Thursday, October 26, 2000
Asimbonanga (South Africa), 6 min.
In Zulu, A si m''bonanga means "We have not seen him." This animated short is choreographed to the song of the same name, which was written for Nelson Mandela by Johnny Clegg and is performed here by Joan Baez. The film combines still photography, animation, live-action and optical effects to depict the cruelty and injustice of apartheid in South Africa. Directed by Ken Kimmelman.
My Country (Yugoslavia), 23 min.
Serbia in 1999 was a maelstrom of poverty, corruption and ethnic unrest. The NATO bombing demoralized the people and the state-controlled media manipulated them even as their hunger for democracy grew. Belgrade-born filmmaker Goran Radovanovic casts a satirical eye on his homeland, culminating in a uniquely personal film that spares none of the aspects of the surreal situation. Produced and directed by Goran Radovanovic.
What Does a Person Deserve (USA), 2 min.
American poet and philosopher Eli Siegel first posed the question that is the theme of this two-minute montage of black-and-white photographs: "What does a person deserve by being alive?" Choreographed to original music by composer Edward Green, the short takes a visual journey through the world of homelessness and hunger in the modern world, illustrating the discrepancies that exist between the rich and the poor in the United States. Directed by Ken Kimmelman.
Back from the Brink:
End the Nuclear Threat Now (USA), 14 min.
The Cold War may be over, but as this 14-minute documentary proves, there are still thousands of nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia on hair-trigger alert, ready to fire at a moment''s notice. The collapse of the Russian economy has caused the Russian early warning system to deteriorate at an alarming rate, and recent near-disasters prove that both countries are increasingly prone to accidents or miscalculations that could trigger a nuclear disaster. Directed and produced by Rachel Freedman, Ben de la Cruz, Mark Sugg.
Imagining Place (USA), 35 min.
The question "What does belonging feel like in America?" unites the interviews in this film by San Francisco-based filmmaker Anita Chang. Chang poetically fuses her subjects'' disparate stories with imagery and verse, challenging viewers to examine their own external and internal sense of place. Imagining Place speaks to those for whom the question of belonging is most immediate, such as immigrants, exiles or individuals who live on the margins because of physical, social and psychological borders.
Where the Sky Meets the Land (Kirgizstan), 85 min.
In the barren, mountainous region of the Central Asian Republic, the nomadic Kirgiz people have a new enemy--a modern, massive, Canadian-owned gold mine. In spite of the pollution that threatens the natural resources of Kirgizstan, the mine''s owners insist they are enriching the lives of the locals. Where the Sky Meets the Land offers a rare glimpse into a little-known culture and depicts the conflict that arises when modern technology encroaches upon traditional ways. The filmmaker attends a Kirgiz festival and meets a Kirgiz philosopher, one of the last men who still knows the famous Kirgiz epos, "Manas." Produced and directed by Frank Müller.
Session 2, Saturday, 3pm
You are What You are Born For (Brazil), 6 min.
This Brazilian film tells the story of three blind sisters who sing, begging for money in Campina Grande, in the Brazilian state of Paraíba. The six-minute short has won numerous awards, including Best Latin American Film at Festival in Bilbao; Best Brazilian Documentary at the film festival in San Paulo; and Certificate of Merit at San Francisco International Film Festival. Directed by Roberto Berliner.
Fallen Between the Cracks (USA), 11 min.
This film, created by a CSUMB graduate, follows a day in the life of a lonely teenager. (See article, page 20.) Directed by Anthony Puente.
Chiapas 1998: The Bad Harvest (Mexico), 15 min.
This collaboration between indigenous and non-indigenous video-makers documents the severe food shortages the region experienced in 1998. A six-month drought followed by heavy rains and flooding destroyed 50 percent of the corn crop and 80 percent of the bean crop. The Chiapas Media Project provided video equipment, computers and training for marginalized indigenous communities in Mexico''s southernmost state. The resulting videotapes offer a unique, firsthand perspective on the lives and struggles of the people of Chiapas. Director/Producer: Chiapas Media Project.
Ahinam Chay: Asi es Esta Historia (Chile/Peru), 35 min.
Ahinam Chay (Quechuan for "Such is This History"), was filmed between October and November of 1987 in the Peruvian Sierra. The film explores a literacy program, run primarily by indigenous women, which draws upon elements of the women''s own culture to teach reading and writing in both Spanish and Quechua. The innovative methodology uses the literacy program as a forum through which to address issues of sex, gender and reproductive health. The film won an award from the Cuban National Union of Writers and Artists last December at the 20th International Festival of the New Latin American Films in Havana. "It is an important document that denounces the violation of the human rights of women, without which there cannot be human rights in the world," said the Union''s jury. Directed by Rodrigo Ivan Sepulveda.
I was Born a Black Woman (Brazil), 44 min.
This documentary is based on the remarkable life of the first Afro-Brazilian woman to be elected to Brazil''s senate. Benedita da Silva was born to poverty, started working at age 7 and gradually gained stature for herself and her community through education, faith in God and community organizing. Filled with Afro-Brazilian music, poetry and dance, I Was Born a Black Woman weaves a dynamic tale of black Brazil and one woman''s victory over racism. Directed by Maria Luisa Mendonca and Vicente Franco.
Session 3, Saturday, 7:30pm
Turtle World (Australia), 9 min.
An enormous sea turtle floats through space, a community of enterprising monkeys thriving in the fertile world on her shell. In this lovely, animated allegory about sustainability, the monkeys soon grow too enterprising, deforesting and overpopulating their fragile planet.
Menace of Land Mines (Germany/UN), 14 min.
In 60 countries, more than 110 million land mines silently await the footfall of a child, the hoe of a farmer, or the tread of an unwary citizen. Children are maimed or killed and thousands of people are facing starvation because their fertile farmlands are mined. The United Nations has called for a total ban on the production, sale and use of land mines. This documentary presents the economic and psychological havoc land mines can wreak and gives a glimpse of the dangerous work involved in removing the mines. Directed and produced by Rachel Freedman, Ben de la Cruz, Mark Sugg.
Guardians of the Forest (Malaysia), 52 min.
This film is a unique document of Malaysia''s indigenous peoples--the Orang Asli--and their struggle to retain their ancient ways of life in a rapidly developing nation. Pressures to renounce their beliefs and assimilate with Malay culture are destroying the very fabric of Orang Asli life. Guardians of the Forest focuses on an Orang Asli community about to be displaced by a giant dam project. Filmed in the lush Malaysian rainforest, the documentary introduces viewers to the life of the Orang Asli through interviews with members of the tribe. The film juxtaposes scenic jungle, waterfalls and rivers with fast-paced, consumer-driven Kuala Lumpur and the wasteland existence that has befallen Orang Asli communities that have been relocated. Directed by Alan D''Cruz.
Genghis Blues (USA/Russia), 88 min.
A blind Bay Area blues musician learns the art of Tuvan throatsinging and travels to Northern Mongolia to participate in a contest. See article, page 16.