Greek austerity, Hungarian Jews, two new films


This video from Germany says about itself:

13 February 2017

Sylvain L’Espérance on his film COMBAT AU BOUT DE LA NUIT at the Berlinale 2017.

By Stefan Steinberg in Germany, about the 67th Berlin International Film Festival:

2 March 2017

Combat au bout de la nuit (Fighting Through the Night) is a marathon, 285-minute documentary detailing the social crisis in Greece, from veteran Canadian director Sylvain L’Espérance.

The film opens with a debate in the Greek parliament. We see the speaker of the house reading through a new law affecting the judiciary. He raises one article of the new bill after another, calls for a vote and then in a monotone declares a majority in favour. In fact, there are only three deputies sitting in the chamber. None of them raises a hand to vote. One of the deputies objects and explains that she opposes the bill. She notes that nobody is voting in favour. Her objections are simply ignored by the speaker and the bill is passed.

After this brief introduction to Greek democracy, the film switches to the streets. The year is 2014 and we are well into the Greek finance and social crisis. Fighting Through the Night shows the nearly 600 cleaners sacked by the Greek finance ministry picketing the building and blockading the entrance to their employer. Police try to secure access and brutally push and shove the women. Through the window, we see ministry bureaucrats going about their business—finalising plans for yet new austerity measures that will force millions more into destitution and misery.

Additional footage in L’Espérance’s documentary deals with the appalling plight of African and Arab refugees in Greece forced to fish food from rubbish bins in order to eat. Having fled poverty and war in the hope of earning enough money in Europe to provide for their families back home, they retrieve worn-out shoes from the garbage to sell at a night market for a few euros. The make-shift homes of Roma are crushed by bulldozers hired by property speculators intent on their next profitable developments.

Volunteer doctors in Athens administer to the many thousands of ordinary Greeks unable to pay for elementary medical care. An individual who works without pay in a clinic for patients without health insurance tells the filmmakers: “We are trying to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in times of upheaval. It is my duty to help.”

If the situation was bad in 2014, it is even worse two years later when the filmmaker return to do additional reporting on the social disaster.

The film, to its credit, polarises audiences. The right-wing Die Welt newspaper, which has fully supported the savage austerity measures imposed on the Greek people, was scandalised by Fighting Through the Night, which dares to point a finger at the German government and the European Union as guilty parties. “A monster…..Formless, unbelievably redundant…. a film for those with a fetish for cleaners,” fumed the paper.

The film’s criticisms of the ruthless policy of the EU and German government are entirely justified. We know that the Greek debt crisis is much worse than it was when the EU began implementing austerity.

The synopsis of Fighting Through the Night also points out that the capitulation of the Syriza-led government headed by Alexis Tsipras “led to a third memorandum imposing even harsher measures than the previous ones”.

This video says about itself:

1945 (Fortyfive) – Ferenc Török Film Clip (2017)

15 February 2017

The shimmering heat of a summer’s day in rural Hungary in August 1945. A kind of torpor envelops the village. The drug store owner is getting ready for his son’s wedding, the signalman is changing the points at the station, and the coach driver is waiting for customers.

Two strange men descend from the train, clad in black. They are father and son; survivors of the Holocaust. They walk in silence behind a waggon on which they are transporting two boxes. Rumours spread like wildfire through the village. Do the boxes contain powder, perfume and soap, and are these men going to compete with the local chemist shop?

Are they relatives of the former shop owner, a Jew who was first denounced and then deported? Fear soon spreads throughout the community, for many of them were involved in the crimes of the recent past – whether it be betrayal, silence or theft. Things that were almost forgotten now come to the fore with a vengeance. The past is not dead. It has not even passed.

Director: Ferenc Török
Writers: Gábor T. Szántó, Ferenc Török
Stars: Péter Rudolf, Bence Tasnádi, Tamás Szabó Kimmel

The Stefan Steinberg article continues:

1945

1945 is a powerful film by Hungarian director Ferenc Török, which examines the issue of anti-Semitism in Hungary during and after World War II.

Two men dressed in black, evidently Jews, descend from a train and commence walking toward a nearby village. They are transporting two large boxes.

Their arrival in the village causes consternation. The father and son are survivors of the Holocaust. Are they seeking to regain their property, their house and their shop, which have been occupied (stolen) by local Hungarians led by the village mayor? Will other Jews with the same goal follow them?

Following on the heels of the fine Son of Saul (László Nemes, 2015), 1945 thrusts into public debate the persecution of Jews and the role played by the Hungarian ruling elite and its supporters. The film is a courageous contribution at a time when the ultra-nationalist government led by Viktor Orbán is systematically rehabilitating the virulently anti-Semitic regime of Miklós Horthy (1920-1944).

7 thoughts on “Greek austerity, Hungarian Jews, two new films

    • These two films about the reality in Greece now and in Hungary in 1945 and after; but also about the ideologies of Greek government, European Union etc. bureaucrats, and of Hungarian anti-Semites.

      Liked by 1 person

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  2. Greek power workers prepare to fight privatization

    Greek powers employees working for the Public Power Corporation (PPC) are due to meet at the end of this week to discuss plans including strikes to oppose the privatization of PPC—measures imposed by the Syriza-led government, which is carrying out demands from international creditors.

    Under the measures, 40 percent of PPC’s hydroelectric and lignite plants will be opened up to investors. The meetings will be coordinated by the PPC union umbrella organisation GENOP.

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/03/31/wrks-m31.html

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  4. Thursday 6th April 2017

    posted by Morning Star in World

    GREEK Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras claimed yesterday that government negotiators are “just a breath away” from reaching a breakthrough in bailout talks with eurogroup finance ministers.

    However, he added that, if a deal on paying Athens the next bailout instalment fails to materialise at tomorrow’s meeting in Malta, the eurozone should hold a special summit.

    Mr Tsipras blamed unnamed negotiators among Greece’s European creditors and the International Monetary Fund for “moving the goalposts” each time Greece comes close to meeting approval conditions for the bailout.

    “We are not playing games here … that must stop,” he said after talks in Athens with EU Council president Donald Tusk.

    Greece has to agree to budget measures to gain access to its loans, but the latest bailout payment was frozen, exacerbating the country’s economic misery.

    Without that money, Athens will struggle to make a debt payment in July, raising anew the prospect of default.

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-0221-Athens-close-to-bailout-deal-with-EU,-claims-PM#.WOZJxGekIdU

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