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TEN YEARS JAPAN – Does Japan dream of electric sheep?

After a surprising domestic success of the experimental omnibus film portraying dystopic future in an anti-government fashion, that is Hongkong’s TEN YEARS (2015), it was then followed by other envisioning of anti-utopia: Thailand, Taiwan and Japan. The last one (produced by Palme D’or winner Hirokazu Koreeda) is definitely not as straight-forward as the Hongkong take,…

JOSÉ – The price of working class queerness in Guatemalan currency

Depends on the rent-by-the-hour hotel. The winner of last year’s Queer Lion Award JOSÉ is part of an evergrowing struggle of queer cinema directors to overcome the monopoly of the white skin, upper class, Occidental LGBT+ community representation in cinema. Wanuri Kahiu’s RAFIKI and Ivana Mladenovic’s SOLDIERS. STORY FROM FERENTARI were such films that became…

DEAD SOULS – On-screen preservation

What’s to be done with an almost impossible-to-distribute masterpiece like Wang Bing‘s eight-hour DEAD SOULS? Should it be considered a rara avis of the big screen and keep its public limited or should it become part of the already prominent arthouse scene of the VOD platforms? While the fact that Icarus Films and Grasshopper Film…

A LAND IMAGINED – Dreaming of Singapore

After Yeo Siew Hua and his A LAND IMAGINED won Golden Leopard at 71st Locarno Film Festival, Singapore cinema finally awaited some international recognition. It was followed by a success back home, when it was awarded a Best Asian Feature Film award at Singapore’s SIFF. It not only gave Yeo some well deserved credit, but…

MIDNIGHT TRAVELER – A portrait of a family of asylum seekers from Afghanistan

MIDNIGHT TRAVELER di Hassan Fazili premiered in World Cinema Documentary Competition of the Sundance Film Festival, and also screened at Panorama section of the Berlinale where it got the Ecumenical Jury Award. Shot on three mobile phones, it offers an insight into the personal story of Afghan filmmaker Hassan Fazili and his family, who were…

AFTER THE REVOLUTION – VHiStory in Romania

The Romanian Revolution from December 1989 is mostly discussed as the very end of the Warsaw Pact communist block, and also as the only violent Eastern anti-Communist revolution from 1989. The fact that all the eyes were set on the Romanian political unrest and The Fall of the Berlin Wall (and, lately, The Gulf War)…

MORE – Becoming a heartless human while handling refugees

The terrible tragedy that is an ongoing situation in the Mediterranean has become “valuable material” that numerous writers, directors and storytellers from very different perspectives (and with different outcomes) continue to deal with. Incredible stories, symbolic images, neorealist accounts feed a copious production of works that at times give rise to extraordinarily different approaches and…

A FIRST FAREWELL – Apolitically speaking Uyghur

While terrorism is one of the most acute issues of the 21st century and reducing its causes should be an international priority, different ways of combating it have become artificial validations of oppression. While Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov is famously struggling with such an oppression in Siberia after a faux accusation of terrorism from the…

GOD EXISTS, HER NAME IS PETRUNYA – The Epiphany of Macedonian Women

State and religion have a long history of fighting for the top position in the power hierarchy. The formal status of secular state that is valid for every country in the European Union, however does not end the power games: church tends to exploit the legacy of previous times, still remaining an influential institution, that…

ZERO IMPUNITY – The impunity for sexual violence in war-related context

There is still much silence about violence against women. At any longitude and latitude, whether at home, in Hollywood suites or in war contexts, sexual violence against women is often unreported and hardly prosecuted. Mostly, the perpetrators of these crimes continue to enjoy their impunity, particularly in conflict situations where violence against women is a…

HOUSE OF MY FATHERS – Revisiting civil war in Sri Lanka

HOUSE OF MY FATHERS tells almost the same story as Cuaron’s CHILDREN OF MEN (2006), but it’s set in the universe where shamanism and magic remain in the social high ground. Due to its multi-layered allegorism, it might not be the easiest of journeys, but when puzzled out, it brings sophisticated take on reality of…

