MINELRES: ASN 2007 World Convention Film Lineup

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Tue Apr 10 17:43:10 2007


Original sender: Dominique Arel <darel@uottawa.ca>


THE 2007 ASN WORLD CONVENTION FILM LINEUP:
9 NEW DOCUMENTARIES SCREENING WITH OVER 110 PANELS!

The 2007 ASN World Convention, taking place at the Harriman Institute,
Columbia University, New York, on 12-14 April, is unveiling a lineup of
nine recent international documentaries on topics ranging from ethnic
violence to terrorism, indigenous struggles, and political
transformations in Iraq, Ukraine, Belarus and India. 
 
In the Oscar nominated feature MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY,
director/cinematographer Laura Poitras creates an extraordinarily
intimate portrait of Iraqis living under US occupation. Unfolding like a
narrative drama, the film follows the agonizing predicament and gradual
descent of one man caught in the tragic contradictions of the US
occupation of Iraq and its project to spread democracy in the Middle
East.
 
Three films — ORANGE REVOLUTION, A LESSON OF BELARUSIAN, and FINAL
SOLUTION — take on a fascinating topic of intricacies of political
elections. In the days when Ukraine is in the midst of a political
crisis once again, the ORANGE REVOLUTION reminds viewers about those
fateful 17 days in November of 2004 when over a million of ordinary
citizens protested the results of rigged elections. Capturing the songs
and spirit of this moment in history, it tells the story of a people
united, not by one leader or one party, but by one idea: to defend their
vote. The film just had its North American premiere at the Chicago
International Documentary Festival in early April. FINAL SOLUTION is a
study of the politics of hate. Set in Gujarat during the period
Feb/March 2002 - July 2003, the film graphically documents the changing
face of right-wing politics in India through a study of the 2002 carnage
in Gujarat in Western India. It specifically examines political
tendencies reminiscent of the Nazi Germany of early 1930s. By following
a generation of a Luceum graduates, A LESSON OF BELARUSIAN examines the
politics of repression in the making. The presidential elections, for
which Lukashenka changed the Constitution in order to be elected for a
third term, become the culminating point of the film. Despite the fear
of repression, thousands of people enter the streets. Even though
hundreds of people end up in prison, the Lyceum pupils do not give up
believing that one day Belarus will be a free country. 
 
Sandra Kogut’s film HUNGARIAN PASSPORT records the Kafkaesque experience
of the director’s frustrating and often hysterical attempts to jump
through the necessary bureaucratic hoops to obtain a Hungarian passport
and citizenship. Along the way, the director explores a painful family
history of forced emigration and a hidden legacy of anti-Semitism as she
confronts some essential questions: What is nationality? What is a
passport for? What should we do with our heritage? How do we construct
our history and our own identity?


The politics of energy resources once again became the front page news.
The film ZDROJ (THE SOURCE) traces the pipeline from the US commuter
highways back to the surreal and sinister landscape of Azerbaijan, where
cows graze on polluted land and children play in toxic gunge. Focusing
on this post-Socialist country, the film raises the question, is the
“liquid gold” a blessing or a curse for people who live in that country
 
The first Serbian-Croatian production, VUKOVAR, is a study of pain,
suffering and disappointment that accompany the tragic breakup of
Yugoslavia in the 90s. From a vantage point of a historical distance of
15 years, the authors examine why Vukovar, a rich Slavonian town famous
for being a "miniature Yugoslavia," Tito's exemplary town of unity, was
the one location to suffer total apocalypse.
 
THE CRYING SUN, a new video produced by Memorial and WITNESS, addresses
the impact of counter-terrorism operations in Chechnya through the
stories of people who “disappeared” and/or are displaced from the
mountain village of Zumsoy, highlighting villagers’ struggle to maintain
cultural identity and traditions. Utilized as an advocacy campaign tool,
the video calls on local and federal authorities in Russia to conduct
investigations into abuses, end impunity for human rights violations,
and restore policies for the return of villagers to their ancestral
homes. A discussion with directors and film producers will follow the
screening.
 
