Here are two more film reviews of films which will be screened on Tuesday 19th April at Visions du Réel.
Both film reviews written by Suzy Nelson-Pollard. The first film comes with an “uplifting message”, the second is an “important record of the PKK” (the film was banned at the Istanbul Film Festival in 2015)
Un Paese di Calabria – Peaceful relations between locals and migrants in the “city of the future”
The world premier of Un Paese di Calabria by directors Shu Aiello and Catherine Catella was greeted with warm applause last night, as spectators appreciated the uplifting message of this Swiss-Italian film. The small town of Riace, in Calabria on the toe of Italy, is a sleepy place; goats climb the rocky hills and ricotta is made daily by hand by a farmers who’s fathers and forefathers were also ricotta farmers. Yet the town is plagued by Mafia crimes and lack of opportunities for the young, and over the past few decades young people have moved north to better opportunities. Widows dressed in black shuffle through the streets past abandoned apartments, lamenting the departure of life in the picturesque old town.
Yet the destiny of Riace is unlike that of neighbouring towns slowly falling into decay as the local populations leave and die out. Refugees and migrants are arriving by boat, daily in the summer, having survived treacherous journeys across the Mediterranean. They arrive from various destinations, some of their friends or family having drowned on the way, some of the women pregnant after having being raped on their journeys. The left-wing mayor of Riace sees an opportunity in welcoming these people, and starts a project to renovate the abandoned flats and houses to house those in need. A respite from a hard journey is offered to the refugees and migrants, and a local teacher patiently gives Italian lessons to prepare them for the next bout of their journey. Two years of professional training and a stipend while living there is provided.
Some of the travellers decide to stay in this peaceful community, such as one man who has lived in the town for eight years and who drinks his morning expresso stood up at the bar with the locals. He calls the region his “Second Kurdistan” due to the rolling hills and idyllic views. The population of Riace has increased from 900 to 2100 in the last 25 years. The community welcomes new faces and new life in the town. Baptisms are held in the Catholic Church, and the priest even invites a young Afghan girl and a Gambian man to recite Muslim prayers during mass. The Catholic worshippers don’t seem to bat an eye. When young men hold a noisy birthday party, they bring cake to the elderly neighbours, who praise their good hearts and good intentions. They say that Riace has flowered again, that it is a symbol of the city of the future.
Elections roll around, and the work of the mayor and the future of the town could be in danger. Will the project continue, will the next mayor be as favourable to foreigners?
Un Paese di Calabria will be shown again at 14:00 today the 19th of April at the Théâtre de Marens. Tickets here
North (Bakur) – an important political film about the PKK and its manifesto
This is an interesting fly-on-the-wall documentary about the PKK, the militant left-wing organization fighting oppression against the Kurds in Turkey. The film directed by Cayan Demirel and Ertugrul Mavioglu, runs through some of the history of the group, with insights into their view of the nation-state and the future for Kurds living across four countries. A mixture of interviews, recordings of training, daily preparations, discussions, tours of sleeping arrangements, camps and outdoor living, the film paints a well-rounded picture of the guerilla group. Women’s voices are strong, revealing the strong anti-oppression and anti-patriarchal position of the PKK. Although a bit slow at times, with many shots of preparing food or of soldiers smoking and hanging out, this is an important record of the PKK, as well as a controversial film in Turkey, having been banned at the Istanbul Film Festival last year. It will be shown again today, Tuesday the 19th, at 18.00 at Theatre de Grand Champ in Gland. Tickets here