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Why do we need democracy?

9 Mar 2009

Short films

11. 3. at 20:00.

Entrance: 50,- Kč. 

Ke Sklárně 15
150 00 Praha 5

Films are in original with english subtitles. 

Coming of Age (Kenya)

Director: Judy Kibinge

Length: 9 min.

About the film
From de-colonization to dictatorship to a multi-party system: one woman’s account of Kenya’s route to democracy and her memories of growing up during this time.
This coming-of-age story depicts the three eras and stages leading to democracy as seen through the eyes of a girl growing up. The Kenyatta era, a time of great optimism and post-independence euphoria is reflected in the innocence and naivety of the young girl. As Kenya enters its next era of dictatorship under Daniel arap Moi, the gloom and confusion of oppression is reflected by teenage turmoil. Finally, our girl is all grown up and we find ourselves in Kenya’s third stage of democracy under Mwai Kibaki, wondering if democracy has managed to develop as much as the little girl.

Don’t Shoot (South Africa)

Director: Lucilla Blankenberg

Length: 11 min.

About the film
Apartheid is a thing of the past. Thirty years after starting his career on South African television, newsreader Riaan Cruywagen is still doing his job today. What has changed for him and what has stayed the same?
Riaan Cruywagen has been reading the news on television since South Africa broadcast its first evening news show in 1976. He is the longest serving Afrikaans newsreader in the world and takes great pride in his nickname, “The face of news in South Africa”. Against the backdrop of South Africa’s spectacular transformation to democracy, Riaan explains how his professional ethics have helped keep him in the news reader’s seat through all these years of upheaval.

Kinshasa 2.0 (DRC = Democratic Republic of Congo)

Director: Teboho Edkins

Length: 11 min.

About the film
A strong military presence looms over the streets of Congo’s capital city. Opponents to the government live a dangerous existence. Maire-Thérèse Nlandu and her niece communicate via the virtual world of “Second Life”.
Kinshasa 2.0 tells the story of how word about the arrest of Marie-Thérèse Nlandu, a woman from a prominent political family in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was spread via the Internet. Filmmaker Teboho Edkins visited Kinshasa to see how Marie-Thérèse’s arrest has affected the family.
His film depicts a tense Kinshasa, where the military is omnipresent, making it extremely difficult to film. He also watches his friend Carine use Second Life, a 3D virtual chat program, as a means of communicating with her aunt Marie-Thérèse, who is in exile in Belgium after being released from custody.
The film moves between the real city and the larger-than-life virtual world of Second Life accompanied by a silent observer - a wooden soldier who appears on the edge of most scenes, observing, waiting, watching…

Famous Last Words (United Kingdom)

Director: Avril Evans

Length: 7 min.

About the film
Shortly after the terrorist attacks in London, a young Muslim woman is travelling on the underground, constantly watched by CCTV cameras. It is not long before everything starts to look suspicious, not only to her but to the on-lookers as well.
The director’s comment on the film: “My motivation for writing this film is to evoke debate and get viewers to face up to the assumptions they may have about Muslims especially after the 7/7 bombings in London.
The then Secretary of State, John Reid, revealed that there were thirty terror plots under surveillance in the UK. This reinforced everyone’s insecurities and helped fuel the media’s pre-occupation with terrorism. The question - if we are living in a nanny state where we as citizens of Britain are being monitored… will this help create a peaceful environment or does everyone become a suspect?
The central theme of the film is of hope. What British people know of other cultures tends to be negative especially with the media and politicians focusing on the increasing number of asylum seekers and immigrants coming to Britain.
This film therefore unravels the complex attitudes people have towards ethnic minorities and their fears of travelling on public transport since the bombings of 7/7.
It also looks at the constant surveillance that civilians accept which manifests itself into a general unease where everyone, in particularly those of Muslim descent who travel on public transport, is a suspected terrorist.”

Feminin - Masculin (Iran)

Director: Sadaf Foroughi

Length: 9 min.

About the film
A female bus driver in Tehran has got people puzzled. On her bus men have to get on at the back while women get on at the front. They start to discuss the change.
In the male-dominated society of Iran, Farahnaz Shiri, the first female bus driver in Tehran, has created her own little society on her bus. Public buses in Iran are divided into different sections for men and women. While men go through a separate entrance at the front, women have to enter the bus through the back door, and then have to sit within a restricted zone at the back of the bus, separated from the men. But in Mrs. Shiri’s bus all this is reversed. She is the governor and sole lawmaker in her little society. In her bus, men must enter through the rear entrance and sit in a restricted zone at the back of the bus. However, Mrs. Shiri struggles to prove herself in this society and must fight against a series of injustices that accompany her status as a woman in Iranian society.

Interferenze (Italy)

Director: Zoe D’Amaro

Length: 12 min.

About the film
When media mogul Berlusconi became Prime Minister in 2002, the people of Italy feared that control over the country’s television network would fall into the hands of a small group of people. As a result, pirate TV channels started appearing throughout Italy.
The right to freedom of speech is a fundamental aspect of democracy. In the countries we label democratic, is there really enough freedom to fully exercise this inviolable right? Or has this right, enshrined in our constitutions, become an unattainable, utopian ideal?
In 2002, local pirate TV stations started to emerge across Italy in response to the lack of access to public television and as a statement against the oligarchic control over the most influential medium in Italy.
INTERFERENZE explores the intriguing story of what became known as the Telestreet network, developed on the basis of the personal experience of the members of Orfeo TV, the pirate station that initiated the movement.

