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Focus

“While you are reading this, x people are being killed in a war zone somewhere in the world.” This introduction could very well start that way. Statistics concerning wars are truly frightening and become even more so for a person or a generation that was fortunate enough never to experience war in his/its lifetime. Or are things not quite like that…?

After last year’s inaugurating impulse of “Teenage Lust / Teenage Angst”, this year’s Focus will be concentrating on the issue of contemporary wars.The subject sounds much more somber than last year’s, and on the whole it is, since it is a fact that while you are reading this, dozens of people around the world are falling victim to actual, deadly wars. But it would be insincere, to say the least, for a person who has never known a war of that kind to try and analyze it based on how it is presented on the movie screen. In that sense, this year’s Focus isn’t that different to last year’s, in that it tackles the somber and vital subject of war through the eyes of experience.These are wars that we all experience in the contemporary and, fortunately, peaceful world/microcosm that we live in.

We are all subject to political power and its choices, as well as to its interaction with the media. AFR from Denmark and Strange Culture from the USA are two fine examples of this ascertainment and two films that, if only via their form, skewer contemporary world politics and its relation with the media.We are all either the perpetrators or the victims of sexual violence (whether direct or indirect), based on stereotypes and taboos regarding the sexes.The Brazilian film Bog of Beasts underscores this fact in the most shocking way.We all carry around the luggage of a past war and we obey, albeit subconsciously, the remnants of its bigotry. And Along Came Tourists from Germany and Munyurangabo from Rwanda remind us that wars stay alive inside us for years after their official end.We all know the meaning of faith, fanaticism and religion.The Israeli film My Father My Lord and the Tunisian film Making of eloquently portray the conflicts that arise from blind obedience to the mandates of religious dogma. Lastly, we have all played war as children, but in some places, like Afghanistan, this game is more real, as we are told in the Iranian film Buddha Collapsed out of Shame, which completes this year’s selection of eight films.

There was a conscious effort for the films chosen to cover a wide geographical region (from Brazil to Rwanda) and a broad range of topics (religion to sexual violence). Moreover,we consciously tried to leave out war films, i.e. films that take place in war zones, whether they be real or imaginary.What all these films have in common is the element of conflict and the causes that bring it on; a conflict with a winner and a loser.The common denominator is our self, as the locus where the greatest wars take place. Our self as victim and/or victimizer.

It is based on this rationale that the 48th Thessaloniki International Film Festival presents this year’s “Focus” entitled
“Contemporary Wars.”

Konstantinos Kontovrakis

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