ANOTHER DAY OF LIFE – Ryszard Kapuścinski in Angola during civil war

“Another day of life, Ricardo”. A painful smile appears on the face of Captain Farrusco, with the desperate awareness of one who knows that in war another day to live is to be enjoyed as a gift that should not be wasted. Also to fight. His unit has been reduced to a few men, young…

ABOUT HIM OR HOW HE DID NOT FEAR THE BEAR – Lampooning the post-soviet reality

What seems as an anti-Russian film at first glimpse, Nariné Mkrtchyan and Arsen Azatyan’s recent ABOUT HIM OR HOW HE DID NOT FEAR THE BEAR – premiering worldwide at 48th International Film Festival Rotterdam– is a complex study on Armenian’s post-Velvet Revolution. As serious as it gets, vast room is spared for a precise, yet…

ERASED, ASCENT OF THE INVISIBLE – The memory after the civil war in Beirut

In the mid-70-s political and religious tensions in Lebanon resulted in a civil war, that lasted for about 15 years (1975-1990) and made the whole country witnesses of devastation, bombing attacks and massacres on the background of a complicated mosaic of religious and ethnic factions: Maronite Christians, Sunnites, Shiites, Druze, Palestinians. Triggered on the surface…

SMUGGLING HENDRIX – A dog across the border of Cyprus

No Borders Underwear. A local sex-shop ironically opens and closes Greek Cypriot director Marios Piperides’ debut feature film. SMUGGLING HENDRIX, Tribeca Film Festival’s Best International Narrative winner, tackles the border that divides Cyprus between the Turkish Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus, a politically odd situation which persists since 1974, featuring one…

WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY – The story of a secret archive

Based on the book of the same name written by the historian Samuel D. Kassow, WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY, directed by Roberta Grossman, premiered in Italy at the Rome Film Fest, is an outstanding documentary about the story of an archive. The voiceover of Emanuel Ringelblum, historian of Polish Judaism and Rachel Auerbach, one…

SOFIA – The Rebirth Of Power Dynamics

No matter how inclusive it tries to be, the law is always blind to some categories of people. Usually, laws impose a certain social stratification and history shows that the outskirts of society rarely benefit from the protection of law. Nevertheless, the line between lawful and lawless ones is very thin in a highly strict and conservative society…

WHEN THE WAR COMES – Far-right paramilitary groups in Slovakia

Over the recent years Europe is coming up with a disturbing tendency of increasing the support of populist right-wing politics. Currently it is showing the highest level of approval of the parties using the corresponding rhetoric. Eastern Europe becomes one of the regions with the highest share of presence. The most extreme outcome of the…

SILAS – The Timber Conflicts

There are ‘conflict mineral’, ‘conflict diamond’ and, then, ‘conflict timber’. The timber that fuels the inter-ethnic conflicts and civil wars. As in Liberia where trees trunks, cut down and illegally sold, have become weapons in the hands of the different rebel factions that have bloodied Liberia, and the entire surrounding region, for more than 20 years.…

THE DELEGATION – Mission Albania

The Old exits, the New enters, a game of mirrors where the optical illusions reveal distorted figures, transmuting ectoplasms behind a series of doors, lifeless figures, long-reaching shadows from history. Oppressive regimes, freedom destroying dictatorships, authoritarian gerontocracy surviving from one Short Century into a longer one, with their hordes of torturers, henchmen, wheeler-dealers, taking front…

THE RIVER – On 7th day God created Internet

Emir Baigazin returns with his third feature, THE RIVER, which concludes his coming-of-age trilogy, consisting of HARMONY LESSONS (2013) and THE WOUNDED ANGEL (2016). Consequently to his previous work, he decided to match the symbolism in which the dark times of modernity are presented in slow cinema form. THE RIVER offers not only an aesthetic experience, but also…

