A cinematic interpretation of the world's largest round table gathering, PROBLEMA is a visually imaginative,
thought-provoking invitation to a world of global dilemmas. Spanning seventeen questions confronting who we
are and where we're going, the film follows the insights, perceptions, reflections and views of over 100 people
from more than 50 nations sat together in one circle.
'problema' from Latin problema (genitiveproblematis) 'problem', 'puzzle', 'enigma', 'question proposed for solution', from Ancient Greek πρόβλημα (problema, 'obstacle'), from προβάλλω (proballo, 'to throw or lay something in front of someone', 'to put forward'), from prefix προ- (pro-, 'in front of') + βάλλω (ballo, 'to throw', 'to cast', 'to hurl').
What is today's most important unreported story?
— Anonymous, USA
Should we have the right to choose where we live?
— Judy Twedt, 24, Denver, USA
What are the basic dignities that each human being deserves and why do we let so many people go without them?
— Claire Mackintosh, 25, Brisbane, Australia
What if all Chinese people want a car?
— Andrew, 22, Frankfurt, Germany
How does consumer culture actually influence the personalities, the ways people live, the way they think within a given culture? How does it become part of us and what does it mean to be able to resist that visual and verbal culture that seems to me is always reducing and simplifying reality into something that can be easily bought and sold?
— Siri Hustvedt, New York, USA
Does our wealth depend on the Third World being poor?
— Tom Henze, 30, Berlin, Germany
Is there a modern version of colonialism?
— Adrienn Meszaros, 30, Budapest, Hungary
Why do we still believe more in nationality than in humanity?
— Katharina, 24, Germany
How do we stop our governments from going to war?
— Glen, Capetown, South Africa
Why is there no peace in the Middle East yet?
— Moise Marabout, 23, Agades, Niger
Why is an Iranian nuclear bomb supposed to be more dangerous than an American, Israeli or French?
— Wolfgang Jost, 23, Berlin, Germany
Between non-violent resistance and armed struggle where do we go? What is effective? What is the right thing to do? Do we need a biodiversity of resistance?
— Arundhati Roy, New Delhi, India
What does courage mean now?
— Sara Francis, 35, Dublin, Ireland
What can I do, and tell others to do, to stop global warming?
— Nancy Clemons, 57, Cameron, Missouri, USA
Can a person be perceptive enough to see our planet in a way that tells them that they too are part of nature?
— Anonymous, USA
What is God's religion?
— Miraj Khaled, 30, Dhaka, Bangladesh
What are the myths that we need to create to change the world for the better?
— Kieth Dierkx, 48, Piedmont, California, USA
Founder, The Kudirat Initiative for Democracy
Cofounder, The Wooster Group
Visual Archive (Film)
4 Elements (Jiska Rickels, courtesy of Fu Works) 500 Nations (W. T. Morgan, John Pohl, courtesy of Tig Productions) Algeria's Bloody Years (courtesy of Article Z) Die Alpen (courtesy of ORF) Amazon (courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films) Baraka (Ron Fricke, courtesy of Magidson Films, Inc.) Barefoot Gen (Keiji Nakazawa, courtesy of Keiji Nakazawa) Battle in Seattle (Stuart Townsend, courtesy of Insight Film Studios) Beautiful Palestine a dropping knowledge film Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt (Walter Ruttmann, courtesy of Eva Riehl) The Big Sellout (Florian Opitz, courtesy of Majestic Filmverleih-GmbH) Black Sea, Voyage of Healing (Peter Davis, courtesy of Villonfilms) Bosna! (Alain Ferrari, Bernard-Henri Lévy, courtesy of Bernard-Henri Lévy) The Charcoal People (Nigel Noble, courtesy of Magic Lantern Media) Die Chinesischen Schuhe (Tamara Wyss, courtesy of Mediopolis Berlin) Chocolate City by Dropping Knowledge Clown in Kabul (Enzo Ballesrieri and Stefano Moser) Consolation Service (Eija-Liisa Ahtila, courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery) Crossover (Kip Konwiser, Kern Konwiser, courtesy of Eyes of the World Media) A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash (Basil Gelpke, Ray McCormack, Reto Caduff, courtesy of Lava Productions) Dar Fur – War for Water (Tomo Križnar, courtesy of Bela Film) Darwin's Nightmare (Hubert Sauper, courtesy of Mille et Une Productions) The Devil Came On Horseback (Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg, courtesy of Break Thru Films) Devil's Miner (Keith Davidson, Richard Ladkani, courtesy of Doc & Film International) Dispatches: China's Stolen Children (courtesy of True Vision) Earthlings (Shaun Moson, courtesy of Earth Nation) Everest (courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films) The Eye of the Day (Leonard Retel Helmrich, courtesy of Scarabee Filmproducties Nederland) Extreme Engineering: Tokyo's Sky City (Peter Frumkin & Olympia Stone) Faraway, So Close! (Wim Wenders, copyright Reverse Angle Library) Fourth World War (Rick Rowley, courtesy of Big Noise Films) Flow: For Love of Water (Irena Salina, courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories and The Group Entertainment) Gambling, Gods and LSD (Peter Mettler, courtesy of Grimthorpe Film) The Heart of Jenin (Leon Geller, Marcus Vetter, courtesy of Eikon Media GmbH) Illicit: The Dark Trade (Helen Fitzwilliam, Moisés Naím, courtesy of Moisés Naím) Inside the Living Body (Karen Goodman, Kirk Simon, courtesy Pioneer Productions) Iraq in Fragments (James Longley, courtesy of Daylight Factory and Typecast Films) Ivan the Terrible (Sergei Eisenstein, courtesy of Mosfilm) Jakub (Jana Sevcikova, courtesy of LS Production) Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, courtesy of Loki Films) Dar Fur – War for Water (Tomo Križnar, courtesy of Bela Film) Dschungelburger (Peter Heller, courtesy of Filmkraft) Hommage À Noir (Ralf Schmerberg, courtesy of triggerhappyproductions) The Hour of Furnaces (Fernando Solanas, courtesy of Solanas Productions) Kandahar (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, courtesy of Makhmalbaf Productions) Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, courtesy of the Sante Fe Institute for Regional Education) Liberia: An Uncivil War (Jonathan Stack, courtesy of Gabriel Films) Life and Debt (Stephanie Black, courtesy of Stephanie Black) Logorama (H5, courtesy of Autour de Minuit, H5, Addcit Films and CNC) Die Macht der Gene (a Wall to Wall release Television Production) Make Me Normal (Jonathan Smith, courtesy of Century Films Ltd. and C4I) Manufactured Landscapes (Jennifer Baichwal, courtesy of Mercury Films Inc.) Marx und Eisenstein im Gleichen Haus (Alexander Kluge, courtesy of DCTP GmbH) Matheran: Eine Hillstation in Indien (Bernd Schmidt-Burbach, courtesy of Progress Film Verleih GmbH) Megacities (Michael Glawogger, courtesy of Paul Thiltges Distributions) Megastructures: Dubai's Dream Palace (courtesy of Darlow Smithson Productions) Metropolis (rights: Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, sales: Transit Film GmbH) Milosevic on Trial (Michael Christoffersen, courtesy of Team Productions) The Miracle of Life (Mikael Agaton, Lennart Nilsson, courtesy of SVT Sales) ...More Than 1000 Words (Solo Avital, courtesy of MOOVIE the art of entertainment GmbH) My Country, My Country (Laura Poitras, courtesy of Praxis Films) Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty, courtesy of the Flaherty/International Film Seminars, Inc.) Napoleon (Abel Gance, courtesy of Cinematheque Francais) Das Netz (Lutz Dammbeck, courtesy of Dammbeck Film Production Inc.) Night and Fog (Alain Resnais, courtesy of Argos Films) Nosferatu (rights: Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, sales: Transit Film GmbH) Original Child Bomb (Carey McKenzie, Holly Becker, animation of child on horse by Emily Hubley & Jeremiah Dickey) Painting Reality (Akiz, courtesy of Iepe