Put on by the Czech Center, this international human rights documentary film festival reminded me of one of the positive aspects about living in a capital city, the cultural events. In its fifth edition in Romania, the festival displayed a number of films addressing a large variety of topics related to human rights throughout the world. The nine films I saw addressed topics from hip hop music to escaping communism, to genocide. The topics for the most part were hard to deal with and for that reasons the films main image was made to be one hard to deal with. It was an image of a women and a man wearing expressionless faces with an old-style shaving razor being held up to their manually opened eyes as if they were drones being forced to watch something that would painfully change the way the see the world around them.
The festival opening featured a band performing various styles of music interpreted by a diverse group of youth criminals who had to be police escorted to and from the stage. The feature film was rather uplifting as it documented the beginning of hip hop music as the form of political protest that it once was and its disbursement in this form around the globe. The Furious Force of Rhymes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnNGO_MOkUg
The following evening hosted a number of films but I chose to attend the free one, not only because it was free but also because it was the most relevant film of the festival in the context in which I worked for two years in Romania and in which many of my colleagues work at the moment. That context is the Romanian educational system and the documentary entitled “Our School” documented the attempt for the EU to desegregate Romanian schools by integrating Roma into classes with Romanians, the attempt for the teachers to handle the changes in their classrooms and the attempt for the kids to go to school. It was a very sad film but one that should probably be watched by teachers all over the world. Our School: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiujVekWkuQ
“Our School” was shown in the New Cinema of Romanian Directors located at the Peasants museum. Two major aspects about this cinema set it apart from the other three main festival cinemas; it is located quite far from the very center of town and entrance was free. Once again, Thursday evening I went for the free choice. O the life of a PC volunteer in Bucharest. Even though I didn’t see all of the other films airing that evening I would say that I made a good choice catching the only showing of “Albanian Special”. Albanian Special was a series of three short documentaries made by students of an Albanian film school that has faced its own struggle with oppressive authorities over the years. After the films the director of the school came out to answer “questions” about the films and the struggles that his school has had to go through over the years. I put “questions” in quotes because there may have been only one. The talked through the entire discussion time only answering one question. Either way I give him credit for being the only Albanian that I’ve heard of that can speak decent Romanian.
Friday offered up a two-for-one special at Cinema Union with “A Murder Revisited” about a male homosexual killed in Serbia followed by the light hearted story of an old Czech man traveling through Russia. It was an odd mix but the discussion following the second film was almost as entertaining as the movie itself. The film followed the helmet and track suit wearing Mr. Triska around Russia following his father’s old war tracks to Siberia while actually probing the Russian public he interviewed for thoughts on politics, life in Russia and the recent disappearances of journalists. I enjoyed the feature so much I decided to stay for the double feature that followed. Mr. Triska Epoch Making Trip to Russia: http://vimeo.com/21815503
I went on to see two more films that week wishing that I had the chance to see the rest. (http://www.realsocialnetworkfilm.com/, http://skylightpictures.com/film/site/about/). Like the festival posters suggested they were truly eye-opening films and in some ways, like the posters suggest, their subject matter cut like a knife. After last weeks film festival I was happily reminded of one of the positivies about living in a large city.
One World Romania- http://oneworld.ro/2012/l/ro/