ON HER SHOULDERS – The genocide of Yazidis

Before 5 October 2018 not many people had heard about Nadia Murad. A face and a voice more known to those involved in the affairs of the Middle East, or to those who have seen ON HER SHOULDERS, the documentary by Alexandria Bombach which won the prize for the Best Director at the last Sundance Festival. On 5…

BRUCE LEE AND THE OUTLAW – The martial art of surviving in the underground

Joost Vandebrug’s debut feature BRUCE LEE AND THE OUTLAW has its roots in his career as a photographer as well as in the very first representation of Romania as a ‘free country’ in the international media back in the 1990s. The orphanages of horror, as the Romanian press called the shelters, in which thousands of children…

SCHOOL SERVICE – Neverland does not exist in Manila

To the outsider’s view, Manila appears as a city full of disturbing contrasts. It is the midpoint of a densely populated agglomeration, homing state banking and commerce headquarters, tourist lures, international businesses and new media corporations including, ironically, centers for Facebook content moderation. All this is heavily seasoned with the remains of the colonial rule…

THE DIVE – War is a culture

Israeli Yona Rozenkier’s semi-autobiographical first feature is a take on culture of violence, militarism, and masculinity – not necessarily limited to the director’s home country. Having debuted in Locarno, THE DIVE follows three brothers reunited for their father’s funeral and their different approach to military service in the early days of the 2006 Lebanon War.…

BEFORE THE FERRY ARRIVES – A keepsake of Cuba before the big change

May 2015: a multigenerational Cuban family is in the living room right in front of the TV, quarreling in an indistinct yet heated argument. An elderly woman interrupts at the highest point and points to the TV screen, where the news about the introduction of a new US – Cuba ferry line is being announced.…

MANTA RAY – Social and magical border lines

Following its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where it was awarded the Orizzonti prize, Phuttiphong Aroonpheng’s directorial feature debut was presented in Toronto, San Sebastian and Busan where it attracted the attention of both critics and audience with its subtle – yet challenging to fully understand – aesthetic portrayal of everlasting immigration issues in Thai…

THE CACOPHONY OF DONBAS – From Symphony to Cacophony

Found-footage films have a very specific place in the history of cinema. Using pre-existent material in order to articulate a discourse about the present by referring to the past is as much paradoxical as it (still) is iconoclastic. Igor Minaiev introduces the public to the idea of found footage even from the title – he…

LAND – The discrimination of Native Americans

Maori filmmaker Barry Barclay coined the term Fourth Cinema to describe Indigenous cinema, referring to films being shown more or less exclusively on the festival circuit. Besides Sundance’s Native Program, started in the 1990s, Berlinale also launched its NATIVe programme in 2013, and several smaller film festivals choose to select exclusively Indigenous productions. Nevertheless, there…

ISIS TOMORROW – The Lost Souls Of Mosul

Premiered at the last Venice Film Festival in the  Out of Competition section, the documentary by Francesca Mannocchi and Alessio Romenzi has a dramatically unsettling title. ISIS, tomorrow, again. Maybe waving a new flag or assuming a new name after having changed from ISI to ISIS to finally become with the creation of the Caliphate in 2014,…

THE ANNOUNCEMENT – The Story of an Attempted Coup in Turkey

THE ANNOUNCEMENT, the latest film by the Turkish director, Mahmut Fazil Coşkun, premiered in Venice 75, is pure satire. Dry, wry and pungent. It is measured irony, caustic humor, biting criticism. A comedy of the absurd but tremendously real – not a funny comedy. As such not an easy film. And yet very worthwhile. THE ANNOUNCEMENT opens in…

JOSÉ MUJICA – The Story of a Giant

He is José Mujica the star of Venice 75. Completely removed from the blander canons of fame standards of celebrity, José Mujica has become, against his will, a world celebrity, a giant. Two works have been dedicated to the former President of Uruguay in the 75th edition of the Venice Film Festival. In a continuum…

