What is the main difference between “Berlusconi's Mousetrap” and a typical current affairs report?
It acknowledges and tries to reflect the complexity of events. An Irish current affairs programme, like “Prime Time,” does not. This was also meant to be 'like' a movie, which I don’t think is something on the “Prime Time” agenda.
How, if at all, would “Berlusconi's Mousetrap” differ, if you had had a bigger budget?
More cameras (laughs)!
Was Genoa a trap laid by the State?
Yes it was but the protesters made some wriggle room to develop their networks inside the trap and lived to fight another day. There's one argument that I have constantly with people. I don't know how it comes across in the film, but I try to make the point that by the time Genoa came around the idea of a black bloc had been around for some years, since Seattle. And once a tactic like this starts to be repeated over and over, it becomes very easy for it to be collected as imagery and then used by broadcasters or the State in whatever way they choose. People say the black bloc is just a tactic, not a group of people, but my thought is that if I was the police trying to cope with protests and I had done my research then of course I would exploit these black bloc tactics. People accuse the film of just saying “the black bloc was infiltrated”. My argument is that it doesn't matter whether they were infiltrated or not. What matters is that Berlusconi's media put out film of the black bloc smashing banks on a continuous loop for two days. We had people over there in Italy (and Britain, Ireland and the States) collecting footage from all the TV broadcasts. The Italian footage is particularly notable for looping several short incidents literally over and over and over again for two days.
What has the response to “Berlusconi's Mousetrap” been like in Italy?
A lot of copies have gone to Italy. I haven't been at any screenings there, but I've screened it in England and Ireland and the reactions by Italians there have been good. One of the great things was working with an Italian woman called McBett. She has been involved in radical movements in Italy since she was 15 or 16 – she was a deejay on Radio Onda Rossa – and she did the editing with me. A lot of the concerns of Italian people are built into it because I collected material with Italian people in Bologna. I didn't understand a lot of tapes I was watching until McBett explained to me “this piece is important; that piece is important”. It reflects an Italian understanding of events because she was involved in the Genoa Social Forum so I think it managed to avoid being an outsider looking in, I hope.
The mainstream media, perhaps in particular public service TV, likes to claim it is objective, while Indymedia is accused of being left wing / anarchist. Is there any truth in this? How can Indymedia escape being pigeonholed as left wing and biased? Is it possible to be objective?
The idea of objectivity is just that: an idea. If you're used to picking up cameras it becomes very obvious very quickly that any event can be portrayed in many ways. You get a shot of the black bloc smashing up a bank and you can put ten different commentaries over it and it will mean ten different things. Indymedia does not make very big claims to objectivity. What makes Indymedia coverage of, in particular, events like Genoa or the May Day protests better than standard public service broadcasting is that you'll find you get ten or fifteen different eye-witness accounts and on top of that people will paste in mainstream comments or links. You might get ten or fifteen different sets of photographs from all different kinds of perspectives. The Indymedia model leaves it up to the reader. It is more obvious that there are hundreds of different viewpoints. Much more so than in the mainstream media, the onus is on the reader to decide what sources they trust, whose version they trust.
Is there room for the auteur in the Indymedia way of making films? Does it matter? Will people not go for a recognised name – like Michael Moore – rather than a somewhat anonymous collective?
In Indymedia Ireland, for example, there's been a move away from large groups of people deciding each shot in the film in recent years to make a definitive version. I think that group-editing is a very weak way of making films. It's hard enough to edit even a short piece without having to get an okay from everybody else, shot by shot. When a big group goes and covers an event or issue I think the ideal situation with the indymedia model would be that this footage is pooled and anyone who has contributed to it can draw on the whole pool and make their own version. Again it shows that there are many different perspectives. So should there be one person, like an auteur, making a film? Yes, I think it makes for stronger films when there's one person carrying the thought from start to finish. That doesn't necessarily mean that people can't work as collectives. I don't think the two aren't mutually exclusive. A number of films were made from the Genoa pool of footage. People have a terrible habit of being possessive of their footage, but an open source pool of footage is a more productive way. It's much closer to the Indymedia model: anyone can publish.
Tags: silvio berlusconi