Save and Burn: Reviews and interviews in English and French
Save and Burn, a documentary by Julian Samuel
Cinéma Parallèle (Ex-Centris) 26 – 29 September, 2005 3536, boul. Saint-Laurent, Montréal, H2X 2V1
Rachad Antonius will introduce the documentary.
Rachad Antonius et professeur de sociologie l’UQAM. Mathématicien et sociologue, il est l’auteur de nombreux articles et rapports de recherche sur les sociétés arabes et sur les conflits dans la région, ainsi que de deux ouvrages de méthodologie quantitative.
SAVE AND BURN
JULIAN SAMUEL, CANADA, 2004, 81 MIN, V.O. ANGLAISE. DISTRIBUTION. : JULIAN SAMUEL.
Save and Burn replace l’institution de la bibliothèque dans un contexte politique percutant. Généralement considérée comme un élément de préservation de la culture, elle est aux prises avec les idéologies de son temps. Le film aborde des thèmes tels que l’aspect commercial des bibliothèques, la gestion irresponsable et la fermeture de bibliothèques, les dérives des droits de reproduction, mais, surtout, souligne le fait que l’Occident ne reconnaît pas l’Orient pour la valeur de son patrimoine culturel.
Save and Burn puts the institution of the library within a startling political context. Generally considered a preserver of culture, the documentary points out how libraries are subject to the ideologies of their time and place. The film assays the commercialization of libraries, the irresponsible weeding and closing of libraries, the excesses of copyright law, but most of all, the fact that the West has not recognized the Orient for much of its cultural heritage.
FILMOGRAPHIE : THE LIBRARY IN CRISIS (2002), CITY OF THE DEAD AND THE WORLD EXHIBITIONS (1995), INTO THE EUROPEAN MIRROR (1994)
26 AU 29 SEPTEMBRE 2005: 15H, 21H.
English and French reviews of Save and Burn, 2005
Save and Burn: 80:34 minutes, NTSC; 2004
Save and Burn builds from The Library in Crisis (2002) by deepening an understanding of the history of civilization through the phenomenon of the library. From ancient China, India, Islam, and the Graeco Roman world, we see how the library radiated knowledge and spiritual values, and facilitated the cross fertilization of ideas from one culture to another.
Save and Burn puts the institution of the library within a startling political context. Generally considered a preserver of culture, the documentary points out how libraries are subject to the ideologies of their time and place – and not above them, as may have been assumed. The film assays the commercialization of libraries, the irresponsible weeding and closing of libraries, the excesses of copyright law, but most of all, the fact that the West has not recognized the Orient for much of its cultural heritage.
The film is provocative. Historically, libraries have been used to promote or inhibit democratic debate, with a nod to the Patriot Act. The filmmaker, who was born in Pakistan, combines exquisite footage of the Alexandrian Library, the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, and Bromley House in Nottingham. Interviews include Tom Twiss, Government Information Librarian, University of Pittsburgh, who gives testimony on the destruction of Palestinian libraries by Israeli soldiers, accompanied with painful footage, as well as the fate of Iraqi libraries during the “liberation.”
List of people interviewed in Save and Burn:
Ross Shimmon, Secretary General, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions; Isam al Khafaji, ex-advisor to USA forces in Iraq; (Holland) Ambassador Taher Khalifa, Director, Bibliotheca Alexandria; Robin Adams, Librarian and College Archivist, Trinity College, Dublin; Bernard Meehan, Keeper of Manuscripts, Trinity College; Charles Benson, Keeper of Early Printed Books and Special Collections, Trinity College; Michael Ryan, Director, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin; Declan Kiberd, author, Inventing Ireland, University of Dublin; David Grattan, Manager, Canadian Conservation Institute, Ottawa; Paul Bégan, Conservation Scientist, Canadian Conservation Institute, Ottawa; John Feather, Professor of Library & Information Studies, Loughborough University, author of The Information Society, Royal Society of Arts, London; Alistair Black, Professor of Library History, Leeds Metropolitan University, London; Erling Bergan, Editor, Librarians Union of Norway, Olso; Peter Hoare, library historian and adviser on historic libraries, Bromley House Library, Nottingham; Tom Twiss, Government Information Librarian, University of Pittsburgh.
Note: I transcribed these French reviews from the newspapers – you will notice errors.
Montreal Gazette Wednesday, September 21, 2005
By BERNARD PERUSSE
Books in the balance: Documentary looks at threats to libraries
We think of the library as a quasi-sacred institution – a shrine to the works of great thinkers, philosophers, writers and historians. As such, it offers comforting proof that knowledge and wisdom transcend politics and ideology. Or do they? In his latest documentary, Save and Burn, Montreal filmmaker Julian Samuel offers a sobering reflection on the baser forces that have threatened libraries over the years. An impressive group of experts – including Robin Adams, a librarian at Dublin’s Trinity College; Taher Khalifa, director of Egypt’s Bibliotheca Alexandrina; and Tom Twiss, a librarian at the University of Pittsburgh – face the camera. Together, they offer historical background and make the case that the beloved institution has been, and continues to be, jeopardized by commercialization, technology and the prejudices of global conflict and racism. The destruction of Palestinian libraries by Israeli soldiers and last year’s arson attack on the United Talmud Torahs school library in St. Laurent are but examples. The premise, which builds on Samuel’s 2002 film The Library in Crisis, is novel and provocative – although the focus gets lost at points with political commentary on such hot-button topics as Israeli policy in the Middle East and the American invasion of Iraq. While political issues are obviously crucial to the concept of “bibliocide” denounced by the film, we sometimes feel far from the initial premise. It all works, however, during an examination of how the U.S. Patriot Act changed the landscape after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings by allowing the government to withold data about itself from library users while it gained greater powers to examine their personal records. In the end, Save and Burn makes its point most eloquently in scenes like one showing a young Arab man reading from James Joyce’s Dubliners in his native language. That’s when you realize how crucial it is to protect the unifying power of books from the forces of darkness.
Save and Burn opens Monday at Ex-Centris. For details, go to www.ex-centris.com Save and Burn Rating 3 Playing at: Ex-Centris cinema from Monday to Sept. 29. Parents’ guide: for all.
La presse, 24 Septembre, 2005, “Save and Burn Documentaire de Julian Samuel,” par Aleksi K. Lepage
Julian Samuel conviendra sans doute avec nous que son documentaire “Save and Burn,” par ailleurs fascinant, n’est pas des plus accessible et ne s’adresse pas au plus vaste public, qui préfère généralement apprendre en s’amusant (ou l’inverse, plutot). Vite dit: “Save and Burn” est un film pour professeurs, pour universitaires et pour tous ceux qui ont frolé de près ou de loin les classes d’histoire, de littérature ou de sciences politiques. Samuel ne nous prend pas pour des nuls (et pourtant, s il savait!).
Très mal informé, après une lecture trop rapid du communiqué de presse, nous nous attendions