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Comedy meets stone magic: The Forecast Festival shows forward-looking artistic ideas

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The accident happened in 1968, in a Beirut basement club appropriately named “Purgatoire,” purgatory. A young Baghdad-born director named Gary Garabedian filmed the final scene of his film Koullouna Fidayoun (We Are All Freedom Fighters), a pro-Palestinian spaghetti western, here.

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In the dramatic finale of the story, Fedayeen detonate a bomb in a nightclub in Tel Aviv, the “Purgatoire” should be the inspiration for this. However, the location turned out to be the worst of all options – if only because it had a stalactite-cave-style ceiling made of highly flammable material. The special effects caused a fatal fire that killed a total of 20 people, including the director.

Film history of accidents. Scene from Alexis Guillier’s “Purgatoire Cinema that Kills”.
© Alexis Guillier

Media artist Alexis Guillier has traced this drama. He runs a project called “A many splattered thing,” which tells its own film story along accidents on sets – disasters like the one on the set of “Rust,” where actor Alec Baldwin accidentally fatally shot a camerawoman.

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Guillier is interested in the larger socio-economic contexts behind such incidents. The example “Koullouna Fidayoun” has to do with the electricity crisis in Lebanon of the day, as well as with a Palestinian bankruptcy bank behind the film studio. Guillier was able to uncover many connections thanks to the help of the Lebanese investigative journalist Alia Ibrahim. “I don’t speak Arabic myself,” he says. “Alia has opened many doors for me with her networks in Beirut.”

From Luciana Decker Orozco's What Humans See as Blood Jaguars See as Chicha.
From Luciana Decker Orozco’s What Humans See as Blood Jaguars See as Chicha.
© Luciana Decker

Bringing people like Guillier and Ibrahim together is the principle of the Forecast Festival, the seventh edition of which can now be seen at Radialsystem V. A total of six tandems of experienced mentors and aspiring mentees are formed, who have eight to nine months to work together on a project.

The open call takes place worldwide, and there were over 800 applications for the upcoming 8th edition, says Freo Majer, the festival’s artistic director. The field is broad, and mentors and mentees do not necessarily have the same professional background. But some level it clicks they have to find each other. The radical performer Florentina Holzinger, for example, chose the young magician Tom Cassani as a mentee – both of them share the search for physical dissolution of boundaries.

On two days in Radialsystem V, the mentors will now give insights into their respective art, the mentees will present excerpts of the projects that have been worked on together. For example, the rehearsal features Daliso Chaponda, a stand-up comedian who made it to the finale of Britain’s Got Talent in 2017 and had his breakthrough. Among other things, Chaponda now hosts a hit BBC radio show. As a mentee, after a trial phase with three candidates (this selection process is also part of the forecast), he chose the filmmaker Hamza Baig. An autodidact who mostly works with amateurs and is currently developing the series “The Marblous Four”. It revolves around a traditional Pakistani game played with five stones, with Baig giving the story a twist that is as magical as it is humorous.

Chaponda says in an interview that he hesitated to become a forecast mentor. After all, in high culture circles, comedians tended to be disregarded about as little “as strippers.” He was convinced that “this festival really has a broad horizon in terms of what art is”.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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