Documentary festival focuses on terrorism and politics of violence

The recent, tragic bombing attacks in Madrid have rekindled the global debate on terrorism, its causes and manifestations, issues that have been the focus of international politics and public debate with growing intensity since 9/11. This year’s Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, «Images of the 21st Century,» which started yesterday, addresses the issue with 13 entries on the theme «Terrorism: The Politics of Violence» and a round-table discussion. Jon Blair, Daniel Korn and Polly Williams of the UK examine terrorism in a four-part documentary titled «The Age of Terror.» The first part, «In the Name of Liberation,» tracks the use of terrorist tactics by national liberation movements from the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946 until today, while «In the Name of the State» looks at how some governments support terrorist groups and how others, seemingly democratic ones, apply terrorist tactics to further their own agendas. «In the Name of God,» looks at the links between terrorism and religion, and the final installment, «In the Name of the Revolution,» studies the ideological platforms of terrorism from the 1950s onward. On a more local level, America’s Sam Green and Bill Siegel talk to former members of the Weather Underground, a group of young Americans who took action against the government in the 1960s and ’70s to protest at the Vietnam War, while Jason DaSilva, another American, turns his critical lens on the policies being adopted by his government against minorities in the name of «internal security.» France’s Marie-Monique Robin interviews former French military agents involved in Operation Condor in Latin America (a secret squad set up by military dictatorships to wipe out dissent) in the 1970s and ’80s, and Canada’s John Curtin and Paul Carvalho, in «Islam Behind Bars,» illustrate how American prisons are breeding grounds for fundamentalism. From the troubled Middle East, David Ofek’s «No. 17» relates the search for the 17th, unidentified victim of a bomb attack on a Tel Aviv bus, and Yoav Shamir’s «Machssomim,» shows three years’ worth of footage from checkpoints between the Palestinian Territories and Israel. Greece’s Vassilis Katsikis and Costas Bakkas look at the activities of the Red Brigade in Italy in the documentaries «My Life in the Red Brigades» and «In the Labyrinths of Terrorism,» respectively, while Amalia Zepou, in «Stigma,» looks at the aftermath via interviews with people whose family members have fallen victim to terrorism or are victims themselves. The focus on terrorism ends with a discussion on Thursday at noon at the port complex. Participants include Mary Bosi (Greece, political scientist and author on terrorism), Giorgos Papaconstantis (Greece, police officer specialized in terrorism and organized crime), Antonio Solaro (Italy, journalist and researcher of modern Greek history), David Ofek (Israel, film and documentary director) and Jon Blair (Britain, award-winning documentarist and war correspondent).

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