A political angle on Attenberg


Attenberg –  a political view *While easy to proclaim this the least overtly political film of the three LLUX Prize 2011 finalists, Athina Rachel Tsangari's Attenberg is actually steeped in a particularly Greek backdrop of current events. The €110 billion bailout is conditional on a package of unpopular austerity measures, the consequence of which has been rioting in Athens, expressing popular anger and confusion at their own government and abroad. This is the climate in which the film has been produced.
Tsangari has made a film set against the half-finished building projects of the “old Greece”, as its central character Marina – on the cusp of life – comes to terms with an unknown future. Much like in Greece as a whole, something in the fabric of life is broken in Attenberg.Following a vigorous call for action from all sides in the 12-15th September Strasbourg plenary, on 28th the European Parliament adopted a legislative resolution that is effectively an action plan for the early detection of both internal and external imbalances. The text also contains procedures for the implementation of corrective measures that will be regularly and publicly reviewed at every level of the EU.
A scene in Attenberg between Marina and her father as he speaks of “the old ways” and “the new century” is brought to mind as an example of how we can see the film is set at a crossroads, an impasse. Greece has been thrust into an uncomfortable spotlight due to uncontrolled public spending. The fact that 65% of Europeans are now in favour of the creation of a credit rating agency for the Union speaks as to the level of concern. The question of how Greece was able to conceal its excess borrowing from the intentions of the Maastricht treaty hangs in the air. All this in the face of arguments for and against a gradual default and consequent withdrawal from the euro.
Attenberg is a sort of crystallisation of these fears - using the adolescent trope of apathy through the character of Marina. Perhaps one could even say that the character's disconnection from the world around her is an extension of her nation's relapse into financial external imbalance. Her development of a social conscience is encouraged by her father just before his death from illness, and she ends the film with fresh intent to look beyond her immediate duty of care and towards maturity. This is perhaps how this film expresses the resolve with which Greece and the European Union has begun and must continue to work a way through the crisis.
*by Nick Shaw, British member of '27 Times Cinema'
Via '27 Times Cinema' established in 2010, the LUX Prize gives the opportunity to 27 European young cinema lovers to be substantially involved in the Venice International Film Festival where they can watch, report and reflect upon films.