RAVING IRAN – The Underground of Iran

When you say underground in Iran, you mean art, culture, music. Life. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, cultural life is underground in the broadest sense of the term –  underground, hidden in the bowels of the earth. It is here that Iranian music and, generally, the contemporary performing arts exist. Quite far from the concept of Western society,…

THE REAGAN SHOW – The Great Communicator

The man had natural talents, qualities typical of him. The intonation of the voice, the direction of the gaze, the weighing of the pauses. Ronald Reagan had been an actor, before that a sports radio commentator and a television host for General Electric, the US multinational energy company. He always knew how to capture the…

LOST WARRIOR – The Al-Shabaab penitents

Are they red or pink? What colour are the passports, Mohammed asks himself while looking at those of Fathi, his wife, and Yassir, his child. Mohammed can only dream of this priceless intensely colored document, a surviving fetish of the nation-state that divides the world between who is in and who is out. LOST WARRIOR by Nasib Farah and Søren…

THE MEN BEHIND THE WALL – Walls in the time of Tinder

Ines goes looking for men beyond the wall. Audaciously, going beyond the wall of apartheid, oppression and shame. More than 400 kilometers of cement and steel winding along the border between Israel and the West Bank penetrating the Occupied Territories and dividing Palestinian communities one from the other. Every day, over 60,000 Palestinians cross the border…

WELCOME TO SODOM – The dumping of e-waste in Ghana

«[…] Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. He destroyed those cities and everyone who lived in them, as well as their land and the trees and grass that grew there. […]» (Old Testament, Genesis 19.24) Always a source of artistic inspiration, the allegorical and symbolic…

THE POETESS – A voice from behind the veil

Hissa Hilal is a forty year old woman from Saudi Arabia with a husband and sons. She is not only a folklore scholar, a writer and a poetess, but also a feminist activist. In Saudi Arabia, a country where women are rigorously banned from public life. A voice from behind the veil, strong and powerful, Hissa has…

SOVIET HIPPIES – The soviet hippie movement

Peace, love and freedom. The magic formula of the hippy philosophy of the seventies behind the Iron Curtain, up on its pillars sprouting between the fissures of the suffocating Soviet surveillance. SOVIET HIPPIES of the young Estonian director, Terje Toomistu, presented at the last Trieste Film Festival recounts the little known story of the hippy movement in the Soviet Union…

NAILA AND THE UPRISING – Palestinian women’s Intifada

It was not only the revolution of the stones. The First Palestinian Intifada (1987-1993) that broke out in the occupied territories of the Gaza Strip and West Bank was also a war of women, and for women. An unstoppable overflowing river, an uprising that is still little-known and unfairly unacknowledged, that transformed non-violent resistance and disobedience into a…

UNTITLED – A journey without end, a film without a story

“I just want to travel the world for a year filming what I come across.” This is what Michael Glawogger did, a world famous Austrian documentary maker, presenting us with a river in flood of images overflowing its banks, unstoppable, uncontrollable and with an extraordinary force. More than four months of filming in a dozen…

ANGKAR – The silence of shame

“I have grown up with your silences, with your feelings of guilt for having survived.” A daughter is talking to her father. Neary Adeline Hay, a young documentary maker and the author of ANGKAR, presented in Paris at the last edition of the international documentary festival, Cinéma du Réel. For thirty long years, Khonsaly Hay has…

THE OSLO DIARIES – The reconstruction of the history of the Oslo Accords

A century seems to have passed, light years from that 13 September 1993, when on the lawn of the White House, two rather hesitant hands moved towards each other before the President of the United States and photographers from every part of the world to immortalize the ‘moment’. The event that has passed into history,…

PLASTIC CHINA – Mountains of plastic

“We’ll build a refuge and sleep there, and we can also make ourselves a blanket for the night.” The taste of adventure for children wanting to feel like adults. A pity they’re not in a boy scout’s camp, but sitting on an enormous mound of plastic waste. The playground of Yi Jie, Ah Zi and Hi…

