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Event: ASN 2009 World Convention Film Lineup, New York, 23-25.4.2009

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  • Balkan Academic News
    [A PDF of this announcement, with pictures, can be downloaded at www.nationalities.org] ASN 2009 WORLD CONVENTION FILM LINEUP The ASN 2009 World Convention,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2009
      [A PDF of this announcement, with pictures, can be downloaded at


      The ASN 2009 World Convention, taking place at the Harriman Institute,
      Columbia University, on 23-25 April, is pleased to present once again an
      exciting line-up of twelve international documentaries dealing with
      regions and themes of interest to our participants. This year’s film
      selections take us on a voyage across Western and Central Europe
      (Germany, Poland, Estonia), through the Balkans (Kosovo, Serbia),
      Ukraine, the Caucasus (Georgia and Abkhazia) and into the Eurasian
      expanse (Turkmenistan, China). Through the roving lens and probing
      questions of talented filmmakers, the powerful, often disturbing images
      they capture, as well as the voices of a diverse assortment of
      individuals interviewed, these films offer insight into fundamental
      issues now facing states, societies and populations a decade into the
      21st century — remembering and framing the past, the challenges of
      economic and political development in the post-communist era, the
      pressures of globalism, resurgent nationalism, identity, and the clash
      of cultures and traditions.

      The films will be screened in the International Affairs Building,
      Columbia University, 420 W. 118th St., New York, NY 10027. The
      Convention will feature 125 panels and more than 700 participants, from
      over 40 countries, are expected. To download the Convention’s Program,
      and obtain registration information, go to
      <http://www.nationalities.org> . For information on the Convention,
      please contact Gordon N. Bardos, gnb12@..., 212 854 8487.

      FRIDAY APRIL 24, 11.20 AM-1.20 PM

      Canada, 2007 (57 minutes)
      Directed by Dani Stodilka, written by Peter Bejger
      Contact: Dani Stodilka < 1253productions@... >
      (in English)
      ROOM 1512

      This is the first Western documentary to present the history of Galicia
      and Lviv through rare footage of the region’s still little explored art
      and architecture. The film’s creators closely cooperated with Galician
      academics, icon painters, museum directors, curators, composers, and
      musicians, as well as restoration specialists. Galicia today faces new
      challenges as it straddles the recently expanded European Union and
      those territories on the outside looking in. The history of Lviv is
      particularly rich and salient. Transformed in the distant past from a
      Ruthenian princely seat to a Polish royal city, and later from an
      Austrian crown-land capital to a Polish regional center, it was also
      forcibly held in more recent times by both the Nazis and the Soviets. It
      is here that the pulse of Ukrainian identity and European aspirations
      beat, where national memory and civic identity have been repeatedly
      contested and recreated.

      FRIDAY APRIL 24, 2.50-4.50 PM

      US, 2008 (60 minutes)
      Directed by Larry Kamerman and Sudhir Venkatesh
      Contact: Daniel Wasserman < daniel@... >
      (in English/Georgian, with English subtitles)
      ROOM 1512

      The film explores the struggle for freedom of thought and expression in
      Georgia in the wake of the crackdown on democracy in the fall of 2007,
      leading to the controversial re-election of President Mikhail
      Saakashvili in January 2008. Following the lives of opposition activists
      Irakli Kakabadze and Anna Dolidze, At the Top of My Voice dives beneath
      the headlines to provide an intimate and gripping portrait of the human
      face behind the current struggle for democracy and human rights in
      Georgia. The film raises questions about the risks taken by scholars and
      artists worldwide who dare to speak truth to power.

      France, 2007 (53 minutes)
      Directed by Jean-Yves Cauchard
      Contact: Larry Daressa < LD@... >
      (in Mandarin, with English voice-over)
      ROOM 1027

      The film’s story of a typical migrant couple is one of millions now
      unfolding among the multitude of migrants from rural China who comprise
      the backbone of the Chinese economic miracle. This massive dislocation
      of people might well represent the largest, most rapid migration in
      human history. The film depicts how a single generation is experiencing
      the culture shock of an Industrial Revolution that took centuries in the
      West. An elegy to a lost way of life and a grassroots view of what could
      become the most powerful economic power on earth, the film offers a
      human dimension to the ubiquitous label “Made in China.”

