21st THESSALONIKI DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL [1-10/3/2019]
Documentary screening: Restless from the tribute “The Paper Chase”
The audience of the 21st Thessaloniki Documentary Festival had the chance to attend the very emotional screening of the documentary Restless by Bernard Attal, on Friday March 8th 2019, at Tonia Marketaki theater. The film, which had its international premiere in Thessaloniki, is part of the “The Paper Chase” tribute, held in this year’s edition, presenting admission-free five films that deal with various aspects and dimensions of the global phenomenon of bureaucracy.
Restless unfolds the story of a father desperately seeking the traces of his son, who has shown no signs of life since his arrest by the military police in the Brazilian favelas. His research had to go through hell and high water, as he came up against an indifferent, mazy and corrupt-ridden system that turns a blind eye to police violence. The father of the missing child even today expects justice to be rendered, as well as the exemplary punishment of the crime’s perpetrators.
The film’s director Bernard Attal, who granted the screening with his presence, invited the father of the unfortunate young man, and the documentary’s main protagonist, on stage right after the end of the screening. In a particularly emotional moment, the audience gave a standing ovation, while some of the spectators rushed to embrace the father, who burst into tears. Bernard Attal noted that the case is still pending, as it was referred to civil courts. Unfortunately, following the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidency, the case will be tried in a martial court.
“The film has kicked off in the festival circuit and we are currently striving for its distribution in Brazil somewhere along this year. Moreover, we have made certain efforts, to this point fruitless, so that the film would be screened in police stations”, explained Mr Attal.
When asked about the reactions on the part the oppressed communities in relation to incidents of police brutality, Mr Attal replied that the bond of trust between these communities and the police seems irreversibly disrupted. People no longer feel protected, even when the police are rightfully trying to implement the law, such as in drug-related robberies. Mr Attal went on to confirm that some organizations and citizen groups that cope with such incidents –the director made a special reference to the Bahia Bar Association- do exist, but added that sadly enough, the largest part of the society is completely indifferent. “I wanted to include in the film a similar incident that occurred in the USA, in order to highlight the difference in reactions between the two countries. In Geovane’s funeral, no artist or politicians were present, only a few relatives. No mass mobilization was aroused and the investigation grew widespread thanks to the persistence shown by Geovane’s father and a local newspaper, whose journalists, obviously, received a lot of threats, up to a point they were afraid of going out at night. No other local newspaper, except the one I mentioned, considered the incident worth of mentioning. Unfortunately, this is the rule that applies in Brazil”, noted the filmmaker.
As far as the Brazilian’s society overall reaction to the incident, Bernard Attal mentioned that Brazilian citizens are torn. There is a large majority that, due to high delinquency rates in the country, justifies police violence, even though statistics demonstrate that this approach leads nowhere. The director as well as the newspaper that covered the incident, received tons of e-mails by citizens who supported the use of such barbaric violence, as the one portrayed in the documentary, stating that Geovane deserved to die. “To make this clear to you, the chart that is included in the film displays that more than 4,000 people die each year in Brazil due to police violence, but it is not updated. This year we are talking about 5,000-6,000 murders already, since President Bonlsonaro’s newly voted laws pave the way for further violation of human rights. The bad thing is that the police officers themselves, most of whom are black, do not care about it. They do not understand that they are part of a system that serves mainly Brazil’s white elite. They have no conscience of their identity”, added Mr Attal.
Closing the emotionally charged conversation, the director pointed out that there is a great need to react to these phenomena and urgently demand respect of fundamental human rights. “Perhaps we need to move on with boycotting economics. However, we must do everything in our power to fight against violence, racism or discrimination, Bernard Atal concluded, amidst applause.
The tribute “The Paper Chase” is financed by the Operational Program “Public Administration Reform” and co-funded by the European Union (European Social Fund) and national funds. All venues that host the screenings of the tribute “The Paper Chase” are accessible to people with disabilities. Free Admission - Zero value ticket is required for your admission to the screening.