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Unas Preguntas © weltfilm

Unas Preguntas - One Or Two Questions

Documentary by Kristina Konrad, 237 min., Germany/Uruguay 2018

Uruguay in the Late Eighties

In 1986, the Uruguayan Parliament passed a law granting amnesty for all crimes and human rights violations committed by the military and police during the dictatorship (1973-85). This law of impunity prevented the clarification demanded by the relatives of those who had disappeared and been murdered by the former regime. A public initiative arose calling for a referendum in which the law be subject to the vote of the people.

Unas preguntas uses U-matic footage, mostly of interviews recorded on the streets of Uruguay between 1987 and 1989, to present a time capsule of the period. The result is a multifaceted reflection of the country and its inhabitants in which the values of democracy – such as peace, justice, and equality – are continually questioned and re-explored.

Realisation and Camera:
Kristina Konrad
Interviews and Sound:
María Barhoum, Graciela Salsamendi
Montage and Dramaturgy:
René Frölke
Production:
weltfilm GmbH

Festivals

World Premiere: 68 Berlinale/Forum

International Premiere: Cinéma du réel, Paris

20 Bafici, Buenos Aires

36 Festival Internacional de Cine, Montevideo/Uruguay

Lincoln Center: The Art of the Real 2018

Olhar de Cinema, Festival Inter. de Curitiba, Brazil

Sheffield DocFest

ICA Art London

BlackCanvas, Mexico

DocLisboa

Duisburger Filmwoche

RIDM Montréal

35 Torino Film Festival

TRANSCINEMA Festival Internacional de Cine, LIma

Unas Preguntas-presskit EN.pdf

Press

One can hear a plurality of opinions, experience a society in upheaval and recognise the importance of the public sphere as a stage for political debate. An example of democracy in action, of the kind that once again needs defending in many places in the world today. Birgit Kohler, Forum

In UNAS PREGUNTAS , the horror is ultimately more subtle, less visible. It is concealed in the voices of the people interviewed on the street, in their stories of torture, rapes and disappearances from the time of the military dictatorship that has only just ended. These images of the agora recall the horror that lies beneath them, half invisible and half still shining through, yet to vanish entirely and always ready to return.

Perhaps the political struggle takes place more between images than between different discourses, such as between the colours that became the logos of the rival camps in the period leading up to the referendum in Uruguay: the “Greens”, who were in favour of repealing the amnesty for the military, and the “Yellows”, who were opposed. These camps delivered a propaganda battle on television in which two political positions were advertised like just another attractive product among car tires, refrigerators and coffee (UNAS PREGUNTAS shares certain similarities with Pablo Larraín’s NO! here, which is about the advertising campaign for free elections that took place at around the same time, at the end of the Pinochet era in Chile). Even the advertising employed by the Greens, who want to see the military convicted, does not in any way recall the atrocities of the dictatorship; happy people, dancers and combine harvesters appear instead. By continually inserting these television clips into her collection of interviews, Konrad makes the voices gathered in the four hours of film material recognisable as never-ending variations on these two logos – as if Konrad were conducting a survey of customers to find out which product they prefer. The (advertising) image corresponds less to a concrete political message than to a pure signal, aimpulse of a particular colour that lines up the people in different directions.

Philipp Stadelmaier, berlinale forummagazin Film Democracies

Collaborating with the filmmaker René Frölke, who edited One or Two Questions , Konrad has assembled a wealth of U-matic tape footage of Uruguayan citizens being interviewed on the street concerning the impending vote, though the TV interviewers deliberately avoid framing their questions in terms of the question of the hour: “Are you voting yellow [against prosecuting] or green [for prosecuting]?” Rather, they engage their subjects in a manner that simultaneously recalls Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s Chronicle of a Summer and deconstructs the rhetoric deployed by both sides of the debate, which is founded upon the notion that the vote amounts to a choice between “justice” and “peace”: the interviewers ask the Uruguayans what peace means them, is there peace in Uruguay today, whether there’s a distinction between peace and justice, and, of course, why exactly peace and justice must be mutually exclusive in this case? Television commercials—political ads and campy spots shilling for consumer goods alike—are interspersed throughout, introducing an element of overt humor but also crucial context for the interviews; their imagery and messaging played a signifi cant role in the formulation of public opinion regarding whether to litigate the country’s recent dictatorial past. Th e individual responses that the interviewerprotagonists receive illustrate a spectrum of collective thinking about this burning question, a multiplicity of distinctive ideological and pragmatic positions about the costs and benefi ts of pursuing historical justice. But as the fi lm goes on, these pieces of the puzzle cohere to yield an enthralling, even intimate image of an entire nation at a moral crossroads and of democracy—with all of its righteous freedoms and maddening illusions—functioning where it was once nonexistent.

