Δευτέρα, 22 Οκτωβρίου 2012

My fave short films at the 2012 Drama Short Film Festival

My favourite short films at the 2012 Drama Short Film Festival

by Maria Technosux

I agreed for the most part with the movies that were selected to be awarded (like “Objection VI” by Rolando Colla from Switzerland, which is a must-see), but I also want to take this opportunity to highlight some personal favourites:

“Hush” - Dimitris Gerardis
“Σσσσς” - Δημήτρης Γεράρδης
TRAILER: http://vimeo.com/48075293

Σσσσς (HUSH) trailer from Dimitris Gerardis on Vimeo.

“Der spiegel des lord patschog” - Elina Pani
“Der spiegel des lord patschog” - Ελίνα Πάνικ
IMDB trailer
It is so unfortunate, this hatred between Germans and Greeks because of our globalist overlords. Just look at that trailer and see what breath-taking art is possible when Greeks work with Germans.

“Nobody's perfetc” - Despoina Kavyri, Giorgos Mantzouranidis
“Nobody's perfetc” - Δέσποινα Καβύρη, Γιώργος Μαντζουρανίδης
I am highlighting these 3 shorts because I love black&white film and these were the best B&W shorts at the festival. Monochromatic audiovisual recording is my personal favourite medium too. In my opinion, monochrome film-making, whether it's B&W or other monochromatic experiments, is definitely underrated. I like to think that Greek film-makers have a special sensibility for B&W. A short like "Nobody's perfetc" appropriates a vintage B&W aesthetic that all Greeks are very familiar with - as the old movies that imprint this aesthetic in the minds of every Greek generation are replayed over and over on TV - but in the process of appropriation of this vintage aesthetic using contemporary technological means creates a B&W texture that is entirely modern. I do not know whether this was the intent of the film-makers but it was truly beautiful to behold, it was subtle as the story of professional betrayal and sabotage of a young female Greek journalist told in the short.

“The summer after” - Vasilis Tziokas
“The summer after” - Βασίλης Τζιώκας
“Stone story” - Spyros Papanastasiou
“Stone story” - Σπύρος Παπαναστασίου

Website: http://www.stonestory.gr
I am highlighting this one and Stone Story because I am intrigued at the way Greek film-makers are exploring CGI without resorting to cliches (action scenes, horror, sci-fi, animation, etc). These two short movies demonstrate a decidedly Greek CGI aesthetic, which is surreal and unsettling.

“Quiet nights” - Konstantinos Samaras
“Τα ήσυχα βράδια” - Κωνσταντίνος Σαμαράς

Best screenplay of the entire festival, blood-chilling deliverance by actor Markos Kaleodis.

“Family tree” - Φωκίων Μπόγρης
“Family tree” - Fokion Bogris
TRAILER (which has been edited in such a wickedly sneaky way so as to not spoil anything):

“Iasis” Chrysanthos Markonis Voyla Germanakou- Kopsini
“Ίαση” Χρύσανθος Μαργώνης Βούλα Γερμανάκου-Κοψίνη
Two examples of hardcore nerve-wrecking Greek drama that we Greeks still do best after all those millennia and centuries of inventing and reinventing the genre :)

“The foreigner” - Alethea Avramis
“The foreigner” - Αλήθεια Αβράμης

And despite the crushing depression, after all those millennia and centuries we can still do comedy and mean it :)

“Pray” - Thelgia Petraki
“Pray” - Θέλγια Πετράκη

And we also do excellent tragicomedy :) This one was an audience favourite.

“Something will turn up” - Thanos Psixogios
“Κάτι θα γίνει” - Θάνος Ψυχογιός
This short needs to be shown on every feminist film festival around the world on the topic of women's survival during the global economic depression.

“Cheap tickets” - Konstantinos Iordanou
“Φθηνά εισιτήρια” - Κωνσταντίνος Iορδάνου

Φθηνά Εισιτήρια (Cheap Tickets) Trailer from Konstantinos Iordanou on Vimeo.
Best short documentary, and so so true. I took this train-route several times myself in 2009 and can attest to everything that is shown in this documentary.

“Ghost in the machine” - Oliver Krimpas

“The clowns” - Dimitris Nakos
“Οι παλιάτσοι” - Δημήτρης Νάκος
Greek cinema is generally not associated with the word "cute", but this term nevertheless best describes the above shorts.

My personal faves from the International Program were:
“Dear Lisa” by Charlotte Blom from Νorway (synopsis link)
“Campers” by Emma Rozanski from United Kingdom – Australia

Campers - Trailer from KitBat Productions on Vimeo.
“Susya” by Dani Rosenberg – Yoav Gross from Israel (synopsis link) In the past, during my transnational feminism phase, I read an essay on the topic of the political uses of ancient findings by Israel, so I was already aware of the fact that for example Israeli archeologists are obsessed with unearthing preferably collosal and megalomanical Roman ruins within Israeli territory which are then displayed and used to prove a politically desirable historical link to Europe or the Toitland that the Jews supposedly escaped by settling in Palestine to create Israel, but never could I have imagined that THIS is what the politicization of archeology in Israel actually looks like for the Palestinians who are expropriated in the name of Israel's historical revisionism. Archaeologists everywhere need to see this short film and reflect critically on the political regimes they are enabling by means of their pursuit of an accurate historical record.
“The End οf The World” by Jani Bojadzi from F.Y.R.O.M.
The entire short film by Bojadzi is available for free on Vimeo! How incredibly generous of the film maker, and what an example to all the other Greek film-makers, some of whom couldn't even be bothered to create a trailer :/

Jani Bojadzi THE END OF THE WORLD Short fiction from Jani Bojadzi on Vimeo.
Great use of allegory in this short, makes me curious to see what else they are producing in F.Y.R.O.M. Pay attention to the soundtrack, the composition is of superior quality.
“Dogballs” by Ernesto Felipe Díaz & Hugo Llanas Lumbierres from Spain
This short animation film (in Spanish, no subtitles) can be viewed for free here:
I know this is a SHORT film festival, but please, consider making this short adult cartoon into feature length please!

