Director’s Statement

The film starts with the end of a story:
Statistics published by the NGO “Fortress Europe” state that at least 14,687 people were reported in the media to have died along the European border between 1988 and August 2009. As a piece of news, their death makes them part of European history and simultaneously deprives them of a voice in its historiography. They become silent witnesses to a European security discourse that mainly revolves around itself, tacitly accepting the deaths.

REVISION is an attempt to trace the open ends of such a piece of news and explore the cinematic possibilities of capturing its protagonists as agents of a story. A story with multiple beginnings.

Where and when does this story start?
On June 29, 1992, in a corn field close to the German-Polish border? At the same time, in an asylum seekers home in Rostock? A couple of months earlier in Romania? Twenty years later, as the families learn that the accused were acquitted? With the title sequence of this film?

The film reconstructs the biographical and political perspectives of the narratives, which simultaneously thematise and question the conditions and conventions of my own filmic narration as part of a larger political context.

On a formal level, an analysis of the term “testimony” is important: This term constitutes the overlapping of a judicial investigation, respectively a trial and the work of a documentary filmmaker. Interestingly enough, this is exactly where the lawsuit in question fails: The circumstances of the crime have never been conclusively reconstructed through the testimonies of witnesses.

Judicially, a witness is characterised as a person “reporting perceived facts”. Mere perception though is insufficient - for a person to become a witness, a counterpart is required, a listener who functions as witness to the actual testimony. Capturing this complex relationship between the speaker and the listener is a vital part of the film. The protagonists appear in varying roles: A witness tries to remember – he starts to talk. In another take, he listens to his own narration – he can stop the narration, comment and correct. When listening, he becomes witness to his own testimony and thus connects with the spectator who experiences the REVISION of the spoken.

In the course of filming, I experienced the ‘filmed listening’ as a very active process. It gives the person in front of the camera a means of control and alters power balances in the room.
The documentary moment, the seeming authenticity that manifests when someone forgets that the camera is on, is shattered in the very act of filming.

© pong Kröger und Scheffner January 2012