Dan Sullivan, filmcomment Published by Film Society of Lincoln Center

Letterboxd reviews:

One or Two Questions is an engrossing, powerful, and frequently funny look at democracy in action. Film society of Lincoln Center

Cinema as a platform for democracy in its infancy. Street as a stage of public forum. Television as a machine of propaganda. It's important that Konrad and editor René Frölke keep the footage in their original form so we get to see how a conversation develops in its entirety. A simple but essential question, "What is peace?" can initiate many different aspects of people's opinions at the time. Uforock

 A mesmerizing trip into the political mindset of a whole country. The contradictions, the ignorance and the open wounds that still bleeds are exposed via gestures, painted walls and the voices of the people who have to choice between reconcilation or justice. Along with Beckerman's 'The Waldheim Waltz' this is another example of great political cinema that use  archive in order to exorcisize the ghost that haunts the present. Lucas Granero

A great portrait of the frailty of democracy. The interviews become tiring, sure, but what worth would such a film have if it didn't allow a substantial number of people to have their due screentime? Diogo Vale

Four hours may sound like a tall order for a Monday night in NYC, but every second of Kristina Konrad’s extraordinary, urgent ONE OR TWO QUESTIONS—playing tonight at @FilmLinc’s Art of the Real—is well worth it.

What emerges is not a televisual mishmash of stock images and sound bites, but the rare archival film that actually trusts its material, a work of the most profound respect for those who become, in varying degrees of complicity, the subject of media images. It is an eminently diligent, honorable attempt to let the people speak—even if it is too late—and not a second of it is superfluous.  Leo Goldsmith, Artforum

Más allá de lo abstracto que pueda resultarles la interrogación, las reacciones y respuestas de los entrevistados son formidables gracias a la diversidad. No hay dos personas que coincidan en respuesta y se deja ver cómo la situación política los ha atravesado y dividido de tal manera que dejó marca a toda una generación en el Uruguay.

El documental se extiende por casi 4 horas, cuestión que puede parecer un desafío pero, queda claro que la intención de Konrad reside en respetar la pluralidad voces sin importar la duración del documental.

Unas Preguntas es un documental de vista obligatoria para poder entender muchas aristas de lo que constituye vivir en democracia. Marina Ceppi, asl

Unas preguntas, se destaca por la originalidad de mostrar más de cuatro horas de material casi sin editar. La camara se acerca lxs entrevistadxs a través de primerísimos primeros planos, en los que se pierde el foco y vuelve, como si nada. Por momentos, realiza cortes abruptos cuando la entrevista se está profundizando. Las publicidades y propagandas tampoco se muestran por completo sino que pasan unas tras otras como en un zapping, como si se quisiera resaltar la falta de focalización sobre la temática. La técnica audiovisual forma parte de la construcción de la (intuída) tesis del documental: se puede mostrar todo sin develar nada, se puede hablar mucho, sin decir nada. Se puede desear la paz sin la justicia. Se puede votar sin realmente deliberar. Agustina Osorio, revista caligari

Todo este marco político e histórico que se ve a lo largo del film, trae a colación dos preguntas que se repiten a menudo ¿Qué es la justicia? ¿Qué es la paz?, sin dudas, se busca una definición de estos dos interrogantes y cada entrevistado tiene su respuesta dependiendo de su propia idiosincrasia. No se busca una verdad absoluta, ese no es el objetivo, no importa cómo define el diccionario a estas palabras, sino concientizar al espectador que debemos tratar de aproximarnos a sacar nuestras conclusiones a esas respuestas y que sean de una buena manera. Aunque para un concepto colectivo y aplicable a una sociedad falte todavía mucho tiempo. Nunca más, escribiendocine