B.T. Rubingh) Poem (Ralf Schmerberg, courtesy of triggerhappyproductions) Powaqqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, courtesy of the Santa Fe Institute for Regional Education) Promises (Carlos Bolado, Justine Shapiro, B.Z. Goldberg, courtesy of Promises Film Project, aerial footage courtesy of Beni Mor) Proteus: A Nineteenth Century Vision (David Lebrun, courtesy of Lebrun Films) Die das Rentier tanzen (Michael Dürr, Erich Kasten, courtesy of Michael Dürr & Erich Kasten) The Road to Guantanamo (Mat Whitecross, Michael Winterbottom, courtesy of Revolution Films) Sacrifice (Ellen Bruno, courtesy of Bruno Films) Sand and Sorrow (Paul Freedman, courtesy of Human Rights Watch) The Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord) Survival: The Plant That Cures Malaria (courtesy of Rockhopper TV) The Take (Avi Lewis, Naomi Klein, courtesy of Barna-Alper Productions Inc.) Trinity and Beyond (courtesy of VCE, Inc.) Trouble: Teatime in Heiligendamm a film by the Mindpirates Summer Camp Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (Craig Baldwin, courtesy of Other Cinema) Triumph des Willens (Bundesarchiv / Transit Film GmbH) Unreported World (courtesy of Quicksilver Media) Viktor and Rolf: Because We're Worth It! (Femke Wolting, courtesy of Viktor & Rolf) Visions of War: Hitler in His Own Words (courtesy of Demand Media & Alba Home Vision) Was macht Werner in Hongkong? (courtesy of Bernd Schmidt-Burbach) Water Wrackets by Peter Greenaway We Are Together (Paul Taylor, courtesy of Rise Films) We Feed the World (Erwin Wagenhofer, courtesy of Allegro Film) Why We Fight (Eugene Jarecki, courtesy of Charlotte Street Films) Workingman's Death (Michael Glawogger, courtesy of Paul Thiltges Distributions) A World of Conflict (Jeffrey Porter, footage of Iraq courtesy of Kevin Sites) W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (Dusan Makavejev, courtesy of Janus Films)
Visual Archive (Art & Photography)
2003.2.1 by Fang Lijun (courtesy of Sammlung Hoffmann) 2004-2006 by Fang Lijun (courtesy of Today Art Museum, Beijing) Abu Ghraib (Fernando Botero, courtesy of Marlborough Gallery) The Ancient of Days by William Blake Animal Locomotion by Eadward Muybridge Arte Sacro de Maracaibo by Fernando Bracho Bracho Pathway to Infinity (High Overview, Nazca, Peru) by Marilyn Bridges Ascending Stairs by Eadward Muybridge Assault Under Gas by Otto Dix The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes Baloon Debate by Banksy Bloodlines: The Big Family by Zhang Xiaogang Blow Up by Oli Gerscht (courtesy of Mummery + Schnelle Gallery) Blut und Eisen by John Heartfield Bühnenentwurf für Mozart's 'Die Zauberflöte' by K. F. Schinkel Christ Giving His Blessing by Fernando Gallego Christ of Valles by Salvador Dali Circles Within A Circle by Vassily Kandinsky Collective Invention by René Magritte Dangerous garden by Luis Vidal Dante and The Divine Comedy by Domenico di Michelino Evening Landscape with Two Figures by Casper David Friedrich The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by John Martin Doubting Thomas by Caravaggio Drawings by Emma Kunz Earth Hour by Billy Ivy (courtesy of the World Wildlife Federation of Canada) The Execution of Emperor Maximilian by Édouard Manet Exploding Raphaelesque Head by Salvador Dali The False Mirror by René Magritte Faust by Rembrandt The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man by Salvador Dali Guernica by Pablo Picasso Home by Anthony Gormley Illustrations to The Divine Comedy by Gustave Doré In the Car by Roy Lichtenstein The Intervention of the Sabine Women by Jacques-Louis David James and Other Apes by James Mollison (courtesy of Chris Boot Ltd.) The Book of Job: An Engraving by William Blake Krieg und Leichen: Die Letzte Hoffnung der Reichen by John Heartfield Kristall Kaleidoskop by Kage Mikrofotografie Lady Godiva by John Collier The Last Judgement by Rogier van der