THE CLEANERS – The censors of the Web

Every minute of every day, 500 hours of video footage are uploaded on YouTube, 2,5 million posts are made on Facebook and 450,000 tweets appear on Twitter. These are the numbers that crowd the social platform where more than 3 billion people hang out. So many of us are ‘connected’. THE CLEANERS, premiered at the latest Sundance Festival is remarkable, well-balanced and…

LOUDER THAN GUNS – Music in the Yugo sphere

Louder than guns? The power of music. LOUDER THAN GUNS the well-made documentary of the young Croatian director Miroslav Sikavica, premiered at the latest Trieste Film Festival, is rich in music and images. Fascinating and full of curiosities through interviews with music stars, the documentary captures (with music!) the parabola of the disintegration ex-Yugoslavia ranging from the triumph of…

TARZAN’S TESTICLES – The monkeys of Sukhumi

This is not an anthropological representation about the myth of the good savage and, even less so, an erotic documentary set in the African jungle. TARZAN’S TESTICLES by the Romanian director, Alexandru Solomon, presented at the latest edition ot the Trieste Film Festival, is a complex and multi-faceted documentary in which apparently unconnected themes end up being gradually…

THE UNFORGIVEN – The Criminals of The Hague

«I wish it had never happened». THE UNFORGIVEN begins with this statement. A documentary by the Danish director, Lars Feldballe Petersen, its world preview at the International Festival of Documentary Cinema in Copenhagen. Esad Ladzo wished he had never lived through what he had experienced in 1992 in Bosnia-Herzegovina. As an executioner, not as a victim. He…

THE WORKERS CUP – The Football Slaves

Low cost manpower. Extremely low cost. More than a million and a half workers have arrived in the last years in Qatar to work on the huge building sites for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They have arrived from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and, of course, increasingly from Africa. According to theInternational Trade Union Confederation (Special…

MACHINES – The textile slaves

The slavery of the global economy. We already know it exists and better overlook it when as ravenous consumerists we buy goods made in exotic countries at ridiculously cheap prices. These prices would not be so low, if these goods, that we fleetingly crave, were made on the other side of the world. But this is…

TASTE OF CEMENT – Dedicated to all the workers in exile

Deservedly acclaimed by the most important international festivals, TASTE OF CEMENT by the Syrian director, Ziad Kalthoum, has been entirely created on the dual theme of construction and destruction, adapting to the twists of war, from Lebanon in the 1980s to Syria today, an unjust relay, an evil karma. TASTE OF CEMENT is dedicated to all those workers in exile and,…

LES BIENHEUREUX – The Islamization of Algeria

LES BIENHEUREUX is a feature film centered on conflicts. Three of these make up the plot of the promising debut feature film of Sofia Djama, world-premiered at the latest Venice Film Festival. The first conflict is generational common to every time and place; the second is a marital conflict, unavoidable for a middle-aged couple; and the third is of a social nature,…

DA’WAH – The mild Islam

Not only conservative fundamentalism, homicidal fanaticism, destructive Nihilism. Islam is something else. It is much more than the criminally disfigured face of some fringe elements from within its community. Islam is mildness, culture, tolerance, peace. “In Spinelli’s documentary I found the way to Rossellini’s documentaries, educated and curious […]”, using these words, Bernardo Bertolucci presented DA’WAH by Italo…

THE MINER – The skeletons of Slovenia

The dead must be given a proper burial. If then, they are victims of war, it is a moral duty for everyone. ‘Special Mention’ at the latest Warsaw Film Festival, THE MINER by the Slovenian film director Hanna Slak is a “purely Balkan film” where the key theme is a past that continues on forever, even…

BOARDING PASS – The body packers of Iran

Presented at the last Warsaw Film Festival, BOARDING PASS by the Iranian director Mehdi Rahmani is an unusual film in the prosperous and highly appreciated Iranian film world. An involving and smooth-flowing plot on a subject that is rarely touched upon by other Iranian directors. The scourge of drug trafficking and consumption in a country with one of…

