freedom2speak on FREEDOM2SPEAK

February 2003. The Iraq crisis is escalating: The US presents evidence that serves to justify a unilateral war. Worldwide public doubts and opposition are being ignored by the Bush Administration, as are United Nations attempts at negotiation and de-escalation. On her own authority, the US prepares a war that contradicts all democratic principles of the world community.

At the same time, the 53rd International Film Festival is opening in Berlin. Berlin filmmakers rally under the label freedom2speak, not ready to close their eyes to the explosive political developments for two weeks, during which the world is going to be radically changed by the Iraq crisis.

Uncertain where it will lead them, the filmmakers decide to act. With the Festival’s support they interview celebrities – They install a speaker’s corner in front of one of the Festival venues, where each and every Festival attendee can state their opinion to be recorded. Additionally, the filmmakers ask all colleagues to submit freestyle short films on the topic. In the course of the Berlinale, a small group of Berlin filmmakers develops into an international team working for a common goal.

The result is a 70-minute documentation, created within 12 days, with the support of more than 100 filmmakers, among them stars like George Clooney and John Hurt.

FREEDOM2SPEAK VERSION 1.0 is premiered on the Festival’s last day, in a completely overcrowded theater. The feedback goes beyond all expectations. It proves there is a desire for a forum outside the established media and encourages the group to continue freedom2speak.

The next stations are the film festivals in Istanbul and Cannes. Iraq is defeated and occupied, the “post-war” is raging. Analysis of the consequences and significance of the war begins; Opinions are even more controversial than before. While Istanbul is dominated by the question of the power and origin of images from the war, Cannes is an arena of arguments between war supporters and opponents.

By the end of June, 18 hours of material have been submitted: Interviews, short films, news footage, and video clips. All motivated by the one question: How does this war change our image of the world?

Screening and editing this profusion of material becomes a Herculean task. How to fit which image? Who gets their freedom2speak, with which statement? How can the montage keep up with the pace of developments in Iraq?

By the end of December, FREEDOM2SPEAK VERSION 2.0 is finished. 60 minutes of documentation, created in a window of time of 12 months, a controversial representation of moods and opinions of filmmakers by filmmakers, on media and manipulation and a war with no end in sight.


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