Δευτέρα, 27 Σεπτεμβρίου 2010

Haris Vafeiadis, have your teenage actors read Scarleteen.com?

Haris Vafeiadis, have your teenage actors read Scarleteen.com?

This is a message to Haris Vafeiadis in response to his film "13 1/2" being awarded at the Drama Short Film Festival 2010.


Above is a print-screen image of the "banned access" page that shows up when a Greek teenager tries to access Scarleteen.org from his local public library.

The same adults who ban public access to Scarleteen.com are sitting there watching movies about 13-year-olds screwing one another.

The same adults who ban public access to Scarleteen.com award such movies.

Can you recall the last time you saw a Greek movie where a condom was visible on screen before or after a sex-scene? You will never see condoms, much less teenagers using condoms, in a Greek film, but you can certainly sit there like a pedophile, and watch 13-year-old Greek teenagers screw each other in "13 1/2".

What to expect from a fundamentally corrupt country where the pedophiles of the Greek Orthodox Christian Church are allowed to get away with their crimes?

Who the hell does Haris Vafeiadis think he is, anyway? The Greek Larry Clark?

In the country where teenagers cannot access Scarleteen.com, a pedophile-fest such a "13 1/2" is showered with awards. It's a disgrace.

Needless to say, the soundtrack of this excuse of a movie is by none other than Felizol.

I was complaining about all the Israeli IDF propaganda at the Short Film Festival last year (specifically Yaelle Kayam's propaganda film "Diploma"), but this year, I fully endorse "Sinner" by Meni Philips, because his "Sinner" is the kind of movie Greek film-makers, the same ones who serve up pedophile soft-porn like "13 1/2", just don't have the guts to make.

If you are a Greek teenager in 2010, you can watch your peers getting fucked on screen, you can watch the film-maker screw (over) your peers twice with his camera, you can watch that film-maker get showered with awards for making such pedophile soft-porn, and pretending to be the Greek Larry Clark... but you, as a Greek teenager in 2010, can't watch whatever is on Scarleteen.com, because the same adults who praise the film-maker who fucks over your peers with his camera won't let you see what's on that website, for your own "good".

If you're a Greek teenager reading this entry, and you want to access Scarleteen.com, drop me a line and I will send you a copy of the website.

Maria Technosux

An Immodest Proposal (or, What Greek God-fearing Adults Do Not Want Kids to Know About Sex, Just As They Make Pedophile Soft-Porn Movies About Teenagers Screwing Each Other And Get Showered With Awards For Making Such Movies)

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Πέμπτη, 17 Δεκεμβρίου 2009

Ονειρούπολη Δράμας, μία ψευδαίσθηση μια οφθαλμΑΠΑΤΗ

Τις προάλλες έκανα μία βόλτα στο ψεύτικο "χωριό του Αη Βασίλη" που έχει εγκαταστήσει η δημοτική αρχή στον Δημοτικό Κήπο και στην Πλατεία Ελευθερίας της πόλης.

Κάτι που με ενόχλησε από την αρχή στην Ονειρούπολη είναι η κιτς διακόσμηση, η έλλειψη αυθεντικότητας και γενικά μία υπερβολικά απαστράπτουσα εικόνα που πιστεύω ότι δεν ταιριάζει με τον χαρακτήρα και την αισθητική της πόλης.

Παρατηρώ ανήσυχα, όπως πολλοί άλλοι νομίζω, την εγκατάσταση της γιορτής αυτής, σε πιο μόνιμες βάσεις, φτιαγμένες κυρίως από τσιμέντο, και την αλλοίωση του τοπίου στον Δημοτικό Κήπο της πόλης μας.

Πολλά δέντρα κόβονται, η βλάστηση εκκαθαρίζεται για να φυτευτούν εξωτικά φυτά που θυμίζουν περισσότερο ζαρζαβατικά. Κάπως έτσι μοιάζει το φυσικό περιβάλλον που υποτίθεται ότι μιμείται ένα πάρκο;

Οι κήποι και τα πάρκα σε μία πόλη υπάρχουν για να προσφέρουν την ευκαιρία της απόδρασης από το δομημένο περιβάλλον σε ένα τοπίο όπου κυριαρχούν τα φυσικά στοιχεία. Στην περίπτωση του Κήπου τα φυσικά στοιχεία είναι η βλάστηση με τα υψηλά δέντρα, το πηγαίο νερό και η πανίδα. Αλήθεια ποιός θυμάται από τους κυρίους της Ονειρούπολης τις πηγές νερού της πόλης μας; Ότι πολλές πηγές έχουν μπαζωθεί για να γίνουν δρόμοι και κτίρια και κανείς δεν νοιάζεται γι' αυτό.

