A Marshallese professor from the College of the Marshall Islands is teaching at the Weissensee Kunsthochschule Berlin (Germany) since autumn 2020: Meitaka Kendall-Lekka. It was an uphill struggle to get her and her family to Germany with her family, especially under pandemic conditions.
Now she brings her students at the KHB into contact with topics that should really not be missing in art: colonialism (the Marshall Islands were once a German colony), climate change (the islands are only just above sea level) and nuclear heritage (the Islands were test areas for nuclear fusion and fission bombs).
She spoke about the atomic bomb tests on the Marshall Islands under the title “The paper remained cold” in a panel discussion (produced by kameradisten.org for ALEX TV) with Prof. Dr. Wolf D. Hartmann (“The Bikini Scandal”), Dr. Nadim Samman, (“As We Used to Float”) and Prof. Hannes Brunner, (KHB, co-initiator and coordinator of the MI_CC project) and Dr. Viviana Uriona (Director: ONE WORD). ALEX will broadcast the talk three times, on April 10th at 7pm, on April 11th at 10pm and on April 12th at 1pm (CET, add 12 hours for Marshallese time). If you cannot receive the channel in your region, you can watch the conversation live on their website:
Our documentary ONE WORD won the jury’s “Best Film / Special Mention” today as a German-Marshallese contribution to the British LIDF # 20.
The LIDF (The London International Documentary Festival) is one of the most important and prestigious documentary film festivals in the world (BAFTA: Category A), which regularly provides relevant impulses for the international film industry. The LIDF is also London’s oldest and largest film festival. The 2020 edition was postponed to the beginning of 2021 due to corona and was just taking place.
The jury awarded only four prizes among the 34 films that were approved and in competition. In the category of best feature film, ONE WORD received “Special Mention, Best Film, LIDF20” as a film “much of the moment and important because it demonstrated the effectiveness of participatory filmmaking (while) the story was vividly and beautifully told.”
ONE WORD just won the “Bronze Award” at the HCCFF (Handle Climate Change Film Festival) in China. Of course we didn’t go to Shenzehn personally to pick up the statue and the prize. Both were symbolically handed over by our chinese friends on the stage to our team of Marshallese and Germans. Here you can see some impressions from the award ceremony.
In July 2020 we started filming for our project “Finding Europe”. Bille and Georgios (a German-Greek couple) took us to Hanioti, a double-faced holiday village in the south of Thessaloniki. Hanioti has two faces because it contains two European realities. The wealthy holidaymakers frolic along the coastline of the village. In the small houses in the mountains above the village, the staff of the vacation dream often lives in poverty. Those who are “lucky” work hard enough for a meager wage during the summer months, so that there is enough money for food, wood and a few little dreams for the cold, wet winter. Those who are unlucky fall by the wayside.
Georgios and Bille were our guides and translators. Georgios conducted three of five long interviews with people from the region himself. Bille also became a set photographer. Most of the pictures in the gallery below are from her.
Corona hit Hanioti hard. The number of visitors collapsed. Many “villagers” were now unable to find work in the hotels along the beautiful blue sea. The Greek state can hardly help. The Union’s austerity policy has paralyzed the country and has infuriated the Greeks. “Where is Europe when it is needed?” our interview partners kept asking us.
And yet there were tentative dreams of another Europe based on solidarity that might set out to resolve social inequalities within and between countries more resolutely. These parts of the interviews are perhaps the most touching.
We will go south a second time in the next few weeks. This time to Athens, where we want to explore the urban side of the country. Then we will turn to the next EU country, Lithuania.
The corona crisis has of course not left us without a trace. Like hundreds of thousands of self-employed artists and solo self-employed, our work relies on public and contact. But while we somehow muddled through luck and reserves, the contact restrictions in the absence of adequate (state) help posed and still pose an existential threat to many other people in the cultural and art field. For example, for the small Berlin publisher Periplaneta and its employees and authors.
So we all put our involuntary free time together in a solidarity project. We wrote the publisher’s authors and asked them to read from their books at home and filming themselves using their smartphones – to get enough material for an advertising clip. And that worked. You can read more about the story on the publisher’s website.
By the way, Periplaneta made it through the crisis. Not because of the video, but maybe also because of the video.
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