Para los que no recuerdan cómo terminó ese referéndum, dejaré la respuesta en suspenso. Quizás le agregue un elemento de intriga más a este muy buen retrato de la América Latina de esa época, con todas sus contradicciones. Distintas, pero no tanto, a las de ahora. DIEGO LERER, otros cines

Unas preguntas va mutando en su estructura desde una pequeña pregunta hasta transformarse en entrevistas cortas para entender la fuerte polarización, donde claramente se notaba una fuerte manipulación y desinformación de la población, y donde mayormente se aludía a un reinado del terror en caso de la abolición de la ley, lo cual se acentuaba con distintos comerciales de la época que mostraban la importancia de la televisión en la formación de opinión. Entre la parodia y el capitalismo galopante que reinaría en la Sudamérica de los 90, los comerciales de televisión sirven además como una forma de descanso en medio de un intenso metraje de cuatro horas. Aldo Padilla, Desistfilm cinéma du réel 2018

Unas preguntas también se asemeja a La batalla de Chile por la extensión que requiere la consideración de temas complejos con profundidad: cuatro horas y media en el caso de la película de Guzmán –que está dividida en tres partes independientes, cada una de la duración convencional de un largometraje–; casi cuatro horas exactas en el de Konrad, que se desarrolla sin interrupciones. Eso es lo que le da un aire de grandeza a Unas preguntas, que fue grabada por un pequeño equipo de mujeres. Quizás en ese momento no eran conscientes de que su material iba a servir para que el cine escribiera la historia del que pudo ser un acontecimiento trascendental para la democratización de América Latina.      Pablo Gamba, desistfilm bafici 2018

¿Qué legitimidad puede tener un estado que comete actos terribles contra los mismos ciudadanos a los que debería servir y no permite que nadie fiscalice las actuaciones y las responsabilidades políticas de su clase dirigente y sus esbirros? Estas y muchas otras ideas son planteadas de manera sencilla entre lo sutil y lo más directo por los incontables testimonios, encuentros y rencillas recogidos durante el metraje de un documental en cuyo montaje se puede entrever una realidad transversal con la de España en la actualidad que compartimos como desafío trágico inconcluso con muchas otras naciones en la historia reciente. Ramón Rey, cine maldito

 

Sem entrar no mérito do voto, secreto e obrigatório, o trio de amigas expôs a ignorância típica de qualquer população que fica privada de crítica por mais de uma década. Também mostrou o conservadorismo arraigado na classe média latino-americana. Em alguns trechos, se aproxima muito do clássico Batalha de Chile, de Patricio Guzmán, sobre o processo de radicalização no Chile do início dos anos 1970. Noutros, nos vemos diante das marchas verdeamarelas do Brasil contemporâneo. Ainda assim, mérito maior está na amarração intelectual que o filme oferece ao analisar a disputa da narrativa. Um processo quase sempre injusto: a certa altura, por exemplo, uma transmissão ao vivo de uma partida de futebol é usada para veicular mensagens de apoio ao conservador voto amarelo. José Trajano, Ultrajano

De todo modo, estas imagens fornecem conteúdo muito rico para uma análise de como a mídia televisiva, sob uma capa de alegada objetividade, insere suas posições fora dos horários de publicidade oficial das duas correntes – como quando escancara sua adesão aos amarelos em letreiros durante jogos de futebol entre os times mais populares do Uruguai. Um tema sob medida para a reflexão dos brasileiros hoje, além da continuidade da impunidade aos crimes de militares durante a ditadura. Neusa Barbosa, Curitiba

A enfática raridade de Algumas Perguntas é a concomitância que Konrad atinge ao construir um filme que evidentemente parcial, de posições políticas muito bem definidas (inclusive em relação ao próprio referendo), e ao mesmo tempo perfeitamente respeitoso, empático e inclusivo com a parcela de seus entrevistados que não compartilham de tais certezas, ou que nutrem certezas opostas. Pedro Monte, Cobertura 7º Olhar de Cinema

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