A documentary film by Carlo A. Bachschmidt
Genoa 2001: As the G8 Summit drew to a close and the press and politicians had departed, 300 riot police stormed the Diaz School looking for members of the infamous Black Block. They found instead young activists, mostly students, teenagers and journalists from around Europe preparing to bunk down on the school’s floors. Undeterred, they unleashed a calculated frenzy of violence, beating both young and old, male and female indiscriminately.
Those seriously injured were rushed to the hospital in ambulances, though soon after they were forced to join those who had been arrested and driven to a detention centre where they were subjected to further abuse and degradation.
Amnesty International called the result of the subsequent trials of the police officers involved “The most serious suspension of human rights in western country since the second world war.”
ULRICH REICHEL (MULI)
DANIEL MC QUILLAN
The documentary will be released in a boxed set (book + DVD) on 15 September
Repression is part and parcel of democracy – a power system that, along with legitimacy and consensus, needs to be controlled when a population or political group test the limits of their freedom. Genoa ’s G8 Summit in 2001 demonstrated this in the fiercest of ways.
As the G8 Summit drew to a close and the press and politicians had departed, 300 riot police stormed the Diaz School looking for members of the infamous Black Block. They found instead young activists, mostly students, teenagers and journalists from around Europe preparing to bunk down in the school gym. Undeterred, they unleashed a calculated frenzy of violence, beating both young and old, male and female indiscriminately. Those seriously injured were rushed to the hospital in ambulances, though soon after they were forced to join those who had been arrested and driven to the Bolzaneto detention centre where they were subjected to further abuse and degradation.
Through the testimonies of Lena and Niels (Hamburg), Chabi (Zaragoza), Mina (Paris), Dan (London), Michael (Nice), and Muli (Berlin), Black Block renders a firsthand account of those who experienced for themselves the violence in the raid on the Diaz school and their subsequent torture.
Several of them chose to return to Genoa for the trials of the police officers involved. Amnesty International called the results trials “The most serious suspension of human rights in western country since the second world war.”
ULRICH REICHEL (MULI): After the traumatic events of 2001, Ulrich began his training as an alternative therapist. Father of a daughter just a year old, he lives in an occupied house in Berlin with his Italian girlfriend, and wishes to enrol in university to do a degree in psychology.
NIELS MARTENSEN: A vegan, since before 2001 he has been active in defending the environment and trees in particular. Today, Niels is a professional arboriculturist and has founded and directs, along with Lena, the Arborartist Cooperative, which has 15 employees. He lives in Hamburg in a Wagenplatz.
MINA ZAPATERO: Upon completing her Arabic studies, she moved to Beirut in 2002. She now lives in Paris, where she is active in the world of independent media with the “Regarde à vue” collective.
MICHAEL GIESER: A businessman, he is continuing his activity as multilingual facilitator in creative learning methods. He lives in southern France with his two children, who are 3 and 5 years old.
LENA ZUHLKE: A student of Indology at the University of Hamburg in 2001, Lena is writing a doctoral thesis and working alongside Neils as an arboriculturist. She lives in a commune of 30 people, and is committed to the ecology movement, and especially to the struggle against nuclear power.
DANIEL MCQUILLAN: In 2001, after founding Multikulti, the multilingual website for asylum applicants and refugees, he met and married Njomeza, a refugee from Kosovo. The father of two children 3 and 7 years old, he is now a university instructor. He organizes international “hack days” to create innovations using digital technologies.
CHABI NOGUERAS: Lives in Zaragoza and, a conscientious objector, he has been in the Antimilitary Alternative since before the G8. He now works at Pantera Rossa, an independent social centre. In a few months, his daughter will be born, and he dreams of returning to Genoa with her.
In Genoa in 2001, politics delegated to law enforcement the task of stopping a social movement that was exploding around the world. Black Block came about with the purpose of showing how repression by law enforcement controlled the lives, desires, and passions of those who have experienced the movement’s history during the past ten years, from the movement’s birth in Seattle, to the large numbers present in Genoa.
I wanted to cover the movement’s life through seven interviews with plaintiffs in the Diaz and Bolzaneto trial, who experienced the most violent episode ever committed by the Italian police – the raid at the Diaz School – and to depict the participation of the many demonstrators who came to Genoa during the G8 Summit, and who in various ways still bear open wounds to this day.
The shock was as sudden as it was devastating, leaving its mark deep in their soul. To recover the meaning of their lives, some of the protestors who had been in Diaz had to start all over again. Their trauma required them to find answers, and the trials presented an opportunity for rebirth.
All the interviewees except Muli returned to Genoa to film their story. interview room is the “abstract” place that best represents the mood of each protestor – a set-design element to recall the seven different stories.
Exterior shooting gave them another Genoa, because something has stayed in this city. Their return, the trials, and their friends have allowed them to re-conquer the streets, and their faith in themselves – another reason to go on with the struggle.
The only exception is Muli, the documentary’s protagonist, who was filmed in Berlin, where he lives. I chose Muli as he bears the most affinity with my own viewpoint. In Muli, I searched for what his political motivations were, and how he experienced being in Genoa first with a huge swell of demonstrators and protestors, through the long hours of physical and mental repression, and how he overcame the trauma through his return for the trials.
Carlo A. Bachschmidt
Carlo A. Bachschmidt was born in Genoa and studied architecture. Following work experience at the “Renzo Piano Building Workshop”, he began organizing cultural events at Palazzo Ducale.
In 1994, he specialized in social communications and in 1998 he was involved in public awareness and information campaigns aimed towards young people through the “Planning Communications Events” group. While working through the web, he acquired skills in member active processes, in particular in the constitution of local and/or national organizations.
In 2001, he participated in the organization of the Genoa Social Forum, the organization against the G8/Genoa, and then became the consulting technician for the Genoa Legal Forum responsible for analyzing and filing all of the video and photographic material from those days in July 2001. He presented 6 technical consultations (video) acquired during the G8 trials and he was the creator of the website http://www.processing8.org.
Since 2003, he has been involved in the production of independent videos and collaborates with the national media researching and analyzing documentations relative to the G8/Genoa.
In 2004, he specialized in “Architecture for the Entertainment Industry” and the next year in “Events Planning and Communication” at the faculty of Architecture of the University of Genoa.
In 2010 he completed his short film “Janua”, chosen as one of the finalists of the OBIETTIVO LIGURIA Competition in the 14th Genoa Film Festival 2011.
BLACK BLOCK (DVD+Book boxed set)
BLACK BLOCK (documentary, duration: 77 minutes) + EXTRA (the documentary, La Provvista – duration: 47 minutes – a reconstruction of the raid on the two Diaz schools, and the most important phases in the trial) + BOOK (176 pages – La costruzione del nemico) edited by Carlo A. Bachschmidt. With texts written by Carlo A. Bachschmidt, Donatella Della Porta, Laura Fazio, Chabi Nogueras, Salvatore Palidda, and Mina Zapatero).
The leaders in the “consultation”, well aware that the Molotov cocktails were not coming from inside the school, decided that these explosives could be used as […] a decisive element in allowing them to proceed to arrest everyone there, on the charge of association for the purpose of mayhem and looting”.