VICEROY’S HOUSE – The end of the British Raj

“Do you know why the English are leaving? The war has brought them to their knees, they can no longer deal with us.” These were the whispers in the corridors of the majestic palace of the British governor in New Delhi, where a multitude of servants were preparing to receive the new British Viceroy of…

THE CONGO TRIBUNAL – A people’s tribunal in Congo

Reality theater, political theater, a courtroom, a mock trial. Both witnesses and the jury present an outstanding parterre – Jean Louis Gilissen, Cofounder of The Hague International Criminal Court; the sociologist, Saskia Sassen; the journalist, Colette Breckman, one of the most authoritative experts on the war in the Congo. The Stone Guest is the famous Swiss sociologist, Jean Ziegler, representative…

SAMI BLOOD – The dark side of Sweden

“I would like to continue studying.” (Elle Marje) “You are very good but you can’t.” (Teacher) “Why not?” (Elle Marje) “Studies have shown that you wouldn’t make it in the city, your brain is smaller.” (Teacher) A smaller brain, this would be certified by the anthropometric exams of the cranium conducted on the children of…

THE GOOD POSTMAN – The Bulgarian route of Syrian refugees

“Angela, I have a great idea, if I become mayor I make this village rivive together with Syrian refugees, we will reopen the school, the movie theatre. They are good people, we will reopen the school, the  movie theatre. They are good people, we will help them to start again here and they will help…

RISK – Julian Assange in the mirror of Laura Poitras

Who is Julian Assange? A hero? An amoral opportunist? A danger for international security? Maybe all of these. It is clear that for a part of his personal story, Julian Assange became a global icon for freedom of information online, for the fight against the conspiracy and secrecy of the power. Then things changed and his…

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM – The space race of Tito

“Even if it is not true, it says a lot about the society we live in.”  That is the sarcastic comment of Slavoj Žižek, one of the most popular philosophers of our times, in the last scene of HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM by the Slovenian director, Ziga Virc, presented at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. How true this…

AMONG THE BELIEVERS – An inside look into the Pakistani Red Mosque

“Progressive thought is dying.” Maulana Mohammad Abdul Aziz has no doubts, the main character of AMONG THE BELIEVERS, the powerful documentary by Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi, shot in the most infamous Pakistani school of Quran, Madrasas Laal Masjid, the Red Mosque of Islamabad. It should be said that the two acclaimed and award-winning…

A GOOD AMERICAN – Bill Binney, NSA and September 11

A GOOD AMERICAN is a documentary by Friedrich Moser co-produced by Oliver Stone on the mass surveillance activities of the National Security Agency (NSA). September 11 could have been avoided. William Edward Binney has no doubts about that, even to the point of apologizing to the American people for this and other things. Who is Bill Binney? A mathematics…

SEE YOU IN CHECHNYA – Memories of the wars

SEE YOU IN CHECHNYA is a beautiful, intimate and poignant journey through war. War that is ever present for those living on the front line. Presented at the latest edition of the Locarno Film Festival and the Trieste Film Festival, SEE YOU IN CHECHNYA is a collection of memoirs, a portrait of seven war reporters who…

KABULLYWOOD – The cinema in Afghanistan

The story of the Cinema Aryub, once the most famous in Kabul, is like a movie. Opened in 1973, closed during the Soviet invasion in the 1980s, reopened in 1988 after their withdrawal, reclosed by the Taliban and then opened again with the arrival of the Americans in 2001. Closed again six years later in…

LADIES FIRST – Saudi Arabia’s female candidates

  They cannot drive, not even to take their children to school. They cannot ask for a passport, open a bank account, do a rental contract, go to a doctor. Treated as children all their lives, the Saudi women cannot even carry out the simplest daily activity without a chaperone, obviously a man. In most…

SYRIA’S DISAPPEARED: THE CASE AGAINST ASSAD – The machine of atrocities

“[…] in all wars there are individual crimes but it is not politics […]” (Bashar al-Assad, interview with Foreign Affairs, 2015) Instead, it is politics, Mr. Assad. It is State torture, as Bill Wiley, former Public Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone and Stephen Rapp, the person Obama nominated to manage the…

