NISIMAZINE Friday, January 25, 2008
A Magazine Created By Nisi Masa, European Network Of Young Cinema
All White in Barking The aftermath of war Bruno Ulmer
In cooperation with: © ‘‘It happened just before’’ by Anja Salomonowitz (2006, Austria) Photo by Lukas Beck
uman beings can be categorised into two groups; those who stay in one place and those who seek new pastures. We’ve always had a hunger to discover new things; it is inherent in the human condition to want to improve one’s situation in life. Some, like Zinat in Ebrahim Mokhtari’s Zinat, One Special Day, seek intellectual freedom in a society that deems women to be unworthy and sinful. Others travel across continents to find a better life. In Welcome Europa (Bruno Ulmer) the vision of paradise in western countries is rudely dismantled. For, unfortunately, whenever you arrive in a new destination, whether mental or physical, there are always the inhabitants to face. Inhabitants like those in All White in Barking (Marc Isaacs), who are weary of the new coloured faces moving into their neighbourhood. It seems that we’re only curious about others when we are the ones seeking contact. Otherwise anything foreign or strange is scary and confrontational. We judge people by their descent, their sex, skin colour and age without even knowing anything about them. Categorising them into those who we deem safe, and those who we think to be dangerous. I guess it’s easier to put up a wall than to open up to new experiences from the outside. Why do we go on holiday to exotic locations, and yet get scared when people from these very same places come to our doorstep? Are they any different here than in their countries of origin? Whilst we close our eyes to real threats like the trafficking of women by our fellow countrymen (Anja Salmonowitz’s It Happened just before), the gentle black man and his family two doors down are ostracised. It’s time to open our eyes and look beyond all those barriers we put up. We’re all people after all, who live our lives as best we can. The international documentaries at the festival prove it.
Friday 25 January 2008 / # 3
A magazine published by the associations NISI MASA and Euphoria Borealis in cooperation with the DocPoint - Helsinki Documentary Film Festival and with the support of the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme of the European Union EDITORIAL STAFF (NM) Editor-in-chief Matthieu Darras Secretary of the editorial Jude Lister Layout Emilie Padellec English corrections Jude Lister Contributors to this issue Ariane Beauvillard, Mercedes Cubría, Zsuzsanna Kiràly, Marta Musso, Hanna Mironenko, Natasha Pavlovskaia, Itxaso E. Ramírez, Orkun Şahin COORDINATOR (EB) Lasse Lecklin ORGANISERS (EB) Eero Erkamo, Johanna Kinnari, Helena Mielonen, Atso Pärnänen, Kati Pietarinen Euphoria Borealis ry Vaasankatu 20 a B 35 00500 Helsinki +358 41 5251131 firstname.lastname@example.org www.euphoriaborealis.net NISI MASA 10 rue de l’Echiquier, 75010, Paris, France. + 33 (0)1 53 34 62 78 + 33 (0)6 32 61 70 26 email@example.com www.nisimasa.com
Itxaso Elosua Ramírez
YLE TV1 New Cinema proudly presents
IF I FALL director Hannaleena Hauru Nisi Masa script prize 2005
Nisimazine Helsinki ~ 25. 01. 2008 # 3
Film of the day All White in Barking By Marc Isaacs (UK, 2007)
Sue knows that her neighbours are from Albania, but she has no idea where this country is on the map. She and her husband would probably like to know their foreign neighbours better - they seem to be quite a sympathetic couple - but Sue doesn’t know how to make the first step. So, the director of the film pushes her and her husband into accepting an invitation to go round for dinner next door. Monty, a Jew who immigrated to Britain many years ago, is the one who really doesn’t care about skin colour. He’s even in a relationship with an African woman.
he United Kingdom. Barking, East London. The borough is full of immigrants. Africans, Albanians, Poles, Lithuanians... people from all over the world. Yet there are still also some Englishmen living in this neighbourhood. How do they feel? Actually, quite differently to one
another. Dave, an elderly Englishman, worries about the rising numbers of immigrants. He doesn’t want to meet them, even when he discovers that some of them are nice. He feels angry that all these foreign people make him feel like he is somewhere in Africa. But when he comes home... he lovingly cuddles his half black grandson.