      FRIDAY APRIL 24, 5.10-7.10 PM

      US, 2008 (97 minutes)
      Directed by James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty
      Contact: Noel Lawrence < noellawrence@... >
      (in English/Estonian, with English subtitles)
      ROOM 1512

      The occupation of Estonia by the Nazis and the Soviets ushered in a
      period of terror for the Estonian population, more than one-quarter of
      which was deported to Siberia, executed, or driven abroad by the end of
      World War II. Music sustained the Estonian people during these dark
      years and was such a crucial part of their subsequent struggle for
      freedom that their successful bid for independence is known as the
      Singing Revolution. Filmmakers Tusty and his wife Maureen were inspired
      by the power music has had over their fellow Estonians and devoted four
      years to documenting this incredible story. The result is a moving,
      intensely human testament to the sustaining power of hope and the
      motivating strength of song. The film reflects the indomitable human
      drive for personal freedom, political independence and self-determination.

      Germany/Austria/ESI, 2008 (55 minutes)
      Directed by Franz Leopold Schmelzer
      Contact: Verena Knaus <v.knaus@...>
      (in English/Serbian, with English subtitles)
      ROOM 1027

      This film is a segment of the ten-part documentary Balkan Express -
      Return to Europe, a German-Austrian co-production, in collaboration with
      European Stability Initiative (ESI). Heralded as one the “most ambitious
      TV projects on Southeastern Europe produced in recent years,” the series
      was awarded the “Erasmus EuroMedia Grand Award” in 2008. Commended for
      “the exemplary way in which [it] blends inspired direction and emphatic
      camera work with sound scientific research and journalistic excellence”,
      the series allows people of various backgrounds who have contributed to
      the region's progress since the mid-1990s (artists, lawyers,
      journalists, activists, mayors, athletes…) the opportunity to comment on
      their current situation.

      SERBIA: EXIT EUROPE explores two powerful but contradictory forces now
      at play in Serbia. The loss of Kosovo has rekindled nationalism and
      bitterness towards the international community, while the victory of the
      pro-European forces in the May 2008 elections steered the country
      towards EU integration. Key questions now hover over Serbia’s future: Is
      Serbia on track to joining the EU? Is it confronting the crimes of the
      Milosevic era? Or will the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with
      the EU remain on hold and application for EU membership a distant prospect?

      Germany/Austria/ESI, 2008 (52 minutes)
      Directed by Gernot Stadler
      Contact: Contact: Verena Knaus <v.knaus@...>
      (in English/Albanian, with English subtitles)
      ROOM 1027

      A segment of the ten-part documentary Balkan Express - Return to Europe,
      the film addresses independence, stability and future prospects in
      Kosovo, and the challenges the EU-Mission faces in dealing with the
      country's problems, particularly the catastrophic state of its economy.
      At the heart of the film are illuminating visits with families whose
      personal stories demonstrate the growing strains and pressures felt by a
      population little supported by the state that is forced to hold tight to
      traditional family-based structures.

      SATURDAY APRIL 25, 11.20 AM-1.20 PM

      Finland/US, 2008 (90 minutes)
      Directed by Arto Halonen
      Contact: Larry Daressa <LD@...>
      (in English/Turkmen/Russian, with English subtitles)
      ROOM 1512

      This high-spirited political satire exposes the complicity of
      multinational corporations in supporting and legitimizing dictator
      Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, self-appointed President for Life
      and one of the world’s most egregious violators of human rights. Through
      interviews with Turkmeni dissidents, journalists and human rights
      advocates now either in jail or exile, the film explores how Niyazov
      transformed a remote Central Asian republic into one of the most
      oppressive regimes in recent history. The “holy book” in the film’s
      title refers to Niyazov’s Ruhnama — a bizarre blend of legend and the
      dictator’s delusional thinking that rivals Mao’s “little red book.”

