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רחל לאה ג'ונס רחל לאה ג'ונס | © פיליף בלייש

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.

Cut it out – Films against Censorship 

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.
 

Cut it Out – Films against Censorship

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’[1]. 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.’[2]
 

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.




[1]
David Kaye, New York, 20.10.2016): United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner
United Nations Human Rights: Freedom of expression under worldwide attack, UN rights expert warns in new report
[2]
Drewitz, Ingeborg; Eilers, Wolfhart (Hrsg.): Mut zur Meinung. Gegen die zensierte Freiheit, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1980.


 

Films

  Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Phil Mulloy Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Phil Mulloy

Phil Mulloy

Great Britain | 2018 | English

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.’

 Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Aysun Bademsoy Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Aysun Bademsoy

Aysun Bademsoy

Germany | Turkey | 2018 | Turkish with English Subtitles

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.’

 Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Temur Butikashvili Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Temur Butikashvili

Temur Butikashvili

Georgia | 2018 | Georgian with English Subtitles

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.

 Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Rachel Leah Jones Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Rachel Leah Jones

Rachel Leah Jones

 USA / Israel | 2018 | English

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.’
 
 

Cut it out - Films against Censorship | Ana Luiza Azevedo Cut it out - Films against Censorship | Ana Luiza Azevedo

Ana Luiza Azevedo

Brazil | 2018 | Portuguese with English Subtitles

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).

 Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Wang Wo Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Wang Wo

Wang Wo

China | USA | 2018 | Chinese / English

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.
 

Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Anat Even Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Anat Even

Anat Even

Israel | 2018 | English

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.’

Cut it out - Films against Censorship | J.P.Sniadecki Cut it out - Films against Censorship | J.P.Sniadecki

J. P. Sniadecki

USA | 2018 | Chinese / English

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.’
 

Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Petr Vaclav Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Petr Vaclav

Petr Vaclav

France | Czech Republic | 2018 | French with English Subtitles

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.’

 

  Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Avi Mograbi Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Avi Mograbi

Avi Mograbi

Israel | 2018 | Hebrew with English Subtitles

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.’ 

  Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Thi Nguyen Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Thi Nguyen

Thi Nguyen

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. 

 Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Nikolai Nasedkin Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Nikolai Nasedkin

Nikolai Nasedkin

Russia | 2018 | English

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.’

 Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Popo Fan Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Popo Fan

Popo Fan

China | 2018

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.’

Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Didi Danquart Cut it out – Films against Censorship | Didi Danquart

Didi Danquart & Bastian Klügel

Germany |  2018 | English
mature content (18+)


Didi Danquart: Born 1955. Studied psychology and sociology. His trilogy Deutsche Conditio Humana I-III deals fictionally with various facets of the German past and forms the core of his work together with more than 20 documentary films. Various awards, including the Caligari-Filmpreis at the International Film Festival Berlin. 
Bastian Klügel: Born 1986. Since 2015 freelance producer, director and script writer. Founder of filmfaust filmproduktion, Klügel & Reichel. 
 


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