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“Really silly, to strike Russia, with art”

Interviews with artists:

President of Bergamo Film Meeting Directör Davide Ferrario

by Ayfer Selamoglu

As Meryl Streep said, we are going through another time where disrespect is disrespectful, violence triggers violence, and the strong use their power as “bullying”, and ultimately, we all lose. Furthermore, this time, the common value of all of us, art, and the names that have become the cultural heritage of humanity are censored and excommunicated, that is, to a period that we have returned to the time of Mc Carthy…

At a time like this, as Meryl Streep said, we must take our broken hearts and turn them into art, and protect the art and artists. Not to be missed… Film festivals are one of the most beautiful islands of this struggle. This week begins one of the events where we will be treated with art and artists. Also, taking the leading and even censored names of social and political cinema…

The Bergamo Film Meeting, which has been taking place for almost 40 years – outside the period of the pandemic – seems to have dedicated its theme this year to peace, war and opposition to censorship. With the films of Costa Gavras and Andrey Tarkovsky, screened at the festival, in times of war and black censorship, it rises like a Renaissance light from Bergamo…

The content, which will take attendees into a real, enlightening, educational and fun world for about a week, is packed with all aspects and has the quality to respond to all types of attendees… We met with the President of the Bergamo Film Meeting to get his opinions on the festival that took place in such a period.

President Davide Ferrario, first of all, I would like to congratulate you on your presidency. Secondly, for the program of the Bergamo Film Meeting to be held this year. You have prepared an enlightening program that reflects the right attitude we need at this time.

Davide Ferrario – First of all: I am the institutional representative of the BFM. The merits of the program are of the director Angelo Signorelli and the selected staff. But of course, I’m happy to answer on their behalf as well

Thank you. Congratulations to the whole team too. They have prepared a truly excellent program. You are also a part of universal art. You are a director, screenwriter, producer and film critic. In short, you are a true intellectual who loves cinema. We started to see art and the artists who use it again in power struggles. How do you interpret the ex-communication of “immortal artists who have become the cultural heritage of humanity” due to the Ukraine crisis?

Davide Ferrario – There are two issues to be addressed. The first is quite simple: it is foolish to blame the secular culture of a people for the political choices that people or their leaders make. So, it is foolish, to strike Russia, to outlaw even its books, its films, its paintings.

But then there is a second question, more uncomfortable: because it is not that the “classics” of a country live outside its history, in a kind of separate Olympus. As men and intellectuals, those artists have been part of their time and also bear responsibility for how their works can be used. So: no censorship but also honesty in recognizing certain cultural connections. There is a direct link between Wagner and Hitler: even if Wagner has never killed anyone and his music has an objective value. It is up to us to reflect and understand. Unfortunately, the war, with its tragic simplifications (“either with me or against me”), is the worst time for complex speeches.

What should we do to protect art and artists from power wars? How should society behave?

Davide Ferrario – I believe that art must also be protected in peacetime, not just in these moments. And I think art very often (not necessarily always) he also takes sides politically and there is nothing wrong with that. Express your ideas always has a price and is the product of the experience of a life lived in reality. I repeat: art does not live out of the world.

But it becomes art only when it is transformed into language. This is the fundamental thing, which then redeems the works from their defects related to contemporaneity: this is why we continue to listen to Wagner and we don’t care that he was racist. The “protection” that society should offer is not so much in allowing you to expose your ideas (which is a field social and political) but in allowing artists to search for new languages.

We have seen an example of this in a university in Italy. Sensitive Italians showed their position because Dostoevsky’s lessons had been banned. And the university administration has taken a step back.

Davide Ferrario – I think I answered above. But unfortunately, I know of other cultural manifestations where living Russian artists have been censored just because they are Russians. If this is the logic, we should have a Ukrainian art festival in every city: but it would be ridiculous even for Ukrainian artists because they would be considered not for what they do, but for their registry.

Costa Gavras is our director who perfectly explains the conflicts of power and interest in the world and their reflections on society individuals. We see that the festival program includes films ranging from politics to media relations. We can perceive his choice of Costa Gavras and Tarkovsky as a message to the world in such a juncture in which art and artists are excommunicated, the winds of the perception operation are blown and immortal global names such as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Tarkovsky. are they excommunicated? Also for everyone…

Davide Ferrario – The program had largely been prepared before the outbreak of the war. But the principles that guided the selection were valid anyway. There is a certain idea of cinema and culture that is valid at any time and that must not be done condition by actuality. It is certainly paradoxical to see how the “Z” of Costa-Gavras today means the opposite, the symbol of oppression. Or that the term “Stalker”, practically unknown then, is very popular today in the sense of “Sex offender”. But I repeat: it is not the news that dictates the meaning, but a deeper meaning of history.

Each film of the 5th Festival is like a different light, a different mirror, a different message that shines on society … It expresses the need of the world in which we live, the need for peace and a new universe of peace. Is there any message you want to give to society as a priority?

Davide Ferrario – As an intellectual and as a director, I don’t believe much in “messages”. I believe more in storytelling. The stories, the good ones, never have a single meaning, because they reflect the complexity of life. I hope the BFM films have this effect, tell stories to think about.

We are going through a difficult time as a world. Do you have any advice as a director, artist and intellectual?

Davide Ferrario – It seems paradoxical, but at a time when everyone is talking and raising their voices taking sides here or there, and of course not denying anyone the right to do so, I think artists should above all cultivate the possibility of doubt.

President Ferrario, you have found time for us. Thank you very much…

Good job!

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