AGITPROP films attract scores; Film-activism top discussion at forum

AGITPROP films attract scores; Film, activism top discussion at forum

The filmmaker-activists: (From right to left) Vincent Silarde of ST eXposure; Eric Tandoc from U.S.; Marie Boti from Canada's Prductions Multi-Monde; Iara Lee from Barzil; Mustafa Kilinc from Germany

A jampacked venue and an ‘agit-propagated’ crowd highlighted the opening day of the 1st AGITPROP International FIlm Festival on People’s Struggle at the College of Mass Communication Media Center, UP Diliman yesterday, July 02.

Festival director and Southern Tagalog Exposure (ST eXposure) founding member RJ Mabilin said organizers were overhelmed by the turn out of audiences in the festival’s opening. He related that despite limited time and resources in preparing for the festival, the opening was humbly successful. He added that the turnout of the filmmakers who attended the festival was an overwhelming development.

“This just shows how deep the solidarity is between the filmmakers who promote the same cause of social justice and change,” he said. Mabilin added that they had little resources and were unable to fund the travel expenses of the filmmakers.

Lined up for festival premier attended by filmmakers themselves were award-winning independent documentaries namely Cultures of Resistance (Brazil/US), Productions Multi Monde’s determiNATION songs (Canada), Smiling Face in a Circle of Fire (Germany/PH) and Sounds of New Hope (USA/PH).

Winner at the Tiburon International Film Festival and Steps International Film Festival for Best Documentary, Cultures of Resistance by Brazillian director Iara Lee is a documentary on different artists and cultural groups from around the world that take part in social movements by means of their art works.

Festival's featured filmmaker Iara Lee shares with news reporters her experience during the Israeli attack against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla last year where she was a passenger.

Lee is a social justice activist and was among the passengers of the MV Mavi Marmara, a vessel in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli Navy in May 2010 after attempting to bring humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees. The attack led to the murder of many humanitarian workers.

In determiNATION songs, three native artists use voice, rhythms, samples and guitar riffs to cut through politics to reveal the vibrant native musicscene while exposinf the realities and struggles in their communities. Produced by Productions Multi Monde, the documentary is directed by Malcolm Guy and Marie Boti.

 Sounds of New Hope by Filipino-American filmmaker Eric Tandoc relates the life of another Filipino-American MC Kiwi and growing use of hip-hop as an organizing tool in the people’s movement for the national liberation and democracy in the Philippines.

German filmmaker and journalist Mustafa Kilinc’s Ates Cemberinde Gul Yuzler (Smiling Face in a Circle of Fire) tells of the history and the ongoing people’s war happening in the Philippines. It shows the life of the guerillas and their fight against root problems of society and poverty in the urban centers f the Philippines.

Alongside equally engaging films, a forum in the sideline entitled, “Sites and Sights of Resistance” has stirred an active discussion between filmmakers and the audience which culminated an agitated and insightful opening day.

Sharing on their respective films, the filmmakers were in consensus in underlining the role of filmmaking and activism to effect desired social change.

Departing from the conventional idea of filmmaker as observer, AGITPROP filmmakers they said share a common ground, being an activist and filmmakers alike.

“As artists, we are first and foremost, activists”, said Vincent Silarde of ST Exposure explaining that what difers them from the mainstream type is that they are progressive and resolves to offer a solution to the issues at hand vis-à-vis plain film exposition.

Director Iara Lee underscored her experiences in her travels around the globe which boil down to people’s resistance movements. She said related that in her search for peaceful solutions, all she found was tyranny and abuses by governments and states against their people.

“Peace is the success of resistance. Let us not make the mistake of replacing resistance with peace”, she said.

Marie Boti also noted that as activism and filmmaking should transcend boundaries and races. She said that she considers herself one with the world, which explains why they are traveling and making films across continents to be one with the struggle of their brothers and sisters.

Meanwhile, to headline today’s screening is the acclaimed documentary Mirage of El Dorado by Canadian director Martin Frigon. Produced by the Productions Multi-Monde, the film exposes the environmental and ecological threats posed by mining operations of several Canadian companies in Chile. The documentary won the Grand Prize in the 26th International Environmental Film Festival in Paris and the 7th International Digital Film Festival in Chile.

Set to close the festival on July 4 is an acclaimed documentary called The Yes Men Fix the World by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno.

AGITPROP is being organized by the ST eXposure, along with other Philippine-based multimedia and cultural groups Mayday Philippines, Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Tudla Productions, Kodao Productions, and the Free Jonas Burgos Mov’t. Asia pacific online video site EngageMedia also helped in curating AGITPROP.

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