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Cinema Under Siege – UC Berkeley, 10/7/16

SEEfest Staff Writer | October 20, 2016, 2:11 PM


SEEfest’s friend Fareed Ben-Youssef, Chancellor Fellow in PhD Program in Film & Media at UC Berkeley, coordinated a lovely event image5earlier this month: “Cinema Under Siege: The Sarajevo Film Festival and the Question of Curatorial Responsibility.” It was held on UC Berkeley’s campus on October 7th, 2016, and attracted a very successful turn-out.


The event included a discussion with Elma Tataragic, a successful programmer who worked on the Sarajevo Film Festival during wartime in the 1990’s and all subsequent 21 iterations. This was followed by a screening of The Diplomat, a reflective documentary about the life of former US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, directed by his son, David Holbrooke, who was present for a Q&A following the film.

Thought provoking and all too rare are these discussion of cinema and curation as art forms which carry with them a unique type of accountability. This event touched upon just that and much more in what was surely a thoughtful evening of audience participation and artistic reflection.



Here, in Fareed’s own words, is a review:

We began the evening with Elma’s discussing everyday life during the Siege as well as the urge to preserve a sense of normalcy. Then, she detailed the history of the film festival’s first iteration and considered the question of her curatorial responsibility to the city and its history. The audience asked her to further elaborate on her feelings leaving the city during festival preparation (which sparked an account of how she longed to return to Sarajevo) as well as her thoughts on cinema as a mode of grieving and healing.


David Holbrooke opened The Diplomat with a passage from Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s biography wherein he described his less-than-ideal time at UC Berkeley in the sixties – I think Holbrooke the Younger had a much more positive experience!


The Q+A with David touched on the question of cinema as a tool of diplomacy as well as his experiences in Sarajevo during the festival. The audience asked for further elaboration on how he visualized the grind of negotiation and another student interested in the diplomacy posed a question on the problem of ambition.


Following the event, audience members spoke very highly of the proceedings, especially citing the valuable contextual work that Elma brought to the film. In short, it was a fascinating evening! See the attached photos. Please feel free to share any and all.



Fareed Ben-Youssef is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Film and Media at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his BA in English Literature with a Film Concentration from Princeton University and his master’s degree in the Film Studies Program in the department of Rhetoric at Berkeley. His dissertation, Visions of Power: Violence, the Law, and the Post-9/11 Genre Film, is concerned with specific moments where genre films (the Western, Film noir, and the Superhero film) disrupt a public discourse shaped by Manichean divisions. His conclusion examines international genre films to show how these texts articulate regional concerns and reflect on the ways in which their respective governments have responded to America’s global War on Terror. Aware of the cross-sections, slippages, and conflicts that exist within the ongoing dialogue between Hollywood entertainment and political discourse in the creation of competing visions of power, his study frames genre as a contested critical site—one of equal interest to politicians and to resistant filmmakers. Vacillating between wielders of state power and its victims, he ultimately shows how genre can serve as an invaluable mode of human rights critique. 





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