Dokumentární filmové festivaly ve Švýcarsku: FIFDH a VISIONS DU RÉEL 2011

Zimu/jaro 2011 jsem strávila pracovně ve Švýcarsku na dvou filmových festivalech FIFDH (Festival du Film et Forum International des droits humaines 4.-13. března 2011) v Ženevě a Visions du Réel v Nyonu (7.-13. duben 2011).

FIFDH je taková malá odnož českého One World festivalu, festival má mnohem menší program, ale za to tam  probíhá více panelových diskuzí a velká část program fóra je právě na diskuzích postavena. Byla jsem překvapená, že zahájení probíhalo v poměrně nudném duchu – všichni se opakovali s událostmi Arabského jara a ve finále se pustil krátký film Akordeón (The Accordion) íránského režiséra Jafara Panahiho, který stejně ani jako do Prahy na Jeden svět ani na Berlinale, tak ani do Ženevy nemohl přijet, protože toho času sedí ve vězení. Zde v Ženevě měl být porotcem a alespoň mu tímto byl vzdán hold.

Festivalové centrum FIFDH se nachází v Maison des arts du Grütli, multifunkčním kulturním domě v samém srdci Ženevy u velkého náměstí Plain Palais,  který slouží se svými dvěma sály jako kino, ale zároveň i divadlo a platforma pro tanečníky, a kanceláře tu mají kromě FIFDH i další filmové festivaly – Black Movie, Cinema Tous Ecrans, Festival International du Film et de la Télevision, a nachází se zde i sympatická kavárna Café du Grütli.

FIFDH: Maison des Arts du Grütli

Byla jsem překvapená, že týmy obou švýcarských festivalů vedou starší, respektovaní šedesátníci – za FIFDH (na rozdíl od českých protějšků, kde vedou festivaly třicátníci), takže i ráz obou festivalů je trochu vážnější a formálnější než v ČR.  Nicméně mladší osazenstvo festivalu FIFDH je jinak příjemně šílené – obzvlášť Thierry, naprosto hyperaktivní vedoucí dobrovolníků a koordinátor eventů – asi šílenějšího člověka jsem v životě nepotkala (ale myslím to samozřejmě v dobrém slova smyslu).

NYON je rozkošné, malé městečko 15 minut vlakem od Ženevy, rozprostírající se u jezera Leman s ascinujícím výhledem na protější Alpy. Ideální festivalové městečko.

Nyon, Switzerland - Visions du Réel

Kromě práce a shlédnutí asi tuctu filmů jsem navštívila i dva masterclassy s režiséry, kde mě nejvíce oslovil japonský dokumentarista KAZUHIRO SODA- v Nyonu uvedl svůj film PEACE,  který všude po světě sklízí velký úspěch a ceny na důležitých filmových festivalech a je autorem tohoto rozkošného krátkého filmu z NYC, sledující lidské stereotypy: A NIGHT IN NEW YORK:

Jako vždy se mi nepodařilo vidět žádný ze soutěžních filmů, nicméně mě zcela nadchl film THE BLACK POWER MIX TAPE: 1967-1975 o tom, jak probíhalo černošské hnutí v USA očima švédského novináře.

From Guate Guate Guate IV.

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

Volcan San Pedro

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?

From Guate Guate Guate III.