These people are probably all very familiar with the accepted wisdom that skin colour doesn’t really matter and that the most important is the personality and the soul... But some of them obviously haven’t quite taken it to heart. They still see the difference between white and black based on questions like eating certain kinds of meat. Ridiculous, isn’t it? For Nigerian Dickson it seems to be so - is he doing something wrong just by living next door, raising his children and paying taxes just like Englishmen do? Hanna Mironenko
Review Zinat, One Special Day By Ebrahim Mokhtari (Iran, 2000)
inat is the first woman of her village (the beautiful island of Qeshm, southern Iran) to remove her Boregheh (the traditional mask married women should always wear) in order to become a nurse. Her professional life increases her involvement in society, and she eventually decides to run for office in the first local elections held in Iran since the revolution. This documentary, shot in 2000 during the last days of the campaign, demonstrates the passion of both the candidate and the voters. It gives a real and touching portrait of a community that for the first time feels it has the power to change things, and of a woman who, although very attached to her country
and its culture, defies an all-male society in order to personally achieve something. “I’ve always respected my husband, but in this case I would do better than him”, she answers to a male friend who earnestly tells her that women “should act like domesticated animals”. Cameras could not follow Zinat outside of her house as it would have been considered a form of propaganda: but this inconvenience has been turned by director Ebrahim Mokhtari into one of the strongest points of the film: the sense of being one of the family, a guest invited to take part in a flash of democracy in a country still ruled by a severe dictatorship. Marta Musso
Nisimazine Helsinki ~ 25. 01. 2008 # 3
Today, NISI MASA will be leading an open panel discussion on the festival’s «Young Visions: Lost Opportunities?» selection, at Lasipalatsi Studio at 16:00. The participating directors will discuss the topics raised in their films. Participants: Bruno Ulmer Welcome Europa
Yaniv Berman The Alpha Diaries
Michael Noer Vesterbro
Iris Olsson SummerChild
Tehran Has No More Pomegranates!
Arturo Cabanas Man Up
© “Welcome Europe”, B. Ulmer
Interview Anja Salomonowitz > Director of “It happened just before”
© Photo: Michael Kammeter
hat was the starting point for your film? I wanted to talk about the restrictive laws relating to immigrants and find a way to show the women’s stories without it being pathetic. The issue of trafficking women has been treated often, but normally in a scandalising way. I wanted to avoid these pictures or rather not show any… to separate the stories from the women and expose their structure. These women don’t need compassion, but rights or a change of legal status.
How did you work with the women and the non-professional actors? I did research for one and a half years, cooperating with the NGO Lefö (Latin-American Emigrated Women Austria). The stories are based on interviews undertaken by workers from Lefö, but they are mixed up since I had agreed that the women shouldn’t be recognisable. I didn’t want to present their stories as the fate of an individual. On the contrary, these fates happen because of certain structures and circumstances.
One appeal was to find people who would act in the film - a diplomat and a toll-keeper for instance. Over months I followed their daily lives with a camera and wrote the interesting details that happened into the script. Before we started shooting they got the script to learn by heart and practice.
