can you give me yours? (letsmakebelieve) wrote,
can you give me yours?

2003 documentary - Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers

Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers

Why is the lifestyle of consumerism a source of such rage today? How come the privilege of buying goods does not automatically lead to happiness? Why all this emptiness despite our wealth?

Erik Gandini's approach through Surplus is to portray this issue from an emotional rather than a factual perspective.

Shot in the US, India, China, Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Canada and Cuba during three years. Surplus is the result of a complicated editing process by talented music composer/editor/percussionist Johan Soderberg.

George W Bush's famous "shopping-speech" calling for a war against terrorism that deters the nation from the fear of consumption. Castro responding with hymns to the anti-consumerist, advertising-free island of Cuba. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer preaching that the computer will give us peace on earth "bringing people together" while Adbuster Kalle Lasn warns that advertising pollutes us mentally, that over-consumption is unsustainable and that we are running out of oil.

Surplus main man is John Zerzan, controversial philosopher whose call for PROPERTY DAMAGE has inspired many to take to the streets. "That is not violence. Sitting there doing dope and watching MTV . Then you go and get a job. Just schlep along. To me that is violence," says Zerzan. "We are terrorized into being consumers."

In November 2003 Surplus was awarded with the most prestigious prize a Documentary can get, The Silver Wolf at Amsterdam's IDFA, and has spread widely around the globe since then.

following taken from wikipedia

Surplus: Terrorized Into Being Consumers is a 2003 Swedish documentary film about consumerism and anti-consumerism, directed by Erik Gandini and edited by Johan Söderberg. It opens with footage of the protests at the 27th G8 summit in Genoa, and revolves around the words of anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan, who claims that destroying property - as opposed to attacking people - is necessary and is not violence. A lot of other people, apart from Zerzan, appear in the documentary, including the person who may be his diametrical opposite, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

The documentary relies heavy on the of fast-paced audiovisual collage-techniques and music, resembling the MTV style of video- and television marketing, the result of this is that the documentary is more impressionistic than purely reporting or fully studying the argument or set of arguments. Another characteristic is its arch use of lip-synching, for example George Bush speaking for Adbusters, or Fidel Castro screaming Steve Ballmer's words "I love this company. Yeah!".

The Surplus Manifesto

by Erik Gandini

This 10-point manifesto for making documentaries is written under the influence of Lars von Trier's Dogme95 Manifesto:

1. No location should be revealed in the film. The viewer shouldn’t really know where he is but find himself in an evironment, a dimension that he recognizes and perceives as such. A big city, a continent , an island... a planet. (Possibly reveal the locations in the end of the film.)
2. The filmmaker shouldn’t show himself, unless he is more interesting than the characters in the film.(this is optional, some filmmakers are more interesting than their real life characters)
3. The victims of the film (in the case of Surplus: George Bush, Steve Ballmer, Fidel Castro and the G8 leaders) should have no chance at all to even know that they are participating in the film. Even less have a chance of replying the filmaker in the end of the film. On the contrary they should be subjected to Johan Söderbergs (the editor) lipsynchronizing Read My Lips- treatment: to say things that they would never say and that everybody know are more true than the things they usually say.
4. No clips should ever be separated with a 12-frame black pause. On the contrary, try to create the feeling that all the images and characters are part of the same dimension or planet as described in point 1. For that I suggest frequent use of dissolves, both on images and sound between the clips.
5. Sound and images should under no circumstances be left unmanipulated (at least some colouring).
6. Feel free to shoot images without sound and recreate the sound in postproduction. Note that background sounds (explosions, crashes, music etc.) should be boosted to create the desired feeling or atmosphere. Words and speeches should be chosen for how the musically fit in the composition.(remember: different people speak with different beat per minut-speed and different tonality)
7. Reconstruction of the concept of the film is necessary. Don’t make the same film you planned while writing the script. Let reality influence you during the process and be open to drastic changes from the original concept.
8. Hidden cameras are absolutely allowed if relevant.
9. If you have acess to an archive that provides you with cheap footage, feel free to use it.
10. Don’t try to be too realistic or neutral. Cameras, microphones and editing suites are extraordinary tools not only to reproduce how reality is but to visualize how reality feels. The wide range of cinematic tools gives you all the (previously too expensive nowadays affordable) freedom to realize your visions. Don’t reduce yourself and your creativity to those of a surveillance camera. Work as much as you can with very talented artists that are better than you in Shooting, Composing and Editing.

People appearing in the documentary

* John Zerzan, anarcho-primitivist writer, author of Elements of Refusal (1988), Future Primitive (1994), Against Civilization: A Reader (1998) and Running on Emptiness (2002)
* George W. Bush, President of the United States
* Fidel Castro, President of Cuba
* Kalle Lasn, from Adbusters
* Matt McMullen, RealDoll sex-doll manufacturer
* Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft since 2000
* Bill Gates, Chairman of the Board and Chief Software Architect of Microsoft
* Tania, Havana, Cuba
* Mirta Muñiz, Cuba ("toothpaste lady")
* Svante Tidholm, from Stockholm, Sweden, a wealthy web-designer of Spray and author of the autobiographical novel Loser (Wahlström & Widstrand, 1998, Swedish)


* Gotan Project
* Tosca
* Aphrodelics
* Marc O´Sullivan - The Might Quark


* Genoa, Italy - 27th G8 summit (2001)
* Shanghai, China - Stock Exchange
* Alang, India - Metal reclaiming
* USA / Cuba / Hungary / Sweden / Canada
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