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Consequence Shown in Films of Substance
by Marinell Haegelin

Films that present a wider perspective or greater insight by exposing wrongdoings seldom come along in twos. Particularly, films with succinct and engrossing narratives, together with filmmakers’ compelling use of the toolkits available: camera and attachments, good sound equipment and its design, and editing software choices.

Two years are condensed into less than twenty-seven minutes in the German Competition film: NEIGHBORS (Nachbarn), Germany 2018 · 26:36 minutes, color · Documentary: Pary El-Qalqili and Christiane Schmidt’s brilliant documentary focuses on the statement, “asylum seekers can feel safe here.” They ingeniously show the antithesis, resulting from attacks that occurred in Germany between 2015–2017. Visiting different locations, shrewd and thought-provoking camerawork/sound design don’t interfere with seeing the effects of arson attacks and vandalism, and listening to locals. While the camera slowly rotates 360° degrees, we hear off-camera voices comment, express opinions, and/or biases and criticism. During the Q&A afterward, the women explained being puzzled, because during this period any collective discourse that occurred omitted hearing victim’s voices. The directors wondered why there was no public outcry after so many attacks. They want NEIGHBORS to afford audiences the possibility to neutrally form their own assessment.

The other extreme is condensing a perennial mindset into a Three-Minute Quickie: YOU ARE OVERREACTING (Nie Masz Dystansu), Poland 2017 · 3:57 minutes, color · Animation: Adeptly speaking for womankind, Karina Paciorkowska’s voice is formidably loud. Watching an animated female figure, she responds, then reacts to the partial statements heard by well-known persons at televised public/professional functions. They track male attitudes toward women: “Grab them by … earn less than … sluts … Keep her on her knees,” and others. Stereotypical, and incessant. She runs or is driven off, cringes then withers, leaving behind a confluence of emotional assaults. Amplified, should one happen to be a woman. The sketchy technique matches the narrative intensity; a black background accentuates the style and line widths color usage. If only attitudes could be changed as quickly as changing television channels.