MINELRES: ASN 2009 World Convention Film Lineup

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun Apr 5 14:17:41 2009

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

[A PDF of this announcement, with pictures, can be downloaded at


The ASN 2009 World Convention, taking place at the Harriman Institute,
Columbia University, on 23-25 April, is pleased to present once again an
exciting line-up of twelve international documentaries dealing with
regions and themes of interest to our participants. This year’s film
selections take us on a voyage across Western and Central Europe
(Germany, Poland, Estonia), through the Balkans (Kosovo, Serbia),
Ukraine, the Caucasus (Georgia and Abkhazia) and into the Eurasian
expanse (Turkmenistan, China). Through the roving lens and probing
questions of talented filmmakers, the powerful, often disturbing images
they capture, as well as the voices of a diverse assortment of
individuals interviewed, these films offer insight into fundamental
issues now facing states, societies and populations a decade into the
21st century — remembering and framing the past, the challenges of
economic and political development in the post-communist era, the
pressures of globalism, resurgent nationalism, identity, and the clash
of cultures and traditions.

The films will be screened in the International Affairs Building,
Columbia University, 420 W. 118th St., New York, NY 10027. The
Convention will feature 125 panels and more than 700 participants, from
over 40 countries, are expected. To download the Convention’s Program,
and obtain registration information, go to
<http://www.nationalities.org> . For information on the Convention,
please contact Gordon N. Bardos, gnb12@columbia.edu, 212 854 8487.

FRIDAY APRIL 24, 11.20 AM-1.20 PM
Canada, 2007 (57 minutes)
Directed by Dani Stodilka, written by Peter Bejger
Contact: Dani Stodilka < 1253productions@gmail.com >
(in English)
ROOM 1512

This is the first Western documentary to present the history of Galicia
and Lviv through rare footage of the region’s still little explored art
and architecture. The film’s creators closely cooperated with Galician
academics, icon painters, museum directors, curators, composers, and
musicians, as well as restoration specialists. Galicia today faces new
challenges as it straddles the recently expanded European Union and
those territories on the outside looking in. The history of Lviv is
particularly rich and salient. Transformed in the distant past from a
Ruthenian princely seat to a Polish royal city, and later from an
Austrian crown-land capital to a Polish regional center, it was also
forcibly held in more recent times by both the Nazis and the Soviets. It
is here that the pulse of Ukrainian identity and European aspirations
beat, where national memory and civic identity have been repeatedly
contested and recreated. 

FRIDAY APRIL 24, 2.50-4.50 PM
US, 2008 (60 minutes)
Directed by Larry Kamerman and Sudhir Venkatesh
Contact: Daniel Wasserman < daniel@gencofilms.com >
(in English/Georgian, with English subtitles)
ROOM 1512

The film explores the struggle for freedom of thought and expression in
Georgia in the wake of the crackdown on democracy in the fall of 2007,
leading to the controversial re-election of President Mikhail
Saakashvili in January 2008. Following the lives of opposition activists
Irakli Kakabadze and Anna Dolidze, At the Top of My Voice dives beneath
the headlines to provide an intimate and gripping portrait of the human
face behind the current struggle for democracy and human rights in
Georgia. The film raises questions about the risks taken by scholars and
artists worldwide who dare to speak truth to power.

France, 2007 (53 minutes)
Directed by Jean-Yves Cauchard
Contact: Larry Daressa < LD@newsreel.org >
(in Mandarin, with English voice-over)
ROOM 1027

The film’s story of a typical migrant couple is one of millions now
unfolding among the multitude of migrants from rural China who comprise
the backbone of the Chinese economic miracle. This massive dislocation
of people might well represent the largest, most rapid migration in
human history. The film depicts how a single generation is experiencing
the culture shock of an Industrial Revolution that took centuries in the
West. An elegy to a lost way of life and a grassroots view of what could
become the most powerful economic power on earth, the film offers a
human dimension to the ubiquitous label “Made in China.”
FRIDAY APRIL 24, 5.10-7.10 PM
US, 2008 (97 minutes)
Directed by James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty
Contact: Noel Lawrence < noellawrence@sprintmail.com >
(in English/Estonian, with English subtitles)
ROOM 1512

