NISIMAZINE Friday 28 November 2008
A Magazine Published By Nisi Masa, European Network Of Young CinemA
In Focus: Rockumentaries Avi Mograbi: Z32 and a Story of Consciousness Laura Longsworth
from RiseUp, Luciano Blotta 2008
Friday 28 November 2008 # 9
A magazine published by the NISI MASA and MeccaPANZA associations in cooperation with IDFA - International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and with the support of the ‘Youth in Action’ programme of the EU and SNS Reaal Fonds
ave you seen the Audience Award pipelines, in the Munt?
Apparently it’s just another consensus counter, but the funny thing - that you probably noticed from the first time you were given a tear-able voting ticket - is that the usual opinion scale (from very bad to very good) is here enriched by two additional degrees: “hopeless” at the bottom, “superb” at the top. These tricky edges smooth the idea of a rigid, almost mechanical statistic, but at the same time they derail it towards the slippery realm of subjectivity. That’s probably why I saw several people awkwardly bent over, cautiously trying to peek at some titles in the paper confusion of the marginal containers: they were searching for titles to absolutely avoid or ardently love. As you can see, the more the machine becomes human, the more humans are easily convinced. As the festival is drawing to its end, I went to study the pipelines once again. The jury will count the votes and classify the documentaries’ appreciation amongst the public. For my part though, I’m more interested in the curve of the taste-line - or the way in which the values express themselves. As you can see from the photo below, the 7 degrees can be reorganized as follows: -the winning feeling is GOOD, followed by VERY GOOD and FAIR -in the middle we find SUPERB -going down in a perfect descending line, BAD, VERY BAD and HOPELESS
EDITORIAL STAFF Director of Publication Matthieu Darras Editor-in-Chief Jude Lister Itxaso Elosua Ramírez Editorial Secretary Maartje Alders Layout Maartje Alders, Nina Henke Contributors to this issue Alberto Angelini Anamaria Chioveanu Jessica Hartman, Evrim Kaya Rares Kövesdi, Tara Mahtafar Arturo Mestanza, Selma Sevkli Coordinators Nina Henke, Ilona Mulder Alex Tirajoh, Tania Ramón Casas MeccaPANZA Bestevaerstraat 198-4 1055 TS Amsterdam +358 41 5251131 firstname.lastname@example.org www.meccapanza.eu
NISI MASA 10 rue de l’Echiquier, 75010, Paris, France. + 33 (0)6 32 61 70 26 email@example.com www.nisimasa.com
What does it mean? You can answer. You are the public.
PHOTO BY Rares Kövesdi
P I C T U R E O F T H E D AY
Nisimazine Amsterdam ~ 28. 11. 2008 # 9
© House Productions
Film of the day Not Evil Just Wrong
Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney (Ireland, 2008)
or God’s sake, are we cooling or warming? A little over thirty years ago, the most feared issue faced by environmentalists was the so-called “Global Cooling” phenomenon, although statistics basically present the reverse situation as the real danger nowadays. “Global Warming” has been on the cover of all magazines and is often the subject of fiction movies and documentaries. However, a dissonant voice is now rising up between the alarming signs to say that all is not what it seems. The Mythbusters-style documentary Not Evil Just Wrong deconstructs the biggest recent propagator of the fight against global warming: Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. As an example to enforce their argument, the directors use the DDT controversy; the substance was forbidden in the 70s after claims that it was spreading cancer between people and killing birds, however following the ban, one of the consequences was that malaria cases increased in Africa. Another example is the data asserting that in 2005 we experienced the hottest day of human existence, which apparently is incorrect. “You’d rather save the birds and lose the people”, complains an African mother who lost her child to malaria. The cast of interviewees is mostly composed of ordinary people, telling stories about how preventive environmentalist measures are damaging their lives. The shoot was made in Ireland, China, Uganda, England, France and the US, but what is being screened at IDFA is not the final edit. The directors are still
collecting donations for an extensive cinema release. An ideological media battle is coming up soon. Not Evil Just Wrong, whose title is a quote from one of the interviewees describing Gore’s attitude, isn’t the directors first when it comes to controversial movies. Mine Your Own Business confronted environmental activists, claiming that they’d been destroying poor communities while they lived in developed countries. Although the movie was financed by a Canadian mining company, they say that it didn’t have any influence on the editing process, only having access to the movie after it was finished. Talking about “taking care of our planet” is all well and good. But, what’s the real limit of our disregard for the environment, and how far do the interests of each movement go? Choose your team and fight for your environment. Or just recycle your garbage. Maybe it’ll help.