Weyden Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix Das Lichtgebet von Fidus by Hugo Höppner The Little Deer by Frida Kahlo Crucifixion and Apotheosis of the Ten Thousand Martyrs by Vittore Carpaccio Massacre in Korea by Pablo Picasso McDonald's Nation by Chris Woods (courtesy of Gallery Jones) Milton, A Poem by William Blake Minuit by Miles Aldridge (courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery) Moses Breaks the Tablets of the Law by Gustave Doré Naissance d'une Galaxie by Max Ernst Nagasaki Bombing by Yosuke Yamahata (courtesy of Shogo Yamahata) No Title by Louise Bourgeois No. 1 by Yang Shaobin (courtesy of Alexander Ochs Galleries) OMO TRIBES by Hans Sylvester Orthodoxymoron by Robbie Conal Die Offenbarung by Henry de Waroquier Die Pest by Arnold Böcklin Portrait of Pope Innocent X. by Diego Velázquez Pygmy by Jean-Pierre Hallet P420083 by Kage Mikrofotografie Running Skeletons (After Muybridge) by Nick Veasey Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco Goya Several Circles by Vassily Kandinsky Spatial Construction No. 9 (The Circle in the Circle) by Alexandro Rodchenko Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Francis Bacon Study of Clouds by Michael Wutky Sun and Life by Frida Kahlo Sun Hopes by Joseph Cory Sun Over The Park by J. F. Willumsen Sun Tunnels by Nancy Holt Tank in Bratislava by Ladislav Bielik Tarifa by Daniel Richter (courtesy of Contemporary Fine Arts) The Tower of Babel by Pieter Breugel Untitled No. 2 by Fang Lijun Untitled by Yang Shaobin (courtesy of Ralf Schmerberg) Untitled by Banksy Untitled by Oliviero Toscani The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci Vesuvius from Portici by Joseph Wright of Derby The Widow I by Käthe Kollwitz Woman with Veil by Odilon Redon The Yellow Baron by Jonathan Meese
Visual Archive Courtesy of
ABC News Videosource
Agence France-Presse (AFP)
BBC Motion Gallery
Bureau du Tibet, Paris
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Chronos Media GmbH
Discovery Footage Source
European Space Agency (ESA)
Hessischer Rundfunk (HR)
The Laogai Research Foundation
The Library of Congress
The National Labor Committee
Rue des Archives
Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive
Studio Hamburg Distribution & Marketing GmbH
Thought Equity Motion
United States Air Force
United States Coast Guard
United States Customs and Border Protection
United States Department of Defense
United States Department of the Treasury
United States National Archives
Visual Concept Entertainment
WGBH Media Library and Archives
World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Franz Lustig Nicola Pecorini Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein Nana Yuriko
Sound Design by
Visual Research Supervisors
Assembly Editing, Translation & Subtitling
Elinore Burke Jeremy Cowie
Lasse Jensen Brian Kiel
Irene Mogollon Megumi Nishikura
Tycho Pfäfflin Kareth Schaffer
Yang Song Thomas Thistlethwaite
Visual Research & Clearance
Rachel de Joode
Cecily Hamilton Baillie Fernanda Goriba
Max Merz Judith Landkammer
Mariana Polke de Castro
Assistant Online Editors
ARRI Film & TV Berlin
Sound Mix Technician
Producer at Das Werk
Title Design by
Executive Assistant to Ralf Schmerberg
Mindpirates Project Manager
Bureau N, Silke Neumann & Moritz Estermann
performed by Morpho Cinetose
written by Simon Brasset
courtesy of Morpho Cinetose
published by deepindub.org
courtesy of Kranky
published by Kranky Records
Plan, Steel, Drive
performed by Chris Martin & Kinski
courtesy of Subpop Records
published by Cargo Records
courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment GmbH
published by Universal Music/Rondor Music
Water (Part Two)
performed by Steamhammer
published by Bellaphon Germany
performed by Mosermeyerdöring
courtesy of Mosermeyerdöring
published by Ballhaus Entertainment
Enter the Heretic
performed by Raz Mesinai
courtesy of Asphodel Ltd.
