. And I am now finishing the editing of two other films: a comedy about family matters, and another about children. We have a lot of problems here in Afghanistan because we don’t have any kind of family law. The government should help us fix this, but it is very difficult now. It’s for this reason that I do prefer to make documentaries instead of fictions, in order to talk in the best way possible about real social problems in Afghanistan. Are your documentaries available in your country? It is possible to screen them in pu-

blic places like at festivals, but they are forbidden on TV. I can imagine how it would be hard to produce films at the moment. Is this the reason you and your sister decided to create a production company? Yes, it is very hard to find and get money here. It is better to have some international help with coproductions, for instance. Are there other independent production companies in Afghanistan? We are not the only ones, there are more production companies working here - but mostly with foreign people working for them. Very few are Afghan companies. Do you plan to keep working in Afghanistan, or do you wish to travel and work in other countries too? When I was staying at Fabrica, the Benetton group communications research center in Italy, I met a lot of people from different countries and I learnt a lot of things. I have kept very happy memories of this time. So yes, my dream is to work in other countries too one day, not only Afghanistan... By Lydia Castellano


Nisimazine Bratislava #2