The occupation of Estonia by the Nazis and the Soviets ushered in a
period of terror for the Estonian population, more than one-quarter of
which was deported to Siberia, executed, or driven abroad by the end of
World War II. Music sustained the Estonian people during these dark
years and was such a crucial part of their subsequent struggle for
freedom that their successful bid for independence is known as the
Singing Revolution. Filmmakers Tusty and his wife Maureen were inspired
by the power music has had over their fellow Estonians and devoted four
years to documenting this incredible story. The result is a moving,
intensely human testament to the sustaining power of hope and the
motivating strength of song. The film reflects the indomitable human
drive for personal freedom, political independence and

Germany/Austria/ESI, 2008 (55 minutes)
Directed by Franz Leopold Schmelzer
Contact: Verena Knaus <v.knaus@esiweb.org>
(in English/Serbian, with English subtitles)
ROOM 1027

This film is a segment of the ten-part documentary Balkan Express -
Return to Europe, a German-Austrian co-production, in collaboration with
European Stability Initiative (ESI). Heralded as one the “most ambitious
TV projects on Southeastern Europe produced in recent years,” the series
was awarded the “Erasmus EuroMedia Grand Award” in 2008. Commended for
“the exemplary way in which [it] blends inspired direction and emphatic
camera work with sound scientific research and journalistic excellence”,
the series allows people of various backgrounds who have contributed to
the region's progress since the mid-1990s (artists, lawyers,
journalists, activists, mayors, athletes…) the opportunity to comment on
their current situation. 

SERBIA: EXIT EUROPE explores two powerful but contradictory forces now
at play in Serbia. The loss of Kosovo has rekindled nationalism and
bitterness towards the international community, while the victory of the
pro-European forces in the May 2008 elections steered the country
towards EU integration. Key questions now hover over Serbia’s future: Is
Serbia on track to joining the EU? Is it confronting the crimes of the
Milosevic era? Or will the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with
the EU remain on hold and application for EU membership a distant

Germany/Austria/ESI, 2008 (52 minutes)
Directed by Gernot Stadler
Contact: Contact: Verena Knaus <v.knaus@esiweb.org>
(in English/Albanian, with English subtitles)
ROOM 1027

A segment of the ten-part documentary Balkan Express - Return to Europe,
the film addresses independence, stability and future prospects in
Kosovo, and the challenges the EU-Mission faces in dealing with the
country's problems, particularly the catastrophic state of its economy.
At the heart of the film are illuminating visits with families whose
personal stories demonstrate the growing strains and pressures felt by a
population little supported by the state that is forced to hold tight to
traditional family-based structures. 

SATURDAY APRIL 25, 11.20 AM-1.20 PM

Finland/US, 2008 (90 minutes)
Directed by Arto Halonen
Contact: Larry Daressa <LD@newsreel.org>
(in English/Turkmen/Russian, with English subtitles)
ROOM 1512

This high-spirited political satire exposes the complicity of
multinational corporations in supporting and legitimizing dictator
Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, self-appointed President for Life
and one of the world’s most egregious violators of human rights. Through
interviews with Turkmeni dissidents, journalists and human rights
advocates now either in jail or exile, the film explores how Niyazov
transformed a remote Central Asian republic into one of the most
oppressive regimes in recent history. The “holy book” in the film’s
title refers to Niyazov’s Ruhnama — a bizarre blend of legend and the
dictator’s delusional thinking that rivals Mao’s “little red book.”