How would you describe the style of your film? I wanted the film to have a sleek look, that’s why I worked with a cinematographer for advertisements, Jo Molitoris. People always had to be on one side of the picture, and the frames mostly empty. Whilst shooting and editing it was necessary to find the right rhythm in order to distinguish the women’s stories from the pictures. The viewers should feel that they see two films at the same time. One is the people’s daily lives. The other is the main film, the story of the women, which is happening some metres in front of the screen. The actual film I made is the one that is created in the viewer’s minds. Zsuzsanna Kiràly
Nisimazine Helsinki ~ 25. 01. 2008 # 3
Work in progress The Aftermath of War
© Clockwise, from top-left: ‘‘The end of the Neubacher Project’’, ‘‘A Story of War and Peace’’ and ‘‘Santa Fe Street’’
here’s no simple way to speak of the effects war has on people. Living life during the fighting and dehumanisation is bad enough. But after war there’s peace, which can be just as difficult to handle. Once gunfire ceases, the tension of war leaves a gaping hole for those left behind. They clean up the rubble, place the pieces together and try to continue with their lives, with the knowledge of all that happened during the struggle for freedom. Broken mirrors can be mended, but the cracks will always remain visible. The women in Even if she had been a criminal… by Jean-Gabriel Périot are publicly humiliated by masses of festive, liberated people. They stand expressionless while their hair is cut, holding back tears. Beaten up and bruised, their bald heads get painted with crude swastikas. The euphoric crowds, mostly male, release years of tension and frustration upon the women’s defenceless bodies. The same bodies they lovingly gave to the German soldiers that occupied France during WWII. It is 1945, and time to find some sense in the monstrosities that occurred during 5 years of war. But first there’s a need for release. What happened during these same years is what Marcus J. Carney is searching for in The end of the Neubacher Project. He seeks answers for his Austrian family’s Nazi past. Instead he finds wall after wall of denial, lies and deceit.
It’s hard to be the losing side, especially if you were part of the aggressor’s posse. But perhaps far scarier is the discovery that several loved ones have been hiding behind a facade. What do you do when your uncle claims that the killing of 6 million Jews is based not on fact but on fiction, and shoots rabbits with the same gun his father (your grandfather) got as a gift from Hermann Göring? If your grandmother pretends to be oblivious, but it turns out she got a perfume shop from the Nazis which had belonged to a Jewish owner, by writing a letter stating she had resigned from her former job because her boss was a Jew? Even worse, what if your mother trivialises the whole thing? It’s just as bizarre as the postcards of a cheerful and sunny Mathausen concentration camp that tourists can buy in the museum shop. Even death doesn’t bring solace, but keeps wounds open. Death can mean freedom for some, and a lifetime of hardship for others. For the survivors live with the knowledge of the people who are missing. Both Santa Fe Street by Carmen Castillo, and The Faces on the Wall by Paul Costes and Bijan Anquetil deal with this issue. Both share the loss of young men who gave their lives for their countries. The MIR members and relatives of Santa Fe Street reflect on how things once were, the leaders, lovers, fathers and brothers they lost, and the fight for freedom after the 1973 coup d’etat by Augusto Pinochet in Chile. Many had to go into hiding - some within Chile, others exiled - fighting a clandestine war against the dictatorship.
Losses are remembered with great dignity and pain. Even the separation with their children is felt to have been a necessity. Years later these children are still hurt by their parents’ decision to abandon them for the greater good, even if they understand the circumstances. War wounds aren’t always visible, often the deepest remain under the skin, in the mind and the heart. The same pain is felt in Iran, where year after year young men who died during the Iran – Iraq war of ’80-’88 are remembered. Their faces are painted on the walls in the street as a grim reminder of their loss. A Story of War and Peace by Vardan Hovhannisyan takes us to where most losses are suffered during wartime; the frontline. Twelve years after the ’88‘94 war in Karabach between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the filmmaker returns to look for his brothers in arms, with whom he spent four years fighting in the woods. The survivors all bear the scars. The dreams they had before the war shattered, they all seem lost. “I’m beginning to discover not casualties of war, but casualties of peace”, says the director. “Each time I need to open the wounds, but I discover that this pain is less than the pain of forgetting. We need to remember.” And remembrance is the most important thing, for even if cities are rebuilt and countries remain peaceful, their soil has been tainted red... Itxaso Elosua Ramírez
Nisimazine Helsinki ~ 25. 01. 2008 # 3
By PV Lehtinen (Finland)
middle-aged woman sitting on a pool ladder. Three children bathing. Old men in swimming costumes. All of them looking forwards and, above all, letting themselves be watched. P.V. Lehtinen’s film Keidas creates a portrait of people who come to a swimming pool. All of the characters are in front of the camera, some looking at it, others directing their gaze elsewhere. This ‘performance documentary’, according to Nichols’ classification, is situated between documentary and experimental cinema. The people shown know they are being shot and their attitude is artificial, closer to fiction. Reality is manipulated by the author, trying to create an expressive movie. Keidas has a similitude with avant-garde cinema, the city symphonies. Lehtinen’s creation is a silent black and white movie; the only sound is non diagetic: music and some ambience noises like water or a breeze. Images have a classic framing, most of them using a medium shot. The director plays with the idea of the individual and society, opening or closing the shot accordingly. The audience is guided through the ages of human beings, reflected in the bodies of the characters. The costumes make it easy to show the effects of the passage of time.
