by becomingbethany

Today I went to check out the Istanbul documentary film festival.  I saw 2 feature-length documentaries and about 6 shorts.  The atmosphere was different from the American film festivals that I’ve been to.  My experience with film festivals is that people are really chatty and mingling and discussing the films and such.  I was there for over four hours today and didn’t hear anyone say anything aside from the occasional whispering to a neighbor.  No filmmakers for Q&A either.  I was a little disappointed about that.  The two features that I saw were really interesting though. 

“Please Vote for Me!” was excellent!  It has no narrator and simply documents an experiment in democracy at a Chinese primary school.  For the first time, a class of third graders is given the opportunity to vote for their class monitor.  The three canidates are chosen by the teacher and embark on a week of campaigning.  Classmates, friends, and parents all get involved in the process.  The way the election process progresses is really fascinating (and often funny).  And it was eye-opening about the way democracy is perceived in China.  I highly recommend it!  I really like documentaries that are both informative and entertaining.  You can check out the trailer here:

Trailer for “Please Vote for Me!”

“Who Am I?” was the other documentary I saw.  This one was about the 500 Argentinian children that disappeared during the 1977-1983 military coup.  Apparently 30,000 adults and 500 children disappeared during this period.  Most of the adults were killed but many of the children were given or sold to Argentinian families.  Most of these children have no idea that they were adopted or that some of their adoptive parents are actually the people who murdered their biological parents.  (I never even knew that Argentina had this violent history!)  Truly eye-opening and surprisingly moving.  You can read a news article about it here:

Article from The Guardian

Most of the shorts that I saw were from a project called “Why Democracy?”.  You can check it out here.

The editor of the “Why Democracy?” project, Nick Fraser, is quoted as comparing the documentary film movement to the rock ‘n’ roll movement and that documentaries are “one of the few truly distinctive cultural innovations of our time”. 

What do you think?