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Animist Tallinn 2023

Rapporto industria: Documentario

Ad Animist Tallinn, i relatori sottolineano quanto l'animazione possa contribuire a sensibilizzare l'opinione pubblica su questioni sociali

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Durante la conferenza si è parlato anche delle intersezioni tra animazione, documentario e antropologia

Ad Animist Tallinn, i relatori sottolineano quanto l'animazione possa contribuire a sensibilizzare l'opinione pubblica su questioni sociali
sx-dx: Isabelle Nouzha, Shalev Ben Elya, Carlo Cubero e Silvia Lorenzi durante il panel

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

On 18 August, Animist Tallinn hosted the screening of eight international shorts, followed by a panel discussion titled “Not My Problem” and moderated by festival programmer Silvia Lorenzi. The event saw the participation of Shalev Ben Elya (director of the Israeli short Hey Hey! Ho Ho!), Isabelle Nouzha (journalist and director of the Belgian short The Land of Milk and Honey) and Carlo Cubero, associate professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Tallinn University.

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First, Lorenzi asked the participants to tackle the topic of the media and how their positioning affects viewers’ perception of society.

“The problem with the media is that we’re watching some very complicated topics on TV, and they have to ‘solve’ them in 1 minute and 20 seconds. When it comes to dealing with a complex subject, the newsroom and the editor will simplify it. I’ve worked for many TV networks, [...] and we always face the same problem. I think it’s a problem that involves all media,” said Nouzha, adding her opinion that accurate reporting takes time, as you need to let people talk and exchange a diverse range of ideas.

She also touched upon the worrying and growing trend of powerful, far-right tycoons who, like Silvio Berlusconi did about 30 years ago, tend to take control of media conglomerates to shape public opinion. TV seems the hardest-hit medium, in any case: “Sometimes, I talk with people I really like, but they watch TV. When something happens, if they didn’t watch TV, they’d get the best analysis [of the facts] ever. But because they do watch it, it just ‘cuts’ their way of thinking. [...] Maybe in the beginning, people thought – and many of us did – that TV could be a place for ideas. But there’s this time factor [to take into account], and you want an audience.”

Next, the floor was given to Ben Elya, who spoke about his movie, made “when the government changed twice” and “during the coronavirus pandemic”. Hey Hey! Ho Ho! is a guided journey that deconstructs the demonstrations against Netanyahu, aiming “to find peace of mind inside the chaos”.

Lorenzi then tackled the “elephant in the room”, asking the speakers to have their say on how animation can help shed light on today’s social issues. Nouzha admitted how “dangerous, horrible imagery” tends to “block the viewer” and “establish a distance”. She highlighted how animation can bring the audience to certain places without making them too uncomfortable and how it can be a tool to tell them what’s happening in places where censorship is the norm.

Cubero explained how anthropologists have been using animation ever since the technology was made available, and in fact, they have always been very interested in using different technologies to communicate social experiences. “Anthropologists are a big deal, and what sets anthropology apart from the other humanities is the methodology of [involving] participants. Rather than speculating on what life is like in France or Israel, anthropologists would actually visit the place and immerse themselves in that location.” By doing so, he argues that they develop “a very material, physical relationship” with “so-called ‘reality’.” He added that many aspects of human experience, such as our relationship with the spiritual side or with politics, cannot be experienced “physically”, and animation can help viewers access these.

“A very common strategy adopted by anthropologists is collaboration. Many films, including animated ones, are produced in a collaboration between the filmmaker and the subjects, so that the people portrayed in front of the camera may often be consulted during the edit. There’s an understanding that the work is the result of a relationship, rather than a result of the filmmaker’s ego.

“Last year, I worked on an animated project with kids from a Russian-speaking environment. The standard anthropological approach would have been to interview the children, including all their voices, and then from the stories create a piece of animation. [...] What we did was to provide the kids with the materials so they could animate themselves, after giving them a very general brief. [...] Obviously, as kids, they had very different references from the ones we’d have.”

Cubero concluded, “Animation provides a space where we can meet,” wherein “anthropologists from the Caribbean” (such as Cubero himself) and “a child from Russian-speaking Estonia can encounter one another”.

Ben Elya, Nouzha and Cubero all agreed on how impossible it is to achieve objectivity, and how animation and documentary still represent a specific, manipulated perception of reality.

“Manipulation isn’t a problem; manipulation is inevitable because we’re human beings with agency, creativity and positioning. The question is not avoiding manipulation – because you cannot. It is to identify what you’re about, what you want [to achieve], your ethics and your responsibility, especially in films like the ones [featured] in this programme,” Cubero pointed out.

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