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Story Worlds: A Debate on Story Telling from a Global Perspective

Global perspectives were presented at the Berlinale event on how culture affects storytelling

February 12th, 2015
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Yesterday, at Hebbel am Ufer, a large audience came together to gain further insights into the world of film from filmmakers from three different continents. The debate took part in the Berlinale Talents section and featured Jean-Pierre Bekolo from Cameroon, Sebastián Lingiardi from Argentina and Madhushree Dutt from India. This truly intercontinental panel of distinguished filmmakers was moderated by Dorothee Wenner.

After a brief introductory speech delivered by the moderator, each of the filmmakers were given the chance to present themselves and share some of their work with the audience.

Indian filmmaker and activist Madhushree Dutt initially shared some of her thoughts on the role of cinema in Bombay. She spoke about the differing audiences in India, not only in terms of large numbers but also how the audiences often have a different set of criteria determining what makes a ’good’ film. The Indian filmmaker furthermore introduced the audience to the so-called ’cinema halls’ of Bombay. In these cinemas, which are often situated in what looks like cornershops, the people of Bombay are able to watch films for very affordable prices. Except for good quality speakers, often what is important to the audiences in Bombay is the language spoken in the cinema. Migrant workers from other parts of India, often find comfort in hearing the language from their hometown spoken.

Following Madhushree Dutt, radical filmmaker and activist Jean-Pierre Bekolo presented himself and his work to the Berlinale audience. The filmmaker from Cameroon has a background in the documentary/fiction genre and his latest 4 hour-long documentary is being screened at Berlinale this year. The filmmaker has a history of stirring up debate in his own country through his controversial films. Mr. Dutt presented a clip from ’Le Président’, a documentary by Jean-Pierre Bekolo which touches upon the sensative subject of the mortality of the Cameroonian President. The filmmaker shared his insights on how film can rouse debate and allow an audience to visualise scenarios that they might not feel comfortable with and which in some cases go directly against the law of the government. 

Lastly, with the aid of a brilliant translator, Argentinian filmmaker Sebastián Lingiardi shared a clip from his latest film about the indigenous community in Argentina. This film talks about the power of recognition and that recognition does not have to come from others. It is about reclaiming an identity and ”sharing a common truth.” The Argentinian filmmaker shared his knowledge on the process of making the film and some of the obstacles he faced whilst making the film.

The panel debate concluded with a Q&A session where the audience was allowed to participate.