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Eskişehir -- Diary of a High-rise Zombie, other films, and a real Master Class - Part 2

Day four of the fest started out with a Master Class by Dutch-Frisian documentary specialist Henk Penninga, and for once an event at a film festival dubbed "master class" actually turned out to be instructive and educational as well as fascinating fun. What Henk did was to take an old documentary apart, remove the sound, then show portions of the film as still segments while asking the students what they thought was really going on in the film and what they thought the intentions of the directors were at various points and in various shots.  Later he ran the film with both sound and Turkish subtitles making new enlightening comments in what turned out to be a remarkable lesson on the art and techniques of documentary filmmaking.  The film under Penningas brilliant analytic scrutiny was "Lonely Boy", a 27 minute gem of a documentary about youth idol and pop singer Paul Anke made in 1962 for the Canadıan Film Board. by two very prolific  CFB filmmakers, Wolf Koenig and Roman Kroitor. 
I vaguely remembered having seen this film when it first came out and the aura of Paul Anke at the time, but seeing it again all these years later under these special conditions, in Turkey of all places, was quite a revelation.  "Lonely Boy"  (the title of a Paul Anke hit song) was shot in black and white in cinema-verité style and is more than a documentary. İt is really a piece of celulloid art commenting poetically on the whole phenomenon of youth idol adulation, of the way in which the star is manipulated, and above all on the phenomenon of "Idol-mania" -- the socially acceptable collective public insanity of teenage females in the presence of the object of their worship -- before "Beatlemania" became a word in the language. Somebody ought to make a film of Henk Penninga using this film as an object lesson on the art of the documentary.
Henk's Masterful master class was followed by a screening of his own new documentary, "The Old Dike" (Alt Dyk) in which he takes us on a beautiful tour of "Holland's longest street", a stretch of road dotted with private dwellings populated by Frisian speaking natives that runs for nearly fıfteen kilometers atop Holland's oldest dike, originally built ın 1505 but renovated many times since.  One unusual thing about this film is that all the dialogue is in Frisian, not Dutch. This may seem like a minor point but, in fact, the Frisian language spoken in this northern Friesland region of Holland is a unique Germanic language somewhere between Dutch and English that has been slowly dying out and is now an "endangered spieces" rarely heard on film.  Apart from such considerations. "The Old Dike" is a painterly poetic piece of work which sets the mind at rest and takes you to a different place both geographically and spiritually.  A word must be inserted here about the phenomenal Turkish-English interpreting skills of Erol Nezih Orhon who has been handling much of the interpreting chores where foreign guests are involved.  Nezih is also one of the main organizers and programmers of this festival and learned his American English while pıcking up a couple of degrees in film at the University of Texas in Austin and the Universıty of Kentucky!

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THE FESTIVALS BLOG by Alex Deleon. Watch for festival coverage from the circuit.

Ambiance and reviews from the hot spots. Welcoming your comments too.

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