EVOLUTION OF VIOLENCE

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by Fritz Ofner

grade: 8

No additional captions are needed in Evolution of Violence. The images speak for themselves. Cinema of reality in its purest sense. And this courageous work by Fritz Ofner, with its strongly minimalist mise-en-scène, wants above all to denounce a system that has been going on for far too long.

A country and its scars

The consequences of a war, it is known, can drag on for years. One can only vaguely imagine, then, what might happen if the war itself were to last more than thirty years. This, for example, is the case of the civil war in Guatemala, where the conflict only ended in 1994 (after a good thirty-six years) and where, even today, people struggle to restart a normal life in a world where violence is seen as the only weapon to guarantee public order. In this regard, documentary filmmaker Fritz Ofner, in the making of his Evolution of Violence – directed in 2011, presented at the Diagonale 2012 and, following the cancellation of the Diagonale 2020, included in the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished – went to Guatemala in order to film, with his camera, the current conditions in which people live.

And so, this Evolution of Violence immediately becomes a precious document of a contemporary reality, but about which – with the exception of brief newspaper reports – we still know too little. And it is precisely during this long journey that the director’s camera silently witnesses every unimaginable ugliness. Indeed, alongside desperate parents mourning their children killed by the police, we see entire families struggling to get food to feed their children, not forgetting isolated mass graves where people go to bury their beloved ones, or even ex-servicemen who still have nightmares at night after all the torture they have had to execute.

No additional captions are needed in Evolution of Violence. Or, rather, only a final caption comments on what we have just seen on the screen. For the rest, the images speak for themselves. Cinema of reality in its purest sense. And this courageous work by Fritz Ofner, with a strongly minimalist mise-en-scène, wants above all to denounce a system that has been going on for too long. A system in which numerous economic interests also play a part, with the United States itself personally involved in the cultivation and trade of bananas.

The director, for his part, tries to be as invisible as possible in this film. Only rarely do people turn directly to the camera to tell their stories. What we mainly see are scenes filmed on the streets of the city, documents of what happens even under the eyes of many TV reporters’ cameras.

All this results in a valuable document from which one can see above all the power of a people who, despite the many past and present sufferings, never stop reacting and making sure, every day, that reality can finally change. Just as the numerous associations dealing with violence against women are doing. And Fritz Ofner, for his part, with this honest and well-balanced Evolution of Violence has made his message heard loud and clear. And it will certainly not be forgotten so soon.

Original title: Evolution der Gewalt
Directed by: Fritz Ofner
Country/year: Austria / 2011
Running time: 77’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Fritz Ofner
Cinematography: Fritz Ofner
Produced by: FreibeuterFilm

Info: the page of Evolution of Violence on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Evolution of Violence on freibeuterfilm.com; the page of Evolution of Violence on iMDb