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Dirk Szuszie

Resist, “Living” at the G8

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- This is the winning documentary at EuropaCinema 2003: performances by Beck and Malina’s company are blended together with images from Genoa and September 11th

Dirk Szuszie

The 20th edition of the EuropaCinema Festival featured a wide and interesting selection of documentaries. There were 11 films in competition, and in the end, the winner was Resist (Belgium, 2003) by Dirk Szuszies and Karin Kaper. The programme is centred around the famous Living Theatre company and its two founders, Julian Beck (who died in 1985) and Judith Malina. There’s recorded footage of performances by Living Theatre, put together with a look at the daily, behind-the-scenes routines at the company. The performances include those put on during the demonstrations in Genoa at the G8 summit in July 2001, recitals at Ground Zero in New York, and shows held in a detention camp in Southern Lebanon.

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"We worked for three years to make this documentary - Dirk Szuszie told us – and we had to tackle thousands of problems. After the success of the film Die Letzte Mahadevi, ARTE asked us what we wanted to do next. I immediately thought of making a documentary about Living Theatre, given that it has played an important part in my artistic life. I developed a screenplay and it all seemed to be going well when, at one point, the German and French producers got cold feet. They didn’t want to touch political themes about anarchy and libertarianism. Luckily, a Belgium producer came on board, Eric Van Beuren from Aligator Film, who believed in the project without any hesitations. It’s difficult to make documentaries and above all, you have to fight against the tendency to favour fiction productions. I’m happy that the public jury, made up of young people attending this Festival in Viareggio, chose my film over some other really good works".

The political content of your documentary comes to the forefront and is more obvious than the aesthetic elements in the programme.
"At the start we wanted to make a tribute to Judith Malina. Then we developed other themes as the news agenda changed. A lot of things happened in the interim: the events at Genoa and the death of Carlo Giuliani, September 11 in New York, the wars. It should also be said that when you follow Living Theatre you can’t stick to your original plans. From this point of view, it seems nonsensical for a documentary director to rigidly follow a screenplay, as if the programme were a drama. If you do this, you tie your hands and deprive the author of their freedom of expression".

Did you have a very flexible and agile crew to manage all these changes in location?
"There were four of us and we used a 16:9 digital beta camera. But this camera did cause us some problems with Black Block members. They thought we were a TV crew and a lot of times we were at risk of being attacked".

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