At the tenth anniversary of the prize, thirty documentaries were selected for the international competition held in the Sicilian town of Syracuse. The secretary general of the CMCA and director of the festival, Paolo Morawski, talks to DOX about his visions for the event.
The Mediterranean region, a crossroads of civilization, is a vast area with boundaries determined more by cultural heritage, history and identity than by fixed borders around a sea that connects various countries. But how should a Mediterranean specificity be defined? Is there a special connection among the countries surrounding the Mediterranean that makes them adhere to a mutual identity?
The director of the festival, Paolo Morawski, from Italy’s TV channel RAI, poetically reflects upon this question and evokes the subtleties to be identified.
“There is a certain way of life, a certain confusion, the relationship with the sea, with salt, with the sun, a relation to food and wine, certain gestures, the rhythm of the voices, etc. I recognize the results of a common history, not only made up of battles and conflicts but of exchange and commerce and cultural influences. The language has gone through an evolution where words that originate in one language appear in another, and so on,” says Morawski who is directing and organizing the Mediterranean Festival for the fourth time.
“You may argue that you can find this in the whole world, but the Mediterranean region has a kind of common destiny. It’s an area where 7,000 years ago they started building big towns. There are big towns everywhere, but the regions in the Mediterranean area are linked: when you read a Greek text, you are at home, when you hear about a Mesopotamia novel or myth you are at the limit of your home. When you are in ancient Egypt you are at the heart of your home,” Morawski says.
Different Mediterranean Spaces
“But of course, realistically, there are different Mediterraneans today, and I think the language factor is very important. It is not something artificial; it is linked to the colonial history and to the dominant forces. You can talk about different Mediterranean spaces from the point of view of geography and from the point of view of time,” Morawski explains, illustrating his thought with an example of one of the films presented in the competition.
In the film of Vukovar (“Vukovar, la cite des âmes perdues”, by Michel Anglade & Hervé Ghesquière), someone says that they were still living in 1991. Many people in the Mediterranean still live in another time. They have experienced strong emotions and war; there is a wound that has never healed. It also happened in the Spanish Civil War for example. And the concentration of the painful perturbation in time is more sensitive in this area, because of the colonial story, because of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, because of the memories of torture, etc. The difference connected to time is not so much an opposition between modernity and tradition, it is an opposition between memory that has been halted and memory that has been dealt with.
If you take the Mediterranean and divide it from the audiovisual point of view, some people say that there is one Mediterranean. And it is true that, for example, the Al Jazeera News programmes can be seen everywhere and you can receive RAI or Spanish television in most countries, but it’s only 0.1 % of the people living in the area who are concerned about this kind of television on a daily basis. So, even from an audiovisual point of view, the Mediterranean space is not unified. Sometimes it is more interesting to underline the unity, sometimes it is more interesting and realistic to underline diversity,” Morawski explains.
The purpose of the festival is to promote and attract the attention of professionals to the richness of the Mediterranean production of documentary works and to present a large number of programmes reflecting the Mediterranean variety and reality. At this year’s competition, the majority of programmes came from the occidental regions of the Mediterranean: France, Italy, and Spain, with only few works from Arab-speaking countries.
“Unfortunately it is difficult to get programmes from Arab countries. It is a problem of communication,” explains Morawski, who was able to invite five directors this year from the ASBU (Arab States Broadcasting Union) network as observers. Next year he hopes to invite ten.