BURNING BIRDS – Sri Lanka’s long war

BURNING BIRDS, the last film of the director Sanjeewa Pushpakumara, awarded ‘Best Film’ at the International Festival on Human Rights in Geneva in 2017, is a raw, no holds barred report on the terrible conditions of women living in war zones. To be a woman in war is fully witnessed in the tight countenance of…

LIKE DEW IN THE SUN – Ukraine between East and West

In nomen omen. The destiny of the Ukraine lies in its name u krajna “borderland”. The frontier between the two Europes, the liquid space between the East and the West, disputed, conquered, shoved to and fro by neighbouring powers : the Russians, Poles, Austro-Hungarians. A melting pot rich in multi-ethnic stratifications – the Greeks, Cimmerians,…

HOUSES WITHOUT DOORS – Aleppo (1915 – 2015)

War can remain with you even within the four walls of your home, and make you feel like you are living in a ‘house without doors’. Avo Kaprealian, the young Syrian director, but of Armenian origins, is the author of the beautiful documentary HOUSES WITHOUT DOORS, winner of the ‘Internazionale.doc’ at the last Turin Film Festival. He…

DEPTH TWO – Crimes in the Balkans

Arms, legs, human remains emerge from the depths of the Danube along the border between Serbia and Romania. The surrounding imposing mountains are mirrored in the eerie and turbid waters of the Danube, shrouded in a dreamlike atmosphere as if it were a Böcklin painting. A perfect noir setting is the backdrop of DEPTH TWO, the documentary…

ENCLAVE – Serbian apartheid in Kosovo

This film’s title ENCLAVE is a rather unpleasant word, full of negative connotations. It’s usually associated with segregation, rights that have been trampled upon, and identities that have been destroyed. It brings to mind invisible barriers, Indian reserves, ethnic cleansing. The very mention evokes a feeling of claustrophobia. In Kosovo, nobody lives in fear of the…

PUTIN FOREVER – Putin’s Russia and the failed snow revolution

PUTIN FOREVER – the title of this documentary film – is an unsettling thought. The fact that Vladimir Putin’s rule over Russia could be a lasting feature of the world order that’s being born from the ashes of the Pax Americana is no longer geopolitical fantasy but a concrete possibility. Putin’s ascendancy in Russian and…

TALES OF MEXICO – A house tells the story of Mexico

TALES OF MEXICO’s original title in Spanish is L’habitaciòn (The House). As the original title suggests, the film narrates how Mexico’s tumultuous history has transformed a house in Mexico City and the lives of its inhabitants over the last 100 years. The film is divided into 8 episodes, each one made by a different Mexican film maker.…

SNOWDEN – The digital cold war

Oliver Stone and Edward Snowden. The most anti-American award-winning director in Hollywood and one of the most world’s most notorious whistleblowers and US dissidents. The two have met 9 times between 2014 and 2015 in Moscow, where Snowden has been granted political asylum after his revelations about mass surveillance in 2013 in what’s known as…

WHITE SUN – Healing Nepal’s civil war

Nepal, the roof of the world, is the setting for White Sun. The breathtaking panoramas from the Himalayan peaks dominate its skyline. Buddhist monasteries nestle in the mountains, oasis of spirituality. However, Nepal’s less well known for being one of the poorest countries in the world. Its inhabitants earn little more than €600 per day. They…

THE ROAD TO MANDALAY – Human trafficking in the Great Mekong

THE ROAD TO MANDALAY is set against the backdrop of the Mae Nam Khong, meaning the Mother of Waters in Thai, or the Great Mekong. This immense river boasts 4,000 kilometers of navigable waters winding their way across China, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Crossed every day by thousands of illegal migrants, it’s Southeast Asia’s…

