(This is a translation from a post from last week. Sorry it’s late! Jeannette Pope.)
I saw more films at the RDIM. The Danish film –The Monastery tells a most extraordinary story, so well told that we completely ignore a certain lack of professionalism in the actual shooting of the film. In Denmark an old and eccentric man decides to leave his castle – which is in shambles – to the Russian Orthodox church to change it into a monastery. As a delegation of sisters arrive to take possession and install themselves, tensions begin to rise which at times become very amusing.
The filmmaker – Pernille Rose Gronkjaer manages to get close to the old man, Monsieur Vig and an attachment grows….The film won the Joris Ivens award at IDFA 2006
I also saw Ghosts of Abu Ghraib; very strong, about the inquest into scandal and tortures in this famous American-run prison in Iraq. Produced by HBO. It is efficient, television slick – and leaves absolutely no doubt that the ultimate responsibility for the torture lies higher up, with U.S. military and political leaders .
But I really want to speak about Raymonde Provencher’s new film. Les deshonneur des casques bleus, about the epidemic of rape and other sexual crimes committed by soldiers from the United Nations in several countries; in particular in The Democratic Republic of Congo where most of the film was shot.
This inquiry is without any complacency what so ever. It is solid and very well filmed, following up on Raymonde’s previous film : ‘War Babies’ on rape as a weapon of war. These are both from Macumba International Productions, a small company with a good track record based here in Montreal.
It is paramount to report what The Blue Beret’s are up to, this is clear; but it also takes courage to do so. I asked Raymonde if she had hesitated, if she had been afraid to give ammunition to the enemies of the United Nations, to the whole idea of multilateral intervention and peacekeeping.
Here is her answer:
“Don’t we always have to argue with ourselves when confronted with such situations. To say or not to say; that’s it, huh ? In this story I am completely on the victims’ side. I was so very shocked by the irresponsible attitude of certain people who work for the United Nations. People who have a moral authority, simply that, over the civil population who are so vulnerable.
From the beginning I specified in my scenario that I would not challenge the existence of the casques blues. Yet what to do about it? This tool of intervention used by the International community has to be held in place, but are we to tolerate the perversity which prevails? We’re not talking here about isolated cases, these are serious slip ups; crimes; pedophilic acts, which mostly go unpunished. These are victims of war and having lost everything they are put into camps and then along come the casques bleus, and they hope, these people, finally, that their nightmares may end. But no, they are victims of new indignities….This makes me think of the Rwandans who sought out refuge in churches to hide from the genocide to find out that the priest, or the sister were hand in hand with the killers…
I do not think that I am going to give ammunition to the enemies of the UN. I do not think that under this pretext, they must silence the truth. It is necessary to do something about the shootings, and it is urgent, otherwise, the United Nations will have no more credibility. It’s everyones job, including documentary filmmakers, to draw attention to the problems which have to be solved. ”
A must-see film !