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Film Scratches: Untangling Political Violence – Anál-isis Callejero (Street Anal-ysis, 2012)

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Film Scratches focuses on the world of experimental and avant-garde film, especially as practiced by individual artists. It features a mixture of reviews, interviews, and essays.

A Review by David Finkelstein.

In Anál-isis Callejero (Street Anal-ysis), Chilean filmmaker Pablo Molina Guerrero’s nine minute meditation on political violence, we see a complex montage of footage from clashes between police and demonstrators in Valparaiso and Aysén. The digital video is deliberately mixed with all manner of glitches and editing artifacts, and is continually disrupted by freeze frames. The soundtrack mixes sync sound from the protests with audio from a porn film, a mother giving birth, and syrupy Tchaikovsky music. The footage is annotated by superimposed titles in red type, quotes from a variety of Chilean writers on political ethics. In one quote, Manuel Rojas refers to a man who claims he “doesn’t have enough moral discipline” to deserve the title of “anarchist.”

There is a lot of violence in the footage: police spray the crowds with water, and lob tear gas canisters. The protesters get their butts kicked, which might give one clue to the film’s title. The protesters, too, can be seen occasionally throwing rocks at the police. Fires burn in the road.

Callejero1The film contrasts the footage from Aysén in 2012, in which widespread violence caused many injuries, and the 2015 protests in Valparaiso in which the demonstrators remained relatively peaceful. When activists turn to violence, do they lack the proper “moral discipline?” They will certainly be portrayed that way in the media. Is footage of political violence merely political porn, inflaming passions of rebellion or scorn, depending on the politics of the viewer?

The video ends with a shot of two demonstrators, a man and a woman, looking tenderly at each other. Both wear gas masks. We hear the sound of a baby crying. The word “paranoia” flashes on the screen. Earlier, poet José Santos González Vera is quoted as saying that the most beautiful landscape is “my friend.” An environment of armed rebellion is rife with creative potential, as well as being a perfect breeding ground for mistrust. Guerrero’s “anal-ysis” tears apart multiple strands tangled within the questions of violence as a tactic, without preaching facile conclusions.

David Finkelstein is a filmmaker, musician, and critic. For more information on Film Scratches, or to submit an experimental film for review, contact david (at) lakeivan.org.

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