MAY 17-21: Work and Sickness

I was supposed to have a meeting with the director of ADISA school Argentina on Monday in order to discuss the documentary film I am going to shoot. Argentina was not there and I was not surprised any more because THIS IS GUATEMALA! People promise something but usually it takes them longer time to do it or if they promise to be somewhere they are usually late. They love to use the magic word “ahorita” – a moment, which in their case means ages. So what I have learnt, if I come to the meeting 15 minutes late, I will definitely not be the last one. The same stands for the whole organization of this volunteering program. I can see that Guatemalan people are not flexible, it takes ages until they decide to do something, so sometimes I got a feeling that we are wasting a lot of time. It seems to me that Guatemalans completely lack organization of their work because everything seems to be very chaotic. They hardly plan ahead and sometimes they make decisions in the very last minute.
In the afternoon I had another meeting with a director of the Human rights organization that is based in Santiago Atitlan. My idea was to get someone from the organization as a guest speaker for the documentary screening event. Well, the director said that he is very busy and that they are only solving local human rights problems and that he does not know much about international human rights. I asked him if he knows Fidel Castro. He said yes but that he does not want to discuss the figure of Fidel Castro in front of the public- what if there is somebody that likes Fidel Castro? That was his answer!!! I was shocked- how can this guy be a director of a human rights organization when he holds such an opinion? In my opinion, someone who is fighting for human rights and is a director of human rights organization should speak openly and should explain people that there are bad persons such as Fidel Castro!
I have a question for you (It is actually a joke that Mario from ProPaz thought me): How do you prepare CUBA LIBRE? ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Find the answer in the end of this post.

Ok, I will stop joking because what I want to talk about now is serious: I finally also get sick. Before me all the French people and Riin had all sorts of stomach problems. The hygiene here is alarming and the quality of the water is really bad. Local people can drink the water, some of them even use the water from the lake for cooking! So here is the deal-after a month there was a cleaning lady that came to clean our rooms and bathrooms- the only thing she did was that she piled our staff on the table, made our beds and gave us a new soap, that´s it. No cleaning, no sweeping, no disinfection, nada!
This time, I did not have a stomach problem but I was the first one who got cold. I got cold on Monday afternoon while I was sitting on the terrace and edited the video from the trip around the lake with INED. I was so occupied with my work that I even did not realized that it was very cold outside. So since Tuesday I stayed in the bed for 3 days. Dr. Miguel from Chuk Muk prescribed me some medicine and since it did not get any better, I went to the hospital on Thursday morning. I went with Marie who has been sick with her stomach for 10 days. There were some American medical trainees in the hospital so it was good that I could talk to them in English. My Spanish is still very bad even though I can understand much more than in the beginning.
So this week was pretty much uneventful- I stayed in the bed in the pain sleeping all the days long. And the only thing I did was attendance at the Spanish classes and watching lots of stupid romantic American movies (do you want to know which one? – The Accidental Husband, The Ghosts of My Exgirlfriends, Devil Wears Prada, 500 days of Summer and one good movie- Julia and Julie with Meryl Streep).

WEEKEND:
On Saturday we wanted to hire small wooden boats and cruise on the lake but since it was raining we could not. The rainy season started and it has been raining basically every single day lately. The rain is very strong here- I have never seen such a heavy rain in my life, the water is pouring from the sky and it is soooo noisy! The water flows in the streets and since the city is hilly it all goes straight down to the lake and it takes all the dirt from the streets. I suppose that the lake must be very dirty because the drain from the houses goes there as well.

The weather got better in the afternoon so we decided to go and see local legend MAXIMON! Maximon or Ri Laj Mam in tzutuhil (or San Simon in Spanish) is a local god. Mayan people worship him in few places around the lake and his reputation is influential especially in Santiago Atitlan. If you come to Santiago and you look like a tourist, all the kids would scream on you: I will take you to Maximon!
Maximon is a wooden statue of a man who wears fancy clothes, sometimes wears sunglasses and smokes cigars. His appearance differs from city to city because there is not a precise description how should he look like. There is always a group of religious confraternity, cofradíaz who take care of him and the statue stays in their house. People then come to their house and worship him with a local alcohol quetzalteca, cigars (Maximon in one of the mayan dialect means tobacco), hens, pink candles or money. All the sacrifices have their ritual and symbolic meaning. The origin of the god is not certain, some people say Maximon was a Catholic leader in the 16th century, some other say he has his origins in the precolumbian Mayan beliefs and some other even say that he was a conqueror of Guatemala Pedro Alvarado or a burnt leader of the Mayan uprising against Spanish conqerors.
It costs 2Q to enter to see him. Diego warned us that we have to pay 10Q (1euro) for every single picture that we take. I was planning to shoot some videos there but they were charging 50Q and plus there was no guide who could explain us the origin of Maximon in front of camera so we decided to come back some other day. The old men who were sitting there around the table behind the statue in the candle light offered me that they will tell us story for 1000Q!!!! No, thank you. So now you can understand why I do not attach any picture here.