pubished by Asphodel Records
Miracle of Love
courtesy of Young God Records
published by Young God Records
courtesy of Universal Music
published by Essex Music
Annette Vande Gorne
performed by Annette Vande Gorne
published by YMX MeDIA
Ti, Ki Izziva
performed by Laibach
courtesy of Cherry Red Records
published by Universal Music Ltd.
performed by Mosermeyer
courtesy of Mosermeyer
published by Ballhaus Entertainment
The Table of Free Voices
Assistant Director, Logistics
Rachel de Joode
Valerie Stahl von Stromberg
Deputy Director, Communications
Astrid von Diechmann
Hogan & Hartson Raue LLP
Melinda Ann Farrell
D.F.K.I. Chief Administrator
Software Development Manager
Software Development Administrator
Senior Software Engineer
Assistant Software Engineer
Assistant Content Developers
Elizabeth de Sousa Pinto
Translation & Transcription by
Zaki Al Saadawi
Urbain Atsague Tchino
Elizabeth de Sousa Pinto
Ana Leiner Rivera
Marcelo Matoso Silveira
The Table of Free Voices Volunteers
Gita Cooper-van Ingen
Oliver Rizzi Carlson
Arist von Hehn
Marius von Holleben
Maria Elena Zayas
Guest Hospitality by
Humboldt University of Berlin
Hotel InterContinental Berlin
Hotel de Rome
Aktion Weisses Friedensband
Ashoka BiG Imagination Group
The City of Berlin Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung
Cinema for Peace The Club of Budapest
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GTZ)
Deutsche Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz (DFKI) The European Institute for the Media
The Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA International)
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE) The Goethe-Institut (GI)
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
The International Forum on Globalization (IFG) Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin
Internet Archive Link TV
Media Access Project n-tv
Outpost Digital Peace Women Across the Globe
People for the American Way Pleon GmbH
@radical.media Rainforest Action Network
Schmidt und Kaiser Kommunikationsberatung The Stewart R. Mott Foundation
Teen Talking Circles Tibet House
Tides Center triggerhappyproductions
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (ZKM)
The Mark and Sharon Bloome Foundation
The John M. O'Quinn Foundation
The Joy Family Foundation
The Wallace Global Fund
Volkswagen AG & everyone who ever gave us a donation
Arik W. Ascherman
Kieth Dierkx & everyone who ever gave us a question
Very Special Thanks
Sabine Christiansen Robbie Conal
Ute & Roland Emmerich
Andreas & Justine Läufer
Alex & Vida Marashian
Wim & Donata Wenders
Joseph Zen Ze-kiun the City of Berlin
& all of our children
& all of our parents
One bright day in the early 21st Century, there was a gathering of human beings unlike any before.
In the historic heart of Berlin, Germany, over 100 people from all walks of life and all round the world joined in a single circle. Seated together at the world's largest round table, they had come to speak on behalf of themselves and others, to rediscover how much they don't know and how much they do.
