HELSINKI DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL 2019: “I don’t hold a weapon, I only carry a camera. That´s a kind of weapon, or at least, that’s what I think”

Article written by Gloria De Felice 

DocPoint 2019, The Documentary Film Festival in Helsinki started on Monday, January 28, and ended on February 3.

The event began through an inauguration party in Bio Rex Cinema with the documentary Gods of Molenbeek  by Reetta Huhtanen. The film talks about two young children’s lives in the Molenbeek area, a suburb of Brussels famous for being a nest of Islamic terrorism.

I also had the opportunity this year to be able to participate regularly and actively in the whole event, watching several movies.

I chose to review four documentaries that I have appreciated and that I would also like to recommend to a wider audience. I am honest and perhaps biased, but I would like to admit that I was satisfied with the selection of Italian films this year.


THE SILENCE OF OTHERS by Robert Bahar, Almudena Carracedo

The film focuses on a tragic reality now almost forgotten in the world. Nowadays, the historical 1977 Law of Amnesty for many young Spanish citizens does not mean anything. But there are still thousands of people who remember well those sad and dreadful years. The documentary deals with various issues that match with the time when Francisco Franco was in the government as a general, politician, and dictator. During his first dictatorship, thousands of people were killed, and their bodies buried in mass graves, without the possibility of being found by their loved ones. Nowadays still many people are looking for the remains of their far relatives. Their only wish is to have a chance to remember them gracefully.

During the 70s there were Francoist people such as Billy el Niño, who tortured many civilians. Nowadays, this man lives his life without any punishment, regardless of what he did over 40 years ago.

In addition, during that time lots of single mothers received the unpleasant news that their children were stillborn. However, those women never had proof that their sons or daughters passed away. Their children were abducted by the government. The fate of these children is still nowadays unknown.

The documentary put the focus on 6 years of searching these unsolved cases. However, it also portrays people´s stories, telling what some Spanish people have witnessed and experienced, in addition to breathtaking images of a Spain that doesn’t forget.

This movie, produced by Almodóvar’s brothers, won the audience award (Panorama) at the 68th Berlin Film Festival.

STILL RECORDING by Saeed Al Batal and Ghiath Ayoub 

Directed by two young Syrian directors: Saeed Al Batal and Ghiath Ayoub. Winner of many prizes at the 2018 Venice Film Festival.

A dramatic documentary that really touched me. It was an evidence of the big power of journalism, technology, and dissemination.

Saeed lives in Al Ghouta, in an eastern suburb of Damascus, and Miland joins him from Damascus.

According to The Syrian Observatory for Human Right, between March 2011 and February 2018, 12783 civilians were killed in East Ghouta. The film has parts of around 450 hours of shooting between 2011 and 2015.

“I don’t hold a weapon, I only carry a camera. That´s a kind of weapon, or at least, that’s what I think” said one of the two filmmakers.

The young directors don´t have an idea how to use a gun but they are able to capture everything that happens around them, including the emotions, the fear, the good moments, which are many in a friendly company, regardless the circumstances.

At one point in the shooting, the boys realize that the camera took over and became a way to fight that terrible war which is they are living.

This film portrays a reality that often news don´t tell about and it witnesses the daily life, like bloggers, YouTubers, and Instagrammers usually do.

But what will you see is not a horror movie, everything is happening for real. More than 10 people lost their lives during these shootings.

I not only recommend watching it, but I suggest all journalists, filmmakers etc to watch it as a tool for thinking. Technology devices could really change the world thanks to the web era we are living in.


I HAD A DREAM by Claudia Tosi

As an Italian, I recommend this documentary to whoever is interested in examining and knowing the overall outline of Italian politics over the last 10 years.

The film talks about the professional experiences and the goals of former parliamentarian Manuela Ghizzoni and the alderman Daniela De Pietri since 2008.

During those years, there were lots of political changes, conflicting ideas between citizens, but there is something which has never changed: The thought.

There is one constant fear that will bring many Italian citizens to elect politicians such as the today Minister of Interior Matteo Salvini.

Why in a place like Italy many citizens hate refugees? When did everything start? What was there before?

This film is a cue to answer many of these questions in a country like Italy that, even if it not that big, holds such many cultural diversities, like food, dialects, and thoughts. The main questions that the two protagonists of Tosi´s work, is: Do democracy and politic still exist?


MY HOME, IN LIBYA by Martina Melilli

My Home, in Libya is another example of a documentary that is not only st inspirational, but also engaging.

I appreciated the length of the film of about one hour, shorter than other documentaries I watched during  DocPoint. It was definitely easier for spectators to stay focused.

The documentary tells about something in Italian history that’s almost forgotten: the expulsion of the Italian immigrants from Libya.

The disgrace began after the 1st of September 1969, when a young Mu´ammar Gheddafi conquered the country with a coup. During summer 1970, an expulsion decree came up: more than 20 thousand Italians were forced to go back to Italy. They were sorted in refugees camps in various Italian regions. They lost most of their belongings. Libya confiscated everything.

The documentary story is told by Martina, the main character and director. Her grandparents were from Tripoli and now they live in Padova. Their past memories are still bright. They retell their nephew the stories of their time in Libya that they haven’t forgotten.

Martina is able to rebuild the past of her family in Libya through photos, words, memories and a special “pen friend” in Tripoli, called Mahmoud. She is able to see the same street where her family used to live and hang out. Mahmoud sends her photos and video of Tripoli, by transmitting his feelings, fears, In his country, international journalism doesn’t really exist. He feels likes in a cage, because he can’t leave the country, and Martina can´t go. A sea divides them.

Dreaming is amazing, and, sometimes, closing the eyes and not thinking help to escape problems in this capitalistic society. But also, there are people who use technology to teach and share news, to make this a better world.

I should draw a very important conclusion from this.  Nowadays, we are constantly curious to see the news that friends and acquaintances publish online. We are manipulated by the marketings news, by influencers that promote makeup, infusions, miraculous products…

But there is also another side. There are people who use social networks for the sake of informing what is right to know about certain topics, what fake news can never show.

Today, documentary directors, reporters and whoever want to show something can do it with one simple technological tool: the smartphone.

The world is divided into two sides: there is one who uses the technology to show a life that doesn’t exist but many people love to watch. Dreaming is amazing, and, sometimes, closing the eyes and not thinking help to escape problems in this capitalistic society. But also, there are people who use technology to teach and share news, to make this a better world.

A festival like DocPoint supports this kind of cultural knowledge, involving lots of people not only in Finland but in the entire world.


Text: Gloria De Felice


Photos: DocPoint Press Kit

Website: DocPoint 


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