Take One Action 2012: The Revolution's Here
Five inexpensive digital cameras lay strewn on a table, their lenses smashed, their casings cracked, their circuits shorted. These battered bits of tech have played a part in defying a powerful regime and helped defend a defenceless people's right to protest, and in the process captured some of the most startling images you’ll see all year.
The documentarian who wielded this quintet of cameras is Emad Burnat, a Palestinian farmer from Bil’in, a tiny village butt up against the West Bank. In collaboration with Guy Davidi, a Jewish Israeli filmmaker, Burnat shot 5 Broken Cameras (28&29 Sep, Filmhouse; 29 Sep, GFT), an essay on the first five years of his youngest son’s life, which coincides with a local conflict that arises when a large Israeli settlement encroaches on to Bil’in farmland.
Modest in its production values but rich in bravery and emotion, 5 Broken Cameras is the kind of gutsy filmmaking that should be shown in every cinema across the land but is unlikely to be. Rejoice, then, as Take One Action returns for a fifth year with screenings of Burnat and Davidi’s extraordinary film – and plenty more besides.
Following the Arab Spring, dissidence is in the air. The awe inspiring protests of Tahrir Square are captured in ½ Revolution (26 Sep, Filmhouse; 27 Sep, GFT) with all the ground-level intimacy that was missing from the God’s eye news coverage; This is Not a Film (26 Sep, Filmhouse), meanwhile, is a personal protest by Jafar Panahi, the great Iranian director of The Mirror and The Circle, who’s been banned by his government from working in his chosen art form; and more courage is on display in Call Me Kuchu (5 Oct, Filmhouse), which follows David Kato, an openly gay man and LGBT activist from Uganda whose life is in constant threat from the country’s fierce anti-gay front.
There are works of fiction playing at the festival too. Kim Nguyen's dream-like War Witch (2 Oct, GFT; 3 Oct, Filmhouse) deals with the phenomenon of child soldiers in an unnamed African country; and Lucky (22 Sep, GFT; 22 Sep, Filmhouse) is a look at the HIV crisis in Africa filtered through an odd-couple relationship between a young South African boy and an elderly Indian woman.
If worthy films dealing in developing world hardship have you rolling your eyes you might want to check out The Woman in the Septic Tank (25 Sep, Filmhouse; 26 Sep, GFT). From Filipino director Marlon Rivera, it follows a scurrilous film team as they cynically attempt to produce a masterpiece in misery set in a Manila slum. Rivera’s farce is an acerbic takedown of the middle-brow poverty-porn movies that get festival juries salivating and, like the great Philippine New Wave films screened at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, a slap in the face to the simplistic view westerners have of this part of the world. It’s also hilarious.
Opening with sobering ecological doc Surviving Progress (see interview below), Take One Action has films for every taste, each one in its own way trying to change, if not the world, then our limited perceptions of it.