Maximon

On Sunday I and Jan had a meeting with a music teacher Santiago Sapalu who has his own small music school in Santiago and teaches religious music to the students and he plays on Sundays in the Evangelic church too. We made an interview with him which will be a part of the upcoming documentary film about religion in Santiago.
And there was another big event on Sunday- the final match the Czech Republic vs. Russia but we actually could not find any cable TV in the city and we did not find any on-line streaming either :( So it was a nice surprise when I learned the result of the match later on- the Czech team won, yay!

That is all from me today, hasta luego!

PS: And answer to my question is: Kill Fidel Castro! :)

From Guate Guate Guate II.

I am sitting on the terrace of Santiaguito school, enjoying the beautiful view on San Pedro volcano, palm trees and green garden and listening to the birds- it is cloudy Saturday morning, a bit chilly because there was a big storm yesterday night, so we did not have electricity for a while which was quite romantic. We sat around the table with the candle light and were drinking couple of cervesaz with the other volunteers- quite chilly evening. I usually feel very tired by the end of the work week, so there are no big parties on Friday night and we go to bed as early as usually.

While sitting on the terrace and writing these lines and editing some videos, I can also hear the chants from the Miel church which is close to the port, about 1 kilometer from the school. In Santiago Atitlan, there is a big meeting in the church these days that lasts for three days and we can hear constant singing and celebration from there because it is very loud and the songs are wafting in the air. The day before we had a lecture with Diego who explained to us what this church is all about – it seems to be an Evangelic sect that was founded by Gaspar Sapalu, Santiago Atitlan-born priest who is calling himself the Apostol! I went to the church yesterday to witness the ceremony and I sneaked in – the non-believers were not allowed to come in. I was totally shocked when I first entered the church. There was a couple of thousand people there- mostly women because this event was dedicated to them. I really could not believe my eyes. They were all singing and dancing and waving with shawls or some big leaves and they seemed to be in a trance. I would compare it to the live show of Madonna when people go crazy while seeing her! There was some priest on the stage (it was not prater Gaspar himself) and orchestra and couple of dancing women waving flags and everybody was devotedly singing the songs that were very melodic and rhythmic – not like slow chorals in the catholic churches in Europe. I would call it a Christian discotheque.
In the evening we got a chance to go to the church again with some Guatemalan women who are staying with us in the extra room in the school. So we were allowed to enter the church legally with them but I was told that I can not take any pictures or videos- they obviously remembered me from the afternoon when I was shooting there. I tried to take one picture and I was caught straight away! Ha, if they knew how much material I had shot there before, they would have sent me to the hell immediately, I guess. The atmosphere was the same – all the women were crazy. There was just one difference- the pater Gaspar was there too! So we saw him on our own eyes. He is 60 years old and got his PhD. degree in California. The sect was founded in Michigan in the US and has many followers all over Central America and United States. After this incredible experience me and Jan decided that we will make a film about religious fervor in Santiago and about all the sects that are here. It is really very interesting. I plan to make an interview with one of the ladies that have attended the sectarian disco session. – Update: The women refused to talk in front of the camera.

WORK 10-14 May
I continued working in INED (Institut nacional de education diversificad) which is a high school that our coordinator Diego is attending. The school schedule is in the afternoon only – from 1PM to 6:30PM. The students are 13-30 years old, some of them are older because they did not have a chance to attend high school earlier (because they did not have money and were working in order to make money to be able to pay the high school or their parents did not let them study etc.). The level of English of the students is really basic – some of them can not speak at all, so I would say that there is no difference between students in the primary school and high school. They also have no textbooks and their English teacher Salvador can not speak English- so I have to communicate with him in Spanish! He is basically only writing some words on the board and students are copying it. The students have no clue to what a grammar is, and can not make phrases in English. The fifth grade (which is going to graduate this year) ,where Diego is studying, is majoring in tourist guiding classes, so these guys should speak some English if they become tourist guides. The idea was to teach them some more specific words related to tourist industry but I am afraid they have to start from the very beginning.

