The Past Is Present
“Who controls the past controls the future,” said George Orwell.
Many of us have been taught in school and by society that the past is a benign concept, a sort of entity long left behind, which we can perceive definitively and unitarily, circling around it and contemplating it from all angles, as we would a sculpture or any other object exhibited in a museum. More often than not, with some crimes of the past century we became familiarised in passing and we regarded them in consternation from the standpoint of someone who knows they are living in an evolved reality, where such event can no longer be possible. Our arrogance and/or ignorance have made us neglectful of the fact that in other parts of the world which we don’t see on the news all manner of atrocities have continued to take place.
In recent years, however, against the backdrop of renewed illiberalism and fascism in societies where up until the present such phenomena had seemed inconceivable, we’ve started to question more and more the origins of all social and political notions and surges that warn of disasters similar to previous ones still alive in our collective memory. Thus, we inevitably looked to the past and little by little we had to learn that perceiving it as a coagulated magma, reassuringly enclosed within the safe confines of a pen, is an illusion as whopping as, for example, believing in Santa Claus.
The films featured in this programme look on past events having accepted the glaring reality that between them and the present circumstances from different corners of the world — such as China, Argentina, Great Britain, Hungary, Lebanon, The United States of America, or Italy — there are complex similarities. They are stylistically compelling films, proposing a variety of fresh formulas to engage with the past and cause it to flare up, thus emphasising that the volcano in which it dwells has always been active and ready to spew out its lava.