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14th TDF: Press Conference (Drought / You've Been Trumped / Ballroom Dancer) (3/17/2012)


A Press Conference in the framework of the 14th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival was held on Saturday, March 17, 2012, with the directors Everardo González, (Drought), Anthony Baxter (You’ve Been Trumped), and Christian Bonke, (Balldancer -co-directed with Andreas Koefoed) speaking, whose films participate at the Festival’s International Program.
An extremely powerful story of a ‘David and Goliath tale’ combat is presented in the documentary You’ve Been Trumped. The film focuses on the battle of a group of proud Scottish homeowners who oppose Donald Trump’s plans to built an enormous luxury golf resort in a protected area, ‘Scotland’s Amazon’ as they call it. “The mass media made fools out of the local people and introduced Trump’s plans as an exquisite opportunity to boom development. Local authorities were persuaded that the businessman’s plans would create new employment opportunities at the area and the media went along. The story was important and had to be told but no one would make up his mind to do so. I specifically tell you that when I introduced the film during a pitch in Edinburgh, a journalist advised me to…hire a good lawyer”, explained the director. Ultimately, Mr. Baxter had to use legal service as he got arrested and put in jail for interviewing the local field attendant. The director confessed that during filming, he had the same feeling as when being a reporter in Afghanistan long ago. “The region can no longer cope with decisions for fake investments or the dilemma of development that harms the environment. Regarding my film’s financing, there was no one to provide it, so I decided to mortgage my house. The locals trusted me and I committed myself to do my best so that as many people as possible watch the film”, added the director. As for Donald Trump, Mr. Baxter said he hasn’t watched the film, but “he heard it was boring and that the journalist that directed it is a cheat and an outlaw. He asked to have a copy of the documentary to watch on his jet, on his way to New York. We invited him to the film’s screening in New York, in order to have the chance to explain him the reason people object”, the director pointed out.
Everardo González spoke next; the documentary Drought shows us a different dimension of the relationship between human and environment. The film records the massive exodus performed by the residents from the ejido (communal land) of Los Cuates de Australia, in Northeast Mexico, during the drought period. “There is no electrical power, no water, no road transport network for the city. Citizens abandon it massively when the dry period is close and they always return for the rainy period and start all over. Through the documentary I was given the opportunity to speak about the circle of life and time”, mentioned the director. Before starting the 3 year long filming process, the director chose to spend a year living in the city among the locals. “People there, aren’t familiar with the presence of strangers. They spend their whole life there. It’s a very closed community and they are all related to each other. Men marry the women they’ve met in kindergarten. I had to become one of them, as, apart from the exception of love at first sight, you cannot get to know someone unless you live with him or her. I explored the surroundings, I helped with the animals, I chopped wood…It was a wonderful experience”, narrated the director. However, he admitted that not everyone in the film crew would share the same opinion: “We spent days indoors, because the temperature outside was almost 40o C hot. We were isolated for two months, no internet, no phone, so, the film crew couldn’t wait to get done with it”. Anticipation is evident all over the film, anyway. “People there are eternally waiting for the rain to fall. Me too. I’ve been waiting for it to rain for two years, after having shot the drought scenes”, underlined Mr. González.
In the last part of the press conference, spoke Christian Bonke about the film Balldancer that follows the story of a former world champion in Latin dance who is about to make his final comeback as a professional dancer. “Neither of us was interested in Latin dance”, mentioned Mr. Bonke who was present at the event. He added: “Our producer was married to a former champion and introduced us to the dancers. We realized that it’s an exceptional subject. Initially we wanted to record the relationship between three couples on stage and in real life. Once we met Slavik, though, we focused on him and made him our leading character”. The documentary has common elements with fiction movies as it includes almost none interview. “We performed interviews we didn’t include in the film, in order to derive information. We included only one interview in which Slavik looks like talking to his coach” said the director. The documentary was filmed following an initially existing script which was, in a big proportion, confirmed by the film’s action. “We knew our leading character had many affairs that ended badly in the past, so we expected something like that to happen with his partner at that time, and so it did”, pointed out Mr. Bonke. At first, the leading character was very introvert and completely focused in anything he did. Once his partner abandoned him, though, he began letting his vulnerabilities show and started to shine more human on screen. “Slavik was affected by the film in a healing way, and so were we. We let ourselves be carried away by dancing…It was like a dream”, concluded the director.
All films are listed under sections co-financed, among other actions of the 14th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, by the European Union-European Regional Development Fund, in the frame of Regional Operational Program of Central Macedonia 2007-2013.

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