market in Sololá, Guatemala

TRIP AROUND THE LAKE ATITLAN

On Tuesday and Wednesday the fourth and the fifth grade plus the director Phelippe and a few teachers went to a trip around the lake Atitlan. I was asked to come with them and film the whole trip. It was really great because like that I could see the lake from all sides. We went to SANTA CATARINA, which is a small village on the west side of the lake. We went swimming there in the lake and I found out that the students can not swim – only few guys could – which really does not make any sense to me when these kids were grown by the lake! Well, I understand that the women only go to the lake to wash the clothes or to get the water so they never need to learn how to swim.
We continued by the van to SOLOLÁ which is the capital of the whole province. We went to the local market which is colorful as other markets around. We spent a night in PANAJACHEL, the biggest city which is on the north side of the lake. It is quite touristy and many Americans are buying piece of land and build houses over there. No wonder why – the beauty of the lake attracts many people and the lake is number one tourist attraction in the country. In the 60´s and 70´s it used to be a hippie hangout place in the Central American region. It is inhabited by Kaqchikel Maya people who are wearing different kind of colorful clothes. We visited the Butterfly Park (Mariposario) close to Panajachel in jungle with many kinds of plants and there were three monkeys in the trees too.

The next day we continued to SANTA CLARA and SAN JUAN on the western shore of the lake. In the mountains above the lake close to Santa Clara we witnessed the real Mayan ceremony. A Mayan medicine-woman was praying to the Gods and smoking big cigars in the holy place in the mountains in front of the fire. There are just few shamans like her remaining around the lake. In San Juan we visited a waving place called the Asociación de mujeres de Color where they produce different types of textiles with natural colors made of some special plants (www.asociacionlema.es.tl).

I also started shooting the documentary about the volunteers and about the places where we are working. On Thursday I went with Jan to Chuk Muk which is an area couple of kilometres far from Santiago Atitlan. There is a clinic for the people who are living there. It is all together some 5 thousands people. The area with new houses was built after 2005 when the hurricane Stan hit the region and destroyed many houses. The clinic has one doctor and a nurse. Doctor Miguel is super nice young guy who studied medicine in Cuba and now got a job here in Chuk Muk. I made an interview with him and was shooting him while he was working so I saw the families that are coming there. Usually only Mayan women with children come there because men are working during the day or they are never sick, who knows. The second part of doctor´s job is visiting patients at their homes. I went with him, too and saw the whole Chuk Muk area. It looks somehow weird. The houses are not very nice, they all look the same and there is nothing but the houses. It is like living in some remote place in the middle of nowhere with no facilities. We visited some pregnant woman in her home who had two other kids, they were sitting there, all dirty. They probably do not go to school.
On Friday morning I went to Centre de Salud, clinic in the centre of Santiago Atitlan that is right on the main square. I was interviewing the director of the clinic and the stuff- Graciela (Diego´s wife) and Miguel Angel. The function of the clinic is to make enlightenment in hygiene, pregnancy prevention and checking malnourished children, among others. The health service is for free in Guatemala because there is no social or health insurance system at all. So it is good that even poor people can get a medical treatment and medicine.
I took an initiative and I visited one human rights organization by myself. I wanted to invite the stuff to the screening of human rights documentary films that is being planned on every Wednesday in Santiaguito lecture hall starting next week. I wanted to ask them if they could hold the discussion about the documentaries but since my Spanish is still very limited I could not explain it. Hopefully I will succeed next time. My idea is to show the documentaries to the high school students, teachers and some educated people from Santiago. I think they don´t know much about human rights. The capacity of the space is small, though so it will not be as big an event as I had planned before. There is no cinema in Santiago, so we can only show the movies to a couple of people. I have few DVD´s that I got from People in Need NGO in Prague that I want to show here – some from Cuba and some from Mexico.

OK, that´s all for this week, hasta luego, amigos!