45 Seconds of Solidarity Cut it Out – Films against Censorship
Renowned Filmmakers from 20 countries around the globe produce films against censorship. Each film is 45 seconds long and sends a clear sign of solidarity to those living in countries with limited freedom of speech, while at the same time pointing out the risks of censorship endangering even liberal societies today.
On the initiative of the Goethe-Institut, acclaimed directors from 20 countries will create short films against censorship of not more than 45 seconds each. The films are intended as a visual mark of solidarity with people in countries where freedom of opinion is restricted and will draw attention to the dangers of censorship that threaten even supposedly liberal societies.
To mark the international opening of the project, the first 14 films will be released simultaneously and published on social media. Others will appear over the following weeks. The German-French cultural channel ARTE is a media partner.
The directors of the project are from the following countries: Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, China, Germany, Georgia, Great Britain, Indonesia, Israel, Austria, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Thailand, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Hungary, the USA and Vietnam.
A museum director is dismissed because his approach does not conform to the tenets of national historiography. A liberal university loses its licence without being given reasons. A film support fund is forced by the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs to release the names of editors who support the funding of politically unwelcome films. A journalist investigates suspected state corruption and faces threatened prosecution.
We are the New Ones
The suppression of political disagreement, dissenting opinions and counter positions are well known from classic autocracies. Meanwhile, censorship as a (cultural-)political instrument is also increasingly employed in countries that call themselves democratic. Although they claim to do so with reference to overriding needs, their intentions are frequently different. Thus, at the end of 2016, David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, stated: ‘I am especially concerned that many governments assert legitimate grounds for restriction, such as protection of national security or public order or the rights of others, as fig leaves to attack unpopular opinion or criticism of government and government officials’. Faced with immense political and social, technological and ecological challenges in the world, freedom of expression appears to become dispensable in the eyes of many. However, such dispensability is deceptive. Freedom of expression and artistic freedom are instrumental for the shaping of the future. They form the basis for processes of exchange without which all the present and future challenges cannot be met.
What’s not here can’t disappear
More problematic even than individual acts of censorship are the psychological consequences. Censorship leads to self-censorship. This is, to be sure, by no means a mere side effect. Only through self-censorship does an act of censorship develop those extensive effects that are its ultimate goal. And while it may be possible to cope with an individual act of censorship because, as an event that occurred, it is at least theoretically refutable, self-censorship eludes any concrete proof. For how can one hear the unsaid? And how can one read the unwritten? It has not disappeared from the world but was never there. Almost forty years ago, in Mut zur Meinung, a collection of articles she edited, author Ingeborg Drewitz, warned: ‘It would be wrong to assume that the cases of actual censorship mentioned in this book meanwhile can be isolated as a consequence of public hysteria and thus discounted; hence the book may be seen as a mere summary of a fatal development. On the contrary, a habit of wariness has set in, of I’d-rather-not-say.’
The King at Hunting
Asked about the phenomenon of censorship, Temur Butikashvili, one of the directors participating in the project, referred to the 18th century monk, diplomat and writer Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani who lived in Georgia and wrote the fable ‘The King and the Painter’. In it, the author tells of a kingdom whose ruler one day asked for a portrait of himself. The painter who was called in, despaired at the task for the king was blind on one eye. ‘If I paint him with two healthy eyes,’ the painter thought, ‘I will be called a liar. But if I paint him with one eye only, I will also incur his displeasure – I am doomed to die!’ Yet, as the painter was still wrestling with his fate, an idea struck him. As the king’s commonly-known passion was hunting, the painter represented him taking aim with a rifle in his hands and narrowed eyes. This image satisfied the king and saved the painter from death.
Internationales Symposium zu Freiheit der Kunst, Porto Alegre (BRA)
Global Media Forum, Bonn (D)
Initiative Weltoffenes Dresden (D)
Hohes Friedensfest, Augsburg (D)
Deutschland | 2019 |
„Suppressed and locked away. Never Silenced.”
Mischa Leinkauf, born 1977 in East-Berlin. Performance artist and filmmaker who gained international attention in 2014 after he managed to climb Brooklyn-Bridge in New York with his colleague Matthias Wermke unnoticed and replaced the national flags with two white flags. His film “Symbolic Threats” documents media reactions in the hours and days following the operation and won numerous awards.
Rumänien | 2019 |
Rumänisch mit engl. UT
“You won’t find suppressed history in museums; you have to look for it in photos or in the work of some historians or in art works or in film.”
