Daily Archives: January 19, 2010

Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler: Comuna Under Construction (Film)

Comuna Under Construction | Comuna im Aufbau | Comuna en construcción  
A Film by Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler
94 min., 2010

First screenings:

Sala de Batalla Alicia Benitez, Petare (eje de Maca), Caracas (VEN), 18.01., 18:00 (with Dario Azzellini)

Bluestockings, New York (USA), February 1, 7 pm  (with Oliver Ressler) http://bluestockings.com

SEIU Local 1199, 310 West 43rd Street Auditorium (organized by Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle), New York (USA), February 2, 7 pm  (with Oliver Ressler) www.1199seiu.org

In addition, on February 3, 7:30 pm, Oliver Ressler’s film “What Is Democracy?” can be seen at 16 Beaver, New York; www.16beavergroup.org

Lichtblick-Kino, Berlin (D), starting 04.02.10 (exact times can soon be found at www.lichtblick-kino.org)

Check out the film online at:

http://www.ressler.at/comuna_under_construction/

“We have to decide for ourselves what we want. We are the ones who know about our needs and what is happening in our community”, Omayra Peréz explains confidently. She wants to convince her community, located on the hillside of the poor districts of Caracas, to found a Consejo Comunal (community council). In more than 30.000 Consejos Comunales the Venezuelan inhabitants decide on their concerns collectively via assemblies. Omayra is supported by the activists of the nearby shantytown “Emiliano Hernández”, which has had a Consejo Comunal for three years already. The inhabitants there managed to get a doctor from the governmental program “Barrio Adentro”, who treats everyone free of charge. They also got money to renovate their houses and replaced over a dozen of sheet iron huts by new houses. All of these activities and a lot more have been organized via the Consejo Comunal. By local self-organization from below several working groups have been established on self-decided topics and decisions are made in assemblies.

Several Consejos Comunales can form a Comuna and finally a communal town. The film “Comuna Under Construction” follows these developments throughout the hillside of the shantytowns of Caracas and the vast and wet plains of Barinas in the countryside. The councils are built from below and alongside the existing institutions and are supposed to overcome the existing state through self-government. In an assembly for the construction of the communal town “Antonio José de Sucre” Ramon Virigay from the independent peasant’s organization Frente Nacional Campesino Ezequiel Zamora (FNCEZ) reminds the delegates of the participating Consejos Comunales: “Even if we definitely need the government agencies at the moment, we have to be independent tomorrow due to our development. We cannot depend solely on the state forever.” For this reason the councils are to establish own structures of production and distribution in order to achieve autonomy.

The assemblies are a central element of the film “Comuna Under Construction”. The film starts off in the well organized Consejo Comunal Emiliano Hernández located in one of the shantytowns of Caracas. It then shows the intentions of forming Comunas and a communal town in rural Barinas and ends in Petare, a gigantic shantytown of the agglomeration of Caracas where there are 29 Consejos Comunales intending to build the Comuna of Maca.

Is it even possible to bring together state and autonomy? Every one of the Consejos Comunales spokes-persons has positive as well as negative experiences with the institutions in store to talk about. In an assembly in Petare the grass-roots activist Yusmeli Patiño blames a high government representative: “We are losing our credibility because of the incompetence of the state institutions”. But there are also members of the institutions who make a big effort to accompany the basis in making its own decisions. The relation between the basis and the institutions is marked by cooperation as well as conflict. But the Consejos Comunales also have internal difficulties; participation has to be learned.

Progresses as well as setbacks mark the difficult process of people actually taking the power of deciding on their own lives and environment by themselves.

Original Spanish version with German and English subtitles available.

Concept, film editing, production: Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler
Camera: Volkmar Geiblinger, Oliver Ressler
Sound, sound editing, supervisory editor: Rudi Gottsberger
Production assistant: Adriana Rivas
Image editing: Markus Koessl, David Grohe

Grants: Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur; Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien; Stiftung Umverteilen; Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung; Solifond der Hans Böckler Stiftung; Fraktion die Linke im EU-Parlament; Bundestagsfraktion die Linke; Netzwerk e.V.

Information & Contacts: www.azzellini.net | www.ressler.at

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Filed under film and video, urban movements (right to the city)

The Museum of Political History of Which No One Speaks (In Memory of Stas and Nastya)

The Museum of Political History of Which No One Speaks

On January 19, we opened a street-art exhibition on the outer wall of the State Museum of Political History (the former Kschenssinska mansion) in Saint Petersburg. The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of our friends the civil rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the journalist Anastasia Baburova.

We didn’t pick this spot by accident. Official sources have made it a habit of not talking about the key moments in the real political history of recent years. It is precisely this history that is silenced nowadays: the history of the formation of an authoritarian state with a fictitious constitution; the history of the leveling of fundamental democratic freedoms; and, of course, the history of continuous political murders.

A text on the façade of the museum explains that its mission includes the formation of political culture in contemporary Russia. It is impossible to say what this means when people in Russia have practically no way to hold public demonstrations (that is, of course, if they are not members of the officially recognized ruling party) and are deprived of freedom of speech because of the state’s total control of the mass media and increasing censorship of the Internet. The state endlessly spouts aggressively militarist and Russian Orthodox/great power rhetoric, and certain of its elected and appointed officials lend support to neo-Nazi organizations. (We should at very least recall here the cooperation between the pro-government organization Young Russia and the neo-fascist organization Russky Obraz.) And these neo-Nazis then murder and maim people on our streets almost daily.

Exactly a year ago, the well-known lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the anarchist journalist Anastasia Baburova were murdered in downtown Moscow. During the past year the authorities have allegedly succeeded in identifying the criminals who did this, leaving it for us to decide the bigger question of who besides them would profit from the murder of a lawyer who exposed the criminal policies of the state in Chechnya and defended political activists and antifascists.

Traditional political actions no longer attract people today. That is why we chose the form of political protest that, in our view, is the most effective and original — street art.

On a huge (seventeen-meter-long) print poster we have depicted the most inglorious moments and the most significant personalities in the political history of recent years: Russian army colonel Yuri Budanov, a convicted murderer and rapist; the neo-fascist philosopher and state ideologue Alexander Dugin; police major Denis Yevsyukov, who gunned down several shoppers at a Moscow supermarket last year; antifascist Alexei Olesinov, who was convicted and sentenced to prison on false charges; lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who represented the family of the victim in the Budanov case and defended Olesinov and other political activists; and the journalist Anastasia Baburova.

We dedicate our action to Stas Markelov and Nastya Baburova because we believe that their lives and their deaths are important parts of contemporary Russian political history.

— Autonomous Action-Petersburg & the Anarchist Artists of Petersburg

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Filed under activism, anti-racism, anti-fascism, contemporary art, film and video, open letters, manifestos, appeals, protests, racism, nationalism, fascism, Russian society