Genoa, Copenhagen, summits and protests on film

This video is called Protests at G8 summit in Genoa.

By Ian Sinclair in England, about two films to be screened in London next week:

Human Rights Film Festival

Wednesday 14 March 2012

In July 2001 around 300,000 people protested against the G8 summit being held in Genoa. Two hundred arrests were made, with 1,000 people wounded and one person – Carlo Giuliani – killed by the police.

But perhaps the most shocking episode of the summit was the Italian police’s night raid on the Diaz school, where 93 unarmed activists were staying.

The events are now largely forgotten because of the fall of the Twin Towers a few months later. But by using archive video footage and interviews with the protesters, the low-budget Black Block, directed by Carlo Augusto Bachschmidt, recalls the terror meted out by the riot police.

Accounts of the beatings, which take up the majority of the documentary, are graphic and harrowing – one police officer later said the school looked like “a Mexican butcher’s shop.”

The extreme violence may be explained by the fact the Italian authorities thought the school was the headquarters of the often violent Black Block. In reality it was the co-ordinating centre for the G8 protests. They had even placed guards outside the school to stop members of the Block from entering.

It is of course an important topic. But by concentrating on questions of what, when, where and how rather than why, Black Block feels like a wasted opportunity.

The relationship between the Italian police and far-right groups is never mentioned and who authorised the raid is also left unexplored.

Muli, a German activist who was in the school, briefly points to bigger issues. “They wanted to show what can happen when you bother those in power. I think their aim was to traumatise the movement,” he says.

Although it also focuses on an international summit, the 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference, Jon Shenk’s The Island President is a far slicker, more mainstream documentary.

Soundtracked by 14 Radiohead songs, it follows Mohamed Nasheed, the charismatic president of the Maldives, as he attempts to save his country from the rising sea levels caused by man-made climate change.

Imprisoned by the 30-year dictatorship of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, including 18 months in solitary confinement, Nasheed became the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives in 2008.

Since then he has pledged to make the Maldives the first carbon-neutral nation in the world and he even held a cabinet meeting underwater to highlight his country’s plight.

With the Maldives made up of 2,000 tiny and low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean this “is the fight for our survival,” the 44-year-old president says.

Turning up at Copenhagen, flanked by his climate adviser Mark Lynas, Nasheed receives a celebrity welcome.

Interestingly, the villain at the talks for Nasheed and Lynas is China, with the US barely receiving any attention.

This is odd when one considers the US position at the time was to reduce emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels.

“This is far short of what science demands and what Europe has committed to achieve,” Greenpeace noted and, according to environmental campaigner George Monbiot, “The immediate reason or the failure of the talks can be summarised in two words: Barack Obama.”

Unfortunately, events on the ground have significantly changed the political landscape in the Maldives. Last month, Nasheed was overthrown in a coup by elements of the military and police allegedly loyal to Gayoom. Currently under house arrest, Nasheed has called for free elections.

While The Island President is a positive and hopeful film, the future of Maldivian democracy and the likelihood of the world’s governments coming together to stop runaway climate change currently looks very bleak.

The British premiere of The Island President is on March 22 at the Curzon Cinema in London, followed by the premiere of Black Block on March 24 at the same venue. Details:

How a Documentary Gets Made: here.

Henry A. Giroux | Youth in Revolt: The Plague of State-Sponsored Violence. Henry A. Giroux, Truthout: “As young people make diverse claims on the promise of a radical democracy, articulating what a fair and just world might be, they are increasingly met with forms of physical, ideological and structural violence…. What must be addressed in the most immediate sense is the threat the emerging police state in the United States poses not to just the young protesters occupying a number of American cities, but also the threat it poses to democracy itself”: here.

Infiltration of Political Movements Is the Norm, Not the Exception in the United States. Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Occupy Washington, DC: “When the long history of political infiltration is reviewed, the Occupy Movement should be surprised if it is not infiltrated. Almost every movement in modern history has been infiltrated by police and others using many of the same tactics we are now seeing in Occupy”: here.

9 thoughts on “Genoa, Copenhagen, summits and protests on film

  1. Chicago Orders Over 8,500 New Face Shields For NATO Summit

    Chicago Tribune
    March 21, 2012

    City buys 8,500 police face shields ahead of NATO summit
    By John Byrne

    The City of Chicago has agreed to buy more than 8,500 new face shields for police helmets in preparation for the May NATO conference.

    The new shields will fit over police helmets and provide added protection against rocks or fluids, according to Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Melissa Stratton. While all the shields are expected to be delivered in time for the May 20-21 NATO conference, Stratton said “essentially this is about protecting our officers” at all times.


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  4. Activist Greenpeace krijgt schadevergoeding
    29/08/12, 13:26 − bron: ANP

    De Nederlandse Greenpeace-medewerker Joris Thijssen krijgt 2400 euro van de Deense overheid als schadevergoeding voor zijn detentie in 2009. Thijssen zat bijna drie weken in hechtenis na een protestactie tijdens de klimaattop in Kopenhagen drie jaar geleden. Dat maakte Greenpeace woensdag bekend.

    De Deense politie pakte destijds vier activisten van Greenpeace op. Ze werden tot twee weken voorwaardelijke celstraf veroordeeld, maar zaten drie weken vast. Greenpeace procedeerde om een schadevergoeding te krijgen. Een Deense rechtbank heeft die toegekend.

    Huidig campagnedirecteur Thijssen kwam in oktober 2010 opnieuw in het nieuws nadat hij zich bij Paleis Huis ten Bosch had aangeboden als minister van Milieu voor het nieuwe kabinet.


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