Μήπως το προσωρινό "καπάκωμα" του μεγάλου συντριβανιού, που σημειωτέον έχει πηγές, για την εγκατάσταση του περιβόητου Καρουσέλ θυμίζει την τακτική της δημοτικής αρχής για μπάζωμα και κρύψιμο, οποιοδήποτε στοιχείου του τοπίου δεν κάνει για τα γούστα της;

Οι πάπιες και οι κύκνοι για παράδειγμα, που κάποτε υπήρχαν στα νερά του κήπου, έχουν εκδιωχθεί έτσι ώστε η όψη της Ονειρούπολης να είναι τακτοποιημένη και "καθαρή". Αυτό που βλέπουμε πλέον είναι μία νεκρή φύση, ένα ξερό τροποποιημένο τοπίο που ταιριάζει στα γούστα των "εμπνευστών" - "σχεδιαστών" της Ονειρούπολης. Εμάς όμως τους ανθρώπους της πόλης μας ρώτησε κανείς πως μας φαίνονται όλα αυτά;

Φαίνεται από τις "καινοτομίες" της Ονειρούπολης, το πώς οι εμπνευστές φαντάζονται ότι θα έπρεπε να είναι η πόλη και ειδικότερα το πράσινό της. Από την προσθήκη πλαστικών - φωτεινών δέντρων βλέπουμε το αισθητικό επίπεδο της αντίληψής των "σχεδιαστών" και απορώ πως είναι ευχαριστημένοι με το αποτέλεσμα. Μία απομίμηση δέντρου (που δεν ρίχνει φύλλα για να "λερώσει", το κυριότερο δεν αναπτύσσεται για να δημιουργεί "προβλήματα", δεν χρειάζεται πότισμα και επίσης μετακινείται πανεύκολα) δεν πρόκειται ποτέ να αντικαταστήσει ένα αληθινό δέντρο.

Μήπως με τους πόρους που δαπανώνται για την λειτουργία της Ονειρούπολης θα μπορούσαν να αναδειχθούν οι πηγές νερού, το ιστορικό κέντρο και να ομορφύνει γενικά το περιβάλλον της πόλης; Χρειάζονται ενέργειες που θα αναδεικνύουν τα πραγματικά στοιχεία της πόλης μας και θα βελτιώνουν την καθημερινοτητα των πολιτών, χωρίς να είναι προσωρινές και πρόχειρες επεμβάσεις, που φτιάχνονται για να ξηλωθούν.

Μήπως τα χρήματα των δημοτών θα έπρεπε να χρησιμοποιούνται προς όφελος των ιδίων και όχι για την προβολή ιδιωτικών εταιριών, όπως βλέπουμε να γίνεται σήμερα με τον καταιγισμό από διαφημίσεις;

Ίσως αυτό που με στενοχωρεί περισσότερο είναι ότι η Ονειρούπολη μοιάζει σαν ένα ξένο μέλος, το οποίο τοποθετήσανε στην πόλη μας.

Παρακάτω μερικές εικόνες από τις πολλές που μπορεί κανείς να αντικρίσει στο "χωριό του Αη Βασίλη":

Ακόμη και στο "σπίτι του Αη Βασίλη" τα πατατάκια της διαφήμισης έχουν δεσπόζουσα θέση, όπως αρμόζει σε έναν ΜΕΓΑ χορηγό!

Είναι να μένεις άφωνος με τέτοια αριστουργήματα, νομίζω ότι είναι η μακέτα της Ονειρούπολης, μμμ... όχι σα να μοιάζει με την Disneyland... αλήθεια τι κάνει τούτο το μαραφέτι στα νερά που κάποτε κολυμπούσαν οι πάπιες;

Ίσως το νέο σύμβολο της πόλης;

Ένα από τα σπιτάκια της Ονειρούπολης, το οποίο μοιάζει με περίπτερο. Έχει πολλά καλά να φάει κανείς...

Εφήμερες επεμβάσεις έτσι ώστε το τοπίο να μπορεί να φιλοξενήσει περισσότερο κόσμο, ο οποίος κιόλας δεν θα λασπώνεται καθόλου! Ο σχιστόλιθος (δεύτερη εικόνα) είναι μεν όμορφο υλικό, αλλά το παρακάνανε πια. Αφήστε την γη να αναπνεύσει!


Παρασκευή, 6 Νοεμβρίου 2009

Diploma by Yaelle Kayam: Will the Norman Finkelstein of film-criticism please stand up?

Above: printscreen image of the "no access" screen that shows up
from the local public library in Drama.
An e-mail was sent to Dr. Norman Finkelstein
informing him of the censorship.

Diploma by Yaelle Kayam:
Will the Norman Finkelstein of film-criticism please stand up?

By Maria Technosux

Short Film Festival of Drama, 2009.

Yaelle Kayam's Diploma is the kind of IDF propaganda film posing as legitimate art that makes me wish Dr. Norman Finkelstein was a film-critic. Alas, the Public Library of Drama bans access to Dr. Norman Finkelstein's private website. This is a nationwide ban, because all data traffic from Greek public libraries pass through the routers in Athens. If I cannot access his website at a public library in this little town, not a soul throughout the whole of Greece will be able to read his website from a public library computer. In a country where people can buy translations of his books but cannot access his websites, an IDF propaganda-film like Diploma quietly slips through the adjudication process. You know you are dealing with IDF propaganda when a mere graduation film makes it to, yes, Cannes 2009.

