Interpreting Violence Through Films

— Program Highlight
FFD 2019
2019_film_Our Youth in Taiwan 1

Violence is an experience that could be felt personally or collectively. There are various types of violence in this world. According to Galtung (1990), “violence triangle” helps to identify these violence, namely direct violence, structural violence, and cultural violence. Direct violence is seen directly along with the perpetrator. Structural violence infringes basic human needs; in this type of violence, no perpetrators could be held accountable. Meanwhile, cultural violence is the legitimacy of both direct and structural violence under a cultural context.

Violent experiences aren’t easily forgotten; be it physical or psychological. Although the impact might not be visible (non-physical), it still leaves pain to the victim. Through film, various experiences of violence could be interpreted, shared, reinterpreted, redistributed, and so on. Festival Film Dokumenter (FFD) 2019 invites you to take part in watching and interpreting film about violent experiences through the program Screening Violence.

Screening Violence is a three-year program (2018-2021) which is part of a research called Screening Violence: A Transnational Study of the Local Imaginaries of Societies in Transition from Conflict. This program is designed to understand how humans interpret and share various violent experiences.

Some figures involved in Screening Violence include FISIPOL UGM (Diah Kusumaningrum), Post Office Cowboys (Pablo Burgos), Universidad Claretiana (Manuel Beltrán), Veto Films (Yacine Helali), Ulster University (Brandon Hamber),  El Pampiro Cine (Alejo Moguillansky), University of London (Cecilia Sosa), University of Bristol (Roddy Brett), and Newcastle University Guy Austin, Nick Morgan, Philippa Page, Simon Philpott, dan Carolyn Taylor) as coordinators.

Screening Violence invites film communities in five countries: Algeria, Argentina, Colombia, Indonesia and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) to watch, discuss, and do research regarding various experiences of violence reflected in the film. In Indonesia, the activities of Screening Violence involve communities in Ambon, Bireuen, and Yogyakarta. In each partnering country, groups and individuals will watch a series of films about conflict in every other country. Afterwards, there will be a discussion of the film, in which the issues raised will be adjusted to the relevance of our own views and local experiences.

The program Screening Violence utilizes film to facilitate discussion about how different individuals and communities bring peculiarity of imagination to their violent experiences. The big question is, does this peculiarity also limit their reflection on the methods of peacemaking? What could be done to enrich our collective imagination in transforming conflict? During FFD 2019, we invite you to watch and discuss violent experiences through films from Algeria, Colombia, Malaysia, and Taiwan to answer the questions above.

The film Lettre á ma sœur (Habiba Djahnine, 2006) will bring you the experience of violence written in the letter of a female activist, Nabila Djahnine. Nabila Djahnine was murdered on 15th February 1995 in Tizi-Ouzou. In the year 1994, before her death, Nabila Djahnine wrote a letter to her sister, Habiba Djahnine (filmmaker). The letter contained ongoing repressions and violence, as well as the feelings of helplessness that Nabila Djahnine suffered. Various questions crossed through Habiba Djahnine’s mind. One of it, why was murder became the only solution in the conflict that divided Algeria? This film presents Habiba Djahnine’s response to Nabila’s letter.

Not much different from the previous film, the film Falsos Positivos (Simone Bruno & Dado Carillo, 2009) also tells about murder. More precisely, it recounts about the killing of up to 3000 civilians in Colombia. In 2008, Colombian army and police were involved in a scandal where they deliberately shoot civilians. The victims shot were civilians who were considered rebels or insane and mentally disabled. The shooting was carried out so that the army and police were recognized as part of the country’s success in fighting the rebellion. The filmmaker will bring you to learn the efforts made by the families of the victims to find answers to the death of their beloved person.

Moving from the violent experience of murder, the film The Tree Remembers (Kek Huat Lau, 2019) invites you to rethink cross-racial life in Malaysia. Accompanied by questions about the definition of race and its origin, the filmmaker will draw you back to remember the story of the racial riots of Malay Peninsula in 1969. By presenting interviews and archival records from the 1960s, the filmmaker reminds audience of the ugly truth. Through this film, the filmmaker crushes the notion that discussing the 1969 riots was taboo.

Democracy will never develop if there is no involvement from its citizens. The film Our Youth in Taiwan (Yue Fu, 2018) records the eight-year journey of young dissident activists against the rulers of Taiwan and China. As all activist journey in general, the social movements in Taiwan were brimmed with turmoil. Youth and politics have always been an interesting mix.

The four films stated will be screened in the Screening Violence program on December 3rd-7th, 2019 on Taman Budaya Yogyakarta.