in complete world Shelly Silver (USA, 2008)
helley Silver's in complete world, a mash-up of street interviews spanning the demographic landscape of New York City with blunt enquiries into American political subjectivity, feels staged almost as an exercise in futility. "I'm just one voice among millions", one pedestrian says – and indeed, among the 96 faces and voices we encounter during this 53-minute film, not many (or any) responses make a lasting impression. They flicker rapidly by, not really resolving anything. But the common thread running through the piece is the expressiveness of the respondents who are given a platform to communicate their ideas. In this sense, in complete world candidly turns its gaze inwards: is documentary film shouldering responsibility for raising its voice above other, more mainstream media? The snapshot presented of New Yorkers here was taken before the presidential elections. In retrospect, Ms. Silver's self-professed "love letter" to her city, for all its oscillation between cynicism and optimism over the citizen’s role in national discourse, turns out to have struck the right chord. In our age of increasingly viral interconnectivity, solo voices belonging to ordinary people
© Greener Horizon Films
- including independent filmmakers - hold a broader sphere of potential influence, and therefore, greater responsibility to put it to use. The film's visual style is notable for the brevity and brisk pace with which it executes sequences that would otherwise feel monotonously repetitive. With attention spans shrinking against the onslaught of data out there, Ms. Silver's stylistic message seems to be: keep it watchable if you want it to be watched.
Nisimazine Amsterdam ~ 28. 11. 2008 # 9
Ask the audience! Tessa and Jessica
At our high school we got the assignment to go and see a film here, not that we have to write about it or anything. We just picked one, Punches and Ponytails, because it was still playing and there were still tickets available. We like films, but not ones that are too serious! Normally, we never watch documentaries.
I'm studying camerawork at the Film Academy and came here to watch films I choose on the spot. So far I've seen Rembrandt's J'Accuse, Koyaanisqatsi and I Wanna be Boss. The Q&A with Peter Greenaway was a little disappointing. He criticised our too-literate society: We wouldn't know how to 'read' an image. But his own film, although informative, I think was not very interesting in terms of cinematography.
There is a documentary festival in North-West Ireland that I'm the director of, called Guth Gafa. I'm here to scout European films for our programming: mainly observational films, human rights films, but above all personal stories. A non-European film that I especially liked is a South African one called Sea Point Days. I feel it's a very gentle observational film.
I come here ever year since I am retired and have time for it. The films I watched were all on a dramatic subject, Project Kashmir to name one. Developing countries are of special interest to me. I used to be a stewardess and have travelled a lot. Youssou Ndour was giving a concert here and we went to see him. Of course we danced!
Compiled by Jessica Hartman
Photos by Rares Kรถvesdi and Anamaria Chioveanu
Why are you here at IDFA?
