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Magnificent 7 Documentary Film Festivals 2012

January 25th, 2012 distinguish the opening of the 8th Magnificent 7 Film Festival, one great Belgrade documentary film festival,  “I am one of those, who never leaves the cinema untouched and who comes to Belgrade once per year for a week of pleasure focused on the finest film genre, some would say the only one that still gives space for the independent film: the documentary, “ stressed Danish film director and the selector of festival Tue Steen Mϋller.  

The festival ends today 29th of January and hosts seven film directors from the main program: Tue Steen Mϋller, Danish film director and selector of festival, Stonis Audrius from Lithuania with his film Ramin, Fernando Melgar with a Swiss documentary Special Flight, Gereon Wetzel (Germany) director of  El Bulli - Cooking in the process, Marc Weymuller with the French film La Vie Au Loin (Life Somewhere Far Away) director of photography Xavier Arpino, BAFTA nominated British film director  of The Prophet  Gary Tarn and Miguel Gonçalves Mendes director of José and Pilar.


Festival Magnificent 7 has been founded in 2005. as the first festival in Serbia solely dedicated to documentary cinema, which has set itself the goal that the authors of all films in the program brought to Belgrade to enable direct contact of domestic audiences to biggest names in the world of contemporary documentary. “It seems that this festival, at this point is one of the important points on the map of Europe when it comes to documentary film - from the very beginning of Festival Magnificent 7 existance along with festival director Zoran Popović, Serbian film director. Festival Magnificent 7 is a very clear presentation of the program concept of the seven best documentary films from European production, and this year has opened in a great atmosphere, with an audience that has no problem to take part in the movie alternatives of today’s documentaries”, explained Tue Steen Mϋller.


Two documentaries has opened the festival: The Prophet directed by British film director Gary Tarn and Portuguese film José and Pilar, directed by Miguel Gonçalves Mendes.  The Prophet is an imaginary comment on the world of today and includes doc material shot in Belgrade from Tarn’s previous visit to Belgrade with his cult film Black Sun. This author is inspired by Chris Marker and Werner Herzog and this time he creates a wonderful visual essay that is a skilful blend of visual documentary narrative and original verses from the book The Prophet, written by Khalil Gibran, American poet, painter and philosopher originally from Lebanon, interpreted by the voice of British actress Thandie Newton. While the second film of the same opening night José And Pilar  is a glorious documentary piece that talks about the beauty of relationship between Nobel Prize laureate writer José Saramago and his wife, journalist Pilar del Rio. Film features Saramago, the Nobel Prize winner and  tiresome tour travel of an old man who could, according to selector of festival Tue Steen Mϋller “have been tempted to stay in the old world, as it is beautifully conveyed in French director Marc Weymüller’s meditative look at people in the Portuguese Barroso region in ”La vie Au Loin”.  Truly wonderful film that mirrors our time, which could be seen as an indirect appeal to us all and it may tell the world to slow down a bit.


The festival closes tonight with Austrian “the most important documentary filmmaker of our time  Michael Glawogger, film director of many controversial films and his film Whores’ Glory

 This time Glawoger covers  prostitutes on his travel to Thailand, Bangladesh and Mexico. Glawogger in his previous documentary work has, by now, covered globalization in Megacities and Working Man’s Death. The Whores’ Glory has been done with certain sensitivity describes world of prostitutes on a stunning way, in order to offer proper social and artistic experience of the film. Disturbing as much fascinating theme is a revealing triptych about the phenomenon of prostitution in Third World countries. Film has been described as a fascinating theatrical experience “with fantastic murals of impressive colors", which may be seen as a try to build necessary distance from the subjects and sentimentalizing the oldest profession in the world. The music of this documentary piece comes from the different part of the world. The most well known music interpretation would be interpretation performed by indie-alternative music queen P.J. Harvey that, with her piece manages to create “new and unexpected connections” that intensify unique experience of this universal, so many times explored subject and to successfully illustrate problem of a high prostitution rate in III World countries today.  

Self-Indulgent Arena  

Being poor are in itself a health hazard; but being homeless and poor and a child is much worse. However, twenty-first century and globalization issue brings up the dark realities of the last century with respect to the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children. In addition, regardless of the beautiful colorful presentation of the prostitution raise in poverty problem in Whores' Glory directed by Michael Glawogger there is another question raised here, another side of the medal.


The director of this skillfully craft fantastically produced cinematic documentary Michael Glawogger, on after Belgrade screening press conference showed not enough compassion for the sex exploited young women and children shoot in his film. His mildly personal justification and self-indulgence or rather say white superiority self-assumption rashly clarified with his  comment: “This is film about sexuality!” I would rather say that he was talking about his own sexuality here, not about poverty and problem of sex trafficking in III World countries. All this skimmed out on surface after the raising of ethical question of film brought up by journalists, especially relating that fact that his crew stayed over month in Bangladesh brothel in order to shoot film, for a sake of making an art. The reference addressed here is Michael’s indifference for children in Bangladesh brothel, routinely subjected to beatings, displacement, psychological abuse and other trauma, including exposure to the AIDS virus in his film. It remained me on Nazi policy in the concentration camps (death camps) in Poland during the II World War; SS engineers and Guard were organizing Gladiator Game in the camp. The game included prisoners who clubbed each other to death, while the SS Nazi camp holders indulgenced sadistically perverse enjoyment of the show. Alternatively, I would mention Leni Riefenstahl, German filmmaker who shot the extras from a concentration camp, taking some children prisoners out to make a film but returning them back to camp, later on claiming on trial that she haven’t had been informed that prisoners would be sent back to death to the Auschwitz camp.


Worldwide, a huge number of children and young women in III World countries including other countries like Thailand that may not be classified as III World country, are being systematically deprived of their basic human rights, dignity through women and child prostitution and other kind of sexploitation. Children shot in Bangladesh brothel have a life with no future due to their poverty and there are many others in similar position all over the world. This film should examine the current state of international trafficking of women and children and other sexual exploitation, not mirroring racial self-indulgence imperialistic superiority of white filmmakers (or audience) coming from the Western countries. Sex tourism plays a major role in the child sex trade in places like Bangladesh, Mexico or elsewhere as prostituted youths routinely lured or abducted into sexual slavery and sex-for-profit. This is not what unfortunate women or children of this Bangladesh brothel wanted as author of film is suggesting here. Global exploitation of women and children via sex tourism packed in a shine gown of  art aesthetic in the poverty-stricken III World countries continues to plague society of not enough aware Western countries. Is this what is globalization all about?  There is simply not enough awareness or compassion in this world and we are not Leni Riefenstahl!

  If nothing, beside to amaze with extraordinary film cinematic and top world production package, film Whores’ Glory directed by Michael Glawogger should encourage Human Rights and Feminist Organization all over the world to react in favor of poverty stricken population all over the world and stop sex exploitation as much as it is possible. Certainly not to encourage hidden or leftover of modern fascism.


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