Limitless Cinema in Broken English

February 23, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 12:27 am

This is about a poll in my bilingual blog:


My twelfth poll is inspired by my most favorite film of January 2008—CORN IN PARLIAMENT: LE GENIE HELVETIQUE (2003, Jean-Stephane Bron, Switzerland). I saw this film at Alliance Francaise in Bangkok. I had never heard the name of this film or this director before, but I ended up liking this film very much. It’s hard to tell exactly why this film makes me feel so great. Everything in this film looks very ordinary. The director just interviewed some Swiss politicians while they were drafting a bill on GMO. We see some politicians offering their different opinions to the camera. We see who supports GMO, who is against GMO, and who is undecided on this topic. We follow the bill from the drafting stage until it goes to the parliament to be voted. There seems to be nothing special at all in this film. But why did I feel so good watching this film? I don’t know. Maybe the director creates the right amount of distance between the interviewer, the interviewees, and the audience. Maybe that female politician is very charismatic. Maybe the director just makes everything right in this film, including creating a little tension or a little suspense, but not manipulating the emotions of the audience too much.

After seeing and falling in love with CORN IN PARLIAMENT: LE GENIE HELVETIQUE, I decided to make a list of my favorite political documentaries. The countries listed here are the countries of the “subject” or “topic” of the film, not the nationality of the director nor the funding source of the film.


1.AFTERSHOCKS (2001, Rakesh Sharma, India)

2.BALSEROS (2002, Carlos Bosch + Josep Maria Domenech, Cuba)

3.BEFORE THE FLOOD (2005, Li Yifan + Yan Yu, China)

4.CEASE! FIRE! (2003, Saw Eh Doh Wah + Scott O’Brien, Myanmar)

5.CHECHEN LULLABY (2001, Nino Kirtadze, Chechnya)

6.CORN IN PARLIAMENT: LE GENIE HELVETIQUE (2003, Jean-Stephane Bron, Switzerland)

7.THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET (2002, Kim Longinotto, Kenya)

8.DIAL H-I-S-T-O-R-Y (1998, Johan Grimonprez)

9.FORD TRANSIT (2002, Hany Abu-Assad, Palestine)

10.THE HEART OF WHITENESS (2006, Rehad Desai, South Africa)

11.INCIDENT AT OGLALA (1992, Michael Apted, USA)

12.THE LAST BOLSHEVIK (1993, Chris Marker, Russia)

13.MINAMATA: THE VICTIMS AND THEIR WORLD (1972, Noriaki Tsuchimoto, Japan)

14.NIGHT AND FOG (1955, Alain Resnais, France)

15.PUNITIVE DAMAGE: A MOTHER’S TRIAL (1999, Annie Goldson, East Timor)

16.SEAPORT (2006, Attapon Pamakho + Benya Poowarachnan, Thailand)

17.11’09”01 – SEPTEMBER 11: SEGMENT “UNITED KINGDOM” (2002, Ken Loach, Chile)

18.THE TENTH DISTRICT COURT: MOMENTS OF TRIALS (2004, Raymond Depardon, France)

19.VIDEOGRAM OF A REVOLUTION (1992, Harun Farocki + Andrei Ujica, Romania)

20.VILLAGE PEOPLE RADIO SHOW (2007, Amir Muhammad, Malaysia)

–You can cast multiple votes.

–I try to make this list to include many countries, so I have to drop some great documentaries about Palestine from my list. Palestine may be the country which has the most number of excellent political documentaries.

–There are two films from France in my list (NIGHT AND FOG and THE TENTH DISTRICT COURT), because these two films cover very different periods of time. I decided to include NIGHT AND FOG here, because though the subject of the film is very old, something in it reminds me of Thailand nowadays. If I remember it rightly, there is a scene in NIGHT AND FOG in which many Nazi high-ranking officers said that they were not guilty of the Holocaust. That scene reminds me of some famous Thai people who have been saying all through the past 30 years that they are not guilty nor involved with the Bangkok Massacre in October 1976.


  1. AFTERSHOCKS (2001, Rakesh Sharma, India)

    the URL is

    I prefer his film FInal Solution, banned in Singapore and briefly banned in India, probing the politics of hate.

    Comment by Jogesh — February 23, 2008 @ 3:06 am


    Comment by Jogesh — February 23, 2008 @ 3:06 am

  3. I regret I haven’t seen FINAL SOLUTION (2003). It was once shown here in the Bangkok International Film Festival a few years ago, but I decided not to go to see it because the film was shown here in the 2-hour version, but I wanted to see the 218-minute version. So I thought I had better wait for the full version. But that opportunity never comes. I should have decided to go to see the 2-hour version at that time.

    AFTERSHOCKS is a real surprising film for me. I decided to go to see it because I had no choice at that time. It was the only film shown at that time slot in the Bangkok Film Festival in 2002. I was not interested in documentary, especially political documentary. But I decided to go to see it because I didn’t want to waste my time waiting for the next film. I really made the right choice at that time. After I had seen this film, I cried for about half an hour. I also like the way this film uses the song THE FINAL COUNTDOWN. I used to hate this song very much, because this song was too popular in Bangkok. But I like this song much more after I saw AFTERSHOCKS. Somehow this film can turn a boring song into a meaningful song.

    Unfortunately, what had happened in AFTERSHOCKS also happened in Thailand later. After the tsunami in the south of Thailand, many Thai poor villagers in the affected areas were swindled or exploited by some rich evil people. These rich people want to possess the land of the poor, so when the rich saw that the villages of the poor had been destroyed by the tsunami, the rich tried to find a way to cheat the poor so that the rich could possess the land. I wished at that time that AFTERSHOCKS be shown widely in Thailand or be shown in a Thai TV. I think this film has the ability to educate many people in Thailand, including the poor, the government officials or some NGOs to try to find a way to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

    AFTERSHOCKS also corresponds to my viewpoint that natural disaster is hardly as fearful as man-made disaster.

    Comment by celinejulie — February 25, 2008 @ 8:03 pm

  4. Dear CelineJulie – a friend just forwarded me this URL. Thank you for your comments about Aftershocks. Have you managed to see Final Solution yet? If not, perhaps we can figure a way out. You can write to me on


    Comment by Rakesh Sharma — March 15, 2008 @ 1:52 pm

  5. Thank you very much, Rakesh. I have just sent an e-mail to you. 🙂

    Comment by celinejulie — March 16, 2008 @ 5:41 am

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