Nisimazine Amsterdam ~ 28. 11. 2008 # 9
Interview Photo by Rares Kövesdi
Avi Mograbi : Z32 and a Story of Consciousness
Avi Mograbi's film Z32 raises questions over many subjects: War, killing, cleansing, forgiving... We wanted to see what led Mograbi on this journey of consciousness. As an Israeli filmmaker, you make documetaries about untold parts of the conflict, war and Israel's military actions against Palestinians. What was your first contact with Palestine? I was 11 years old when I went to Palestine for the first time. It was right after the ‘67 war. My parents took me there in the time of euphoria of great victory. At the time, my political convictions were very different than today. I thought what my parents thought, I thought it was great that we were strong. It was a period when my identity was still not set or organized. When did your political convictions start to take shape? What were your influences? When I was 16 or 17. Until then I was quite right wing. Then I started to question my convictions and changed rapidly. Little by little you understand the place where you live. There was one book I read at the age of 16, it was called The Other Side of the Coin. The author of the book, Uri Avnery, was a fighter during the 1948 war. Following the war he wrote this book and told about his own experiences. Revealing a dark side of the war, he wrote about the exile of Palestinian people. Until I read it, I wasn't aware of the Palestinian Naqba. This book was a revelation for me. When you started making films, who did you intend to reach: the Israeli public or international audiences? International success came much later. Israeli cinema on an international level didn't even exist back then. It was intended for the Israeli public. At the time I was thinking more naively about the power of cinema, I thought of it as a tool for change. I was very young and naive. You don't believe in cinema's power anymore? I still think of cinema as a tool for social change but not necessarily
stronger than books or talking to people. Cinema is just not the most influential tool. Politicians and people with money have so much power and they actually make change without asking your opinion. We find ourselves battling defensively against their actions. I am not sure if you can become a leading player in this game through cinema. How does the Israeli public react to your films? By ignoring them usually. My films get very good cinematic critiques and they are shown on some cable TV channels in Israel. But I don't think any public debate started because of my films. I can't see any actual feedback from the people so it is hard to say. Do you have screenings of your films in Palestine? Z32 was screened in Palestine for 20 people recently. It was hard for them to watch: An Israeli soldier cleansing his mind and a filmmaker helping him to do it. They were reluctant to see the critical view of the soldier and the filmmaker. They think that it softened the story too much. It turns a horrific story into something very light. I understand this perspective as all of our experiences throughout our lives determine how we see and interpret different subjects. We see an ex soldier in Z32 with different masks to veil his face. Why did you prefer to use masks with visual effects? If you want people to speak intimately you can't put anything physically on their faces, it is uncomfortable. Also you lose the mimics with a mask and I wanted to see facial expressions. I appear at the beginning of the film with a mask which is a graphic of crime, terrorism, etc. I didn't want the viewers to create an unconscious image of him as a monster, because he is a normal person who has committed a terrible crime due to many reasons. It was very important for me to maintain the human expression on his face. When he first told me that he would only do the film without exposing his identity, it felt like an obstacle - one which later turned into a creative tool. Digital masks can allow us see the expressions, and for a moment we can forget that there are masks.
Films uiT alle windsTreKen! TsoTsi Di 9 dec. & Wo 10 dec. 2008 - 20:30 uur Tropentheater Kleine Zaal oscarwinnende boekverfilming uit Zuid-Afrika Regie: Gavin Hood | Zuid-Afrika | 2005 94 min | Nederlands ondertiteld Met: Presley Chweneyagae, Mothusi Magano, Terry Pheto
De GouDen VoeTbAl Zo 11 jan. 2009 - 14:00 uur Tropentheater Kleine Zaal Jeugdfilm over Guinees voetbaltalent. Adviesleeftijd: 8+
De VlieGerAAr Di. 10 feb. 2009 - 20:30 uur Tropentheater Kleine Zaal Verfilming van wereldwijde bestseller uit Afghanistan Regie: Marc Forster | VS | 2007 | 128 min Nederlands ondertiteld Met: Khalid Abdalla, Atossa Leoni, Donn Andrew Simmons
osAmA Wo. 11 feb. 2009 - 20:30 uur Tropentheater Kleine Zaal ontroerende film over een Afghaans meisje
Regie: Cheik Doukouré | Guinee/Frankrijk 1993 | 90 min | Nederlands ondertiteld
Regie: Siddig Barmak | Afghanistan 2003 84 min | Nederlands ondertiteld Met: Marina Golbahari, Khwaja Nader, Arif Herati
Turkse Film nu: HAkkAriDe bir meVsim Wo. 21 jan. 2009 - 20:30 uur Tropentheater Kleine Zaal Communicatieproblemen in een bergdorp
muZiek in beelD: brAsileirinHo Wo. 11 mrt 2009 - 20:30 uur Tropentheater Kleine Zaal muziekdocumentaire brengt ode aan de choro
Regie: Erden Kiral | Turkije | 1983 111 min | Engels ondertiteld Met: Genco Erkal, Erkan Yücel, Rana Cabbar
Yer Demir, Gok bAkir Di. 27 jan. 2009 - 20:30 uur Tropentheater Kleine Zaal Turkse film vol intriges, mythes en dromen Regie: Zülfü Livaneli (foto) | Turkije | 1987 79 min | Turks gesproken, Engels ondertiteld Met: Rutkay Aziz, Yavuzer Cetinkaya, Gürel Yontan
Fikrimin inCe Gulu Wo. 28 jan. 2009 - 20:30 uur Tropentheater Kleine Zaal Turkse komedie over een gastarbeider en zijn droomauto Regie: Tunç Okan | Turkije | 1992 95 min | Turks gesproken, Engels ondertiteld Met: Valérie Lemoine, Ilyas Salman, Micky Sébastian
Na afloop interviewt Stan Rijven Yamandú Costa. Deze gitarist is in de documentaire te zien en twee dagen later live in het Tropentheater te bewonderen.
