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(E) European film festival @ Columbia Univ. TODAY
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  04/3/2003 | Culture And Arts | Unrated
(E) European film festival @ Columbia Univ. TODAY



***For the complete preliminary program, registration form and general
information on the convention, please consult our web site at***
The ASN World Convention, the world's largest scholarly gathering on
identities and nation-building in East Central Europe, the Balkans, former
Soviet Union, and Eurasia, will be screening recent documentaries and
feature films, in addition to its large selection of panels. The Convention
runs 3-5 April 2003 at Columbia University, sponsored by the Harriman
Institute. Each screening will be followed by discussion.

The 2003 selection of documentaries includes the internationally-acclaimed
CHILDREN UNDERGROUND (US, 2000), on runaway children in Romania, winner of
the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize in 2001; RETURNING HOME;
REVIVAL OF A BOSNIAN VILLAGE (Bosnia Herzegovina, 2001), by Norwegian
anthropologist Tone Bringe, and Peter Loizos, on the return of Croat
refugees to a previously mixed village, the sequel of Bringe's 1993
documentary We Are All Neighbours; GREETINGS FROM GROZNY (UK, 2002),
following a detachment of special Russian forces and a unit of rebel
Wahabite fighters; THE DAMNED AND THE SACRED (Netherlands, 2002), on the
contrast between a Chechen traditional youth dance group touring Europe and
the reality back home, from Dutch director Jos dePutter, whose previous
film The Making of a New Empire screened at ASN 2000; KILLING THE STORY
(UK, 2002), a BBC investigation on the murder of a leading journal, the
tape scandal, and allegations of sanctions breaking in Ukraine; SOLDAT (UK
2001), a
riveting portrayal of conscripts in the Russian army; HOPING FOR PEACE
(Georgia/Abkhazia region, 2002), a joint report from journalists in Georgia
and Abkhazia on the Gali region in Abkhazia, mostly populated by ethnic
Georgians, and running along the ceasefire line; and SHTO NOVOVO, AN ELEGY
FOR THE UNION (US 2003), on industrial depression, corruption, and Russian
outmigration in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan (the screening will be preceded by
convention will also screen the feature films THE WAR (VOINA)(Russia,
2002), a brazen fictional account of a rescuing operation in Chechnya, the
latest Russian film of young actor Sergei Bodrov Jr.; and FORTRESS EUROPE
(Slovenia, 2000), on immigrants from the East trying to smuggle their way
to "Europe". A few more films will be added to the lineup before the

Dominique Arel (
Film/Video Section Chair
US 2000 (1h45 mins.)
Directed by Edet Belzberg
Contact: <>
In Romanian with English subtitles
Venturing below the streets of Bucharest, Romania to the infamous Piata
Victoriei subway station, filmmaker Edet Belzberg introduces us to five
members of a "family" of orphaned, abandoned, and runaway children living
there. The children beg and steal to buy food and Aurolac, which they sniff
to get high. In this striking cinema verite documentary, Belzberg reflects
on the difficult problem of youth homelessness at the beginning of a new
millennium, where children with highly developed skills of survival are
addicted to life on the street. Winner of the 2001 Sundance Special Jury
Prize for Documentary.

Bosnia and Herzegovina 2001 (48 mins.)
Directed by Tone Bringa and Peter Loizos
Contact: <>
In Croatian and Bosniak with English subtitles

Filmed between 1999 and 2001, "Returning Home" documents the return of the
internally displaced Muslims or Bosniaks to their homes seven years after
being expelled from an ethnically mixed (Bosniak/Croat) village in central
Bosnia. "Returning Home" is a sequel to "We are all Neighbours" produced in
1993 by Granada Television in co-operation with Tone Bringa. The earlier
film chronicles the gradual breakdown in personal relationship between
Muslims and Croats as war approaches the village of "Dolina". Following
some of the same families featured in the 1993 film, this film highlights
the decisive role of the international community in facilitating returns to
this village by guaranteeing the returnees' security and providing economic
means for house reconstruction. Above all, however, it talks to steely
determination of the displaced villagers to rebuild their pre-war lives,
and their surprisingly sympathetic attitude toward Croat refugees living
in their homes.

UK 2003 (52 mins.)
Directed by Paul Mitchell and Tatiana Rakhmanova
Contact: Andy Halper <>
In Russian and Chechen with English subtitles

For three weeks in May 2002, Paul Mitchell filmed in and around Chechnya.
He followed a detachment of special Russian forces and a unit of rebel
Wahabite fighters. The director and his crew, who also lived with Chechen
refugees in Grozny and the surrounding villages, give us a moving glimpse
of the life of civilians ruined by the war. They take us to the valley of
Pankisi on the border between Chechnya and Georgia, a zone that, according
to Russian and American secret services, could well serve as a new based
for radical Islamists linked to Al Quaeda. The documentary posits the
viewpoints of Russian forces about "cleansing operations"-described as
simple identity checks- against those of the civilian Chechen population,
often the main victims of these raids. Operations that, according the human
rights groups, constantly violate the most basic rights.

