Stop war! Stop... war movies! IPN debate

The way in which the Russo-Ukrainian war develops, especially the atrocities against civilians that became known lately, sufficiently reasonably confirmed the necessity of new approaches to war movies. Moreover, on April 7 Parliament gave a first reading to a bill to secure the information space that, besides the old ban on the retransmission of particular political and news programs from a series of countries, also imposes a ban on the broadcasting of movies with a military content. The issue was discussed by the experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Stop war! Stop...war movies!”.

Igor Boțan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, during the instructive part of the debate said the war is an organized armed conflict between states, groups of states, classes, nations, etc. “The war represents continuation of policies by other means, by violent means. Most of the times, the breaking out of a war depends on the political administration of the states. The intensity of the war also depends on the goals of the leaders of the state that wage the war. The final reconciliation with the adversaries involved in the war depends on the political will of those that start the war. The internal policies pursued by the states also matter in a war,” explained the expert.

According to him, cinematography is a type of modern art based on motion picture photography. It is often an instrument for glorifying the players involved in a war. “Currently, the influence exerted by cinematography is greater. As the Bolshevik leader said, film is the most important of the arts because it can be used for propagandistic purposes and I think the biggest problem derives from here,” stated Igor Boțan. He noted that cinematography is a film industry whose products are presented to the general public to influence the emotional and cognitive states of the people.

“In the Republic of Moldova, we have Law No. 116 on cinematography that defines the legal framework on the state policy on cinematography. The National Cinematography Center is the public institution responsible for the implementation of state filmmaking policies. It has the status of legal entity,” said Igor Boțan.

Political commentator Anatol Țăranu, Doctor of History, said the developments in Ukraine generate a lot of questions and one of the essential questions is: “How such a nation as the Russians, the Russian army that represents this nation, can commit war atrocities in an area that the Russians themselves attributed to the Russian world?”. It is a war between two brotherly nations. “Moreover, the President of Russia Vladimir Putin deprives the Ukrainians of the right to identify themselves as a nation distinct from the Russian one. Then this question about the war atrocities inside one nation requires answers. How did this happen and how is such an approach possible in the 21st century? It is absolutely evident that these deeds, these phenomena are related directly to the collective mentality of a nation. The collective mentality is also formed by artistic methods. Cinematography, by definition, is an artistic form of mentality expression,” said the commentator, who earlier served as Moldova’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation.

According to him, cinematography indisputably has played an important role in forming the collective mentality of the Russian people and not only. “The whole Soviet space was educated under the formula of the ideologeme of the war victory in the great patriotic war. This ideologeme left deep imprints on the way of thinking of the people from this space and on how they perceive the reality. The war in Ukraine is nothing else but a test of this mentality that was formed during decades and that is the result of this ideologeme that was imbedded during the Soviet period and that took profound and grandiose shape during the time of the current regime in the Russian Federation,” stated Anatol Țăranu.

He noted that a large number of movies about the so-called patriotic war were made and these are broadcast continuously by TV channels, including the specialized ones. Among these films are real masterpieces. “Therefore, a contradictory situation is witnessed as when laws are adopted to fight war propaganda, the area of authentic art is touched”.

The president of the Filmmakers Union of Moldova, filmmaker Virgiliu Mărgineanu does not fully agree with the idea of stopping movies as these are a poof of history. “No matter what kinds of moves are made – about war, evolution, life - this is the history of mankind and it should remain immortalized in those pictures made by filmmakers. A country without documentary films is like a family without a photo album. Can you imagine the situation when we do not have films? I want to refer to documentaries that actually show our history and our reality. It is very important to have these movies, to have evidence of the periods during which we live,” stated Virgiliu Mărgineanu.

The filmmaker noted that as a cineaste, he supports cinematography, the film industry as this is a well-developed area that as its place in people’s lives. “After the music industry, filmmaking can reach the screens of many users the easiest, attracting billions of viewers during a very short period of time. Therefore, some use the film as a method of propaganda and manipulation,” he said.

“The problem we need to address is whether the messages transmitted by these movies are correct or are manipulative. A well-educated society can make a difference between these things, while those who regrettably consider that what they see on TV is law and bank only on those uncertain, unconfirmed images continue to be manipulated by TV channels and by these movies.”

The public debate entitled ““Stop war! Stop...war movies!” was the 238th installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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