With the global refugee crisis increasingly politicised, allowing people in dire need to be dehumanised, abused and to die on points of abstract principle, basic assumptions are being challenged. What are the implications of this aggressive and regressive political landscape?
How can documentary be used to shake audiences from lazy attitudes and platitudes, bubbles, presumptions and stubborn self-righteousness?
“He belongs to that fraction of humanity which for centuries has made other fractions the objects of contempt and exploitation, then, when it saw the handwriting on the wall, set about to give them back their humanity.”
Trinh T Minh-ha is a filmmaker, writer and composer. Her practice centres around intersection of gender and colonialism. Her film work exposes the processes of othering and the politics of representation. She is Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies and of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley.
Women, Native, Other at the Pipe Factory will present two of Trinh T Minh-ha’s early film works in series. Poignant and at times disorientating, these early films not only demonstrate the beauty of film but also demand the viewer to question oneself, as spectator.
Reassemblage (7-10 October)
1982 | 40m (loop)
Women are the focus but not the object of Trinh T. Minh-ha’s influential first film, a complex visual study of the women of rural Senegal. Through a complicity of interaction between film and spectator, REASSEMBLAGE reflects on documentary filmmaking and the ethnographic representation of cultures.
“With uncanny eloquence, REASSEMBLAGE distills sounds and images of Senegalese villagers and their surroundings to reconsider the premises and methods of ethnographic filmmaking. By disjunctive editing and a probing narration this ‘documentary’ strikingly counterpoints the authoritative stance typical of the National Geographic approach.” — Laura Thielan
Surname Viet, Given Name Nam (8-15 October)
1989 | 1hr 48m (loop)
Of marriage and loyalty: “Daughter, she obeys her father/ Wife, she obeys her husband/ Widow, she obeys her son.”
This profoundly personal documentary explores the role of Vietnamese women historically and in contemporary society. Using dance, printed texts, folk poetry and the words and experiences of Vietnamese women in Vietnam—from both North and South—and the United States, Trinh’s film challenges official culture with the voices of women. A theoretically and formally complex work, SURNAME VIET GIVEN NAME NAM explores the difficulty of translation, and themes of dislocation and exile, critiquing both traditional society and life since the war.
‘Bo’ Gritz is one of America’s highest decorated Vietnam veterans and the alleged real-life inspiration behind Rambo. A contentious public figure, he also killed 400 people, turned against Washington and moved to the Nevada desert where he now sleeps with many weapons. Filmed over ten years using impressive visual material, Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s portrait of Bo is an inquiry into the nature of human conscience and the limits of deniability, and embodies contemporary American society in all its dizzying complexity and contradictions.
Presented in collaboration with LUX Scotland. This screening is free to all SUPERLUX members.
We will be joined after the screening for a Q&A with Filmmaker Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Director of LUX Scotland, Nicole Yip.
Moving through the corridors and bowels of an enormous and disorientating structure, the camera takes the viewer on a descent down to a dehumanized place of physical labor and intense hardship. This gigantic textile factory in Gujarat, India might just as well be the decorum for a 21st century Dante’s Inferno. In his mind-provoking yet intimate portrayal, director Rahul Jain observes the life of the workers, the suffering and the environment they can hardly escape from. With strong visual language, memorable images and carefully selected interviews of the workers themselves, Jain tells a story of inequality, oppression and the huge divide between rich, poor and the perspectives of both.
Through a crowd of refugees standing by a shoreline, a wide-eyed young girl with a puffy coat and a Frozen backpack emerges, about to start a very long excursion. Three-year-old Lean is our focal point as she and her family trek through Europe with the goal of reaching her grandfather and a new home in Sweden. With minimal dialogue, we travel alongside Lean and get to understand the deep courage and will Syrian refugees must have as they search for a better life. Part of a new wave of documentaries that depict the various elements of the Syrian crisis, 69 Minutes of 86 Days takes a poignantly humanistic approach. In its quiet beauty, it unravels the physical and emotional challenges refugee families face every day. While Lean may not fully understand what she’s experiencing, her strength and optimism shine through, giving hope to those who need it the most.
They stand at the forefront of the fight for freedom in the Middle East. These young women belong to the armed wing of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is also an active guerrilla movement. From their camp hidden away in the mountains, the women lead a nomadic life, undergoing ideological and practical training before being sent out to the front lines. Their mission? Defend Kurdish territory in Iraq and Syria, and defeat ISIS. By capturing their ritualised daily activities, as well as the emotional and intellectual bonds that unite them, Gulîstan, Land of Roses sheds light on the lives of these women who are collectively fighting for a revolutionary ideal advocating female empowerment. The film also gives them a powerful voice, and in return, many of them openly share with us their most intimate thoughts and dreams. Even as fighting against ISIS intensifies in the Middle East, these women bravely continue their battle against barbarism. Offering a window into this largely unknown world, Gulîstan, Land of Roses exposes the hidden face of this highly mediatized war: the female, feminist face.
One man’s remarkable journey: from diplomat to anarchist. British diplomat Carne Ross worked on Iraq and its WMD, and resigned from the government over its lies before the 2003 invasion. His extraordinary personal and political odyssey culminates in a remarkable encounter with new forms of democracy in the midst of war – in Rojava, Syria. A profound examination of the political and economic problems that confront the world.
We will be joined after the screening for a Q&A with co-director John Archer.
Young Alexei is openly homosexual. Although his peers have no problem with his sexual orientation, his mother is unable to accept it. This documentary portrait follows Alexei during summer break, as he spends time with his new lover Grisha. The film takes an unusual observational approach in that the camera is often right up against people’s bodies and faces during impassioned discussions, arguments, or testimony. Provocative, confrontational and unapologetic.
Presented in collaboration with SQIFF, Scottish Queer International Film Festival.
On September 11, 1973, the democratically-elected socialist government in Chile was overthrown in a bloody coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. The Battle of Chile is an outstanding three part documentary film, which catalogues the events leading up to the country’s open and peaceful revolution, the election of President Salvador Allende, and the violent right-wing counter-revolution.
The film won countless awards on the international film festival circuit and this is an extremely rare opportunity to see all three instalments in one sitting. David Archibald and Maria Velez-Serna, with Martín Farías, researcher in Chilean cinema at the University of Edinburgh, will facilitate an interrupted screening, with the film paused at certain moments throughout for questions and discussion.
A foremost Czech documentarist with a unique authorial vision challenges us once and for all to stop perceiving autism as a medical diagnosis and try to understand it as a fascinating way of thinking that’s often maddeningly difficult to decipher. Because who’s to determine what’s normal – living in a constant rush while disregarding the absurdity of modern life, or wistfully seeking order, peace and tranquility in the world?