ON THE WAY TO KINO DYNAMIQUE
Kino Kabaret was born in 1999 in Montreal and throughout the years, it spread all over the world and these days there are kino kabaret events in quite a few cities around the globe: Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, Munich, Brussels, Paris, Sydney, London, Bratislava, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Madison etc. You can find the complete list of all kino kabarets in wikipedia. The idea is very simple: film enthusiasts gather together at certain place, they spend a couple of days together and produce short films.
This year I attended my first Kino kabaret called KINO DYNAMIQUE in Vienna. It is organized by guys from KINO5 and it took place in a space called Mo.ë – very punk and simple space but comfortable and inspiring for film production. In case of Kino Dynamique the task was to produce a short film within 36 hours – people meet at 11 AM for a production meeting, they present the project in front of the other people and ask for help and they have 36 hours to make a short film which is going to be screened at a cinema the next day. It is pretty challenging to make film with people who you have just met, but I think it is even more interesting this way.
During these hectic filming days there was no time for sightseeing and I actually enjoyed the city through the screen of my Sony camcorder much better then if I was just an ordinary tourist. I also have gone to the locations where I would probably never gotten – such as a rooftop in Vienna district no.4, some apartments, an Arabic market near the kinolab etc. All the films which were produced during the 6 days ( 3 x 36 hours) are shown on the KINO5 VIMEO page. And pics are HERE. ENJOY!
And this is the video that I produced during the second session of KinoDynamique:
Article can be found at: http://issuu.com/emiliep/docs/masymasaug_11
Even though Pristina is not one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it´pretty amazing how many nice cafes and bars are there. And I shouldn´t forget to mention the amazing people! Dia and Nora from the organization 7arte, our local hosts, knew all the cool places in Pristina, they took us to explore its magic in the evenings.
My favourite place is Pristina is definitely DIT E NAT, a bookstore and a non-smoking coffee shop with terrace (thanks god because all the other bars in Pristina are full of cigarette smoke). We hanged out there every day after our workshop because it was located just next to the EU centre where our new media workshop took place. Every saturday night there is a jazz concert. They have nice fresh juices /1.5 EUR/, so called “bambi”- chcocolate milk /1EUR/and a good machiatto /1EUR/. Along with your coffee, you can read one of hundereds books that are in the shelfs – they had film books, art books, philosophy books (in English) and some local poetry too.
Dia and Nora´s favourite place is a tiny bar called TINGLE TANGLE. Again, they have quite cheap drinks there, and you can see some very surrealistic drawings on the wall. Once we had also lunch there (nice veggie sandwiches)- during the day, many students come along because the university is nearby.
It seems that there are a lot of jazz sessions in Pristina – a really cool place to listen to some jazz is a place called HAMAN – it´s a very stylish place, with nice and comfortable couches, but this place was a little bit more expensive (bottle of Chardonay 12 EUR).
TETRIS is a very specific place. It´s one of these “hidden” places which you have to know in order to find it because there is nothing written at the entrance. I will tell you a secret, if you find a wall which says “Pristina post, Washington coast” then you found Tetris. It serves as a simple place for film screenings (for up to 20 people) and they also have a very simple bar with cheap drinks. On wednesday night there is usually film screening – we saw some local short film production – a great film made in 2002 which was a parody about 9/11 and another kosovo comedy film about son and father from some village collecting iron and selling it in order to survive. (I will try to add the names of the films later). Saturday night at Tetris was dedicated to 80´s party, pretty insane, but obviously disco music rules no matter where you are.
Here I will post some useful links for the culture, film, music scene in KOSOVO:
Interesting online platform for art, vlogs, culture happenings etc KOSOVO 2.0
Docuemntary and short film festival in Prizren DOKUFEST
OK, here I am in Pristina, Kosovo, attending a New Media seminar organized by Nisi Masa, 3-8 May, 2011.
From the very first moment I was wondering how I will get there. It was a last minute call and one week I applied and second week I went. I got the info, that we will stay in the hostel Velania. I was pretty surprised, when there was no address information, only the quarter of Pristina, that´s it. The other challenging fact was, that I landed to this small Pristina airport during the night. Few taxi drivers tried to scam me from the very first moment – the first price was 30 EUR (which is another surprising fact that in Kosovo you pay with Euros) even though I knew it should be around 15EUR. But I used this old technique and started walking into the dark (yeah, it was 2AM), and of course on of these guys came to me and started negotiating – after 15 minutes I got to my price.