In fact, it makes me wish someone out there would write an Art Studies version of Finkelstein's Beyond Chutzpah, so that I don't have to expose all this IDF propaganda posing as art all by myself. Someone out there has to be as bothered by all this as I am. Someone who the Google Nazis don't dare censor. My own essays exposing another IDF propaganda front posing as performance art, the performance group Public Movement, are all censored by Google. Not a single Performance Studies scholar has bothered to research Public Movement as in-depth as I have. If they did, they could see for themselves, that everything in my exposes is true. Will the Norman Finkelstein of film-criticism please stand up?

There is no difference between what Yaelle Kayam and Public Movement are doing. Both are performing a propaganda function for the IDF. Google still refuses to link up to those essays; links to my essays disappeared a few days after ranking amongst the first hits for the query "Public Movement". This shows that the IDF controls Google. I am pretty sure they will be censoring this article as well. So powerful is the IDF that we can't even write freely about an Israeli performance or an Israeli film on the internet.

Diploma starts with the following bunch of lies on a white-on-black text-screen.

Hebron is the only Israeli city placed within a Palestinian municipality.

That the room didn't burst out laughing scornfully at this bunch of lies shows you how politically ignorant contemporary film-makers are. Do not expect this ignorant generation of film-makers to make the next "4th of July", "Apocalypse Now", "Johnny Got His Gun", or "Dr Strangelove". They can't even tell apart, let alone tear apart, a political lie when it's right in front of them. They are anti-political to the point that they shamelessly applaud government propagandists. The majority of contemporary film-makers have no ethics and no regard for Human Rights, even as they are given funds upon subsidies upon grants to make Human Rights propaganda. It's up to film-critics to perform the criticism that these lemmings are incapable of, not to exonerate their political ignorance and anomie, but to condemn it as vehemently as I am about to condemn the above, treacherous statement. The Israeli Ministry of Sports, Education and Culture is backing this film. The America-Israel Foundation is behind this film. Need I go on?

Anyone who believes the lie that "Hebron is the *only* Israeli city within a Palestinian municipality" is warmly encouraged to get a copy of Ronit Chacham's book, Breaking Ranks, and have a look at the maps printed in the last pages of the book. In fact, you don't even have to buy the book, the generous Nazis over at Google have put it up on the internet for free. Now I ask you: Is Hebron the ONLY Israeli settlement within Palestinian territory?

Doubting Thomases are also welcome to download one of the many maps of Greater Israel available today on the Internet. This is what Israel truly has in mind for itself. This is Israel's long-term plan. The war between Israel and Palestine is not a defensive war, it is but a station in the unfolding a long term EXPANTIONIST agenda. Films like Diploma encourage the active forgetting of this fact, and the audience not only dully forgets, it was never aware in the first place, for any public discussion of the plan for a Greater Israel in the Western Media is now taboo and dismissed as conspiracy theories. Where is the film-maker making a film about THAT?

Here is the propaganda plot of the film:

Palestinian girl Ayat on her graduation night (Hebron is home to the Palestine Polytechnic University). P-girl can't get to the University to obtain her diploma and partake in the graduation ceremony because of a curfew.

--- At this point I have to reference Norman Finkelstein who in Beyond Chutzpah cited sources demonstrating that the IDF won't even allow Palestinians to even *go* to school, let alone long and frequently enough to graduate.

P-girl and her younger brother Samer disregard the curfew and try to sneak through the maze of streets to get to the University. On their way there, they observe zealous Zionist settlers who have taken over the streets after the curfew to stage a loud protest. The protesters openly taunt, not the Palestinians, but, get this, the Israeli government that wants to remove them from the settlement.

-- It was at this point that fully I realized just how much propaganda was worked into this movie. Settler violence in Hebron has been against Palestinians, not against the IDF, which has been exposed having a pro-settler bias.

P-girl and her brother move on to the next scene: the now infamous Palestinian Rock-Throwing Teenagers (r) (tm) pelting the settlers' protest.

-- This scene was totally laughable. That a group of a handful of teenagers would take on a crowd of settlers large enough to lynch them is just plain ridiculous.

Barely close to the University, P-girl and her brother are suddenly stopped by IDF thugs with big American guns. Miraculously, the IDF thugs do not kill them on the spot, as they usually do. Instead, they demand to see their IDs, search their bags, and after P-girl "emotionally" puts on her graduation gown and cap for them, the IDF thugs generously send the two of them home, despite the University being just around the corner.

-- After reading Finkelstein's Beyond Chutzpah, such an image of gracefulness on the part of the IDF is truly laughable. Had this film been a realistic depiction of the behaviour of the IDF in the West Bank, as detailed in Finkelstein's book where he cites countless of report's from human rights groups, P-girl and her brother would be blown full of holes and left to die at the front steps of the University as a "warning to those terrorists". That's how aggressive, inhumane, and monstrous the IDF is. Yaelle Kayam is living in a fantasy world, and I certainly hope this review bursts her bubble. Hell, she might even pick up a French translation of Finkelstein (this girl studied at THE Sorbonne in Paris, after all!) and really wake up. Let's hope.

