“Art and Creative Struggle” at Saturdox
In regimes that try to dominate every area of life, art and artists have always been among the first to be targeted. Starting from the 1920s, the Nazi Party has coined the term “degenerate art” to humiliate artists and artworks which they disapproved, and organized exhibitions under the same title in 1937 to showcase them.
Today, as we witness new examples of a similar approach, in many countries around the world, artists’ voices are tried to be silenced through methods such as censorship, threats, discrediting and suppression. Those who do not keep quiet are punished and left deprived of their freedom.
During such extraordinary times, art is actually much needed. Artistic production comes to signify much more than the artwork itself, and art becomes a tool of resistance against regimes of oppression. Sometimes it becomes a certain energy that initiates new political imagination and action and sometimes it’s a harbor to take refuge in.
A collaboration between Depo and Documentarist, this year’s Saturdox Documentary Screenings are organized around the theme of “Art and Creative Struggle”. In the ninth year of the program, there are seven documentary films that touch on the people who struggle to produce music, paintings, contemporary art, literature, and film under restraining and difficult conditions in various countries. The program will start on 24th of February and run until 19th of May and includes documentary screenings on every other saturday, as well as panel discussions in the last three screenings in line with the theme of the screened doc.
During these days in which we need the potential of art to create a political struggle and resistance more than ever, we hope to watch together various lived experiences, discuss and be inspired…
24 February Saturday 19:00
We Hit the Road
Director.: Deniz Yeşil
Turkey, 2014, 56′
Film industry laborers had decided to march against the new censorship act in 1977. 60 years of silence in cinema was going to be interrupted for good. From actors/actresses to set workers, 400 women and men started a 5-day-long walk to Ankara -a walk that was realized under the supportive but surprised gaze of the public. This documentary attempts to picture this forgotten yet historical event under the light of the 100th anniversary of Turkish cinema.
10 March Saturday 19:00
They Will Have To Kill Us First
Dir.: Johanna Schwartz
United Kingdom, 2015, 105′
Malian music in exile is a feature-length documentary following musicians in Mali in the wake of a jihadist takeover and subsequent banning of music. Music, one of the most important forms of communication in Mali, disappeared overnight in 2012 when Islamic extremist groups rose up to capture an area the size of the UK and France combined. But instead of laying their instruments down, Mali’s musicians fought back.
24 March Saturday 19:00
The Desert of the Forbidden Art
Dir.: Amanda Pope, Tchavdar Georgiev
Russia, Uzbekistan, USA , 2010, 80′
How does art survive in oppressive times? During the Stalin rule Soviet artists who stay true to their vision are executed, sent to mental hospitals or Gulags. Their plight inspires young Igor Savitsky. He pretends to buy state-approved art but instead daringly rescues 40,000 forbidden fellow artist’s works and creates a museum in the desert of Uzbekistan, far from the watchful eyes of the KGB. Savitsky amasses an eclectic mix of Russian avantgarde art. But his greatest discovery is an unknown school of artists who settle in Uzbekistan after the Russian revolution of 1917.
7 April Saturday 19:00
The Trial: State of Russia vs. Oleg Sentsov
Dir.: Askold Kurov
Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, 2017, 75′
The Ukrainian filmmaker and Maidan activist Oleg Sentsov was convicted in August 2015 to 20 years in prison in Siberia, charged on obscure claims of planning a sabotage. Sentsov had drawn Russian ire for his criticism of that country’s involvement in Ukraine. The case immediately became symbolic in the struggle for freedom of expression far beyond Russia’s own borders, and the international solidarity has been enormous. From Wim Wenders to Pedro Almodovar, filmmakers support Sentsov in a campaign to have him freed. The film relates the story of the questionable charges against him and introduces us to his two teenage kids and supporters. Above all, though, this is a film about Sentsov, whose bright gaze from behind a cage in court demands our attention as he proclaims his innocence; a timeless tale of one man’s courage in a time where authoritarianism is on the rise.
21 April Saturday 19:00
No Land’s Song
Dir.: Ayat Najafi
Germany, France, 2014, 91′
In Iran, since the revolution of 1979, women are no longer allowed to sing in public as soloists – at least in front of men. Defying censorship and taboos, the young composer (the director’s sister) Sara Najafi is determined to organize an official concert for solo female singers. In order to support their fight, Sara and the Iranian singers, Parvin Namazi and Sayeh Sodeyfi, invite three female singers from Paris: Elise Caron, Jeanne Cherhal, and Emel Mathlouthi -to join them in Tehran and collaborate on their musical project, re-opening a musical bridge between France and Iran. Are they going to succeed and finally be gathered in Tehran, sing freely, side-by-side, in front of a mixed audience and without restrictions, and to open a door towards a new freedom of female voice in Iran? Starting the project, which took three years to film, Ayat Najafi says he wanted to “counter the current Tehran with Sara’s past.”
5 May Saturday 19:00
Dir.: Andres Veiel
Germany, 2017, 107′
The only documentary competing for the Golden Bear in 2017 at Berlin, Beuys focuses on the ideas as well as the life and works of Joseph Beuys, whom director Andres Veiel describes as a very German artist “and at the same time, he is very un-German because of his humor.” Thirty years after his death he feels like a visionary, still ahead of his time. He was the first German artist to be given a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York whilst in Germany his work was derided as “expensive trash”. The comprehensive documentary paints a comprehensive portrait of Beuys with previously unpublished audio and video footage, including his explaining art to a dead rabbit.
* With the support of Goethe-Institut
19 May Saturday 19:00
Posted By: İlhan Sami Çomak
Speaker: İpek Özel
Dir.: Çiğdem Mazlum, Sertaç Yıldız
Turkey, 2016, 68′
The story puts İlhan Sami Çomak, who has been in prison for the past 21 years, at the center, even though he is not physically present in the film. It focuses on the 21 years that İlhan spent in prison and his family’s experience of those years without him. The narrative is constructed through the letters İlhan wrote and aims to describe his life, his emotions and longings. In an atmosphere in which emotions are more dominant than information and documents… The film constructs İlhan’s history through a chronology in the prison but refrains from restricting it only to a “prisoner’s quest for justice”, and rather tells a story of the situations he finds himself in over the years and his emotions and their equivalents in life.