Political Education

On January 15:th, the day Rosa Luxemburg was murdered 97 years ago, we went to the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in Berlin, “a nationwide political education organisation, a discussion forum for critical thought and political alternatives as well a research facility for progressive social analysis”. The Stiftung hosts an archive, a bookshop, lectures and presentations, and provides funding for external projects. They also present exhibitions.
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We had already educated ourselves a bit through watching the videowork The Capital of Accumulation, made by Raqs Media Collective, inspired by and borrowing the title from a work by Luxemburg that performs a critique of global political economy. Luxemburg’s book, The Accumulation of Capital (1913), can be found online at for example marxists.org. Whereas the videowork used to be downloadable from the website of Raqs, nowadays it can be found on Vimeo.
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rosa luxemburg
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At the Stiftung, we saw the exhibition Back to Rojava, with photographic posters of everyday life in West-Kurdistan, in northern Syria.
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Where can a person educate oneself about the situation in Syria? The media collective Abounaddara deals in what they call emergency cinema. Self-taught filmmakers who favor individual and personal stories and testimonies, while the larger view is created through an accumulation of these stories. Each week they post short films on their Vimeo channel. At the moment there are 382 films. You may have heard of them through the biennale in Venice last year.
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One could also follow the independent news collective Raqqa is being slaughtered silently, who report from inside the city of Raqqa, the so-called capital of the caliphate of IS. These reporters are working under extremely hazardous conditions, and the news they bring are not easy to assimilate.
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rosa luxemburg 2
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Back to Rojava. The autonomous region of Rojava, West-Kurdistan, in the North of Syria, near the border to Turkey. Socialist and feminist Rojava controlled by the People’s Protection Units and Women’s Protection Units, practicing stateless democracy since 2011. Stateless democracy based on self-governance, gender equality, the right to self-defense, and a communal economy.
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On July 14th 2015, the Rojava Film Commune began educating a new generation of filmmakers, providing studies in film theory, photography, editing, etc. The Commune also works on generating a new audience for film. The press release reads: “The squares of our villages will become our culture and art centers. Our factories and our restaurants will become cinema halls.”
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City squares with outdoor cinemas? In 1960 the fire at the Amûdê cinema killed 300 small boys, while soldiers locked the doors to prevent them from escaping. Came a fear of gathering in dark halls. Filmmaker Önder Çakar writes in a Letter from Rojava: “Currently, there are almost no film theatres in the region. Almost nobody among the local people has ever watched a film on the big screen. Whenever I asked in the meetings if there was anyone who had ever watched a film in a theatre, there were only one or two old gentlemen over fifty years old who raised their hands. They have seen a couple of karate films in big cities such as Aleppo or Damascus.”
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The Rojava Film Commune works around the concept of revolutionary realism, by which they mean a rejection of realism as showing only what is present at this moment, and rather a realism showing what is possible. The concept is described in depth in an article written by Jonas Staal for e-flux Magazine.
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To educate oneself about the ongoing processes in Rojava, one could keep an eye out for the forthcoming films springing from the Rojava Film Commune, news of which will be found on their website. Or one could accept the invitation given by the Commune, to documentarians and filmmakers who wish to visit Rojava and make a film of their own.
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We will return to the topic of Rojava Film Commune presently. Stay tuned.
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One thought on “Political Education

  1. Pingback: Power And Powerlessness (Final Entry) | Sunshine Socialist Cinema

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