Like the members of Public Movement, and the Israeli spies posing as "art students" who were caught spying in and on the USA, Yaelle Kayam fits the profile of the contemporary IDF propagandist posing as a legitimate artist. Based on my research so far, I can give you the following information. The IDF will generally pick and choose young Jews who are trained "abroad", at European and American art schools, to perform propaganda functions for the IDF and the Israeli government. Yaelle Kayam fits this aspect of the profile, having studied French at the Sorbonne in Paris and Film in Melbourne, Australia.

Why doesn't the IDF use local Israelis to make propaganda films/performances/photography/whatever for them? Because Israeli youngsters who have the money to study abroad generally come from upper-class moneyed families with ties to the cultural/political Israeli establishment. Had they not come from moneyed families they would not have had the money to study abroad in the first place. In countries like Israel (but this is also true for Greece) having an arts degree from Europe or from America on one's resume is evidence, not of ones actual own worth as an artist, but of one's family capital. Rich/elite Jewish kids study in Europe/USA, poor Jewish kids study at local schools. Yaelle is a rich kid. The fact that she received a grant from the Israeli American foundation only goes to show how prestigious and elite her family is. Look up one "Juliette Kayam" on the internet; she is a terrorism expert at, yes, Harvard University. That tells you all you need to know about the level of penetration into upper echelons by the Kayam clan. Harvard is also the base of operations of the Zionist ideologue Alan M. Dershowitz, a supposed "professor" of law who is nothing but a total fraud and was mercilessly exposed by Norman Finkelstein in Beyond Chutzpah. Dershowitz retaliated by destroying Finkelstein's academic career at the DePaul University.

Yaelle has a film career not because she is a good film artist, or an ethical film artist, but because she and her family are members of the Jewish-Zionist global cultural/political elite. The Israeli government "helps" them with their art careers because it owes their families "favours". Cronyism thus runs rampant in Israel. But that isn't any different from the way elites function practically elsewhere.

I think there is another, more practical reason why the IDF prefers to use Jews who have studied abroad over local Jews. It think it is because Jews who live, work or study aboard are less likely to produce realistic images, and more likely to re-produce propaganda images handed down to them from the IDF. Jews who actually live their full lives in Israel do not need to be told what the IDF looks like; having spend 3 years in the army, and having lived under Zionist occupation themselves, they know it like the back of their hands. I am pretty sure they can look at this film and say: "This is bullshit". It is the elite Jews, who, having grown up at a relative and relatively safe distance from the actual atrocities on the ground in their home country, who are easier to brainwash by the IDF. Having missed out on all the fun, the bombings and the violence, these live-abroad elite Jews must suffer some kind of a survivor's guilt, and are eager to assert themselves as Israelis despite or rather because having spent years away from home. Rahmbo Emanuel's "compulsory service" comes in different forms.

And the cultural/political Israeli establishment always has a link to the military establishment, because Israel is a militaristic society where the military rules all aspects of life from the cradle to the grave. "Israel is not a state with an army, it is an army with a state" (Ben Kaspit quoted by Finkelstein).

The IDF understands that current and future generations of upper-class Europeans will consist mainly of atomized, isolated, lonely, rugged individualists with no group or community affiliations, socially inept because Xbox fried their brains, who are so desperate for a Best Friend (R) (TM), that he/she might as well be a Zionist Israeli Best Friend, like that friendly Jewish nerd with the horned glasses age-peer they met on their government sponsored tour of Israel. The IDF gives these lonely upper-class European youngsters an Israeli best friend for life, and in return hopes to win their loyalty and support for Zionist war-mongering. Once you have a Zionist best friend, it's no longer "Tel Aviv getting bombed by terrorists", or "The IDF getting bombed by terrorists". Now, it's "my best friend (who is a secret IDF agent) getting bombed by terrorists". The IDF has been studying Naomi Klein's "No Logo", where she wrote about personalized advertising. The IDF knows that no advertisement is more personal than your own personal Zionist best friend. Such whores are the IDF that they are willing to exploit personal relationships between children to win future support for Zionism and the plan for a Greater Israel. The IDF has created a situation where we can't even trust Israeli jews to allow our children to make friends with them; the supposed friendship might be just another means to infiltrate the minds of our children, impregnating them with Zionist support.

While you can't read Norman Finkelstein's webpage at a computer in a Greek Public Library, while Google.com tells you that my exposes of Public Movement do not even exist, well, at least you can go see Yaelle Kayam's IDF propaganda film at the local cinema. Isn't that what cultural, political and artistic freedom is all about?

Maria Technosux

Sources used:

Oooh, look, an IDF propagandist with stereotypical nerdy horned glasses and German braids, how "intellectual"!

BBC propaganda for the film. "It is a work of fiction. But only just." says de Beeb, and isn't that an excellent one-liner with which to describe all forms of propaganda?! The Beeb said it better than I could!

Maps of Greater Israel:

Ronit Chacham's Breaking Ranks:

Hebron entry, Wikipedia:

Norman Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah; On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (2005)

Norman Finkelstein, Wikipedia profile

Google censorship of Norman Finkelstein, talkpage on Wikipedia:

Documentary on Norman Finkelstein, not (yet) banned at Greek Public Libraries! The kind of film Yaelle Kayam wouldn't dare make, the kind of film that you won't see at Cannes.