Clothing is almost the only indication of the relation between the bathers and their scenery - the set is shown in an extraordinary experimental shot at the beginning, a sort of kaleidoscopic view. The rest of the film is made up of almost motionless images, a sort of artistic Power Point slideshow. This limited movement of the photography is one of its best elements, but also one of the most overused. The repetition makes this 20-minute film too long; not all people are as interesting to observe, and no more meaning is added. An imperfect homage to poetic symphonies, which does not make the most of the capacity of cinema to provoke emotions.
PICTURE OF THE DAY
© Photo by Pavlovskaya
Nisimazine Helsinki ~ 25. 01. 2008 # 3
By Ariane Beauvillard
runo Ulmer did not develop the art of listening and the desire to understand the world only through cinema. His professional path is, for this reason, original enough. After undertaking studies in medicine, he enrolled in business school, without even knowing what he would do there. Already used to art exhibitions however, he quickly forged his cinematographic identity. Saying himself that he never had the inclination towards fantasy or fiction, Ulmer naturally turned towards documentary. It was one of his first works, Casa Marseille Inch’ Allah, about clandestine immigrant miners from Morocco, which gave him his starting point.
The majority of his early films, from Casa Marseille to Petites Bonnes, were filmed with a small video camera and no crew. With this technique, Bruno Ulmer tried to reduce the distance which can separate a director from their subject. In the film presented in Helsinki, Welcome Europa, one finds again this proximity, this ‘‘softness’’ according to Ulmer, which nevertheless does not dilute any of the dark sadness of the social reality. The camera is not simply an observing eye but a sympathetic one, truly eager to understand what it sees. Ulmer speaks about a kind of technical and human semiology:
© Photo by Pavlovskaya the proximity of the frame to the people is a way of reflecting his real interest in the individuals. Cinema, all things considered, is for him not only a question of narrative, but also of respecting the story of each person. In a film like Welcome Europa (the description of a continent dreamed of by immigrants, which later becomes hell on Earth), the subject is not covered journalistically, as a pure social problem. It is rather the suffering of each one that Ulmer decides to show. Before filming, he travelled all over Europe in order to find the right locations, to make first meetings without the camera. This explains the level of trust displayed by the young men interviewed. In addition, the director has a sharp eye. He explains that his documentary hides a paradox: “it is a film on the wanderers and on the random (...) but the locations allowed me a precise anticipation of the film.’’ The various techniques of Bruno Ulmer bind dramatisation and sociological purpose. For him however, the human side always takes precedent. To collect realities requires confidence, but also a visual imagination of the representation of this reality: to mix black and white and colour, to mix fiction and scenes of social horror is above all a question of honesty and compassion.
What counts is the intimate testimonies and the definition they give to contemporary society. Finally, for Bruno Ulmer, approaching reality cannot consist of only showing it. He works hand in hand with different associations, allowing an easier contact between members of civil society and artists. During his films, the director also tries to find solutions for the problems of each speaker: far from the kind of voyeurism which would consist of filming in a detached way and then returning home. Ulmer doesn’t conceive his work to be without results, in a world he seeks to denounce and unsettle. It’s obviously within the same spirit and code of ethics that Ulmer will build his next projects: a documentary film on the war between Latino gangs (Evangelists on the one side and Theologists of the Liberation on the other) in Los Angeles and San Salvador, and a project on Sahraouis Refugees. More surprisingly, an already written feature film, entitled Fratres, will deal with the story of Sid Ahmed Rezala - ‘‘the killer of trains’’ - between Marseille, Lisbon and Algiers. Once again, it’ll be a real story incarnated by nonprofessional actors: be it fiction or documentary, reality is definitively at the centre of Bruno Ulmer’s work.