IN PURSUIT OF THE SIBERIAN SHAMAN takes a behind-the-scenes look at an
indigenous Buryat shaman living on a remote Siberian island as he moves
between intimate shamanic rituals performed for local clientele and
shows performed at various resorts for Western tourists in search of
“primitive” cultures. The film captures cross-cultural miscommunication
as the shaman and tourists misunderstand one another, usually comically,
sometimes disturbingly.

In addition, regular academic panels take a closer look at the subject
of visual representation. Thus, two panels—FILM, MUSIC AND NATIONAL
IDENTITY and IDENTITY AND FILM—will revolve around the medium of cinema
and television. In addition, the panel WHERE PHOTOGRAPHY MEETS SOCIAL
SCIENCE will examine the use of photography in construction of social
and political categories.
 
The ASN 2007 World Convention features 110 panels (as well as these nine
films) covering the Balkans, Central Europe, Eurasia, the Caucasus,
Russia, Ukraine, and a fast-developing Nationalism Studies section. The
program of the convention can be accessed at www.nationalities.org. The
convention is open to the public. For information on the convention,
please contact Gordon N Bardos, ASN Convention Director, at
gnb12@columbia.edu or 212 854 8487. For information on the films, please
email Dominique Arel, ASN President, at darel@uottawa.ca.
 
FRIDAY APRIL 13, 11.20 AM-1.20 PM
 
FILM3
THE CRYING SUN
Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights: Chechnya and North Caucasus
 
Two wars between separatists and Russian federal forces have turned
Chechnya into a land of devastation and impunity. In the Caucasus
Mountains, the ongoing clashes uprooted thousands of villagers, forcing
them to descend to the plains of the republic. “The Crying Sun,” a new
video produced by Memorial and WITNESS, addresses the impact of
counter-terrorism operations in Chechnya through the stories of people
who “disappeared” and/or are displaced from the mountain village of
Zumsoy, highlighting villagers' struggle to maintain cultural identity
and traditions. Utilized as an advocacy campaign tool, the video calls
on local and federal authorities in Russia to conduct investigations
into abuses, end impunity for human rights violations, and restore
policies for the return of villagers to their ancestral homes.
Internationally, “The Crying Sun” will help bring visibility to calls
for justice in Chechnya and stimulate a debate about sustainable
development in high mountain regions.
 
Russia/US 2007
(26 minutes) 
Produced by Memorial/Witness
Contact: Violeta Krasnic < violeta@witness.org >
 
The film will be followed by a roundtable discussion featuring: 
 
Usam Baysaev, Memorial Human Rights Center, Nazran Ingushetia
(consultant)
ousam@southnet.ru 
Zarema Mukusheva, Memorial Human Rights Center, Grozny, Chechnya
(cinematographer/producer) mukusheva@gmail.com 
Katya Sokirianskaia, Harvard University/Memorial Human Rights Center,
Nazran, Ingushetia (producer)
sokirianskaia@mail.ru
 
FILM 9
ORANGE REVOLUTION
 
Steve York’s second feature documentary ORANGE REVOLUTION continues the
director’s investigation of successful nonviolent revolutions. The film
traces the popular protest that spontaneously came to life after the
regime-controlled media claimed victory for Viktor Yanukovych,
handpicked by the corrupt sitting president; meanwhile credible exit
polls showed Viktor Yushchenko, the opposition candidate, had won. For
seventeen days, the throngs of ordinary citizens kept up the
extraordinary resistance, demanding their votes be respected, standing
firm even when an internal army was mobilized to remove them. Capturing
the songs and spirit of this historic moment, Orange Revolution is story
of a people united, not by one leader or one party, but by one idea: a
better future, in a country of their own. With footage never seen even
in Ukraine, penetrating conversations with those who made the
revolution, and music performed live at pivotal moments, the film
captures the spirit and the determination of the most successful
political protest of the decade.
 