Radu Jude, born 1977, began his career as assistant director to C. Costa-Gavras. His feature film Aferim in which he deals with different forms of stereotypes, won a Silver Bear at the Berlinale 2015. His latest, a tragic comedy called I do not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians grapples with Romanian involvement in the Holocaust and won first prize at Karlovy Vary film festival 2018.
Dan und Noit Geva
Israel | 2018 |
Hebräisch mit engl. UT
“Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.” – George Bernard Shaw
Dan and Noit Geva are award winning documentarians since 1993. Authoring some 30 films on the complex Israeli reality their work includes The Documentarians (2016), Noise (2012), Description of a Memory (2006), Think Popcorn (2004) and What I saw in Hebron (1999), to name a few. Dan is a senior lecturer (PhD) in documentary studies and author of Toward a Philosophy of the Documentarian (Palgrave, 2018)
Bosnia and Herzegovina | 2018 | Serbian with English subtitles
"Censorship is the suppression of words, actions, thoughts, ideas."
Jasmila Zbanic, born 1974. Studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo. Participant of documenta 2004. Her first feature Grbavica on the lasting effects of the war on her homeland won her the Golden Bear at the Berlinale in 2006. Her second feature On the path – Na putu (2010) deals with Islamic fundamentalism.
Russia | 2018 | Russian with English Subtitles
"Where books are burnt we turn into words."
Haim Sokol, born 1973. Studied in Jerusalem and Moscow where he lives and works as installation, sculpture and video artist. Numerous exhibitions in Russia and internationally. Though his works teeter on the edge of fantasy, he always roots them in major historic 20th century events in Russia and Eastern Europe while effectively capturing experiences of alienation, isolation and disrupted communication.
Angola | 2018 | English
„Don’t look or you will see.”
Geração 80 is an Angolan production company comprised of filmmakers, photographers, producers and other creative people, all with a sole ambition: to inspire a new generation. With Angola as its backdrop, they have produced a number of documentaries - El Último País (2017) and Do Outro Lado do Mundo (2016), short films, commercials and music videos.
Philippines | 2018 | English
„How about a kiss?“ – PresidentRodrigo Duterte
Shireen Seno was born in 1983. Her work addresses memory, history, and image-making often in relation to the idea of home. Her first feature film Big Boy (2012) won the prize for Best First Film at the Festival de Cine Lima Independiente. In 2018 Nervous Translation won her the NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film.
Indonesia | 2018 | Indonesian
“We encourage self-censorship based on our moral values.” – Indonesian Censorship Board
Edwin was born in 1978. Studied film at Jakarta Institute of Arts. His feature Postcards from the Zoo (2012) to which he also wrote the script was the first Indonesian entry to the Berlinale in 50 years.
Hungary | 2018 | English
"None of our films reflect the current Hungarian political climate."
Bence Fliegauf, born 1974, never went to a film academy. In his work that has won him numerous awards, he touches on social issues and taboos of our time. His feature film Just the Wind about a series of murders of Roma in Hungary won the Jury Grand Prix at the Berlinale 2012.
USA | 2018 | English
"My work often deals with the unsaid or unspeakable."
Rebecca Baron, born 1968, explores questions concerning contemporary society and the construction of history in her lyrical essay films. She was a participant at documenta 12 and teaches at California Institute of the Arts.
Thailand | 2018 | English
"I make films to reflect what I think about the situation in Thailand."
Pimpaka Towira, born 1967, is the first woman in Thai cinema that reached international recognition. Her first feature film One Night Husband (2003) premiered at the Berlinale and was screened at numerous film festivals at home and abroad. In 2007, she shot a series of short films featuring filmmakers and artists speaking out against film censorship. The Ministry of Culture of Thailand honoured her with the national Silpathorn Award in 2009.
Poland | 2018 | English
"It uses hate speech to curb civil freedoms."
Piotr Wysocki, born 1976, studied at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. In his short documentary films, video installations, actions and performances he analyses the weaknesses and struggles of people who are confronted with reality in the context of cultural conditions, social standards or challenges them to take common actions. His short film Aldona was screened at numerous international documentary film festivals.
Georgia | 2018 | Georgian with English Subtitles
„Hope you enjoyed our service!"
Born 1961. Several feature films, short films and documentaries, also for television, that are characterised by a mixture of keen social observation and a highly individual sense of humour. Scholarship holder of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) in 2009.
Rachel Leah Jones
USA / Israel | 2018 | English
“Silence is betrayal.“
Born in Berkeley, raised in Tel Aviv. Studied sociology and holds an MFA in Media Arts Production. Her documentaries usually contain a socially critical component: 500 Dunam On the Moon, Gypsy Davy and Roshmia. Involved in progressive media projects in Israel and U.S. Regarding her most important qualities as a film-maker, she says: ‘A thirst for complexity, a thing for anger, a fondness for truth.’