      Netherlands, 2008 (72 minutes)
      Directed by Astrid Bussink
      Contact: Charlotte Sarneel < charlotte@... >
      (in Russian, with English subtitles)
      ROOM 1027

      Setting out initially to investigate rumors that the KGB had attempted
      to cross humans with primates, filmmaker Bussink made her way to the
      Sukhum Primate Center in the former Soviet republic of Abkhazia, the
      world’s oldest monkey laboratory. The tumultuous 1990s were not easy for
      this pioneering research institution that was once the pride of the
      Soviet Union. The Laboratory that had trained primates for space travel
      and contributed cutting-edge research to the fight against cancer fell
      into decay in the years following the Georgian civil war. As the film
      shows, the buildings crumbled through neglect, but most of the monkeys
      escaped and are the focus of the lab personnel’s struggle to keep the
      Center alive. Documenting these quiet but determined efforts, the film
      raises questions about large-scale politics and science, and underscores
      the stark reality of political and economic changes that affect
      everyone, animals included.

      SATURDAY APRIL 25, 2.50-4.50 PM

      France, 2005 (57 minutes)
      Directed by Virginie Linhart and Georges Mink
      Contact: Georges Mink <mink@...>
      ROOM 1512

      With the birth of Solidarnost in 1980, Poland successfully contested the
      power of the communist regime, before losing hard won freedoms shortly
      after. Unprecedented negotiations between the communists and
      Solidarnost’s leader a few years later, however, helped pave the way for
      the fall of communist regimes in Eastern Europe. Surprisingly, by the
      mid-1990s, democratic elections brought the communists back to power in
      Poland. The film explores this seesaw movement in Polish politics by
      delving deeply into the murky history of negotiations between
      Solidarnost and the communists throughout.

      France, 2007 (57 minutes)
      Directed by Eyal Sivan and Georges Mink
      Contact: Georges Mink <mink@...>
      (in Polish and French, with French voice-over)
      ROOM 1512

      The film presents a unique picture of the Polish state through the story
      of twin brothers Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, President and Prime
      Minster of Poland respectively when the film was shot. Through
      interviews with members of the Kaczynskis’ party, the filmmakers
      deconstruct the dual, seemingly contradictory nature of leaders who
      equipped themselves with a modern Western-style party and pledged
      loyalty to democratic Europe, but exercised political power through family.

      Canada, 2007 (53 minutes)
      Directed by Boaz Beeri, written by Jonathan Medow and Abe Singer
      Contact: Abe Singer (U of Illinois at Chicago) <asinge3@...>
      ROOM 1027

      The film focuses on the outpouring of national feeling expressed in
      Germany during the World Cup tournament, and the reactions and
      discussions it prompted in German society among people of various
      backgrounds. While tracking the progress of the German team in the World
      Cup, the film focuses on Markus, a leftist Berlin University student who
      tells his side of the “German identity story.” Interviews with German
      politicians, rock stars, media executives, museum directors and students
      highlight the tensions surrounding the burning issues of new German
      patriotism, history, the contemporary role of Jewishness in German
      society and, ultimately, German identity. As the World Cup advances,
      Markus’ life experiences and outlook provide one vivid example of the
      very personal process of identity formation that is unique to Germany.

      SATURDAY APRIL 25, 5.10-7.10 PM

      Austria, 2006 (99 minutes)
      Directed by Susanne Brandtstätter
      Contact: Manfred Kapper < manfred.kapper@... >
      (in English/Albanian, with English subtitles)
      ROOM 1512

      Looking for something more adventurous than her life as a judge in
      Vienna, Claudia Fenz takes on a post with the UN as part of the
      organization’s mission to support the democratic reconstruction of this
      Balkan region recently devastated war. Fenz heads to Prizren in southern
      Kosovo and takes on the trial of six Albanians accused of having stoned
      a Serb and his mother to death during riots that broke out in March
      2004. The film charts the judge’s attempts to work with the local
      council, focusing on her encounter with moral standards and traditional
      rules characteristic of a patriarchal society, but contrary to the “rule
      of law” decreed by the UN. Tirelessly seeking to familiarize herself
      with local customs and navigate a passage to justice, Fenz’s experience
      highlights the tensions between the two ethnicities, while at the same
      time raising important questions about the meaning of justice itself and
      its application.
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