Panorama Dokumente Opening on February 10, 2017
The French production Belinda by Marie Dumora is slated to open Panorama Dokumente with a contribution to the previously announced thematic focus “Europa Europa” (see press release from December 20, 2016). The Yenish people have occupied a difficult position in the national fabric of Europe since time immemorial: like the Sinti and Roma, they typically have trouble aligning themselves as they are legally and socially excluded by majority populations. The grandparents of 15-year-old sisters Belinda and Sabrina first met in a German concentration camp – the young women were placed in foster care at an early age and were lucky to land in the La Nichée children’s home. With the start of life comes the start of a long struggle with the world – a world also determined by limits and rules on this most diverse of all continents. A haunting, harrowing documentation of everyday life as it is lived on the margins of society.
Three films demand that we take a fresh historical look at European events whose echoes are still felt so many years later:
First off is No Intenso Agora (In the Intense Now) from Brazil’s João Moreira Salles, who juxtaposes a cornucopia of archive materials documenting the events which unfolded in Paris in 1968 with amateur footage showing the suppression of the Prague Spring and footage of a self -confident Chinese society under Mao, just as his mother experienced it back then – as a private political reflection.
Next up is an exciting bit of time travel in Jochen Hick’s Mein wunderbares West-Berlin (My Wonderful West Berlin), an account of queer living situations in West Berlin in an era when emancipation had yet to be invented, primarily covering the 1960s to the the 1980s but also taking time to revisit the roots of the gay rights movement in the immediate post-war period.
And finally, a long look underneath the rug of Spanish reticence in Bones of Contention by Andrea Weiss of the USA: In search of the earthly remains of iconic Spanish poet and fascist murder victim Federico García Lorca, the filmmaker stumbles upon the entirely unexamined history of the suppression of the LGBT community under Franco, while also becoming familiar with the struggles of today’s movement, whose efforts to procure some sort of long overdue justice for the hundreds of thousands who were “disappeared” during the fascist era are met with little support.
In Tahqiq fel djenna (Investigating Paradise), distinguished French director Merzak Allouache seeks answers to a question which also exerts an influence on today’s Europa. In order to try to fathom the origins of the desire for death exhibited by so many young Arab men in Algeria, one must understand that they are motivated by the florid fairy tales that their spiritual leaders have led them to believe, including above all the notion that sex and wine will finally be available in abundance after death. The young Algerian journalist Nedjma researches the paradise that Salafist preachers promise young men together with her colleague Mustapha. A dense analysis of the extreme manifestations of a destructive, conservative Islam that seeks to dominate.
The second of the two previously mentioned thematic focal points “Black Worlds” is reinforced by Yance Ford’s Strong Island. The director processes the murder of his own brother 25 years ago in a documentary film by equal turns personal and political, in a formally open examination of racist terror, grief work and smouldering anger about inequality.
Is this the heart of “America”? And does Rambo live inside it like the man in the moon lives inside his satellite? Erase and Forget by Andrea Luka Zimmerman (Great Britain) doesn’t pose the question, it answers it instead. The all American hero, the most highly decorated soldier of all time with hundreds of human lives on his conscience, roams like a benevolent patriarch through Idaho, where the people are proud of the high level of diversity in the available flavours of right-wing radicalism, just another normal part of life out here.
Two films turn their attention to Latin America and structures that still make their effects felt from left and right-wing authoritarian forms of society.
In Tania Libre, Lynn Hershman Leeson, a guest at Panorama for the third time, accompanies Cuban artist Tania Bruguera during sessions with trauma therapist Dr. Frank Ochberg. After having served a sentence for treason meted out in the wake of a performance that expressed criticism of the regime, she wants to acquire the skills necessary to process the invasive infringement wrought by the paranoid machinery of the people’s dictatorship, including the revocation of her right to practice her art. The founder of the Institute for Artivism Hannah Arendt in Havana intends to campaign in Cuba’s next presidential election in 2018.
The second film hails from Chile: El Pacto De Adriana (Adriana's Pact) by Lissette Orozco. The director accidently comes across indications that her once favourite aunt Adriana colluded actively with the secret service back in the days of the Pinochet junta. Her research yields a picture that can be found after the fall of every dictatorship ever: those that lived well under the terror regime steadfastly deny their involvement after the winds have shifted. A macrocosm opens up within a family’s intimate history – and no one knew nothing.
The French-Swiss-Palestinian co-production Istiyad Ashbah (Ghost Hunting) by Raed Andoni on the other hand leads us back into the present. In the scope of shooting for a film, a group of ex-prisoners from Israeli detention re-enact a sort of exhaustive catalogue of their experiences, in role plays and often in what borders on trauma therapy. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have experienced things like this in a variety of forms – what impact will these experiences have on the affected societies in the future?