Next day I was walking in the streets of Pristina, following this creepy map in Lonely Planet. I have noticed that there were almost no street signs and I got totally lost. I asked some girls sitting on the street pointing in the map where is the center – they told me the way but were not able to answer my question where were we, I mean in which street we were located. They said that the streets are being renamed all the time and that they do not follow the newest names. Few days after I understand why, when we watched this documentary film: Blue Wall Red Door. It explains the constant changes of the street names in Pristina – before there used to be Serbian names and sometimes even the street names were missing completely, but after the independence they implemented new Albanian names and again changed them several times. So the postmen have hard times in Pristina, because the senders usually only describe the color of the door and that the house is close to that restaurant which has been abandoned like 15 years ago. Poor postmen in Pristina!
Time is flying – two last weeks in Guatemala had passed as fast as the water flowing down the hills during the rainy season, I just can not believe that our volunteering period is over.
I continued working in Centro de Salud. The workers had their monthly evaluation of malnutrition programme deadline, so there was a lot of paper work. Because of lack of the computers in the centre, I had to rewrite some files in hand and then eventually in the computer too. One day, I went to work to Cerro de Oro which is a little village about 10 km far from Santiago. There is a little clinic with two doctors. We were weighing small children that were accompanied by their mothers. They were standing in the line and I realized how huge difference is in their age. There were some 15 years old mothers standing along with 40 years old!!! First I thought that these young moms were older sisters of those babies and on the other hand some older women looked like grandmothers because they already had grey hair. But they were all mothers of those babies!!! They seriously should learn more about birth control because this is just insane.
The very last week I was also intensively working on the film about EVS and I also started making the other film about ADISA school and their programmes for disabled children and adults which was really interesting. I visited a couple of schools were the disabled children are placed along with normal students. I heard that disabled people are usually perceived very badly in Guatemala so it is good that children in normal schools are learning how to get along with disabled classmates. Actually, some of them have only problems with concentration or with writing skills but normally you would not even noticed that there is something wrong with them. Juanito was an exception he is 10 years old boy, he lost his arms and legs when he was a little boy and ever since he is dependent on the wheel chair. He is a very nice guy and when I was filming him in the class, he was smiling and he seemed happy. He was shy though so even when I tried, he did not want to speak in front of camera.
We were collaborating to produce the movie with Argentina, the director of ADISA school and it was really a great team work. We went to the local radio Voz de Atitlán to ask for a help a broadcaster to record the voice for the movie. So we were in the professional recording studio and it was interesting to see how it works. I was also introduced to Argentina´s son Ricardo, really nice guy, who can speak perfect English (probably the best English I have heard in Santiago) and he helped me with editing the movie because you can imagine that it is pretty hard to produce a movie in Spanish when you actually don´t speak much Spanish. After a work we went to have a worthful glass in a local bar. I actually did not know about existence of bars in Santiago because you just dont see any on the streets and this bar was kinda hidden too. You also never see the locals smoking on the streets and you hardly can find cigarettes in the shops. The beer in the shops is also quite expensive so people just seem to live a very exemplary life, going to churches instead of pubs.
TRAVEL TO THE PACIFIC COAST
Finally we also went to a trip to the ocean. Guatemalan PACIFIC COAST is pretty rough and forlorn. First, we visited PORT SAN JOSE where we spent a day by the ocean. Me and the Estonians girls went to MONTERRICO which is supposed to be the most beautiful part of the coast. The waves were enormous and it was impossible to swim because the undercurrent was very strong. It was an off-season so there were almost no people in the town, just few American tourists. We spent a night in cabaňas on the coast, it was great to fall asleep with the sound of the ocean. The bus ride back the next day was pretty tough- we had to first take a boat a cross the river that divides the coast with the inland and then change the bus three times. So we took those funky chicken buses (how they are called) and I was really surprised when we ended up paying 100Q in total and spent half a day traveling back to Santiaguito.