Maria and Osmey (Cuba)

Director: Diego Arrendondo

Length: 8 min.

About the film
Maria has to fight her brother and the other boys in her neighbourhood to earn her place on the baseball pitch. The game is much more exciting than the news in the special announcement on the radio.
This short film tells the story of a group of Cuban kids who gather together to play a baseball game in their local neighbourhood.
Osmey and Maria make a baseball using an old deodorant can and some tape. Carlos, “the big kid”, turns up at the park with his bat and ball. He takes Osmey’s ball and hits it toward the benches. He is in charge and gets to choose the teams. Carlos decides that Maria cannot play. In the course of the match, several problems arise, which are resolved using methods that would only occur to children: Carlos’ ball breaks; Osmey finds a radio. Maria finds the original home-made ball and, as she is now the only one in possession of a ball, she is able to take charge. As she gets ready to bat, the radio at the side of the field plays a serious, official announcement, an announcement that would stop all Cubans in their tracks. But the kids, unaware of this, play on…

Miss Democracy (Spain)

Director: Virginia Romero

Length: 9 min.

About the film
A Miss Democracy contest: the search to find the most democratic woman from the world’s most democratic countries. And who better to judge this contest than a Greek philosopher, a famous football player, a well-known gigolo and a celebrity stylist. Democracy, good looks, money and power all come into play.

My Body My Weapon (India)

Director: Kavita Joshi

Length: 9 min.

About the film
Irom Shamila has been on a hunger strike for the last seven years. She is protesting against the military emergency ruling in the Indian region of Manipur. Will her voice be heard?
Irom Sharmila is a young woman from Manipur who has been on a fast-unto-death for nearly seven years now, demanding the repeal of emergency law. For decades the state of Manipur in north-eastern India (bordering Myanmar) has been torn apart by riots and armed separatist movements. The Indian government has attempted to control the situation using military means, granting drastic emergency powers to the security forces. The army’s Special Forces, deployed to the region, are allowed to arrest, shoot or even kill people, based on suspicion alone. But Sharmila is willing to stake everything - even her life - to restore justice and dignity to her people.

Old Peter (Russia)

Director: Ivan Golovnev

Length: 8 min.

About the film
The traditions and ways of life of the Siberian Khanty people are under threat due to the massive extraction of oil in their area. To make a stand against this, the Khanty’s last Shaman takes it upon himself to embark on the long journey to go and cast his vote.
The dialogue between people, nature and gods is based upon sacred knowledge and mythology. Only a few cultures based on myth survive in the modern world. This film takes us into the word of Old Peter, the last surviving Shaman of the Kazym River. We watch how Old Peter survives on the Siberian taiga and follow him on his journey to cast his vote.
The region of the Khanty people is the principal source of oil recovery in Russia. Some 70 percent of all Russian oil is extracted here. The oil companies actively buy huge territories in northern Siberia. Indigenous people are compelled to leave these places, which are their patrimonial territories, and thus a modern civilization gradually absorbs an ancient culture.
Old Peter votes in every election, but this has not helped halt the destruction of his culture through massive oil extraction.

On The Square (Croatia)

Director: Vanja Juranic

Length: 4 min.

About the film
Just a normal day in Ban-jelacic Square in Zagreb. That is, until a man appears with a ladder and a placard and passers-by are forced to remember their country’s past.
Croatia is a small country and a favourite holiday destination for many people. Everyone wants to forget that Croatia was once part of Yugoslavia. But someone on the town square in Zagreb reminds them.

Three Blind Men (India)

Director: Kanu Behl
Length: 7 min.

About the film
The use of Parliament Street in Delhi is reserved solely for political rallies. Various groups assemble at this spot and hold protests. On this particular day, three blind men are also taking a stroll down the street.
India is the largest democracy in the world and its capital, Delhi, has a whole street set aside for permanent protests. Each day people converge on Parliament Street to make all sorts of grand demands. In the midst of the crowds on this particular day, three blind men come across an elephant and, while the crowds rush around them shouting their demands, the men try to decide what the elephant is. They each have different ideas - one thinks it’s a buffalo, another a wall, or is it a camel? The mahout has another point of view…

You Cannot Hide from Allah

Director: Petr Lom

Length: 12 min.

About the film
After a huge lottery win in America, taxi driver Ihsan Khan returns to his home town in Pakistan and becomes mayor. However, the inhabitants’ opinions are divided on the “do-gooder”.
This is the story of Mr Ihsan Khan, an immigrant from a small town in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province. Mr Khan was a taxi driver in Washington DC for over 20 years, and then in 2001 he won the lottery: 54 million dollars, to be exact. Four years later, he decided to put his money to good use, returned to his hometown in Pakistan and ran for mayor. And he won. This film tells the story of our lottery-winning mayor, how he deals with the never-ending complaints of corruption and his constituents’ demands that he personally solve all their problems. What is the relation between money and politics in a democracy? That is the underlying question in this film. Some allege that Mr Khan has only used his wealth in order to gain political power. His defenders say he works for free and has donated more than a million dollars of his fortune for post-earthquake disaster relief (the town was devastated by an enormous earthquake that hit Pakistan in 2005). And he says his number one aim is to fight corruption. Who is right? Democratic politics is, after all, a very messy business where everyone has the right to raise their voice, to file a complaint, to make demands, or to offer up lavish praise…