Ana Luiza Azevedo
Brazil | 2018 | Portuguese with English Subtitles
“Manifestos are suppressed, they want a censor-land.“ – Cristal Rocha, Brazil
Born 1959. Studied art. Co-founder of production company Casa de Cinema de Porto Alegre. Script writer and director for film and television since 1984. Won several awards at international film festivals for her wide-ranging work. Among her most important films are Barbosa (1988), Ventre Livre (Liberation, 1994) and Antes que o mundo acabe (Before the world ends, 2009).
China | USA | 2018 | Chinese / English
“If there is no voice then we lose all voice.“
Born 1967. Studied graphic design and visual communication at Tsinghua University. Lecturer at Li Xianting Film School since 2008. His documentaries and short films with which he hopes to reach a wide audience deal with current social and political topics. A Filmless Festival (2015) documents the forceful break-up by the police of the 11th Beijing Independent Film Festival.
Israel | 2018
“Self-censorship among citizens is growing ever more.”
Born 1960. Studied art and directing in the USA. Documentary film-maker and producer since 1992. Awarded the first prize at the Leipzig Film Festival in 2001 for Asurot (Detained). In her documentary films she addresses in various ways both the present and the history of the Israeli State and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: ‘I am a political being and a political director. Without this perception, I cannot even look out of the window.’
Germany | Turkey | 2018 | Turkish with English Subtitles
„Censorship has many faces."
Born 1960. Studied journalism and dramatic arts. Made numerous documentary films on intercultural topics since 1989, e.g. on German policemen or female footballers of migrant background. Her films are often presented at the Berlinale. Regarding cultural identity, she comments: ‘One is being made a Turkish woman.’
J. P. Sniadecki
USA | 2018 | Chinese / English
“Censorship cannot wipe away the marks of oppression.”
Born 1979. Anthropologist and film-maker. Works in China and the USA. His films are part of the collections of the Museums of Modern Art of New York and San Francisco. They were shown in the Whitney Berlinale, the Shanghai Biennale, at the Guggenheim and numerous international film festivals. Co-founder of the series Cinema on Edge that shows independent Chinese films. In 2017 he said: ‘A lot of my films come from a response to a place.’
France | Czech Republic | 2018 | French with English Subtitles
“And we? Spectators, listeners, readers? What are we doing?”
Born 1967. Studied directing at FAMU in Prague. His feature films and documentaries were presented and awarded at some of the most important international festivals, e.g. Nikdy nejsme sami (We are not alone, 2016) won the audience award at the Berlinale. Vaclav comments: ‘I wanted to show a world in which people’s freedom is cruelly relative.’
Israel | 2018 | Hebrew with English Subtitles
“You could shut up from time to time, no?”
Born 1956. Frequent experimental documentary films in the tradition of the cinéma vérité. Critically confronts the politics of his country. Participation in numerous festivals including Cannes, various international awards. Co-founder of the Israeli human rights organisation Breaking the Silence. Says about his work: ‘If some [filmmakers] see themselves as a fly on the wall, I see myself as a fly in the soup – total engagement.’
Vietnam | 2018 | English
Born 1973. Director and video artist. At the centre of her work is the complex and traumatic history of Vietnam. Her best-known documentary film Love Man Love Woman addresses the situation of homosexual men in her country. Founded the HanoiDocLab, a teaching institute for documentary films. Scholarship holder of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) in 2015.
Russia | 2018 | English
“True freedom can only be in yourself.“
Born 1954. Studied painting from 1970 to 1974. Numerous solo and group exhibitions since 1982. Drawings, paintings, installations and recently also video works. Memory is a main focus of his work. He maintains: ‘As long as we don’t confront the horrors of Stalinism, we won’t be free.’
China | 2018
“We hope that the censorship of films will be questioned by the public.“
Born 1985. Director and activist. Participant in Berlinale Talents in 2017. Topics of his films include gay marriage (New Marriage), transsexuality (Be A Woman) and feminism (The VaChina Monologues). Organises the Beijing Queer Film Festival. When his documentary Mama Rainbow disappeared from the Chinese streaming services in 2014, he challenged the state censor in court: ‘We hope that the censorship of films will be questioned by the public.’
Great Britain | 2018 | English
“We hide these things from ourselves.“
Born 1948. Studied painting and directing. Works as an animation artist since the 1980s. Takes up social problems in a minimalist, grotesquely distorting style. Receives much praise and many awards as well as angry reactions to both his short and long animated films. He comments: ‘Recently I was called “brilliant” and “rubbish” for the same film – perfect.’