This documentary film, whose premiere will take place in the World Congress of the International Peace Bureau, 2016 in Berlin, will without a doubt contribute a fundamental and new meaning for “Disarm! For a climate of Peace”, the slogan of this world congress.
We interview the Spanish director, Álvaro Orus. This is his ninth documentary. The first showed humanist moments in history and are currently used as educational materials. He then directed a documentary film of testimonies of the World March for Peace and Nonviolence that travelled through 100 countries in 2009. Now he has immersed himself in more “existential” subjects.
Pressenza: Álvaro, how have you come to the relating of these stories, all of which are to do with revenge and the need for reconciliation?
AO: All of this has come from work previously done by Luz Jahnen who was investigating the subject, and on the basis of this research, held a few workshops on revenge and reconciliation in which the participants spent an entire weekend reflecting about revenge in history, in society and in their own lives. There was one in Toledo Park and I was able to talk to people as they were leaving the workshop. They were thrilled, also very moved and it seemed to me that something really interesting was being touched on here.
After talking to Luz, he told me that he was thinking about putting these subjects into a documentary film, which, as much as possible, could bring the experience and comprehensions that were coming out of the workshops to many people and in a much reduced space of time, obviously.
According to our criteria, for the documentary to be valid, it wasn’t only about transmitting an idea, but more specifically, an experience; that the person watching the video is put in the presence of revenge in themselves and the world that surrounds them. And in order to do this, what occurred to us was that it should be the participants in the workshops themselves, who had had such important comprehensions, who should communicate them through interviews.
In your documentaries, you almost always choose the interview format for telling the stories you want to tell…
I think that, in the majority of people, we are tired of being told what we should do or what we should think. But sometimes what contributes most is to see examples from real life, or people like us who show us how they have faced problems and how they have done and learned things. I think that this leads us to a more genuine reflection and can open possibilities to us of things that we can really do.
In my last three documentaries, without doubt the message has been supported by the testimonies of those interviewed.
Those last three works are related to existential subjects. Is this somehow connected to your life?
A lot! Hurt and revenge I think are subjects that profoundly affect us all. My idea in these productions is that they are the expression and they accompany an internal work of the author. In reality, I think that all the people involved, interviewed, producers and musicians are making advances in the subject and expressing it in different ways and the documentary is the synthesis of these expressions.
In all of them – we could say – there is an entrance that frames the argument, a knot and an untangling or positive and surpassing response of the problem posed that you tell through the lives of the protagonists.
Yes. That frame is what guides the internal order of the documentary. This transferential model is inspired by Silo’s “Guided Experiences”. After the historical frame, the knot concentrates all the dramatic experiences. We tried to present diverse cases and one consequence of that is that nearly all of us found an interview subject with whom we could identify one way or another. As we became identified, it put us in the presence of our own experiences and so we accompanied the subjects on their path until they found ways out and converted the situation. In so doing, although we dealt with sometimes very hard issues, the general tone, and especially at the end, is light and hopeful.
They are “delicate” issues that are related in the interviews, the interviewees have bared their souls. By talking publicly it would seem that it has becoming somewhat healing for them.
Fortunately we have met very brave people who have expressed their experiences that are not usually talked about. But this inhibition that usually affects our daily lives, many times prevents us from dealing with things that really matter. The interviewees surpassed this barrier and just the fact of having expressed themselves and communicated to people makes them feel well according to what they often say. There is also an important point which is that a meaning is given to an experience that, at first, is negative. But by turning it into a learning experience which simultaneously ends up being useful for others, this helps to integrate everything and discharge it of the suffering that it originally had.
Women in particular express themselves without censoring
Totally. In fact we have had to do “positive discrimination” so that not only women appear and to give the opportunity for men to express themselves and have some kind of representation.
There are many Latin America protagonists. Why is that?
Well, this comes from the workshops that Luz did. Some of the people that participated in Chile immediately proposed to themselves to participate enthusiastically in the project and they have sent several interviews. When we saw them, we thought they were so moving that we had something here that we could use to communicate what we wanted. I believe that this was an important step in the project.
It has also been a collective work of many volunteer professionals…
We have to underline the work of the musicians, Florent and Mara who – as I said before – have also accompanied their work with reflections on their own experience. And then, the camera operators, the specialists… bit by bit a good number of people joined in this common project. And we hope that more will join in from now in the dissemination [of the film] and other things. To me, it seems that the voluntary work is the most appropriate for setting in motion a certain spirit that escapes a more commercial context.