loVe in THe Time oF CHolerA Di. 17 mrt & Wo. 18 mrt. 2009 - 20:30 uur Tropentheater Kleine Zaal Amerikaanse verfilming van de bestseller van márquez Regie: Mike Newell | VS | 2007 138 min | Nederlands ondertiteld Met: Javier Bardem, John Leguizamo, Laura Harring
PersePolis Di. 14 apr. & Wo 15 apr. 2009 - 20:30 uur Tropentheater Kleine Zaal Prachtige animatiefilm naar het veelgeprezen stripboek Regie: Marjane Satrapi en Vincent Paronnaud | VS / Frankrijk | 2007 | 95 min Nederlands ondertiteld Met stemmen van: Sean Penn, Cathérine Deneuve, Iggy Pop
Tropentheater | Linnaeusstraat 2 | Amsterdam | Kassa: 020 5688500 | www.tropentheater.nl
Koninklijk instituut voor de Tropen
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Nisimazine Amsterdam ~ 28. 11. 2008 # 9
In focus © Northern Light Productions
Rockumentaries: “Music gives life to your soul”
here are several documentaries with a special focus on music at this year’s IDFA. Besides shedding light on the different aspects of the worldwide music industry, all of them attract audiences with the musical experience they provide. The title of this article is a line from Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love, part of the First Appearance Competition. Vasarhelyi’s film draws a portrait of the world-renowned singer from Senegal, mainly focusing on his career after the album Egypt - which was highly controversial in his home country, but became a big success all over the world. Egypt was a turning point in his career in the sense that it was the first time he attempted to base his artistic creation on his religious practices, as a man very much committed to Islam. The album received a very negative reaction from Muslim audiences, who found it disrespectful to use the names of key Islamic figures in song lyrics. But for Ndour his career, his religion and his African origins are inseparable. The film follows him in his journey as a decisive man fighting - through his songs - for the values he believes in and for his roots, culture and family, in order for them to gain the respect they deserve. Followed by a concert from Ndour himself, the screening of the film received much praise at the festival. The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector is another interesting portrayal of a famous figure from the international music scene - the eccentric producer/songwriter Phil Spector, who was accused of murdering B-movie actress Lana Clarkson in 2003. Vikram Jayanti’s film consists of a video interview with the man himself, footage from his trial and full versions of the most successful hit songs he wrote or produced, including the last Beatles album Let It Be. His role in Clarkson’s death remains unclear, but the film uses a more or less positive approach towards its controversial character, emphasizing his human side starting from his childhood traumas.