I also had another interesting experience in the hospital. I got something in my eye end it was pain like a hell so I went to the emergency room. Well, I was waiting for the emergency for two hours o it was not really emergency. In the meantime I went through the medical check- because of course when your eye is hurt the most important thing to check is patient´s weight, body temperature and pressure. Anyway, the doctor saved my life, I already saw my self as a blind person until the end of my life so I was so happy that after couple of hours he helped me to get rid of the pain and he made me to see again! All this fun costed 200Q! Who was saying that Guatemala is a cheap country? How can poor Guatemalans afford to pay this incredible amount of money for a medical care? And this price was not set up because I was foreigner, everybody is paying the same!
To make some sort of conclusion to those almost two months I have spent in Guatemala:
I have to admit that I have learned a lot of patience here since the mentality of local people is so different. I also learned that we should appreciate the things that we have in our life and in confrontation with those disabled children I also realized how lucky I am that I was born healthy. I am also thankful that I did not have to struggle with a severe poverty when I was a small child and did not have to work hard like many Guatemalan children do. It was another unforgettable experience in my life that I have done and if someone was wondering what to do with their free time or how to be beneficial in the life and do not just go after the money and fame which is volatile anyway (as my mum usually say: The money will be always there, but we will not), I would just recommend everybody to go to some developing country and do something meaningful and help people who actually need it. You will see how great feeling it is after all. The only bad thing is that the fun and experiencing someday finishes and finally you have to come back home to the everyday reality, back among the ordinary people, back to take a metro, back to the life where internet runs fast, where you can find anything you want to in the supermarkets, where people do not care about the others, where money means more than anything else. I am not looking forward to come back home to be honest.
I start to feel like at home in Santiago Atitlan. Everything became somehow familiar to me and I am not longer staring at the Mayan women wearing their traditional colorful dresses neither at the men walking on the streets with machetes wearing their typical white trousers with black stripes. Sometimes I just can not help but observe what kind of stuff the Mayan women are holding on their heads. Once I saw this woman holding an enormous box on her head – there was now way how could someone hold the big box in his hands. I can never understand how can they balance it and still walk like models with their heads straighten. And the big Friday or Sunday market is also something that always makes me wonder – hundreds of people being squeezed in this small shopping street close to the main square, the vendors shouting and selling fruits, vegetables, meat and Made in China stuff, people bargaining. It is also possible to buy different kind of animals- You can buy rooster for 70Q, small rabbit for 20Q, dogs, chickens etc. Sometimes there are some crazy religious fanatics walking around and invoking God and propagating his words. But still, when I hear tzutuhil it still sounds like a language from a different planet.
Mayans have beautiful black hair and dark skin lashed by the sun. They are very short which is caused by the subtropical climate and the nutrition. I did not see any tall people in Santiago, they are all shorter than me, I would say 160cm is the average for an adult men. People here are very kind. I did not meet any bothering people as in other developing countries that would go after you and force you to buy something or cheat somebody. They are not spoiled by the tourism industry yet. (Well, just a little bit). Who knows how the situation will change in few more years when more hotels will be build and more tourists will flow here.
It is great just to walk on the streets while heading to work, not being dependant on any kind of transportation, just enjoy walking and looking around. The only thing that makes me really sad is seeing the forlorn dogs. There are dozens of them everywhere you look. Some of them are walking with me, some of them are just lying on the street, some of them looking for a food and some of them slowly dying. They are all skinny and most of them look very sick. Of course the ponds for dogs are nonexistent in Guatemala since this is a developing country where half of the inhabitants live under the poverty line and life of a dog does not mean anything. I remember once when I was in San Lucas, I saw a dog in a garbage bin, he was old and molt completely and he had a broken leg. I always think of my dog Frantisek who is happy back home, gets enough food and does not have to live on the streets.
WORK 24-28 May
I started shooting a short film about ADISA, the Asociation of Parents and Friends of People with Disabilities, the school and the centre for disabled people. ADISA was founded in 1997 when the daughter of a couple who run the centre, Argentina and Francisco, died because of Meningitis in the age of 9 years. There are about 60 children in the school and dozen adults in the centre where they make products from recycled paper. Being a teacher in the school is a tough work. The children require constant attention, there are some kids with serious physical handicaps and some kids mentally retarded. But it is great that such places exist and that there is at least some hope for these people.
