Ian Buruma's Landmark Documentaries

Ian Buruma's Landmark Documentaries

We are honoured to have as one of our special guests this year one of the most important historians in the world today, Ian Buruma, who will be inaugurating a new and hopefully long-lasting section of the festival. As we acknowledge the significance and relevance of the past over the political and social configurations of the present, each year from now on we will be inviting a world-renowned historian to propose and introduce a selection of documentary films to Bucharest audiences.

Ian Buruma’s selection is extremely relevant to his intellectual pursuits. On the one hand, “Terminus," the documentary-short made by famous British filmmaker John Schlesinger, awarded with an Oscar for Best Direction on his 1970 film “Midnight Cowboy” and considered an iconic director of the 1960s and 1970s, reflects his interest in cinema and his affinities –- some of a familial nature, as Schlesinger’s nephew –- with this medium. In fact, Buruma studied Japanese cinema at a Tokyo university and has written numerous essays and articles on film for some of the most esteemed publications in the world, several of which were included in his excellent collection published in 2014, “Theater of Cruelty: Art, Film, and the Shadows of War”. He has even devoted an entire book to John Schlesinger, “Conversations with John Schlesinger," consisting of a series of dialogues about his life and career.

Our guest is primarily known in Romania for two of his books, translated and published by Humanitas: “Year Zero: A History of 1945” and “Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of its Enemies” (co-written with Avishai Margalit). Two of the films included in this section, the pivotal “The Sorrow and the Pity” by Max Ophüls and “The Last of the Unjust” by the late Claude Lanzmann, are related to Buruma’s preoccupation with the effects of Nazism and of other forms of fascism and authoritarianism on the fate of the world in the last century. While Péter Forgács’s film “The Maelstrom: A Family Chronicle," about a family of Dutch Jews decimated by the Nazi Holocaust during World War II, is indicative of Buruma’s Dutch heritage and its echoes spread through several more of his works, such as “Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance.”

Notably absent from this section curated by Ian Buruma are Chinese and Japanese films, two cultures to which he has devoted a good portion of his research and studies. But this is undoubtedly due to the incredible extent of areas and topics of interest for a man whose desire to experiment as intensely as possible the eccentricities of life (to which effect we recommend his recent autobiography, “A Tokyo Romance: A Memoir”) rivals or coexists with his intellectual ardour and curiosity.

While we will have to keep the pleasure of discovering the Asian documentaries in Ian Buruma’s personal pantheon for another occasion, we are extremely delighted to be able to screen the four masterpieces of his choosing and to have him as our guest for the duration of the festival.

Tickets: Eventbook
Logistic partner: DHL
Digital Partner: Canopy
Monitoring partner: mediaTRUST
The festival was created in 2008 by the: Czech Centre Bucharest