Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Day We Surrender to the Air Episode II

Africa in the Picture Film Festival
Bioscoop Het Ketelhuis 
Zaal 1          


The Choice of ...
This year, Africa in the Picture asked a few special people to make a shortlist from the festival. 

Giovanca is a talented Dutch singer and songwriter with an Antillean background.

The Day We Surrender To The Air II
"Your genetic identity, that's something I always been concerned. Sometimes in the distance, sometimes very active. Music from CuraƧao, the way my hair was braided as a child, eating what my grandmother cooks. Every time what I see, hear or saw traced back to Africa or Portugal, Spain or even the Netherlands, I really do know exactly how it is. I get more and more behind that everyone has his own quest ... "

Antonio Jose Guzman’s documentary The Day We Surrender To The Air is about the director’s efforts to trace his genetic identity and see to what extent it influences who he is. An analysis of his DNA showed that the director can trace his origins to Africa, Central and South America, as well as Sephardic Jewish Europe.

This documentary, screened at the 12th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival is part of a trilogy. The first part is a video where the director presents the cultural identity of his ancestors. In the second part, he looks at the unexpected similarities he noticed in the peoples of various continents where he searched for his roots.

In the third part, which has yet to be made, Antonio Jose Guzman will continue his search into his Jewish Sephardic past, enriching it with images from Spain, Portugal and Israel. “The fact that I end up in places that have been marked by a strong Sephardic community presence such as Amsterdam and Thessaloniki is interesting”, he commented. He believes that “descent influences what every person is: what we are in reality is ‘international individuals’. We must remember our common descent, which is from Africa”, he stressed. As he explained, in spite of the fact that there have been many films made in the past about multiculturalism and identity, “there is always room for one more film which essentially

Africa”, he stressed. As he explained, in spite of the fact that there have been many films made in the past about multiculturalism and identity, “there is always room for one more film which essentially says that all people are one family – especially in our time, when extreme right-wing elements are increasing in societies all over the world”.

Having grown up in Panama, a country which has lived the dominance of the USA for almost a century, the director admits that his country is: “now nationalistic and chauvinistic”. However, he remains optimistic, saying: “in Europe and Latin America people are struggling to become European. Perhaps this is why they are more European than those who are born in Europe”.

Thessaloniki film festival 2010

About Visuals Arts
NRC Next Summer Issue 2010

In Smart, the collective has arranged a multimedia presentation. There is an inverse boat that serves as a traveling cinema and streets sounds for far away places tingle the ears of the visitors. But by far the most impressive subject of this exhibition is L3 founder Guzman himself with his video work. The film The Day We Surrender To The Air is a gripping report about the search for his own genetic roots.

For the project The Day We Surrender To The Air, Guzman went to the United States to analyze his DNA. The results brought to light that his early family assembled European Sephardic Jew and Muslim peoples of the Sahel, but also Indians and people from Panamanian indigenous tribes belonged to his family tree.

The film became a road movie, which followed the tracks that his ancestors thousands of years ago previously have taken. Guzman walks through the snow in Siberia from where his ancestors once crossed the Bering Strait. He stands on the edge of the Grand Canyon, which his family traversed on their way to Mexico twenty thousand years. And he looked straight through the gate in Senegal, where the slaves were driven towards the ships, taking off to an unknown destination.

Who are we and where do we come from? These are the questions that Guzman's movie again and again emerges. And what does nationality mean if your genetic material can be attributed to almost all parts of the world? Guzman actually say in this movie that the world is one big family. And this is an important statement, in a time where right wing ideas more and more prevail in a growing number of parts of our world.

Sandra Smallenburg
Art Critic

Photo Imaginery
The Day we Surrender 2009-2010