Πέμπτη, 5 Νοεμβρίου 2009

Tropes & commonplaces; Greek filmic topoi (part 1)

Tropes & commonplaces; Greek filmic topoi
Observed at the Short Film Festival of Drama 2009
by Maria Technosux
for Γίνεται στη Δράμα... blog

Some people call them cliches and stereotypes and make an effort to avoid them, some scholars call them tropes and commonplaces and argue that cinematic genius can be only expressed by offering a fresh new interpretation of them, thus endlessly updating them. These are the ones I observed at the Short Film Festival of Drama 2009.

Arguing couples: I'm going to sound like bell hooks but please, somebody, make a film where a Greek couples is communicating instead of arguing. I recall an essay I read a while back where bell hooks was praising a film-maker for depicting a black couple who were solving their argument on screen through communication instead of mutual hostility. Apparently Greek couples and black couples have something in common: they are either depicted in the midst of Jungle Fever, love and lust, or they depicted in the midst of a screamfest. Apparently there is no middle grown. Gawd forbid you would see a Greek couple working co-jointly to solve a problem together. Filmmakers, it's your job to fantasize and depict and alternative to the Arguing Couple.

The city and the country side: Greek films either take place in the Big City, invariably Athens, or in the mountainous country side. Which is funny because the city of Drama where the Short Film Festival is held is the kind of place that is both urban and country at the same time.

The *summer* beach: Films shot in the summer sometimes avoid both the country and the city and find their way to the beach. Apparently no one has considered filming a Greek beach in the autumn or, Gawd forbid, in the winter. This is very bizarre to me because the Dutch coast is just amazing in late December. This year I was on a Greek Cyclades island in the middle of a rainstorm. There has to be a Greek film maker out there who can capture that instead of producing yet another postcard image.

The car: This is the staple of the American film. Greek films, both urban and country, feature cars, but you will be hard pressed to find a Greek film where the car visualizes freedom of movement. The Greek car is just another dwelling space. No Greek film character is liberated inside their car. Greek characters drive cars to home, to work and back. No one is liberated. In fact, the use of cars in Greek films is so mundane and functional, you will never catch a Greek film-couple having sex in a car! There is the occasional car-accident, but do not expect a Greek "Crash". There is a profound Greek squeamishness about visually depicting the blood and guts of a car accident, despite the high incidence of them in this country. No Greek wants to think of their car as a potential killing machine.

The beautiful stranger: Of all the topoi this is the most intriguing to me personally, so I will digress on this one. Greek films aren't as political as I expected (or hoped) they would be, but I believe that the trope of the beautiful stranger best reveals the utopian longings of Greek film-makers in a country that is in a state of arrested development, politically and economically ("growth without development" as in the scholarly jargon). The Beautiful Stranger is the new, somewhat exocentric person who appears out of the blue and throws the protagonist's life into disarray. Both male and female filmmakers, young and old, new ones and old experienced ones, will depict male and female characters, young ones and old ones, who are hoping to meet the Beautiful Stranger. This hope is of religious origin. The Beautiful Stranger is a secular version of God's angel descending from above to intervene in human affairs. (See Pasolini's Teorama). The trope of the Greek Beautiful Stranger retains some of its religious unpredictability and arbitrariness, in that very rare if ever do Greek characters themselves go actively looking for the Beautiful Stranger. Greek utopian longings are revealed to be, well, kinda lazy longings. Greek characters expect the Beautiful Stranger to come to them instead. Shit just happens, and so does the Beautiful Stranger. Greeks are too preoccupied with the daily grind (or too lazy, or uninspired) to seek them out themselves. Anyone worthy of meeting a Beautiful Stranger will be sure to meet him/her, for the Beautiful Stranger will come to them. I wonder what would happen if a Greek character went looking for the Beautiful Stranger. The short film Effervescent (Nikoleta Leousi and Petros Gkikas) deserves a mention here, for here the Beautiful Stranger is a house!

Men will be men and women will be women: This trope is related to the Arguing Couples (see above). Very rarely will Greek film-makers use their films as an opportunity to disrupt gender roles and especially gender expectations. I am not talking about casting a Greek sissy - sissies abound in the Greek media. I mean that men and women are cast rather stereotypically. I am not talking about a Greek "Bruno". I am talking about a Greek Thelma and Louise. I was particularly disappointed at the unwillingness of female Greek filmmakers in that regard. Not a single woman uses her film to give her character more than Greek society gives women in general. No one uses her film to offer a vision of liberation that goes beyond meeting the Beautiful Stranger, a variant of the prince on the white horse (he'd better not be KKK or the local version thereof, the Greek-fascist Golden Dawn), which is itself a version of The (hopefully benevolent and not overtly argumentative) Father Figure. Ladies, your female characters can be anything you want them to be. Free your minds on screen. Why not exploit the freedom offered by the screen to show us Greek women we have never seen before? I guess this explains the overall lack of Greek science fiction films *sigh*). I think that the reason why I was so intrigued by a Greek thriller like The Conveyor (Dimitris Yiamloglou) - despite the pathetically stupid pathetically stereotypical homeless prostitute scenes - more than by any of the other fiction films. Because in the Conveyor, for once, a male character is depicted as vulnerable and scared. The patricide scene is a rather unimaginative way of resolving the fear and vulnerability of the male character (wasn't that what the The Dog did too?). And besides, in Greece this too is a literally *ancient* trope (Zeus fighting Kronos). But the fact that the Father Figure returns to haunt by means of the main character's psycho-pathological projectionism (he envisions the Father who killed his mother in every older man he sees) undoes any of the resolve that the earlier patricide scene produced. Despite having asserted himself by killing the Father Figure, the main character is never freed from the foreboding presence of the Father. Greece is a patriarchy, and the Father Figure is everywhere. In Greece, an extreme transgression of gender expectations, like patricide, requires an extreme genre like the thriller.

