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DARK HUMOUR No Man’s Land made a strong statement on the absurdity of war
DARK HUMOUR No Man’s Land made a strong statement on the absurdity of war

The film festival on conflict and resolution featured fascinating perspectives

The Meta-Culture 2008 Film Festival on Conflict and Resolution organised by the joint initiative of Meta-Culture Dialogics, Bangalore Film Society, Max Mueller Bhavan, Citizen Matters and Arghyam, was held from October 13 to 19 at Alliance Française de Bangalore. On the occasion of the Conflict Resolution Week, the festival facilitated post-screening discussions about the conflict presented in the films and conflict resolution in general. Speaking on the occasion, a representative from Meta-culture said, “The most difficult part in solving a conflict is probably to take a step back and take an objective look at the issue.” And the films featured in the festival perhaps resounded his comment by showcasing the consequences of unresolved conflict.

‘No Man’s Land’, a quirky dark comedy by Danis Tanovic, based its story on the absurdity of war where the participants don’t even know what they are fighting for. The opposing soldiers simply decide to solve the argument by holding each other at gunpoint in turns and asking, “So, who started the war?” On screen, this comic situation produced titters from the audience, but, they were quiet as the light-hearted film spiralled to its shocking ending. One of the most striking films shown in the festival was the short documentary, ‘Independent Intervention’ by Tonje Hessen Schei. Though its content of media manipulation has been debated for long, this film brought out an engaging argument on the mechanism of the U.S. media and how it is being used to mould the mindset of millions in the world’s most powerful republic.

The film focussed solely on the reportage of the 2003 Iraq invasion, comparing mainstream and alternative/independent media.

The build-up to and during the war by the mainstream media strikingly resembled a simulated role-player video game where the Americans are a single entity fighting to save the world from a dungeon of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction), achieving ‘targets’ as each missile hit Baghdad, safely insulated from the ugliness of war by the simulated news images of a projectile hitting a cartoon-ish building.

The image of the burnt, naked little girl running through the streets in Vietnam is joined by the naked Iraqi prisoner being dragged with a leash around his neck, only to get lost in the jubilant fireworks lighting up the Baghdad sky on the mainstream news channels.

“Babel”, the critically acclaimed film by Alejandro González Iñárritu was featured in “The World Meets” section of the festival. Though the film has unusual aesthetic force and might well leave a viewer dazed, one is left wondering if there is more to “Babel” than the emotional layering of its alienation themes. The relationship between individuals in the film seems to be governed by conflicting forces of political\economic power structures. Thus, the cruel fates meted out to some of the individuals seem absurd in proportion to their actions and yet, completely logical.

Besides the diverse collection of films including classics like “The Great Dictator”, documentaries about conflict in the media “Control Room” and water conservation issues “A Duet with the River God” and several feature films dealing with conflict in various spheres, the festival also featured a presentation by SOPPECOM on water conflict prevention.

ANINDITA BISWAS

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