In his opening speech the festival director, Rutger Wolfson, drew attention to one of the red threads of the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2015 – Everyday Propaganda. This sidebar programme includes screenings and talks all revolving around brainwashing. It got taken to a whole new level with the workshop Make your own propaganda.

Enraged by the profit-driven energy company destroying the local ecosystem in her Australian homeland, filmmaker Anna Broinowski was determined to take action. But she knew little about combating the capitalist evil. So Anna traveled to North Korea to explore the power of propaganda. Aim In High Creation, a hilarious grotesque documentary about her trip kick started the event. To get the basics solid, Anna gave a short lecture with major do’s and don’ts afterwards.

Hands-on experience

Once the golden rules of brainwashing were instilled in the minds of the audience, it was time for the guests to have their take on making a propaganda movie. Flags, soft toys and portraits of widely smiling dictators as props. Fellow team members as actors, some help from the director and voilá. In two and a half hours, the groups created their very own indoctrinating masterpieces. The topics ranged from the harm of processed foods to the freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia.

Making it work

Nathalie Scheffer (20), IBCoM student, shares her experience: “It was really exciting to get the tips from a professional like Anna and give it a go myself right away. We were randomly divided in teams, so you got to work with people you know for half an hour max. Getting everyone’s voice heard and finding a compromise on editing decisions was quite a challenge sometimes.”

A mini-festival

Creation completed, time for the screening. The ruthless judges, Anna and her crew, got to check how well the participants learnt the three main rules of the propaganda movie: start with cheesy naturalistic metaphor, use a lot of loud music and kill the capitalists. The best – “Connecting people” – got an undubbed Korean film as a prize from the jury. KS