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Across Northern Europe: Globians Film Festival
This weekend's slate of films focus on Asia: from Indian call centers to Tibetan orphanages to Chinese suicides to Japanese gigolos.
Director Joachim Polzer created a thematic program, starting with general long-term travel last Saturday (full disclosure: my film opened the festival) and following with nights devoted to Latin America, the United States, Europe, Africa and other less geographic themes.
The festival began in 2005, some 15 years after one of Polzer's interview subjects told him, "We are all Globians."
"The word stuck with me," Polzer said.
At the time, Polzer was making documentaries himself in California and was struck by the number of quality English-language films that never made it to Germany.
"People think 'American documentary, what is that?' but there are lots of good programs on PBS and other places that people here don't know about."
With that premise he launched Globians in Potsdam, Berlin's smaller sibling to the southwest. It's not the easiest place to attract interest in English-language documentaries but Polzer says its better than being "the 20th film festival in Berlin."
The modest audience of 300 in 2005 doubled last year and doubled again this year. More than 70 features are on this year's roster.
The common thread of the three films I had a chance to see was unique perspective. "Back to the Ice: A Year in Antarctica" is a portrait of long-term stays in one the planet's harshest environments. "Dark Water Rising: The Truth About Hurricane Katrina Animal Rescue" is a revealing, at times gruesome story of animal rescuers who seem somewhat ignorant to the simultaneous human suffering. "Match & Marry" explains the unorthodox coupling of Orthodox Jews in New York and elsewhere.
All three films told stories that I haven't seen told elsewhere, stories that aren't easy to tell for various reasons. Those difficulties were also evident in the limited production value and at times incomplete nature of the stories. They will all struggle to find a wide audience, which is too bad because they offer rarely seen perspectives. The chance to get a glimpse runs til Sunday and will return next summer for the festival's fourth year.
Previously on Across Northern Europe:
- Shining a Light on Iceland
- Lonely Love on Iceland
- Iceland Gone Wild
- A Trip to the Airport
- Why Bother Going to Berlin?
- A Perishable Feast
Brook Silva-Braga is traveling northern Europe for the month of August and reuniting with some of the people he met on the yearlong trip which was the basis of his travel documentary, A Map for Saturday. You can follow his adventure in the series, Across Northern Europe.