Netherlands, 2008 (72 minutes)
Directed by Astrid  Bussink
Contact: Charlotte Sarneel < charlotte@zeppers.nl >
(in Russian, with English subtitles)
ROOM 1027

Setting out initially to investigate rumors that the KGB had attempted
to cross humans with primates, filmmaker Bussink made her way to the
Sukhum Primate Center in the former Soviet republic of Abkhazia, the
world’s oldest monkey laboratory. The tumultuous 1990s were not easy for
this pioneering research institution that was once the pride of the
Soviet Union. The Laboratory that had trained primates for space travel
and contributed cutting-edge research to the fight against cancer fell
into decay in the years following the Georgian civil war. As the film
shows, the buildings crumbled through neglect, but most of the monkeys
escaped and are the focus of the lab personnel’s struggle to keep the
Center alive. Documenting these quiet but determined efforts, the film
raises questions about large-scale politics and science, and underscores
the stark reality of political and economic changes that affect
everyone, animals included.

SATURDAY APRIL 25, 2.50-4.50 PM

France, 2005 (57 minutes)
Directed by Virginie Linhart and Georges Mink
Contact: Georges Mink <mink@u-paris10.fr>
ROOM 1512

With the birth of Solidarnost in 1980, Poland successfully contested the
power of the communist regime, before losing hard won freedoms shortly
after. Unprecedented negotiations between the communists and
Solidarnost’s leader a few years later, however, helped pave the way for
the fall of communist regimes in Eastern Europe. Surprisingly, by the
mid-1990s, democratic elections brought the communists back to power in
Poland. The film explores this seesaw movement in Polish politics by
delving deeply into the murky history of negotiations between
Solidarnost and the communists throughout.

France, 2007 (57 minutes)
Directed by Eyal Sivan and Georges Mink
Contact: Georges Mink <mink@u-paris10.fr>
(in Polish and French, with French voice-over)
ROOM 1512

The film presents a unique picture of the Polish state through the story
of twin brothers Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, President and Prime
Minster of Poland respectively when the film was shot.  Through
interviews with members of the Kaczynskis’ party, the filmmakers
deconstruct the dual, seemingly contradictory nature of leaders who
equipped themselves with a modern Western-style party and pledged
loyalty to democratic Europe, but exercised political power through

Canada, 2007 (53 minutes)
Directed by Boaz Beeri, written by Jonathan Medow and Abe Singer
Contact: Abe Singer (U of Illinois at Chicago) <asinge3@uic.edu> 
ROOM 1027

The film focuses on the outpouring of national feeling expressed in
Germany during the World Cup tournament, and the reactions and
discussions it prompted in German society among people of various
backgrounds. While tracking the progress of the German team in the World
Cup, the film focuses on Markus, a leftist Berlin University student who
tells his side of the “German identity story.” Interviews with German
politicians, rock stars, media executives, museum directors and students
highlight the tensions surrounding the burning issues of new German
patriotism, history, the contemporary role of Jewishness in German
society and, ultimately, German identity. As the World Cup advances,
Markus’ life experiences and outlook provide one vivid example of the
very personal process of identity formation that is unique to Germany.

SATURDAY APRIL 25, 5.10-7.10 PM

Austria, 2006 (99 minutes)
Directed by Susanne Brandtstatter
Contact: Manfred Kapper < manfred.kapper@bmeia.gv.at >
(in English/Albanian, with English subtitles)
ROOM 1512

Looking for something more adventurous than her life as a judge in
Vienna, Claudia Fenz takes on a post with the UN as part of the
organization’s mission to support the democratic reconstruction of this
Balkan region recently devastated war. Fenz heads to Prizren in southern
Kosovo and takes on the trial of six Albanians accused of having stoned
a Serb and his mother to death during riots that broke out in March
2004. The film charts the judge’s attempts to work with the local
council, focusing on her encounter with moral standards and traditional
rules characteristic of a patriarchal society, but contrary to the “rule
of law” decreed by the UN. Tirelessly seeking to familiarize herself
with local customs and navigate a passage to justice, Fenz’s experience
highlights the tensions between the two ethnicities, while at the same
time raising important questions about the meaning of justice itself and

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