In the afternoons I was helping in the CENTRE DE SALUD which is a medical place in the centre of Santiago. It is a governmental centre so the medical care here is free including the medication. They also have a special educational programme Mi família progressa. The programme financially supports mothers and the workers from the centre check if the children are not malnourished and teach the mothers about baby prevention and hygiene and things like that because they were never thought as they never went to school. So I was helping in the consulting room to take the mothers with their 1-5 years old children. Every hour there was a group of approximately 10 women who entered the room at once, the assistant Miguel was explaining them in tzutuhil (as they can not speak Spanish of course) all the previously mentioned things and then we were checking their kids. It is not unusual if the family consists of more than 5 children. Sometimes the mothers are very young, even 13 years old!!! And do nt get me wrong, these girls were not raped, it is legal here! The majority of the mothers are illiterate, so they only sign the papers with their fingerprint. I just hope that their children will attend school one day! Have I ever mentioned before that the illiteracy rate in Guatemala is about 30 percent and even higher in the villages?
One day after work in Centre de Salud, my coworker who has a sweet name Miguel Angel took me for a walk. We Europeans go to have a coffee, here in Guatemala guy takes you to the church, isn´t it sweet? Of course it is still muy dificil hablar en espanol but I am trying hard. My only advantage is that I can speak French so I always derive some words from French, sometimes it works, sometimes not.
After almost three weeks of preparations and negotiations I finally realized the documentary screening. Oh boy, you can imagine how I was disappointed when I went to the school where the screening for the students should have taken place and instead of the students there was only bunch of teachers because there was again some kind of misunderstanding and the director did not know that the projection was meant for the students. I showed them the documentary film called MADE IN L.A. about three Mexican women who went to work in Los Angeles in a clothes factory but got less than average salary (3,25$ per hour instead of the minimum 8.25$) and decided to demonstrate for one year all around the States. It was interesting to see how the teachers were vividly discussing with the specialist on human rights Lea whom I invited to come and discuss about human rights. They also mentioned the Guatemalan Nobel peace prize winner Rigoberta Menchú during the discussion who is fighting for the rights of Mayan people and recently is living in Mexico. She seems to be pretty big hero here in Guatemala. There was also a discussion about religion going on, the only thing I understood was that Bible is macho (“Biblia es machista!”) and that there is no place for women in it at all! Right.
MAXIMÓN- SECOND TRY
We tried to make another excursion to the local god Maximón but it was evening and the place was closed already. BUT- there is another Maximón in the town who is believed to be a fake Maximón. But the guy who owns him and displays him does not doubt that this Maximon is real. Anyway, it was very interesting to see it and hear the story. The owner told us that Maximón has the power to cure people or and his wife Maria who is lying behind him makes the women pregnant if they can not become and ask her for the help. Again, people are worshiping him cigarettes, Quetzalteca, money, candles and they talk to him through the guy (I forgot his name). He told us that people from all around Guatemala and from abroad are coming to get cured by Maximón.
LLUVIA, VOLCANO Y FIN DEL MUNDO
The official winter season started in Guatemala which means that it is raining a lot and it is also much colder these days. This year there is a lot of rain all around the country, it has been raining 4 days in a row without a break. I have never seen such a constant rain in my life. It seems we entered some stage of emergency already. This happened couple of years ago when during the rainy season there were some mud slides and it torn down couple of houses i
n the neighborhood villages. That is why they preventively evacuated people from there and they are now being relocated to the municipality of Santiago Atitlan. Some roads were closed completely and again there was a shortage of electricity. Fortunately, the rain finally stopped on Sunday when I finally get on the internet where I found out all the messages from my friends and family asking me: “Are you alive?”. Because in the meantime on Friday there was the volcano PACAYA near Guatemala city erupting, the leaking lava killed couple of people and the Guatemala airport was shut down because of the ubiquitous ashes. Later on I also learned that the enormous rain was effected by the tropical storm Aghata that hit whole central American region and 131 people died.
I think that this planet is going crazy-we entered the second decade of the 21st century and only during couple of months there were disasters such as earthquake in Haiti, earthquake in Chile, eruption of the Iceland volcano. Will we even live to see the year 2012 when the Mayas predict the end of the world?