US 2006
(105 minutes)
In English, Russian and Ukrainian with English subtitles
Directed by Steve York 
syork@yorkzim.com
 
Steve York will be present for a Q&A after the screening.
 
FRIDAY APRIL 13, 2.50-4.50 PM
 
FILM4
FINAL SOLUTION
 
Final Solution is a study of the politics of hate. Set in Gujarat during
the period Feb/March 2002 - July 2003, the film graphically documents
the changing face of right-wing politics in India through a study of the
2002 carnage in Gujarat in Western India. It specifically examines
political tendencies reminiscent of the Nazi Germany of early 1930s. The
film examines patterns of pre-planned genocidal violence against
Moslems(by right-wing Hindutva cadres), which many claim was
state-supported, if not state-sponsored. Through eye witness accounts,
the film reconstructs acts of barbaric violence against Moslem women at
Eral and Delol/Kalol (Panchmahals). It records in detail the
exploitation of the Godhra incident by the right-wing propaganda
machinery for electoral gains. The film studies and documents the
situation months after the elections to find shocking faultlines –
voluntary ghettoisation, segregation in schools, formal calls for
economic boycott of Moslems and continuing acts of violence.
 
India 2005
(88 minutes)
Directed by Rakesh Sharma < rakeshfilm@gmail.com >
Contact: Lynne Henry 
aaabombay@yahoo.com
 
FILM1
ZDROJ (THE SOURCE)
 
Baku in Azerbaijan, the site of the world’s first oil well, is once
again becoming a focus for foreign investors eager to exploit the
country’s vast oil riches. “The Source” traces the pipeline from our
commuter highways back to this surreal and sinister landscape on which
our way of life depends, where cows graze on polluted land and children
play in toxic gunge. With three quarters of the population living under
the poverty line, the country’s post-Soviet government is promising oil
will turn Azerbaijan into a “real country,” a prosperous and flourishing
“New Kuwait.” But between big oil companies like British Petroleum and
the corrupt government lining their pockets, what does this mean for the
ordinary people of Azerbaijan? Is this “liquid gold” more of a curse
than a blessing for this troubled country? 
 
Czech Republic 2005
(75 minutes)
Directed by Martin MareÕek
In Russian and Azeri with English subtitles
Contact: Barbora Fabianova 
barbora@bionaut.cz
 
Robert Cutler (Carleton U, Canada) will lead the discussion after the
screening.
 
FRIDAY APRIL 14, 5.20-7.20 PM
 
FILM5
In Pursuit of the Siberian Shaman 
 
This film takes a behind-the-scenes look at an indigenous Buryat shaman
living on a remote Siberian island as he moves between intimate shamanic
rituals performed for local clientele and shows performed at various
resorts for Western tourists in search of "primitive" cultures. The film
captures cross-cultural miscommunication as the shaman and tourists
misunderstand one another, usually comically, sometimes disturbingly.
The gap in communication is made all the more poignant by conflict
between the dominant Russian Orthodox Church and the local shamanic
tradition. Long suppressed by Christian missionaries and then by Soviet
anti-religious campaigns, Siberian shamanism has experienced an
unprecedented revival following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and
the number of shamans continues to rise. But who are these new shamans?
Are they tricksters or magicians? Political activists or clever
businessmen? The film exposes the disjuncture between Western romantic
fantasies and the actual plight suffered by contemporary indigenous
peoples.
 
US 2006
(73 minutes)
In Buryat/Russian with English subtitles.
Directed by Anya Bernstein (NYU, US) 
cyberanya@gmail.com
 
Anya Bernstein will be present for a Q&A after the screening. Lisa
Koriouchkina (Brown U, US) will lead the discussion.
 
