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Turin Film Festival

A trip to Bosnia in 1995 with the journalist Gigi Riva enabled director Marco Bechis to find the formally appropriate way in which to depict violence in his next film, Garage Olimpo (1999). 


Excerpt from the production

notes of Garage Olimpo.

“How did I, in 1995, find in Bosnia the images to use when filming my second film, GARAGE OLIMPO, in Buenos Aires? The question I asked myself was: how do you film violence? Using what images? I found those images while travelling in Bosnia with the journalist Gigi Riva”.

Dal testo del film / From the film script:
“A documentary has never been made about a fully-functioning concentration camp. For obvious reasons it is an impossibility. I wanted to record my relationship with that experience and thus give images to events that otherwise don’t have a single one. The desaparecidos have no images. The question I asked myself was: what images? Would any image do? Clearly not. And this problem became an obsession with each shot. I believe every image has its own ethical dimension. What does that mean? That an intention can be betrayed by the image used, because images have their own laws, which are not those of the written word. So, what images should one use to describe a concentration camp? When you’re working underground, the camera is always on your shoulder, the lighting comes from the small light you can see in the frame. We had no other lighting. On the other hand, outside, up at street-level, the city was narrated as fiction, with artificial light and dollies, which here meant ‘fiction equals falsehood’: the population lived in a state of falsehood, reality was underground. On the set there were several survivors, mothers and children of desaparecidos, watching in silence. The actors needed to allow themselves to enter a situation they were unused to in their professional life. I shot sequentially. The actors never read the whole script, they would only be given the scenes to be shot each day. I wanted them to concentrate on the here and now, on who they were, and not on the whole arc of their characters, which would have inevitably made them more questioning of the characters themselves. If the question is: can violence be represented? The answer is: violence cannot be represented because it is subjective. There is no objectivity in violence. So: how can a medium such as film describe something so intimate? A woman who survived a long period of detention and torture once told a person who asked her what kind of things she had been subjected to: "Of certain things I speak only to my plants". Her answer has always stayed with me, from the script-writing stage to the cutting room” (Marco Bechis).

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