This Tuesday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m., the Visual & Critical Studies program will present a screening of the documentary PROBLEMA, directed by Ralf Schmerberg. The screening was organized by VCS student Maddy Gentile. (You can read an earlier post about Maddy here.)
PROBLEMA documents the “Table of Free Voices,” an event that took place on September 9th, 2006, in the Bebelplatz in Berlin. Over the course of nine hours, an international group of 112 participants gathered around a single, massive round table and provided responses to 100 questions submitted by people from around the world. Topics spanned the realms of politics, economics, religion, ecology, and personal and global ethics. Respondents included writers, philosophers, scientists, artists, activists, and executives from both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. Each person’s replies to the questions were streamed live online, and also filmed and posted at the site droppingknowledge.org within three days of the discussion.
The result was a hybrid art event and global summit designed to reflect not only what we know about the world around us, but how much more each of us still has to learn. (In light of this, the round table’s location was especially evocative; the Bebelplatz is most well-known as the site where a massive Nazi-sponsored book burning took place on May 10, 1933.)
The film PROBLEMA serves as both a document of the round table and a distillation of some of the most important insights that arose as it unfolded. Boiling down over 1,000 hours of raw footage into a 97-minute narrative and focusing on seventeen of the issues addressed by the respondents, it attempts to grapple with a pressing but incredibly complex question: who are we in the 21st century?
To learn more about the Table of Free Voices and PROBLEMA, check out the film’s site. In addition to the original event, it includes information about dropping knowledge, the online social media project that formed the matrix for the round table discussion in Berlin. The site also includes links to download a detailed film synopsis and a script of its dialogue.
Tuesday’s screening of PROBLEMA will be held at 6:30 p.m. in room 101C of 133/141 West 21st Street in New York City. It is free and open to the public. See you there.