JUST TALKING 21/3
The cycle of the sidebar event of the 11th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century, “Just Talking” was completed on Saturday, March 21, 2009. Just Talking gave documentary directors the opportunity to exchange opinions and share their experiences.
At the last “Just Talking” were the directors Janus Metz (Love on delivery and The ticket to Paradise), Ben Kempas (Upstream Battle), Velcrow Ripper (Fierce Light: When Spirit meets action), Brice Laine (The Dancing forest), Coco Schrijber (Bloody Mondays & Strawberry pies), Jean Crousillac and Jean- Marc Sinclair (Umoja: The village where men are forbidden).
The directors briefly referred to their films. In Upstream Battle, Ben Kempas refers to the struggle of a group of Indians against the building of a hydroelectric dam in the river running through their territory. In Dancing forest Brice Laine shows how the inhabitants of an area in Sierra Leone took their fates into their own hands, cultivating the earth and trying to be independent. Coco Schrijber speaks about the «art of doing nothing” in Bloody Mondays & Strawberry pies, while Velcrow Ripper focuses on spiritual activism, “the positive energy that comes from the heart and not from the mind” in his documentary Fierce Light: When Spirit meets action. I his two films Love on delivery and The ticket to Paradise Janus Metz presents immigration and prostitution as two faces of globalization, while Umoja: The village where men are forbidden by Jean Crousillac and Jean - Marc Sinclair is about the village of Umoja, which was created by abused women and from which men are forbidden.
Jean Crousillac and Jean- Marc Sinclair read about Umoja in the press. “More than making our film, we were interested in helping the leader of the community, Rebecca, so that the voices of these women could be heard”, Jean Crousillac noted.
Janus Metz explained that interesting stories are about dillemas and difficult decisions: «I am interested in stories which, through the protagonists’ great dillemas, lead to an inner voyage of self discovery».
“How much money do we really need to make us work so hard? Are we afraid of being bored, of no longer being interested in others?” These thoughts went through Coco Schrijber’s mind, seeing the homeless doing nothing and being happy. These thoughts led to the making of Bloody Mondays & Strawberry pies.
For Velcrow Ripper, his choice of subject was a personal inner process: “There is a media activist in me, and someone who looks inside. I need both of these to make this voyage”, he said.
Velcrow Ripper’s words resulted in another question: is a documentary maker a media activist or an observer: “I believe I’m an observer, not an activist”, said Ben Kempas, while Coco Schrijber joked: “I’m too lazy to be an activist, I make films for myself first of all. The fact that an audience comes to see them is an extra bonus”. Brice Laine commented: “I’m both an observer and an activist. With a second reading, the audience can see the messages I’m passing about the self organization of Africans for their independence from the World Bank”.
Janus Metz asked “What, really, is activism?”. He reserves the traditional role of observer for himself, posing questions through his lens and leaving the answers to others. On the contrary, for Jean Crousillac and Jean- Marc Sinclair activism is absolutely necessary. “It is difficult to not be an activist. We felt obliged to do something for the women of Umoja as soon as we learned of their plight”.