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Madelyn Most


This domain will contain  overviews and summaries of film festivals, film industry news and developments written by Madelyn Most who frequently serves on Juries.

Expect her coverage from  those festivals where she has been invited as jury.

The Chemnitz  Schlingel  Film festival for  KindS and young audiences October 12-19th

Leipzig  Documentary and Animation Film Festival        29 October -2 November

IDFA,    Documentary Festival in Amsterdam        Nov. 19-29th

and Camerimage   Nov 15-19th.


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Impressions of Dok Leipzig

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Impressions of Dok Leipzig for filmfestivals.com

 

The 57th International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film that took place from October 27th -  November 2nd, 2014,  known as Dok Leipzig, is one of the oldest documentary festivals in the world. Originally founded in 1955 when it was the only independent film festival in the German Democratic Republic, a socialist state under Soviet control, the festival has traditionally attracted controversy by allowing the exchange of ideas between East and West, while promoting films that advocate peace and human dignity, freedom of mind and spirit, and freedom of speech. In the past, rebellion against oppression and abuse of power have been key festival themes.

 

Of the 368 films screened this year, for me there is only one that truly stands out as a landmark documentary in Leipzig:  it defines one of the most important historical moments today in the fight for free speech, freedom of the press, and the rights of investigative journalists while coinciding with Germany’s  25th  anniversary celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th   1989 and the leading roll the city of Leipzig played  instigating the fall of communism.

 

This former East German population is still haunted by dark memories of living in constant fear under Stasi surveillance and wire taping which made the selection of  “Citizenfour” as the Opening Night Film of Dok Leipzig 2014  an extremely important  declaration, reminding citizens of the liberties they fought so hard to win- to know what their government is doing, and to prevent such tyranny from ever returning. In tough defiant accents, they repeated their determination to never allow this to corrode German society again; some cited their parents generation living under Nazi spying and surveillance, and eventual rounding up of ordinary citizens stamped as “traitors” to concentration camps.

 

Laura Poitras’ film “Citizenfour” records the 8 days inside a Hong Kong  hotel room where former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden met with Glenn Greenwald and  Ewan MacAskill of London’s Guardian newspaper to reveal  what he knew about the National Security Agency’s worldwide surveillance network. Snowden explains his motivations for going public and suddenly becomes aware of the dramatic impact on his life once the media circus stakes him out.

 

Monday evening, October 27th   2014 became the German Premiere of “Citizenfour”  and Edward Snowden addressed the Dok Leipzig audience with a video link message…

“I´ve never agreed to do an introduction to this film. Not in the UK, not in the US –  But when somebody asked me if I would do it for Leipzig, I said yes and that`s because your history is an inspiration to me. It’s critical that we remember the lessons from history. And Leipzig reminded us that the wall and the GDR didn`t go down because of bombs or guns or violent resistance. It was brought down by ordinary people on the streets in the square on Mondays. Ordinary people against extraordinary powers reminded us that the legitimacy of governments is derived from this consent of the people that they are governing. And today when that principle is so often forgotten, we have so many governments, even in liberal democracies, western democracies, not just authoritarian regimes, that so frequently favor tactics of deception and secrecy we do remember that the consent of the government is only meaningful if it`s informed” said the soft spoken Snowden. 

 

 

Festival director Claas Danielson added that  “Freedom is an elementary theme that accompanies us in life and will follow us through this festival and declared his support for the online campaign  petition demanding protection, safety, and asylum for Edward Snowden.

 

 On Wednesday night, October 29th, the Peaceful Revolution Foundation held a special ceremony at Leipzig’s St. Nicolas Church, (the exact location where mass demonstrations sparked events in 1989) and presented the Leipziger Ring Award

to Laura Poitras for “Citizenfour” …  “to honor an artistic documentary film that shows exemplary civic engagement for democracy and human rights, made with great personal commitment and courage in the face of resistance and restrictions on freedom of opinion and freedom of the press”. In addition to the prize money, the winner receives the “Leipziger Ring” statuette, which commemorates the major demonstrations in Leipzig Old Town Square in the autumn of 1989, and the burning candles that protesters held in their hands as a sign of non-violence.

 

 

The Foundation’s Jury stated that “Snowden had risked his life and freedom to make the world aware of intelligence service practices that hardly anyone would have believed possible. With her film, Laura Poitras had rendered a great service to the freedom of all people”. In his opening speech, Foundation President, Professor Dr. Rainer Vor, recalled the still rampant xenophobia in this country, but also cited the “intelligence services that had lost every restraint in their mania for surveillance”.

 

At Thursday morning’s press conference at the Zeitgeschictliches Forum Leipzig, Poitras, who now lives in Berlin, answered questions about “Citizenfour” which she explained evolved while making the 3rd film in her trilogy about America post  9/11   after  “My Country, My Country”  and  “The Oath” and was mysteriously contacted over the internet by Edward Snowden.

 

Poitras added…  “There was a sense of urgency to get this film out as soon as possible while staying under the radar. People involved in the film had to be prepared they would be under surveillance, but no one backed away, rather, people have come forward to support it.  This is really an important award and I am very moved to receive this award here, from people who took down the Berlin Wall”.

 

 

“It’s interesting that I now live in the former East Germany with it’s long history of surveillance and repression, where the governments, with the Stasi and during the Nazi era, collected information on its citizens and employed informants, but today

 

there are laws to protect from this enshrined in the constitution. I came here because it is a place that would provide protection for the work that I do, and there is a community of people interested in the work”.

 

As a visual journalist and a US citizen, I am trying to document with images and a camera something about the world that I see. I think as Americans we have drifted away morally from our basic core principles and that is what I am communicating.”  concluded Laura Poitras.

 

Madelyn Most         November 4, 2014

 

 

 

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