FILM8
HUNGARIAN PASSPORT (Um Passaporte Hungaro)
 
Speaking over the telephone with the Hungarian consulate, the Brazilian
filmmaker Sandra Kogut asks, “Can someone who has a Hungarian
grandfather obtain a Hungarian passport?” The bureaucrat on the other
end of the line is confused, “Yes…it’s possible…but why do you want a
Hungarian passport?”  The administrative process of obtaining a passport
becomes the narrative thread of this disarmingly unaffected film diary.
Kogut creates a private journal of her trips to and from Brazil,
Hungary, and France, recording the Kafkaesque experience of her
frustrating and often hysterical attempts to jump through the necessary
bureaucratic hoops. On the way, she explores a painful family history of
forced emigration and a hidden legacy of anti-Semitism as she confronts
some essential questions: What is nationality? What is a passport for?
What should we do with our heritage? How do we construct our history and
our own identity?
 
US 2001
(73 minutes)
Directed by Sandra Kogut 
sandrak@infonie.fr
 
SATURDAY APRIL 14, 11.20 AM-1.20 PM
 
FILM7
A LESSON OF BELARUSIAN
 
After the Soviet Union collapsed, Belarus became an independent country
and a humanistic Lycee was founded in Minsk, with the aim of raising an
elite Belarusian intelligentsia. However, in 1995, Lukashenka comes to
power. Democracy and freedom come to an end. Also the Lyceum is labeled
a banned institution. The Lycee students do not give up though, but
steadfastly keep studying in the underground. The Presidential
elections, for which Lukashenka changed the Constitution in order to be
elected for a third term, become the culminating point of the film.
Despite the fear of repression, thousands of people enter the streets.
In the main square of Minsk, the Lyceum pupils join forces to build a
tent city, which is then brutally pacified by militia. Hundreds of
people end up in prison. However, the Lycee students do not give up,
they deeply believe that one day Belarus will be a free country.  
 
Poland 2006
(56 minutes)
In Belarusian and Polish, with English subtitles
Directed by Miroslaw Dembinski 
mirek@studioeverest.pl
 
Natalia Leshchenko (Global Insight, UK) will lead the discussion after
the screening.
 
SATURDAY APRIL 14, 2.50-4.50 PM
 
FILM6
MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY
 
In this Oscar nominated feature, director/cinematographer Laura Poitras
creates an extraordinarily intimate portrait of Iraqis living under U.S.
occupation. Her principal focus is Dr. Riyadh, an Iraqi medical doctor,
father of six and Sunni political candidate. An outspoken critic of the
occupation, he is equally passionate about the need to establish
democracy in Iraq, arguing that Sunni participation in the January 2005
elections is essential. Yet all around him, Dr. Riyadh sees only chaos,
as his waiting room fills each day with patients suffering the physical
and mental effects of ever-increasing violence. Unfolding like a
narrative drama, MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY follows the agonizing
predicament and gradual descent of one man caught in the tragic
contradictions of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and its project to spread
democracy in the Middle East.
 
US 2006
(90 minutes)
in Kurdish, English, and Arabic, with English subtitles
Directed by Laura Poitras
Contact: Ben Simington 
ben@zeitgeistfilms.com
 
SATURDAY APRIL 14, 5.20-7.20 PM
 
FILM2
VUKOVAR – FINAL CUT
 
The first Serbian-Croatian production, “Vukovar” is a study of pain,
suffering and disappointment that accompany the tragic breakup of
Yugoslavia in the 90s. The film is an effort to approach a topic from a
vantage point of historical distance of 15 years. The authors examine
why Vukovar, a rich Slavonian town famous for being a “miniature
Yugoslavia,” Tito’s exemplary town of unity, was the one location to
suffer total apocalypse, one comparable to the sacrifice and siege of
Stalingrad, and by the extent of destruction, reminiscent of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. By combining archival footage with the contemporary
interviews, the film covers the history of the city from before the war
through the siege and the fall of Vukovar and to the events after the
war.
 
Serbia/Montenegro 2006
(103 minutes)
Directed by Janko Baljak and Drago Hedl
Contact: Vanja Kranjac 
vanja.kranjac@b92.net
 
Vojislava Filipcevic (Columbia U, US) will lead the discussion after the
screening.

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