10. Subversive Film Festival

10 Years of Free Cinema – Marx & Maureen

Films are like bridges that connect different people, stories and fragments of culture. We have been building these bridges for over ten years. Films that interpret and transfigure reality. Films that dare to ponder upon great themes even though they are apparently telling small tales. Films that explore different tonalities and approaches to the core. Films that are, to paraphrase the recently deceased Abbas Kiarostami, like the wind that will carry us. Films that emerge from the desire to observe the world and its people from a different point of view, without enforcing a distance between us and its harsh reality. Yes, we have been searching for free cinema for ten years. Is there such a thing? Film without borders. Film as full-blooded explosion of images. Film that offers various reflections on the state and fucked-upness of the world we inhabit.

There is some symbolic in the fact that in the film that opens this year’s jubilar edition of Subversive Film Festival (Young Karl Marx) as well as the one closing its feature competition (Personal Shopper), its main protagonists embark from Paris to London. While the young Marx was forced to leave, Assayas’ personal shopper Maureen goes to buy her client a sexy toilette. From Das Kapital to capital proper. Indeed, Marx travelled via an uncomfortable combination of train and steamboat, while Maureen takes Eurostar. Marx dreams during his travel to London about the Righteous Alliance, while Maureen prefers a (righteous) smartphone as a medium in a bizarre (spiritistic) seance involving a mysterious entity that is haunting her.

Here are also three films that deal with migrations, refugees and cultural dilemmas. In The Great Wall Franz Kafka’s allegorical tale The Building of the Chinese Wall adopts a brand new meaning in the prevailing discourse of Fortress Europe. In The Gospel the great theatre actor and director Pippo Delbono enters the refugee shelter in Asti with his latest play. In Bezness as Usual the Hollandaise director Alex Pitstra reflects on his identity crisis by sharing the story about how his mother had a fleeting sexual encounter while spending her summer in Tunisia with a local player, who spread his seed all over Europe. Like Delbono, whose piece balances between reality and theatre, a similar trajectory is followed by the conceptual artist Neïl Beloufa (Occidental), whose theatrical provocations and artificial film frame invoke the madness of the recent works by Resnais and Bonello. The Palestinian Raed Andoni (Ghost Hunting) uses a similar procédé, reminding us of Avi Mograbi’s rhetoric of the theatre of cruelty, whose actors stage the horrors they went through in Israeli prisons in the form of a therapeutic seance.

The jubilar 10th edition of Subversive Film Festival has also been transformed into a real live punk zoo with spiders, and snakes, and crocodiles in the surreal postcolonial satire by the Antonin Peretjatko (Struggle for Life), halogenic chiaroscuro of a slaughterhouse in which animals weep (Still Life) and rats that have occupied Baltimore (Rat Film).

In this year’s hommage we remember Argentinian documentarist and political activist Raymundo Gleyzer that was abducted and killed by the right-wing military government of dictator Jorge Rafael Videla in 1976. Gleyzer founded Cine de la Base, a militant group sharing close ties with Fernando Solanas’ Cine Liberación group as part of the so called Tercer Cine movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Cine de la Base was dedicated to bringing revolutionary films to the workers, building a revolutionary network of cinemas and a counter-information distribution channel across Argentina.

We have also dedicated a part of our programme to the retrospective of German cinema from the Adenauer era, entitled Beloved and Rejected, that covers the period between 1949 and 1963. These films were once shunned and dismissed by elitist critique, but underneath their surface powerful subversions emerge. Although they were made when a tired and suffering peoples of Germany used movie theatres as vessels to escape their bleak everyday existence; while the Young Federal Republic of Germany began to recover from its post-war devastation. „We don’t go to cinema to watch life’s ruins and decay, but in order to forget them. For the price of the ticket we pay, we expect illusions that everyday life has denied us “, a reader of a German ladies’ magazine exclaimed in 1951. Our Festival offers more than mere illusions.