NEW YORK (counterpunch.org) – Starting Monday, March 15, and ending on Sunday March 21, the Socially Relevant Film Festival will present dozens of films through a virtual theater. Like last year, the pandemic has had an impact not only on this festival but all theaters in New York that cater to leading edge independent work. The big commercial theaters like AMC have opened under conditions of social distancing but the best leading-edge houses like Film Forum are streaming only. On the plus side, people everywhere will be able to see SR Festival films for $7 each, with a festival ticket available for $75. If you need any motivation to see one or all the films and have also found yourself appreciating films I recommended on CounterPunch, let me repeat my testimonial to the SR Film Festival in 2015. I would only add the words “unending economic crisis and pandemic”:
I had an epiphany: “socially relevant” films have a higher storytelling quotient than Hollywood’s for the simple reason that they are focused on the lives of ordinary people whose hopes and plight we can identify with. With a commercial film industry increasingly insulated from the vicissitudes of an unending economic crisis, it is only “socially relevant” films that demand our attention and even provide entertainment after a fashion. When the subjects of the film are involved in a cliffhanging predicament, we care about the outcome as opposed to the Hollywood film where the heroes confront Mafia gangsters, CIA rogues or zombies as if in a video game.
Back To Sölöz, (Tuesday, March 16, 2:30 PM)
Sölöz is a village in the Bursa province just four hours south of Istanbul that director Serge Avedikian has visited over the years to capture on film his quest to track down the remnants of Armenian culture that mostly disappeared during the 1915 genocide. This was his grandfather’s village. During the forced march across the desert separating Turkey from Syria, his grandfather lost his parents just as happened to over a million others.
Serge Avedikian is omnipresent through this poignant and often disheartening film as he tries to eke out some acknowledgement from the village’s Turkish population that a genocide occurred. As the film begins, we see him in a museum dedicated to the memory of Hrant Dink, an Armenian journalist who was assassinated in 2007 for simply advocating the integration of Turkish-Armenians into the wider Turkish society. For this, he was prosecuted three times for “denigrating Turkishness”, article 301 of the penal code.