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March 2014

Propaganda – the film

One of the most popular films we shown in PUFF 2013 was Propaganda. For those who have not seen it, it is an extremely funny, hard-hitting mockumentary that criticises how the western world use the media, advertising and PR machines to suppress the people. The most interesting thing about the film was the way it was presented as a real piece of propaganda made by the North Korean government and only because it was smuggled out of the hermit kingdom to South Korea by defectors were we able to see it.

The truth is it was made by New Zealand filmmaker Slavko Martinov, who had no prior filmmaking experience and laboured over the project nearly alone for 9 years! The North Korean ploy was used so that people would  noticed such a low budget project from a virtual unknown. Well it worked out beautifully and when PUFF presented the film, we made no mention of the background and let the viewers decide what they were seeing.

To find out more about the film and how the only actor appeared in it, Eugene Chang, was really mistaken as a North Korean spy,  you can visit its website http://propagandafilm.net/Propaganda/

Here is Slavko himself talking about the very interesting back story

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Interview with filmmaker Carlo Avventi

PUFF talked to Carlo Avventi, writer/director of the film L’Italia ci appartiene, which is among one of the most successful films shown in PUFF 2013.

Carlo is a native Italian who is now residing in Germany teaching in the University of Education, Heidelberg.

PUFF: Apart from being a filmmaker, you also teach  at the University of Education Heidelberg, how do you compare and balance your two lines of work?

Carlo: I have the fortune to teach media and film education, so I see a lot of films, read and write about them and discuss them with my students. This is a great source of  knowledge and inspiration for my own film projects. On the other hand a full-time job at the university leaves you little time for your own films. Although I often suffer from this lack of time in the last few years I found out that this situation has also an advantage: If you spend your evenings, your weekends and your vacations developing a film project you really have to be sure, it’s worth it.

PUFF: L’Italia ci appartiene was your first full length feature film. How was that experience and is that the format you’re going to pursuit in the future?

Carlo: It was a very precious experience. It was my first full length feature film and beside the need to tell this story I also wanted to find out after many short films, how it is to write, direct and produce a feature film by my own. It turned out to be an incredibly enriching human and artistic experience. Human, because I had the privilege to get to know many persons ready to share with me their own and often very personal stories. Artistic, because three weeks of nonstop shooting allows you a deeper immersion into the film. You start living inside the film, approaching the heart of it and seeing clearer what you are doing. This helps you to guide the actors, to compose the pictures, to set up the light…  

PUFF: How were the stories being told in L’Italia ci appartiene came along? Are they real stories that you have collected from people around you through the years?

Carlos: It’s a mix. In the script the stories people should tell to the main character, are all written down. But during the shooting I decided to confront the main actor and myself with new and unknown stories. So I asked my crew to find people that had the desire to tell a story about themselves and their country. Surprisingly a lot of people came to the set. They asked me, if they should tell me in advance, what they were going to say and how they should behave in front of the camera. I just tried to let them feel comfortable and told them that there was no need for a preliminary talk and that once they were ready we would start shooting. Afterwards I learned that most of the stories were true. I think you can feel this authenticity in the film and I believe this element confers to “L’Italia ci appartiene” an added value.  

PUFF: Two aspects that I like in particular are the beautiful music and the meditative and philosophical mood. Could you please elaborate more on these two areas of the film?

Carlos: Usually I am not very interested in a lot of action, even less in spectacular action. But I’m very interested in atmosphere. I think mood and atmosphere tell more than unexpected plot points or apparently insuperable challenges. When I wrote the script for “L’Italia ci appartiene” what I wanted was to depict the solitude of a man through the absence of motion and through moments silence. And of course the wonderful music of Birger Clausen, who composed the score for all my films, was a determinant contribution to this atmosphere. I dream of a film without action, only with atmosphere.

PUFF: Looking to the future do you have your next film project lined up and if so, could you please share some information with us?

Carlos: I just finished a script inspired by the novel The women in the dunes by Kobo Abe and by its adaptation from Hiroshi Teshigahara. It is a story of a man who flees from a world increasingly afflicted by sandstorms to reach the sea…

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