Friday, July 13, 2012

Catastroika (2012)

Catastroika is a Russian term to describe the ruthless mass privatization of the post-communist Russia, that turned the country into ruins, but created billionaires. "It was a decimation of a nation" Naomi Klein states on the strategy. Catastroika is also a film you can watch right here, on your desktop or laptop for free, courtesy of its Creative Commons license and its crowd-funded production. It is free to watch, because it's imperative to watch; it can teach you a thing or two on your rights as a citizen: your right to free education, to a decent transport system, your right to drink water and use electricity, because they are "public service" without being thieved of to have this advantage.

Aris Hatzistefanou and Katerina Kitidi had actually nothing to lose by making their documentary projects a matter of honour and a tribute to unbiased information; they are Greeks, and Greeks have nothing else to lose. First with Debtocracy that had millions of views all over the world and it was screened widely in congregations, among militants and intellectuals alike, and now with Catastroika, the duet of InfoWar Productions collects information that traditional media have interest to hide and releases it, just like releasing a bird from its cage, to reach the eyes and ears of those who don't have time for a dozen of academic books or so, but foster truth whatsoever.

Starting from Greece, the austerity measures and a "grandissime" privatization program on the way, the two directors and producers travel all over the world to listen to opinions of academicians, researchers, journalists and workers that are not affected by and don't favour capital. We all like free market to a certain extent, I guess, personally ever since I was taught the laissez faire-laissez passer doctrine at school. But then, state protectionism which is supposedly evil, it only means to protect the citizen versus the evergreen and ever-hungry capital. "Democracy is against the market mechanisms", Naomi Klein adds. Catastroika offers plausible examples of privatizations that were effectuated in Russia, England, West-Germany, France, Greece and elsewhere for the sake of profit. In favour of big corporations and multinationals, privatizations are in fact against the citizen and the equation "quality of life-affordable prices". Costas Douzinas, Law Professor at the University  of London goes so far as to talk about a "neo-colonialism" state of play, where the colonized are all of us, and guess who is the colonizing power: the capital itself.

The capital looks like a daring monster here, so I guess a certain degree of exaggeration can be allowed for. I am no expert on economic matters, but such stories of corruption and political decisions taken on the basis of large amounts of money changing hands under the table are common in Greece, and they cannot possibly be an urban myth. Smart editing, hefty slices of humour in the imagery, superb sound-editing and good use of  a wide range of material make this documentary an extremely well-made and convincing one. Not to mention the charming, lulling voices of the boy and girl, the invisible narrators of the bleak tale. 

I liked the film overall and I got more or less convinced, but I know only too well what skilled editing can do, so I have to keep some doubts until I read the aforementioned dozens of books on the economic system and the like. After all, we are good in public speaking and finding arguments in Greece, rhetoric is what we are best at, by nature. See for yourselves; Catastroika is  eye-opening and definitely worth it.

Catastroika exists in sub-titled versions of different languages, English, naturally, but also Italian, Portuguese, Bulgarian etc.

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