RiseUp, an energetic exploration of the Jamaican underground music scene, has been one of the most appreciated films of the festival this year. It follows three young people trying to distinguish themselves in a culture which is immediately affiliated with Rastafarians, reggae and drugs. Luciano Blotta successfully gives flesh and blood to the empty clichés that we are used to concerning the country. The IDFA programme also includes the international premiere of a documentary about one of the most legendary musical figures of America. As the title indicates, Bestor Cram’s Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison sheds light upon a crucial point in the career of the charismatic singer. Still today this event means that his name is associated with prison songs, and it’s certainly the source of the myth about his days in prison, which is nothing but a misinformation. He himself may never have been locked up, but as a person with drug problems - and in some senses someone close to the edges of society, he had a strong empathy with prisoners. Cram focuses on the recordings of his concert at Folsom Prison on the 13th of January 1968. Through interviews with Cash’s band members and family, as well as with former prisoners and their families, animations, and Cash’s original voiceover, it describes the motivations and consequences of the concert without any original video footage of the event. All of these ‘musical’ documentaries show, in some way or another, that music is always more than it seems to be. In Cash’s case it was obviously a form of solidarity, whereas for Ndour it is a way of standing up for a cultural identity. It can be a method of dealing with poverty or gaining self-fulfilment, and sometimes it is the outcome of a peculiar personality. In any case it is something that gives life to the soul, and maybe that’s why these films touch their audiences in a different way than any other. Evrim Kaya
Photo by Rares Kövesdi
Shortly after my daughter was born, Tom Luckey called me to say happy mother's day, and he said ‘I feel like maybe we need to make a film, what do you think?’ Well, I had been thinking about it too. And I thought, you know, I have a baby and it isn't going to work, but...okay.” This was the start of the successful cooperation between Laura Longsworth and the Luckey family, the result of which is her incredibly intense film Luckey, now playing at IDFA. I meet Laura at the Rembrandt Square in a grand café. As we sit down on the cushy red sofas, we start talking about the films we've seen this festival. While staying in Amsterdam for a couple of days, she will try to see as many films as she can and meet up with friends in between. Before she started making documentaries, Laura worked as a newspaper reporter, which meant meeting daily deadlines in a pumping adrenaline rush. Despite the fact that she loved this hectic profession (since it gave great satisfaction after a job well done) she now feels intensely lucky to be able to work on long-term projects. In order to secure a steady income, she makes historical documentaries for public television. “But doing Luckey was more fun. It's my baby.” Laura met Tom Luckey, a sculptor of children's climbers, through her father-in-law, who attended the same architecture school he did. At that point, he was a sixty year-old who used to keep everybody up all night partying. According to Laura, if Tom was in you life you just couldn't avoid him. Whilst in the middle of designing a huge climber for the Boston Children's Museum, he had an accident in his house and went from being someone who was intensely lively, to being completely immobilized. For a long time he was on the brink of death and they didn't know whether he was going make it, but as soon as he started coming back to life he was still very much himself, in a way that said: I don't care if I can't move, I'm going to finish my project! Longsworth was drawn to Tom's unstoppable optimism and wanted to do a film about him. “I think I was a little nervous over talking to him about it, because how do you approach someone who's
had such a terrible accident?” Apparently, Tom himself then took the initiative. Although there’s a lot of tension among them, in the film the Luckeys seem very open and honest about their relationship problems. It might have helped that Longsworth had another point of intersection with the family; Spencer and she went to the same high school, although they didn't know each other back then. But basically, the family were just very open, especially Tom. Laura spent a lot of time with them and tried to be fair. “One of the hard parts of making this film was that there was tension among the three of them. I knew that if I took sides, or even was perceived as taking sides, any one of them could have said: 'look I just don't wanna be in this anymore'. I love them all, and definitely had an opinion on who was right and who was wrong, but I decided to step back.” In total, Luckey took about two years to complete and in the process it changed from what Longsworth expected it to be - a documentary about Tom and his art, into a family portrait. Also, the project required a lot of ad hoc organizing on the part of the crew. With someone in a situation like Tom’s; medically on the edge, something would happen that nobody planned for, like having to get him to a doctor, and often things would have to be done at short notice. For Laura, making this film was a great experience. She would like to have a screening in New Haven, Tom's town, but since he is bedridden at the moment and cannot come to the screening, she wants to wait. His bad health isn't stopping him from working though, as he has three different projects going and apparently he's really happy, which is remarkable. Laura gushes: “I think Tom's optimism about life is completely to be admired in a lot of ways and it's really inspiring. Whenever you're in a bad mood, just think of Tom Luckey.”