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'just Talking' at 14th TDF, March 12th, 2012







photo still from '1/2 REVOLUTION' (2011)


-14th TDF PRESS-


The Just Talking session of the 14th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival of Monday, March 12 was coordinated by renowned producer and journalist Peter Wintonick; participating were the directors Stelios Kouloglou (Oligarchy), Daan Veldhuizen (Stories from Lakka Beach), Maria Paz Gonzalez (Daughter), Karim El Hakim (1/2 Revolution) and Ingvar Thordarson (No Bone – No Skin), whose films are included in this year’s International Program. Because of the subjects of many of these documentaries, the conversation shifted to politics, economy, the changes taking place globally and the role that documentaries may or may not play in these changes.

In the documentary Daughter, the director herself is the subject of the film, along with her 67-year-old mother, who is looking for a sister she has never met because she was adopted. “My mother only held an image from her past, an image that seemed like a dream. I also grew up with an imaginary idea of the father I never met; and I thought that I do not want to reach my sixties living with these almost fictional stories in my head. In the documentary, my mother and I go on a road trip that spans 2000 km to find her sister, but in reality we are looking for the threads of our own lives”, said the director.

For Daan Veldhuizen, documentaries are not necessarily an “issue”, but they just may be a collection of personal stories; he recorded the stories of a group of characters who live in Lakka, a beachside community in Sierra Leone. “In 2006, when I first travelled to Sierra Leone, all I knew about the country mainly had to do with the war. In addition, every documentary I had ever seen about Africa reproduced images of war, famine, poverty, corruption, AIDS. On the other hand, the stories I heard from the people living there were full of beauty, vitality, art, energy, humor. My film shows a community that is trying to move on, people with real stories told through the lens“, noted the director.

Ingvar Thordarson (No Bone – No Skin) made a film about a group of Icelander fishermen who have formed a music band; the director heard their songs on the radio and decided to make a film about them. He noted that “despite the fact that Iceland’s economy is based on fishing, there haven’t been any documentaries about the fishermen’s lives, which are very hard and often in danger”.

Karim El Hakim discussed his film ½ Revolution, co-directed with Omar Shargawi; they chronicled their personal experiences from the first days of the Egyptian revolution, on the streets and Tahrir Square, as well as in their homes, with their friends and families. “In Egypt the revolution succeeded because the police was so corrupt and disorganized”, said Hakim. The structures of the previous regime, however, are still present in his opinion. “Fear of the Muslim Brotherhood and the danger of “Iranization” stop any new plans for revolution in their tracks. Let me give you an example: some friends were shooting an episode from a series that takes place in the 60s, so the women had short skirts on, since it was allowed then. They had some scenes in the university, and the head of the Muslim Brotherhood managed to stop them and cancel the shoot. The situation in Egypt is fragile: many foreign powers are in control, as is the situation in Greece. The whole planet finds itself in the midst of a strange war right now; there is a global system of oppression, but also a global system of resistance. We can create solutions if we are united, he said.

Oligarchy by Stelios Kouloglou describes an undeclared economic war, chronicling the history of the enforcement of the most extreme reincarnation of neo-liberalism, as expressed by Friedman and the Chicago School and then applied by Pinochet’s Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador and even Greece. The film is structured like a Russian matryoshka doll, which has many little dolls inside it. “It’s like starting with Gorbachev and ending up in Stalin, or starting with politicians and find bankers in the end. Today bankers have more power than politicians, without even the illusion of elections. When politicians don’t do what the markets tell them to, they are replaced”, said Kouloglou.

Chilean director Gonzalez agreed, saying that the president of Chile is a “Chicago kid” and that her country too is going through something like a revolution, as university students keep protesting the high college fees. In addition, the role of social media in revolutions was mentioned, as well as the fact that the documentary medium can be used as a weapon and an agent of change.




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About Thessaloniki

Mcmahon Vanessa

Vanessa McMahon Covered the 13th and 14th, and 16th edition.
Catherine Esway has covered the 12th edition of Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
Cécile Rittweger covered the  11th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

Christine Marik's reported from 49th Thessaloniki International Film Festival
Past coverage from the 10th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival by Bruno Chatelin.

Through its tributes, it focuses both on discovering filmmakers with a unique cinematic point of view, and on the internationally recognized for their contribution to documentary.

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