Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Paris paradise

Jani. (YLE)
They are young, bored, and angry. They live in Rovaniemi, northern Finland, and their life is determined by drugs and crime. "Reindeerspotting", filmed by Joonas Neuvonen, a drug addict himself, and presented by Finland's broadcasting corporation YLE, tells the desperate story of 19-year-old Jani. He has lost two fingers to local gangsters and five years of his life to the morphine. "Drugs have come to Rovaniemi late", Jani says, "but they're here to stay."

Jani dreams of leaving Lapland and his old life behind, a life between withdrawal symptoms and the next shot, between jail and the next burglary. Robbing 5000 Euros from a grocery store seems to be the right way to start. A trip to Paris, an extra load of dope, a TV set in the hotel room: This is what paradise looks like.

"Reindeerspotting" is a film shot from a scaringly close point of view. A masterpiece, maybe a piece of art. Yet, it brings up burning questions about media ethics. And it is frightening beyond words.

Epilogue: Jani has not seen the film. He committed suicide after having been released from prison.

Deadly silence

Jordan, aspiring marching band drummer. (BBC)
In the beginning there was a research: How well have the wounds healed since war in Northern Ireland is over? Filmmaker Alison Millar explores Shankill Road in Belfast, meets 11-year-old Jordan, an aspiring marching band drummer, the marching band leader Paul Shole, and the father of eight Lee Hammond who tells Alison about his "lost childhood", always aware of the fact that he might get shot during one of the frequent riots. One day drummer boy Jordan makes a shocking discovery at the end of his road. His father who has always refused to speak about his violent past decides to break the silence.

"The Men Who Won't Stop Marching" presented by BBC Two is an impressive study on the loyalists' nostalgia for paramilitary discipline, on worshipping killed protestant fighters (who might as well be seen as murderers), on self-perpetuating prejudice, and on the deadly resistence to talking about the troubled past.


They were kids when war reached their home in Afghanistan. 10 or 12 years old, they were forced to escape and to go into hiding in Iran, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. "Affarin!", a film by Vincenzo Pergolini, tells the upsetting story of young refugees illegally living in Italy, of their odyssey in a dangerous world ruled by corrupt police officers, by people smugglers and drug dealers - and of their hope to see an Afghanistan in peace some day.

The enemy within

Hartmut Rosinger, Peter Wulkau. (ZDF)
30 years ago. Germany and Europe are cut in two by the wall, by barbed wire and equally by political convictions. Peter Wulkau, a young intellectual and a GDR dissident, is expelled from Leipzig university and ordered to do manual work in a factory in Magdeburg. There he joins a protestant students' group where he is spied on by his friend Hartmut Rosinger (code name "Hans Kramer"), a state security volunteer. The two men, as it turns out, are friends and enemies at the same time. In 1978 Wulkau is sentenced to two years of imprisonment.

The TV documentary "Feindber├╝hrung" (enemy engagement) presented by the German ZDF extensively quotes from state security documents, shows police photos and training films, and thus provides a deep insight into the mechanics of total secret service control. "Feindber├╝hrung", shot in original locations, is a torturingly authentic portrait of two men recalling their past, friends after all, and it is a breathtaking tale about totalitarianism, about friendship and betrayal, about guilt - and forgiving.

Photo gallery

Discussion in the radio doc jury. (Jan Kopetzky)
A blog needs photos, the more the better. The Berlin-based photographer Jan Kopetzky has been shooting the past three days, and his impressive shots illustrate what makes this competition tick. Have a look at the gallery on the right side - click to enlarge (and right-click to download). Enjoy!

Makes me hungry for images. Heading for TV documentary.