Life under rules of our own making
On this year‘s selection of films for the Long Documentary Competition
The province, the countryside, the village: these words sound like quietness and stagnation. But the films in this year‘s competition tell a different story. These days, the rapidness of world-wide change can perhaps be appreciated most intensely at the back of beyond.
For one, there are steadily growing agglomerations engulfing the land around them like hungry organisms, as shown in our films from Ethiopia and Spain, where agriculture and self-sufficiency are crushed in the process.
Where deserts are colonised, as in Truth or Consequences, our concepts of life in the province have long been thwarted by reality anyway. Here, suburbanisation and subsistence form a tangled web.
The Alps, once discovered by European travellers as an eery wilderness, are now equipped with gigantic bulwarks to protect residents and tourists from avalanches of boulders and snow.
Places change, and so do the people who inhabit them.
In the eighties, young people from Switzerland got drawn into the maelstrom of Zurich‘s drug scene, and many of them paid with their lives.
Then there are those Swiss young men who got deported to Turkey, the country where they were born, after committing crimes, and suddenly find themselves in a foreign land.
There are the inhabitants of Pöhla, a town in the Erzgebirge mountains, who are trying to reassemble their lives from bits and pieces of mining tradition.
And there are the Colombian storytellers, last of their kind, who draw a line from the enslavement of their African ancestors to the present with their incredible narratives.
Is there anything common to these films so different in their plots? Yes, they give people a chance. The world is not straightforward, neither are people. But here we can see them as movers who are striving to be humane under the most diverse circumstances. And we see that the world with its rules and opportunities, its walls and borders, its fields and its places of labour and leisure is, more often than not, a product of our own making. We have to form these places to make life worthwhile, and we can – that‘s a very important fact which is almost completely neglected in our debates on the future of democracy.
Let‘s make it visible!