The Netherlands 2002 (76 mins.), English subtitles
Directed by Jos de Putter
Contact: Frank van den Engel <>
In Dutch, Russian and Chechen with English subtitles
After The Making of a New Empire, which screened at ASN 2000, director Jos
de Putter again focuses his attention on Chechnya, with an attractive
portrait of a traditional youth dance group. They go on a tour of Europe;
the contrast between the destroyed buildings in the Chechen capital Grozny
and the concert halls of Europe is gigantic. The dancing teacher impresses
on the youngsters that they have to show the Europeans that Chechens are
normal people, not terrorists, and that therefore they have to do their
utmost. De Putter continuously switches between here and there; the two
worlds are bridged by endless bus trips and melancholic music. The
alternation makes clear that these children carry their ravaged country
with them everywhere they go.
UK 2002 (55 mins.)
Produced by Ewa Ewart (BBC, UK)
Contact: <>
What links the murder of a leading journalist, the President of the
Ukraine, a shy young bodyguard and allegations of international arms
smuggling and sanctions breaking? In a documentary prepared for the BBC
investigative series Correspondent, reporter Tom Mangold unravels the
threads that hold together an extraordinary mystery story involving
conspiracies at the highest level, secret tape recordings, beatings by
government goon squads and a moving target, running for his life with a six
million dollar price on his head.
UK 2001 (77 mins.).
Directed by Paul Jenkins
Contact: Daniel Wolf <>
In Russian with English subtitles
The Russian Army, up close and personal, the first time a foreign
television production has been allowed extensive and long-term access. The
film follows conscripts drafted as a cheap alternative to the professional
army Russia can no longer afford. For two years, recruits are sucked into a
highly ritualized and hierarchical system of barrack room hazing, brutality
and humiliation called dedovshchina ("the rule of the grandfathers"). They
emerge fundamentally changed. Junior and senior officers are seen
struggling against seemingly endless woe in an army starved of basic
resources. Though most maintain a grim humour, the results are shocking and
Georgia/Abkhazia region 2002 (35 mins.)
Directed and produced by Svetlana Korsaia (Abkhaz State Television), Mamuka
Kuparadze (Studio Re), Mikheil Mirziashvili (Studio Re), in collaboration
with the London-based NGO Conciliation Resources.
Contact: Rachel Clogg <>
A unique collaboration between Abkhaz and Georgian journalists. Made in
2002 this is the first joint documentary film in the decade since a
ceasefire brought to an end the Georgian-Abkhaz war of 1992-93. Exploring
the lives of people in the Gal/i region on the front line between the
conflicting parties, this thirty minute film grapples with key challenges
in the faltering peace process. Working together on all aspects of the
production the four journalists together visited Gal/i, Sukhum/i and Tbilisi.

US 2003 (52 mins.)
Directed by George FitzHerbert (Harvard U, US)
In Russian, Kyrgyz and Uzbek with English subtitles

An evocative portrait of transition in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan. While
illustrating the traditional pastoral life of the Kyrgyz, the film
addresses issues of industrial depression, corruption, and the outmigration
of the Russian population since the Soviet collapse, and gives voice to the
nostalgia with which many remember the Soviet era.

preceded by
US 2003 (20 mins.)
Directed by Billur Gungoren (Columbia U, US)
An exploration of gender differences in the water sector drawing lessons
from a community water management project implemented in six villages in
Central Asia between 1998 and 2001. Common myths on women's roles and
abilities in water management, specific aspects of gender inequalities
during the transformation period, and an innovative social change process
are described.

Russia 2002 (1h55 mins.)
Directed by Alexei Balabanov
Contact: <>
In Russian
Overshadowed by events in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the war in
Chechnya goes on and on, the Chechens taking hostages and detonating bombs
in southern Russia and the Russian army repressing the rebellion with
scorched earth brutality. In Alexei Balabanov's controversial slice-of-war,
two Russian soldiers and two touring British actors are taken captive by
the Chechen rebels. John, one of the two young Britons, is sent home to
fetch 4 million pounds as ransom for his fiancée. Back in England, the
authorities don't want to hear anything about it, but the actor finally
manages to find the required sum and he and a fellow ex-hostage Vanya
revisit Chechnya in a blaze of disorganized, vicious revenge. Twenty-year
old lead actor Aleksei Chadov was voted Best Actor at the 2002 Montreal
World Film Festival.
Slovenia 2000 (80 mins.).
Directed by Zelimir Zilnik
Contact: Alenka Sfiligoj <>
In several languages, English subtitles.

Artyom and his daughter Katya try to smuggle their way into Italy to join
Artyom's wife Sveta, who had emigrated to Italy a long time before and
found a job with the last remaining coachman of Trieste. Artyom, Katya and
a group of other refugees are however arrested, first by the Slovenian and
then by the Italian police. The refugees are confronted with all kinds of
procedures at police headquarters and then moved to a centre for illegal
immigrants, awaiting deportation, the heavily guarded "Fortress Europe."
Zelimir Zilnik became internationally known in the Sixties for his visually
expressive and critical films.

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