News / Arts & Entertainment

Indonesia Massacre, Iran Sanctions Infuse Venice Film Offerings

The shoes of a model appear on the red carpet ahead of the screening of "La Rancon de la gloire" (The Price of Fame), 71st Venice Film Festival, Aug. 28, 2014.
The shoes of a model appear on the red carpet ahead of the screening of "La Rancon de la gloire" (The Price of Fame), 71st Venice Film Festival, Aug. 28, 2014.
Reuters

Films about a 1960s massacre in Indonesia and the harsh conditions in Iran under present-day international sanctions and how they affect ordinary people struck somber notes at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday.

A French caper based on a fictionalized version of a true story about the theft of Charlie Chaplin's coffin shortly after his death in 1977 was shown as another of 20 films in contention for the festival's top prize, to be awarded next week, and provided a macabre, touching and often humorous counterpoint.

Eugene Chaplin, Chaplin's son, said at a news conference he had been skeptical about cooperating on director Xavier Beauvois's “La rancon de la gloire” (The Price of Glory) because “I didn't see what could be funny about stealing a coffin”. But, after seeing Beauvois's films, “I thought, 'Why not?'"

American director Joshua Oppenheimer's competition film “The Look of Silence” is his second documentary based on death squads that roamed Indonesia in the wake of a failed communist-led coup attempt and killed as many as a million people. The first, “The Act of Killing” (2012), was nominated for an Oscar in the documentary category.

Asked at a press conference on Thursday why the credits for the new film, which had its premiere on Wednesday night, mostly read “anonymous,” Oppenheimer said the production crew was at risk if their identities were revealed.

“There is a grave political risk for anybody involved with the crew in Indonesia if their identities become known to the authorities, especially to the military and the paramilitary group that played such a prominent role in my previous film,” he said.

He also said that Adi Rukun, a traveling optometrist who meets with some of his brother Ramli's killers in the course of the new film, had to move to a different part of Indonesia due to concerns for his safety once the film was released.

Rukun, who is in his 40s, said he agreed to participate after seeing clips assembled by Oppenheimer that had showed him the magnitude and brutality of the killing, and convinced him the past had to be confronted to assure a better future.

“I only want the perpetrators to acknowledge and admit what they did and to acknowledge that they were wrong so that we would somehow be able to actually forgive each other and live together, that's all I wanted from those confrontations,” he said in remarks translated into English.

“We live in one community which is split by mutual feelings of suspicion and fear and I really want all of this to end.”

Iranian director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad said she had not had to film underground in Iran where her film “Ghesseha” (Tales) was shot, at least in part with a digital camera that with its grainy images emphasizes the grittiness of life in Tehran.

“The main thing is that the story, the project, needs to be accepted within the country, it needs to reflect peoples' lives,” she said after the film's first festival screening.

What it shows in a bleak and desolate-seeming Tehran is the lives of people with barely enough money to survive being made more miserable by a Kafkaesque bureaucracy, unemployment, drug addiction and spousal abuse.

In one case a functionary will not listen to an elderly former civil servant's plea to recoup crippling medical costs because the bureaucrat is more interested in taking a call from his mistress.

Also shown are the aimless and drug-scarred lives of young people who cannot get proper jobs, like a formerly promising university student named Hamed who was expelled for his political views and now drives a taxi cab part-time, helping chauffeur people to and from a center that helps battered wives.

Bani-Etemad, who is one of Iran's best known directors, said that the film was intended in part to show how the international sanctions imposed on Iran over its disputed nuclear program have had a devastating effect on daily life.

“The economic situation in Iran is critical and this is due to the embargo which actually penalized the people in the country,” she said. “Our children, who suffer from very severe diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis, are actually suffering from the consequences of the embargo.”

She urged people at “the international level” to realize that “international decisions always affect the people.”

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Graham Nash has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice – once for his work with The Hollies and once as part of Crosby, Stills & Nash. The legendary folk-rocker joins "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his latest project, “CSN 2012,” which captured on video recent live performances by Crosby, Stills & Nash.