Berlinale-Blogger 2017 Let Art Rule! Tania for President!

Tania Libre
Photo: © Berlinale

The German-French coproduction "Tania Libre" is the second documentary film by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Sitting in the first row, I am startled when I spy large hairs in the nostrils of Dr Frank Ochberg, an American trauma psychologist.

The close-up of Tania Bruguera is no more advantageous, but easier to stomach.
It's about art and politics – about totalitarianism and freedom of speech. A scene from a performance by Bruguera in which she bows down naked to a severed sheep's head tears me out of my coma. I am wide awake. The nostril and the bleached teeth no longer seem so frightening. 
 
Tania is the Cuban Ai Weiwei. She has to spend eight months in a Cuban prison for creating art which is critical of the state. The art world pays attention to her in order to urge the state to release her. A far too short clip of a telephone conversation of the Pussy Riots with Tania in prison ennobles the film.
After her release, the artist's passport is returned to her and she travels to the USA. A few days later, she meets Lynn Hershman Leeson and consults Dr Frank Ochberg for therapy. The film is made in two intensive days. Following this, Bruguera founds the Hannah Arendt Institute and wants to run for President of Cuba in 2018.
Let Art Rule! Tania for President!
 
When Tilda Swinton reads aloud from Tania's Manifesto on Artists' Rights, I am thankful to have experienced this small, cinematically unsightly pearl.