But then, Berlin is a genuinely international city. I don’t mean that it’s intercultural - it’s less diverse than London or Birmingham - I mean that it sees itself as a space engaged in the global exchange of culture, people and ideas. Pretty much everyone speaks fluent English, which is the main language of the Festival. Nobody resents the “Other”. People are eager to learn and to engage with ways of living very different from their own. As we prepare to fall off the cliff of Brexit, we should look to Berlin as an example of how we can improve ourselves as a necessarily cosmopolitan society in an intimate global space. I hope that ORIGINS can contribute to this: the need has never felt more urgent or more extreme.
MERATA was one of two films made by emerging directors about their inspirational mothers. The other was SHE WHO MUST BE LOVED, by indigenous Australian director Erica Glynn, about her mother Freda, who was a pioneer of indigenous media. About half way through the film, Freda mentioned her youngest son, Warwick. A bit later on, she mentioned that she had been briefly married to a certain Bob Thornton…. It was only at the end of the film that Warwick Thornton himself appeared, collecting an award at the Sydney Festival and saying that he owed his film-making success to his mother. Both the films made it very clear how the close family ties in indigenous families can generate an immense cultural energy.
I was also struck by how little of the ego that characterises Western directors was present in the NATIVE presentations. VAI, the opening feature, was directed by nine indigenous women, each presenting a ten-minute vignette, portraying a woman called Vai (meaning “water”) at different stages of her life. They weren’t actually the same woman - she could be many ages in the same era, and moved around the islands of the Pacific - but they were like the same woman, with other people in her family always having the same name, even if their personalities were very different. Vai, water, flows between Polynesian people and binds them together across the vast Ocean. And, like this story of common cultures and continues regeneration, the very process of film-making suggested a community approach that puts aggressive individualism in the shade.