HOUSE OF OTHERS – The ghosts of Georgia

The winners and the losers. The dictum of every war. The winners take all, the losers lose all. Their land, homes, identity, belongings. Displaced persons in the name of ethnic solidity and artificial nationalism. Cultural and racial diaspora, increasingly occurring within national borders. Internally Displaced People (IDPs) make up more than double all the refugees requesting asylum(UNCHR 2015). They…

THE NET – Caught between the two Koreas

“When a fish is caught in the net, it’s over.” These are the first words Nam, a fisherman from a village in North Korea, murmurs to a sadistic Seoul National Security agent. He’s facing the first in a long series of interrogations, in a crescendo of violence as well as verbal and physical harassment. The…

THE JOURNEY – Northern Ireland’s journey to peace

When films use artistic license to portray reality, dystopias can become utopias, impossible dreams can be made into tangible reality, and deep seated animosity can be transformed into long lasting friendships. Thanks to its miraculous healing power, cinema can celebrate peace after years of bloody warfare. Film can put atrocities and bloodshed into the shadows…

EYE IN THE SKY – The American Raids on Al-Shaabab

Sacrificing one life to save one hundred? The irresolvable dilemma for the finiteness of man. This is the grand theme that emerges from EYE IN THE SKY, the last work of Gavin Hood released in Italian cinemas with the title Il diritto di uccidere (The Right to Kill). The question is not of minor importance as the title in…

TELL SPRING NOT TO COME THIS YEAR – The end of the NATO mission in Afghanistan

TELL SPRING NOT TO COME THIS YEAR, a film that was needed, a documentary by Saeed Taji Farouky, set and filmed in Afghanistan, in Helmand, the Taliban stronghold, a very rich region due to its opium harvests. Effective, sensitive, profound, human, TELL SPRING NOT TO COME THIS YEAR opens up our eyes, allowing us to go beyond the news of…

SONITA – The fight against child marriage in Afghanistan

Child marriage has always been a known fact but until recently little was known what it was like on the inside and what the millions of women who are forced to marry as children actually think about it. They have little or no voice. In public, or in private. Sonita, through her songs about what…

13 HOURS – The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

11, as in the 11th September. 13, the number of hours during which the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was committed, claiming the life of American Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other men. The night of September 11th 2012. 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI is the latest movie by Michael Bay (director of blockbuster Transformers),…

AS I OPEN MY EYES – The Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia

The seasons play strange games in the Mediterranean, especially on its southern most shores. Beautiful springs turn suddenly into freezing winters without any hint of the soft melancholy of autumn and the sweet perfumes of summer. Such an abrupt change of season has happened in Tunisia. Out of season, a heavy dew unexpectedly covering the…

TUK TUK – Revolution and Restoration in Egypt

The story of Egypt over the last five years seems to have been a game of snakes and ladders. The Egyptians threw the dice first, however, the end was unfortunate. They continued to hit on the snakes, sliding backwards, returning to the start. From Revolution to Restoration. Yet a snake god was once a protector of the ancient…

RAUF – Kurd separatism in Anatolia

  RAUF is a film that leaves you with a nice feeling. As only children know how to do. Presented at the 66th Berlinale for Generation 14, RAUF, directed by Baris Kaya and Soner Caner, takes us to a Kurdish village in the deep heart of south-eastern Anatolia, with a backdrop of soaring majestic, snowy peaks. A peaceful village, it would appear. Life…

GOOD KILL – The War on video-games

No boots on the ground. Better to have feet under a desk, seated in front of a monitor, holding a joystick. Better the boredom of a flat screen than the adrenalin rush of an enemy right in front of you.  Tommy Egan does not agree. He has fought in a real war. He knows what it’s all…

STARVE YOUR DOG – The Years Of Lead in Morocco

It’s not easy to get into STARVE YOUR DOG. The plot is often quite entangled. Exactly like the political situation in Morocco. Presented at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival and the 66th Berlinale, STARVE YOUR DOG of Hicham Lasri is a courageous film. Like in an art installation, the director mixes images and characters apparently quite unrelated, surreal, psychedelic.…