(PHOTO: Donate Wenders)
On Saturday, September 9th, 2006, the Berlin square called 'the Bebelplatz' was spanned by a monolithic, architectural circle within circles, a vast round table at which 114 chairs faced 114 continuously recording cameras. Reflected within their collective lens, an unprecedented art event and political summit convened, a gathering dedicated to addressing 100 questions originally raised online by people on seven continents.
Voicing the questions aloud before the assembly were the event's co-moderators, human rights advocate Hafsat Abiola and actor Willem Dafoe. Over a six-hour mind-marathon spread over a nine-hour day, each question received up to 112 responses given face to face, directly to camera, by the participants of the Table of Free Voices. Captured additionally by roving film cameras streaming live online, this transparent, technologically enhanced, 21st Century conference enabled all voices to be raised simultaneously while also being individually heard.
Delivered collectively in as many as 20 languages, by 120 participants over the course of the event, the 11,200 individual responses filmed were all published the Internet within three days, under a 'Copyleft' license, at droppingknowledge.org. More than 1,000 hours of footage was ultimately recorded at perhaps the most comprehensively visually documented one-day gathering ever convened.
A vivid celebration of the symbolic power of cultural diversity and creative free expression, the Table of Free Voices marked the three-year culmination of the not-for-profit social media project, dropping knowledge. Founded in the summer of 2003 by filmmaker Ralf Schmerberg, artist and designer Cindy Gantz and philanthropist-activist Jackie Northway-Wallace, dropping knowledge combined Gantz and Northway-Wallace's ideas for an interactive web-platform based around people's questions with Schmerberg's vision of a one-day meeting in which wise people could freely share their knowledge with the world.
Based initially in Berlin and San Francisco, after two years of fundraising, administrative groundwork and research into possible Table participants, in September 2005 dropping knowledge announced a global call for questions relating to themes of social and conscious, individual and societal, change. Over the following year, tens of thousands of questions were submitted to the project's website by a global community of questioners. Hundreds of these were showcased in questions-based media created by the project's in-house team of editors, designers and visual researchers. Filmmakers traveled internationally for dropping knowledge, actively seeking questions to ensure an authentically global sample was dynamically visually represented online. At the climax of this 'Ask Yourself' campaign, a select 100 of the top 1,000 user-voted questions were chosen by the project's organizers and consultants to be asked at the Table of Free Voices.
Meanwhile, invitations had gone out to over 100 special individuals, all of whom were bold, brilliant, concerned or plain crazy enough to confirm their participation in an unprecedented experiment. Each had been approached on account of their life's work having had some creative, humanistic cultural impact. Each agreed to share their knowledge in response to people's questions — to reveal their passion, conviction, wisdom and vulnerability — on camera for one day.
(PHOTO: Reiner Pfisterer, IMAGE by dropping knowledge)
Officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest round table ever made, the Table of Free Voices measured 38 meters in diameter and over 119 in circumference. Within and around it in the week leading up to the event, dropping knowledge's full and part-time staff expanded to encompass over 100 volunteers, come to Berlin to share in the project's open spirit of democratic inquiry and people-powered, cross-cultural exchange.
Financed primarily by thousands of online micro-donations, the gathering also received financial and advisory support from corporations, foundations, cultural institutions and non-governmental organizations. The United Nations Development Programme opened its contact book; the then Vice-Chancellor of Germany became the event's patron; future Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus saluted dropping knowledge as "a great initiative at the right time"; and the gathering received a personal blessing from Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong.
Though neither the participants sitting at the Table of Free Voices, nor those working behind the scenes to realize its success, really had a good idea beforehand of what would actually transpire on the day itself, the gathering was in the end favored by a profound atmosphere of communal inspiration (and aspiration), mutual encouragement (and empowerment) and, thankfully, decent weather. One member of the public, stood with the crowd of curious bystanders congregating beyond the Table's perimeter, seemed to speak for many when he described the experience as "an art performance of electrifying energy... I can't hear what the participants are saying and my back hurts, but I just can't leave. I am going to stand here all through this thing. This is so powerful... It really gets you."