Πέμπτη, 29 Οκτωβρίου 2009

"The Dog" by Nikos Labot: FETA CHEESE WESTERN

The Dog by Nikos Labot: FETA CHEESE WESTERN

(or: "ARTE.fr please broadcast my movie!")

and Kevin Acevedo's The Last Page

By Maria Technosux for

Reviews of films screened at the

Short Film Festival of Drama 2009

Nothing screams "Arte.fr please broadcast my movie!" more than a bilinguistic film-flyer where the second language is not Greek but French. The English promo-text announces: "A village in Greece. The Seventies.". The French promo-text says: "Annees 70, en province.". I guess the Frogs at the French ARTE won't consider screening a film set in Greece? Why else would he not translate that pesky word "Greece" for the French promo-text? Cos hey, everyone knows that the French are too chauvinist to learn another language and read what's in the English promo-text! Labot is evidently well-acquainted with the sheer racism of Western-European cultural elites towards us Europeans from Southern countries, but instead of using his skills as a film-maker to address such racism, he goes out of his way to accommodate Western-European racism towards us Southerners. Nikos even spells his names like this on the flyer: Nikos Labot (alias Haralambopoulos). Nikos is such a self-hating Greek, so ashamed of his Greek origins, so desperate to make it in a racist Western-European culture business, that he uses his Greek name as his "alias". Why is the Greek Film Center supporting such open self-hatred and self-denial? Because they want us all to be self-hating and self-denying?

Nikos Labot's The Dog was no doubt the worst film desperately posing as a good film on the entire festival. The story is situated in the 1970s and I'm all for anachronism in film, but I can't stand NOSTALGIA, and this film wallows in nostalgia to the point of absurdity; seeing the old drachma bills (for the young: that's the Greek currency before the Euro) visibly on screen was a moment of light relief, not of agreeable realism. So was the use of a colour filter to give the film a icky yellow hue. As the effect was clearly a digital studio-ploy, and not because of the use of authentic aged equipment, it was both cheap and laughable.

What's in The Dog? Nothing original or worthwhile. After the Italian spaghetti western we get Nikos Labot's Greek version thereof, the Feta Cheese Western. The Italians dabbled with the Western genre in the 1960s, but it took the Greeks another 50 years to do the same. Thank you Labot for updating us filmwise, 50 years after the fact! Italian Westerns were usually shot in the Andalusia region of Spain. Does Greek natural scenery have the same Southwestern potential? Anyone stranded in a place like Kilkis in the midst of summer will appreciate the analogy with the wild west, but Greece is not Andalusia, certainly not America.

Then there is Eleni Vergeti, the Greek actress who made a name for herself here in Greece and amongst diasporic communities in the 2006 film O gios tou fylaka (The guardian's son). The fact that I myself first saw Eleni in the Netherlands at a Greek filmfestival in the town of Delft indicates how far she has come. For me, Eleni Vergeti is the Greek Monique van de Ven (of Turkish Delight fame), and just as loathsome an actress. The opening film of the festival, with footage from the ERT (Public Broadcasting Channel) archive featuring cinematic greats such as Melina Merkouri only underlined how lame, passionless and soulless most contemporary Greek export-actresses are by comparison, with Eleni Vergeti leading the pack. I'm pretty sure the sole reason Eleni Vergeti even has a career is because of her Western-European looks, with her dark-blonde hair, bright eyes and avant garde bimbo features. So desperate is Nikos Labot to make a movie that will appease Western-Europeans that he not only casts an avant garde bimbo that will delight their Turkish Delight-trained film-crotches, there is even an intrusive Hal Hartley moment in the midst of The Dog: like the Elena character in Hartley's 1992 Simple Men, Eleni suffers an epileptic fit. Avant garde bimbos are always this sickly and needy, whereas the old greats like Merkouri represent a dangerous feminity that has been domesticated and has all but disappeared off the screen thanks to all the Hartley wannabes like Labot. Nikos Labot probably figured this was a sly reference to his teacher, not realizing how obvious and obtrusive the reference is to even the most casual filmgoer.

Compare Nikos Labot's intrusive use of Hal Hartley references to another film-maker on the festival who is also clearly inspired by Hal Hartley, but who has enough other resources and a creativity all of his own to produce a film worth watching. In The Last Page, USA film-maker Kevin Acevedo reveals an undeniable Hartley influence in his head-down framing of scenes. However, because this is an *American* film, this kind of Hartleyan head-down framing has a new significance in post 9/11 America. It's as if Americans are too scared to look up at buildings, and as if the economic depression has forced Americans to look at one another, not UP at the commercial billboards but STRAIGHT AHEAD at the faces of the people who are actually all around them. The Hartley reference is no longer just a reference to, but has meaning and significance all of its own. Contrast this with the hi-tech scene where the character of the writer erases the thoughts in his head just as he erases the words he is writing on screen. It was excellent, filmic and artistic self-reflectivity at its best. There's even an ironic reference to the fetishistic footage of a plastic bag dancing in the wind from American Beauty (1999). In Acevedo's short two paper coffee-cups dance a balletic duet in the wind! Open references to iconic scenes from other films do not have to be intrusive or annoying. Was Nikos Labot paying attention during the screening of The Last Page?

