As the screen turns black, a voice says: “I can’t imagine how it must be in their home country when they decide to travel to Europe, even though it’s so hard for them.” The lights of the Teatro Principal, a traditional theatre located in the old town of Santiago de Compostela and the main venue for the Festival Cineuropa, turned on, and people started chatting about what they had just seen. As the host of the event went on stage, everybody started switching on their phones, exchanging comments and typing. “As I said at the beginning of the presentation, we will now start sending our questions to the director of this film, Jonas Carpignano, who is now in Brussels and whose answers will be seen on this screen.”
This year’s LUX Film Days highlight has been the simultaneous screening of Mediterranea in eight different European cities: from Brussels to Paris, Seville, Bratislava, Cork, Santiago de Compostela, Lisbon and Aarhus. The screening, followed by a Q&A session with Carpignano live from Brussels, saw the active participation of the attendees at the different venues by live-tweeting questions using the hashtag #LuxPrize (read more).
As reported by Raquel Pérez, on the evening of 11 November, many people in Santiago de Compostela took the opportunity to ask Carpignano about different aspects of his film and to thank him for his work after the simultaneous screening of Mediterranea. Using the hashtag #Luxprize on Twitter, several tweets from eight different European cities showed that socially critical cinema still interests the public. The fact that this is a movie focused on a topic (immigrants crossing into Europe across the Mediterranean Sea) that has been at the centre of a debate almost every day for many years now does not seem to diminish people’s interest in Carpignano’s work. The director asserted via live streaming that a good part of the film is based on the real life of its characters, after which the public began to ask what had happened to them – or “Why does the film end in such an open way?”
Pauline Bayard and Clemence Michalon, French 28 Times Cinema members and LUX Ambassadors (in 2013 and 2014, respectively), also decided to hear from the audience at the Forum des Images in Paris. They distributed small pieces of paper among the attendees to gather everyone’s opinions on the film. After the screening, they recreated the original trailer for Mediterranea by replacing the press quotes with the audience’s thoughts. People’s reactions to the movie ranged from calling it “poignant and relevant” and “a film without complacency about the reality of exile and the violence of migration”, to describing its theme as “an experience of the suffering world putting up an extreme fight”.
It was the first time these correspondents had attended a screening followed by a Q&A session via Twitter, and everyone agreed that this innovative approach enabled by new technologies created a great atmosphere in both cinemas. As Bayard and Michalon commented, “Seeing the tweets from people in other countries was very surprising; it was a beautiful moment of sharing and a very pleasant evening!” As for Santiago, some particular details caught the attention of the audience, especially the soundtrack of the film: “Why Rihanna?” people asked, some in a positive, interested way, others shocked by the choice. Carpignano explained that pop music, like many expressions of art, cinema among others, is able to break down borders, and some singers are listened to all around the globe. To debate these kinds of choices and issues, and do so from geographic locations as distant as these, is also proof of how cinema is able to break down borders and boundaries. “A movie has made citizens from different countries discuss art and social issues,” as Pérez stated.