Category: 2010

Blog entries originally written and posted in 2010

Reluctant Revolutionary at Traverse City Film Festival

Sean’s film The Reluctant Revolutionary will have its U.S. première at the Traverse City Film Festival. Sean will be appearing at the screenings.

The Traverse City Film Festival was founded by film maker Michael Moore.

Screening information:
City Opera House, Thursday 2nd August 6:00 PM
Milliken Auditorium, Sunday 5th August 6:00 PM

Colin Young Tribute (with Sean McAllister) SIDF 2012

Sean McAllister took part in the ‘Sheffield International Documentary Festival’ (SIDF) Tribute to Colin Young. Other gusts / speakers (in this video) were Nick Broomfield, Joan Churchill, Kim Longinotto, and Molly Dineen. This event was filmed by Jude Calvert-Toulmin.

ColinColin Young: In 1964, Colin established the first Department of Visual Anthropology at UCLA where he motivated some outstanding filmmakers to explore the boundaries of observational filmmaking. In 1970 Colin was invited to found a national film school in the UK – the NFTS which he directed from 1970 till 1992, continuing to motivate filmmakers to break boundaries, and confirming his reputation as the godfather of observational filmmaking. He then founded Ateliers du Cinéma Européen which he ran until 1996. He is a BAFTA Fellow and a governor of the NFTS.

Greece is crying

A 10 year old boy fights with his 7 year old sister who’s been beating the younger 3 year old girl. They fight around 3 large suitcases presumably their lifelong belongings against the backdrop of the Acropolis, the ancient ruins of an ancient more hopeful Greece.

But here today, in austerity Greece the boy is now the head of what appears to be an abandoned family, he takes charge and claims authority whilst his mother and father are nowhere to be seen, they will probably have left to search for work or for food, I have no idea if they will return. This is not a normal sight but neither, it appears, is it unusual enough for passers-by to stop and offer any help…

Which means I am the only one who has stopped to observe this short episode from the unfolding Greek tragedy, a part of me wants to step in and control the boy, to stop him from hitting the girl, but I know I can’t and so I continue on my way wondering if this is a future coming to us all.

Around the city small Rapid Response teams of riot police relax around their motorbikes enjoying their cigarettes waiting for the call to action. In the Greece of today there is a heightened sense of fear and anger about what I am told is the seemingly uncontrollable flow of immigrants arriving in their hundreds of thousands from Africa and the Middle-East on route to western Europe – and because of the severe economic recession the majority of Greeks now see this influx as a major problem and want a clampdown on illegal immigration – in a recent newspaper poll nearly half of those questioned wanted all immigrants removed from the country.

But EU law prevents these immigrants from moving on into mainland Europe and with no chance of work many of them are forced to turn to crime. In these tense and austere times it is easy for people to believe stories they are told, and therefore rumour is rife and many locals believe rightly or wrongly that knife attacks are on the increase and that Moroccans are to blame.

The Rapid Response teams are part of the governments answer to these fears and tensions, but they don’t always get it right. Recently a Pakistani professor from Athens university was visiting an immigrant dominated area of the city to give a lecture just as the police team was doing a swoop of the same area against illegal immigrants, and before he knew it he was being bundled into the back of a police van. Protesting his innocence, and explaining that he was in fact a respected university professor the police just laughed and locked the door, to them his colour and origin meant he was obviously an illegal immigrant. He was held for a day before the police finally realised their mistake, issued him with an apology for their behaviour, and released him.

Welcome to the new democratic model possibly coming to a country near you, a broken economy with a broken political system.

As a friend explains to me “The people don’t know where to cast their vote because none of them trust their politicians any-more”. We are at the start of an impossible future where the only way forward is to break with the seemingly never ending cycle of corruption and find a clean start, but how to do this takes a revolution (a Greek Spring), and to do nothing provides Greece with no viable future in or out of Europe.

In “Ammonia” square I see more homeless Greeks collecting discarded cans to recycle for money. I pass a couple sipping from a can of beer, the man is crying intensely and the woman is trying hard to comfort him but she cannot stop his tears. It is an unusual sight but no-one else seems concerned no matter how much the man cries.

Freedom and a normal life

“Sean they are shooting people in the streets of Beirut” said Adad’s message, written to me from the cramped flat I’d visited him in just a couple of days before. The gunfight that had killed 8 in Tripoli had spread ominously to the streets of Beirut just as he had predicted / feared it would.

After being forced to flee from Syria and Assad’s onslaught he thought he had found some sort of safety in the Lebanon, though he always knew it was a relative, delicate safety which could end any-time. His and his family’s situation is made more all the more precarious because he doesn’t have a passport or any papers – if he were to be caught living there he we probably be sent back to Syria and to an end I don’t wish to think about.

But for now Asad keeps to the shadows as he looks for work and money to help feed the family. He locks the gate to his flat keeping Asu inside, the sound of gun crackle seeps in from the distance as Sargon arrives home late from work again. Adad finally settles Asu into his bed but he cannot sleep, disturbed by the rocket propelled grenades exploding in the distance. As if this family (like many other’s all over the region) hadn’t already seen enough danger and death in their desire for freedom and a normal life. “Some days we don’t even have enough money for bread” his message continues… “And now this is happening, where will it all end?”