Euro debt crisis headlined in Berlinale movies
| Andrew McCathie |
BERLIN (dpa) – Hopes might be rising that Europe’s debt crisis is receding but filmmakers from the region’s cash-strapped nations have only just began to assess the social damage caused by the long-running financial meltdown.
Two years ago the Berlin Film Festival screened US director JC Chandor’s Margin Call events on Wall Street that plunged the world economy into recession and paved the way for Europe’s long-running financial meltdown.
This year, the Berlinale is screening movies from directors showing social fallout from the crisis that has pushed unemployment to a record high and lead to a dramatic rise in poverty in nations at the centre of the crisis, such as Spain and Greece. “Reality hits you in the face as you open the front door,” said Spanish director Isabel Coixet, who looked five years into the future in her new movie to show her country still in the grip of the financial meltdown.
“We are waiting for Batman. But he isn’t coming,” she said. “There are no superheroes coming.” Three years into the debt crisis and Europe’s efforts to slash back its high deficit levels through big budget cuts have resulted in a sharp fall in government support for the film industry in parts of the region along with a slump in box office revenue.
Figures released last week by the European Audiovisual Observatory – part of the Council of Europe - showed total European admissions fell by 0.9 per cent last year after they dropped by 6.5 per cent in Spain, 9.9 per cent in Italy and 12.3 per cent in Portugal. “While we were all immersed in a dream of consumerism and happiness, there sometimes didn’t seem too many stories to tell,” said Neus Ballus whose film La plaga (The Plague) spotlights five people struggling to make a living on the outskirts of Barcelona.
“Now sources are endless,” Ballus said. “There is so much happening that should be told.” Echoing her remarks, Greek Film Centre general director Grigoris Karantinakis said he believes that the crisis is not only financial. “It penetrates different levels of society,” he said.
This is also reflected in the movies presented at this year’s Berlinale by Greek filmmakers, who draw parallels between the personal crises at the centre of their movies and the crisis facing the nation.