(PHOTO: Aaron Siirila, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Amid the paving-stones of Berlin's Bebelplatz, there is a single glass pane, a window onto a blank white room, empty but for empty white bookshelves. The creation of sculptor Micha Ulman, this subsurface exhibit is a permanent memorial marking the spot where, on May 10, 1933, a bonfire was set ablaze.
That evening, in a speech broadcast live to the nation by radio from the square in central Berlin then called the Opernplatz, the Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda proclaimed the destruction by fire of "Un-German" writings "a strong, great and symbolic deed." Over 25,000 books were burned that night in ceremonial gatherings across Nazi Germany. Among those cast to the flames was Heinrich Heine's play Almansor, in which it's written: Das war ein Vorspiel, nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen. ('This was just a prelude, where they burn books, in the end they also burn people.')
Where once these words were ritually incinerated, today, they are engraved in stone. Throughout the day of the Table of Free Voices, the gathering's focal center was this window onto empty silence, as the air above it reverberated with the collective hum of uncensored voices raised freely.
Angaangaq Lyberth with his qilaut drum. (PHOTO:Ali Ghandtschi)
Long before he made a film, Ralf Schmerberg was thinking about a meeting at which people could share the wisdom of their understanding, one that could be filmed to connect others with their words. This intention — to use cinema to re-vivify the oral tradition in which he'd found meaning when young — stayed with Schmerberg, from around the day he heard J. Krishnamurti speak until one day years later in Bebelplatz when the vision was real.
PROBLEMA is that gathering, lovingly rendered as imaginative, art cinema to be projected on the screen of the mind. Distilled from over 1,000 hours of footage, shaped out of individual monologue into rhythmic, multilingual 'multilogue', the panoply of perspectives recorded at the Table of Free Voices would eventually be overlayered with pictures in a process styled by Schmerberg 'editing into the subconscious'. Embedded with over 1,200 visual artefacts, PROBLEMA transports the words spoken in Bebelplatz into the larger world, amplifying their resonance by combining them with film, art and photography from humanity's collective cultural memory.
Dependent at every stage of its production on harnessing the democratizing potential of information technologies, PROBLEMA exists thanks to the generous contributions of many who influenced its creation: from those who gave permission to feature their footage and artwork, to those who volunteered their time and labor, to those who raised a question or made a micro-donation, to the participants who gave of their hearts and minds freely around the Table of Free Voices. In this sense, PROBLEMA is an authentically not-for-profit film, offered to audiences in the same spirit of giving that endlessly informed its realization.
The Problema DVD is packaged in a high quality, custom made card and paper DVD case with high quality offset printing. It features collage graphics from the film poster and gold foil stamped cover and spine. Limited copies available!
A three-weeks-in-the-making collage collaboration involving the printing, cutting, arranging (and rearranging) of over 350 images from the film. The PROBLEMA film poster is printed with extremely high standards featuring gold ink on quality paper. Limited copies available!
A human dialogue around the world's largest table.
An unprecedented philosophical art cinema experience, PROBLEMA is a film that looks at you as you watch it, that speaks to you in a multilingual mantra made of the voices of over 100 people from all around the world. Distilled from over 1,000 hours of footage and embedded with imagery from our collective cultural memory, the film is a not-for-profit production to be shared freely with audiences worldwide. Concerning seventeen questions for homo sapiens (the 'wise human'), PROBLEMA asks you to ask yourself...
DURATION: 95 minutes
LOCATION: Bebelplatz, Berlin, Germany
LANGUAGES: English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Serbo-Croatian, Russian, Danish, French, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Bantu.
EUROPEAN PREMIERE: Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria (September 2, 2010)
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE: 46th International Chicago Film Festival (October 16, 2010)
SOUTH AMERICAN PREMIERE: Mostra — São Paolo International Film Festival (October 24, 2010)
WORLD RELEASE: December 6, 2010 @www.problema-thefilm.org