Les États généraux du film documentaire 2020 Unexpected news

Unexpected news

In 2020, the “Doc Route” programme was headed for Austria before all movement was suspended. We will go this autumn, we hope, to meet our colleague and future interlocutor for this programme crafted from two points of view, so that a voice may finally become incarnate and the shared work may begin. It is impossible to imagine carrying out this work entirely at a distance, so dependent is it on the collaboration and the encounter not only with a co-programmer, but also with the films and their creators. This period of uncertainty has led us to ask for news from our close collaborators, and the prospect of an online programme has led us to give it a complete rethink. We called up Cláudia Mesquita and Kumjana Novakova, responsible for previous “Doc Routes” on Brazil and Yugoslavia: “You know Lussas and its festival, you have been here and have accompanied films, you know the importance of face to face meetings we try to encourage around the films. In this situation which is so special, this impossibility to meet fully, thinking of Lussas and of what you have experienced here, imagining a modest screening in terms of the number of spectators, but nonetheless a real screening, what film would you like to share with us?” They responded at once and proposed new films by filmmakers we have already presented. We watched them and discussed them as we usually do, and we propose in this “Unexpected News” programme Where’s Edson? by Dácia Ibiapina and Oroslan by Matjaž Ivanišin (presented below), alongside two films that really stuck out for us: the latest films by Susana de Sousa Dias and Digna Sinke, filmmakers already programmed in previous “Doc Route” surveys of Portugal and the Netherlands.
Susana de Sousa Dias explores Brazil in Fordlandia Malaise, the memory of a territory that was colonised then abandoned, but which remains inhabited. The stories from the present, through the eyes of children or those of oppression and revolt float over the town like so many double exposures, like a memory suspended over a land torn from its origins. Attachment to the land here, and attachment to objects elsewhere. Offering another more intimate exploration of the embodiment of memory, with Keeping & Saving – or How to Live, Digna Sinke observes our relation to objects and collections, between obsessions and memory, a way of suspending time to keep death at bay. Not less, perhaps, than to point out a trend toward dematerialisation, born by a growing digitisation and an impulse to accumulate, which no doubt distances us from our tactile relationship to the world. Four films with extremely different formal strategies, also chosen because they resonate quite differently today.

Pascale Paulat, Christophe Postic

Where’s Edson?

Dácia Ibiapina’s new film builds on an alliance with the social movements engaged in the housing crisis to recount some recent episodes of Brazilia’s history from another point of view than that of the so called “truths” fabricated by mainstream Brazilian media. The event that threads its way through the film is the violent police eviction of the families occupying the Hotel Torre Palace in 2016. The police operation is depicted as a real act of war, which cost the state a fortune to defend a private property. The film recounts the event as a paradigm for the criminalisation of protest movements, as well as for the complicity with the economic powers that historically have driven the state of Brazil.
One of the feats of the film is to place the urgency of the struggle (in a country where the shortfall in housing units is estimated at 7.8 million) within the current political context – not through explanation, but through the elaboration of different temporalities via the editing. Furthermore, by following Edson, the film sheds light on the nuances of positioning within the Brazilian left: he breaks with the MTST (Homeless Workers’ Movement), criticizing them for their proximity to institutional politics (at the time when the Workers’ Party was still in office). By intercutting Edson’s trajectory with the portraits of other individuals engaged in occupations, the film presents a political leader who remains close to the aspirations of his movement, whose ideas and acts negate the attempts at criminalisation carried out by the media images included in the film.
The appropriation of police footage is worth noting. Subverted from their original intention, these shots expose the grotesque staging put on by State agents making visible (including by what they do not show) the perversity of a war operation against “enemies” who are vulnerable Brazilian citizens fighting for their constitutional rights. Once again, we are the witnesses of a “war of and by images”, as noted by Fábio Filho [1] – a fundamental lesson of Where’s Edson?, a more than essential film that we would like to share with the audience in Lussas.

Cláudia Mesquita

With thanks to Vinícius Andrade Oliveira for his feedback and to Vitor Zan for the French translation.

1. http://alagoar.com.br/enquadrar-o-enquadrador/

In this particular moment : for the Real

Sharing cinema is complex. In any possible sense. Starting from providing the technical conditions for each work particularly, to wider production and financial needs screenings have to meet. But, most importantly, how to share the social and cultural context each film carries with it? How to introduce the complexities each work of cinema unfolds in front of us?
The current pandemic reinforced all of these questions, which curators and programmers struggle with constantly. Christophe and Pascale invited me to share a film in this particular moment, asking me to think about the festival in Lussas, and more importantly about a small audience, but a real one.
A real audience. What if this is our last real audience? What if this is the summer of the last real screen shared by a real audience?
The cinema will gather the village. There will be few from the marching film industry. Maybe a few festival people, but all good hearted, and locals.
I enter the cinema in Lussas. A film starts, I am in the village and with the village. The film is shared on the real big screen by neighbours. During the day, they share the market, the sun that never goes out in summer, the café. They share the tenderness and roughness of their life. It is their life and no one else’s life. Suddenly, I start thinking of the families and people inside the cinema. The family stories and life stories are never the same, but similar in their particularities. I am in Lussas – the village. I am in Gornji Senik – the village of Oroslan.
A simple way of being together. Events and non-events. Stories mostly. About you, about her, about Oroslan, about us. As if in Gornji Senik, the stories we tell are the stories that welcome us. And, care. Without the epic canvas.
Life is real.

Kumjana Novakova