REALITY CHECK. Robert J. Flaherty’s Nanook of the North with live accompaniment by Kraft 18.00 Bio Rex
Young visions — lost opportunities? How do young people living in Palestinian refugee camps or a young man serving in the Israeli Army see their future? Will a military career guarantee a good life for a boy, like a US soldier bringing up his teen-age son believe? Young film-makers from Finland, Israel, France, Iran and the United States discuss the subject of youth. The panel is hosted by members of NISI MASA, the European Network of Young Cinema. Discussion in English. Talk of the day 4pm-5.45pm Lasipalatsin studio, Mannerheimintie 22–24.
Zinat visits DocPoint Ebrahim Mokhtari’s documentary Zinat – One Special Day captures the events of the first village council elder elections in twenty years held in Iran in 2000. Zinat, a nurse from Southern Iran, decides to run for elections together with her husband Ahmed.Even before the elections, in order to become a nurse, Zinat had been a pioneer by being the first woman in her regionto give up the traditional face covering boregheh Zinat has to defend both her right to run in the elections, as well as the place of women in the society in general. Both Zinat and director Ebrahim Mokhtari are present at the screening. Zinat, One Special Day 7pm Maxim 2
15:00 Erja Dammert: ROOM OF RIDDLES, 73’
15:00 Shizu Azuma: THE WOMEN THE WAR LEFT BEHIND, 97’
17:00 Arthur Franck & Oskar Forstén: THE PENALTY BOX - SENIOR HOCKEY PLAYERS TALK ABOUT WOMEN & LOVE, 9’ PV Lehtinen: KEIDAS, 20’ Timo Peltonen: PUNISHMENT, 44’ 18:30 DONNER 2: Jörn Donner: FUCK OFF! IMAGES FROM FINLAND, 99’, K-18
17:00 Ulrich Seidl: GOOD NEWS, 130’ 18:00 SILENT FILM CONCERT: Robert J. Flaherty: 19:30 Anja Salomonowitz: NANOOK OF THE NORTH, 67’ IT HAPPENED JUST BEFORE, 73’ Kraft: Pekka Kuusisto & Johanna Juhola 21.00 Carmen Castillo: 19:45 Juan Alejandro SANTA FE STREET, 164’ Ramirez: SOME KIND OF SADNESS, 41’ Marc Isaacs: ALL WHITE IN BARKING, 73’ 22:00 Ulrich Seidl: MODELS, 118’, K-18
17:00 Natalia Meshchaninova: HERBARIUM, 55’ Andis Mizishs: THE CHURCH WILL ARRIVE IN THE EVENING, 52’ 19:00 Ebrahim Mokhtari: SAFFRON, 39’ ZINAT, ONE SPECIAL DAY, 53’ 21:00 Antti Peippo: SIJAINEN, 23’ Seppo Rustanius: UHRIT, n. 60’
KIASMA 15:00 STUDENT FILMS 2: Kati Grönholm: HUMAN SMELL, 3’ Marko Ekström: HERBGARDEN OF THE STAGE, 46’ Annika Grof: ALONE, TOGETHER, 53’ 17:00 Oksana Buraja: CRETE ISLAND, 26’ Jerzy Sladkowski: PARADISE, 58’ 19:00 KARPON SUOMI 1: Hannu Karpo: TELEVISIO TEKEE MURRON, 10’ ANSATIE, 11’ KIRKKOHERRA MÄÄTÄN KIIRASTULI, 13’ IHMISIÄ ULKOILMAPAKASTIMESSA, 18’ PUNAINEN TORI, 15’ JURRISET LIIKENTEESSÄ, 23’