June 16th, 2017
by Bobby Henzler
Session 4 was held on 18 November 2016 and chaired by Anna Henckel Donnersmarck. The panel aimed to show the interdependence of the individual striving to be a better being and societal and/or capitalistic demands.
The panel consisted of Peter Seyferth, a political philosopher and critic of the times, Miriam Teschl, an economist and philosopher, and Alessia Zampieri, director of the short film “Rite of Passage”. During the evening they discussed the possibilities and queries we’re confronted with when it comes to shaping or escaping our social structures.
We started the session with a screening of “Captain Trinidad and Tobago” by Christopher Guinness. The film is about a six-year-old boy who longs to become a superhero in order to deal with the problems he faces in his daily life. Along the way, he learns the true meaning of heroism, a lesson that follows him into adulthood.
The film launched a debate among the panellists about whether education is valuable as the best means for improving one’s life circumstances or if it is problematic because it can also be used to establish a nationalistic system. For Miriam Teschl, the answer was quite clear: even when education is contaminated with nationalistic concepts, it is still the best way to increase well-being. She argued that if there is in fact a burning social danger today, then it consists of a lack of good education rather than the opposite. Education enables individuals to make reflected choices.
We continued with a screening of “A Sense of Warmth” by Sven Johne. The film tells the story of Mindy’s alleged escape from the digital working environment, her passage to a deserted island, and her new life, from now on lived in accordance with herself and nature. However, it turns out that this escapism comes at a price.
This wonderful and complex short movie steered the panellists to reflect on whether it is possible to restart one’s life and to live meaningfully. In contrast to the life portrayed in “Trinidad”, the main figure in “A Sense of Warmth” suffers due to the “richness” and the demands of our western society. The panellists discussed the difficulty of escaping the concepts of optimization, an aspect that was concealed even in Mindy’s escape.
We closed the forum with a screening of “Rite of Passage” by Alessia Zampieri. The search for a woman in an unusual environment where sunlight is almost absent leads us to a suspended place, a white desert immersed in darkness, between snowstorms and unusual travellers.
This was a very fine finale because we learned that even if you step radically out of the “normal” life into the wilderness of the Arctic Circle, social boundaries are still essential.
Miriam Teschl contributed also to our blog with some remarkable thoughts about the improving effect of language education. Find out more here >>>
Bobby Henzler is a scriptwriter but has an academic background as well . She is responsible for the coordination of the project, the film section and the curation committee of be a better being.