Well, let's hope you got your ARTE.fr endorsement Labot. I'm glad I no longer even have a television set.

Sources used:
Spaghetti Western wikipedia entry:

Hal Hartley's 1992 Simple Men:

Paul Verhoeven's 1973 Turkish Delight:

Turkish Delight poster with a young Monique van de Ven, the original avant garde bimbo, foremother of lame actresses like Eleni Vergeti (who after reading this review will rush to see the film mentioned to pick up tricks and pointers):

American Beauty compilation spoilers from Youtube; fast forward to 1.09 for the footage of the plastic bag dancing in the wind:

Τετάρτη, 30 Σεπτεμβρίου 2009

Critiques of the Short Film Festival of Drama 2009

Critiques of the Short Film Festival of Drama 2009

At the request of the film-makers themselves, I will be posting my personal reviews, critique, polemics, etc. etc. of short movies shown at the 2009 edition of the Short Film Festival of Drama (SFFD).

First, a little background information on myself and my interactions with short films. Other than the experimental films shown on the Amsterdam local TV station Kunst Kanaal, the majority of which were by pampered middle-class Gerrit Rietfeld Art Academy students and thus self-indulgent and unwatchable, I first attended a short film festival back in 2004 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The theme of that year was double (or even triple) simultaneous projections, some with the breaking-point right in the middle of the screen. It was so intriguing that I hung around until closing-time. My first edition of the Amsterdam Short Film Festival was unfortunately also my last, for the Christian Conservative government decided to discontinue funding the festival arguing that it was superfluous in the context of all the other Dutch film festivals. The larger, established and better-funded International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA) stepped in to fill the void created by the disappearance of the short film festival by offering to screen artistic or experimental documentaries as part of the IDFA's "Paradox" program, still the most interesting program on the whole festival. I volunteered at the IDFA for over half a decade, so my experience with viewing short films was mostly short documentaries, conventional or artistic.

My texts on culture (which I have been writing since the age of 12, when I first published my first ever fanzine) are a labour of love and hate. I have no official affiliations, no government subsidies, no commercial sponsors, and no institutional associations. Everything and anything you read from my hand is illegitimate, DIY, no-profit, no-bullshit hardcore criticism. Therefore, everything I write, unlike everything written by official legitimate for-profit critics, is honest and true. I am not promoting anyone just for the sake of receiving favours from them. I am certainly no sycophant of any artist, festival, institution. I am against free tickets for critics, VIP lists, special insider-only screenings, registration-only events, invitation-only events, anything that separates critics from the general audience and puts them on an undeserved pedestal. I have witnessed time and again the sheer inability and unwillingness of official artists and legitimate institutions to deal with an free independent citizen reporting on the internet. As bloggers, as online authors, we are considered to be the untouchables of the caste system of writers and authors. Last year I attended an event where a theatre director literally demanded that online critics be censored; this man believed that a single negative blog review had the power to destroy the buzz around a performance. He never once considered holding artists themselves responsible for producing something worthwhile. He never once considered the right of audience members, as consumers of a product they paid for out of their own pockets, to warn other consumers against wasting their time and money. Since there is so little respect of blog criticism amongst legitimate institutions and artists, why should blog critics respect those who don't respect us? And let's not forget all the bloggers and online authors who had their work stolen, plagiarized. There seems to be an army of wannabe academics, PhD candidates with no ideas or mental life of their own, who do nothing but search the web for blogs they can plagiarize. As much as I worry that once again plagiarism will be the fate my critiques on this blog - as has been the fate with everything I have written anywhere else on the internet - being plagiarized and having to suffer to humiliation and disrespect of watching someone use your ideas and thoughts without crediting you, well, this will certainly not silence me. If anything, it will make my texts more hardcore, uncompromising and honest. Being responable and fair to artists has certainly never earned me respect or recognition. All it earned me was the humiliation of plagiarism. So I quit trying to write serious reviews, and set myself free. As paradoxical as this may sound, telling the truth opened my eyes (even more than before).

As you can tell from reading a random text by my hand, I do not particularly care for artists or art. I have very little respect for conventional or official criticism, which generally does not involve much critique. I am too old to glorify artists the way I did as a teenager (some critics never grow out of that state, in fact, critics become critics as an excuse not to), and I am too intelligent to dumb it down just because an artist showing me his art expects to be catering to an audience dumber than himself. I might praise and condemn an artist all in the same breath - I have never come across a film I liked entirely, a record I could listen to from beginning to end, a book that did not bore at one point or another. It is thanks to my total independence as an author that I can do this, write honest and true reviews. I do not suffer fools gladly, especially if they are professional fools, aka artists. This is what you can expect to read on this blog as I discuss the 2009 edition of the Short Film Festival of Drama. Got a problem with something I say? Want to correct something? Use the reply-function.

Maria Technosux
anti-fascist blogger