Why Democracy? What Democracy?

why dem

“Why Democracy?” is a very intricate question, especially when asked through the wide lense of global films. And when one considers the Gore Vidal line that true democracies have only ever existed for about 5 minutes, the possible perspectives in works of 5- 15- x minutes are bound to only scratch the surface of a very deep and complex itch. Nevertheless this last day shorts program of the Berlinale (Talent Campus) under the curatorial helm of South African Don Edkins and STEPS International succeeded in bringing together some very impressive political filmmakers.

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Of the several shorts presented in the Why Democracy program ( clips were diasbled last we checked, but should all be available here eventually ) ranging from stories in Iran to Congo to Russia, one of our favorites was “Interferenze”, a very fine-tuned exploration into tactical resistance by Zoe D’Amaro (and Godmother Films based in Amsterdam) documenting the pirate TV movement initiated by Orfeo TV in Berlusconi’s new mediated and re-occupied Italy.


“The right to freedom of speech is an essential element to democracy. In our so-called democratic countries, is there space for a concrete exercise of such inviolable right? Or is its guarantee a utopian Constitutional ideal? In 2002, pirate local TV stations started to spread throughout the Italian territory, as a response to the lack of public access television and a statement against the oligarchic control over the most influential medium. ”

It seems somewhat anachronistic to call television the most influential medium given the explosion of digital culture, but it does in fact somehow remain as the ur-genitals of post-modern patriarchy and empire. We’ll have to come back to that thought, but we are just on our way to catch Michel Gondry’s new film “Be Kind, Rewind” which combined with today’s earlier inspirations might trigger a more subversive thought: Be Cruel, Record Over… the whole glamorous festival enterprise and cultural colonialisms strapped to a bed-sized bulk-erase magnet and a party of script guerrillas arriving un-armed to replace artifice and cinematic formula with unmarketable, offline, localized and intimate tales, and ACTS, of liberation… … Um, anyway more on WhyDemocracy.net when we return. Ah, and more on Dusan Makavejev, we promise.

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