Saturday, March 14, 2015

Adam Curtis at the True False Film Festival

Once a year, Terri and I spend an intense and mind expanding weekend watching documentary films at the True False Film Festival. This year, our film choices included over six hours of fascinating content by the British filmmaker Adam Curtis.

With my background in marketing, I was particularly amused by The Century of Self which explores how the theories of Sigmund Freud and his predecessors in the field of psychoanalysis were adapted by corporations and eventually governments to influence purchasing and voting behavior.

The Century of Self predicts that politicians who target our irrational, primitive impulses rather than appealing to our rational, conscious minds will devolve democracy into a system where narrow self-interests are all that matter. In the thirteen years that have passed since the release of the film, that prediction has proven to be remarkably accurate.

Adam Curtis
Filmmaker Adam Curtis in 2005
We also saw a new film by Curtis. Bitterlake explores the experience of Western governments in Afghanistan since the end of the Second World War. It argues that the world, particularly the Middle East, is more complex than Western policy makers want to believe. The simple narratives that we tell ourselves lead to the failed and destructive policies which are implemented.

The title of the film comes from the 1945 meeting of Franklin D. Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, on a ship in the Great Bitter Lake on the Suez Canal. Agreements made at the meeting laid the groundwork for much of what has happened in the region since.

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