Film on ICORN and exiled writers

This short 6 minutes film about the story of five exiled writers and ICORN is an excerpt from the documentary Silence or Exile by Marion Stalens. The film was made with funding from the 5 years long Shahrazad-Stories for life project, an EU funded cooperation project between 6 ICORN member cities.

Photo: Exiled writers related to ICORN. See the excerpt from Silence or Exile by Marion Stalens on You Tube.


Documentary: Silence or Exile

Silence or Exile (2012) is a documentary that takes an intimate look into the lives of five exiled writers who, in their pursuit of freedom of speech, have been forced to escape their home lands and build a new life in their new host countries. Through these writers, the film tells a story of a violent, absurd and unjust world.

Four of the five writers profiled in the documentary have strong ties to the ICORN network, and two of the authors - Philo Ikonya and Mana Neyestani - are were ICORN guest writers in Oslo and Paris respectively. The other writers include Horacio Castellanos Moya (El Salvador/Iowa City), Svetlana Alexievitch (Belarus/Stockholm), and Ma Jian (China/London).

The film was made with funding from the 5 years long  Shahrazad Stories for life project, an EU funded cooperation project between 6 ICORN member cities.


Marion Stalens on Silence or Exile

Marion Stalens has been working as a photographer for the last 20 years. Her images have been published in newspapers and magazines both in France and abroad, and featured in numerous exhibitions. She started making films in 2001, and her work includes Juliette Binoche: Sketches for a Portrait (2009), Invitation to Leave France (2007), and The Reconciliation (2004), which documents life in South Africa a decade after Apartheid's end.

Stalens explains her motivation for making Silence or Exile:

"At a time when the debate on receiving exiles embroils France, and the entire Western world, the film sets the stage for writers to tell us, from the inside, 'what it means to be in exile' and how they perceive us, we who receive them.

"By observing these exiled writers, relentlessly free, embodied by an extraordinary vitality, enlightened by a distanced vision all the while deeply connected to their culture of origin, we are able to understand what an immense opportunity being able to receive them actually is.

”Though firstly submerged in the murky waters of dictatorship, then ripped from their contexts and thrown into exile, these writers continue their work. They observe and translate their characters’ inner movements and approach them through the most intimate, and therefore the most universal, parts of the human being. They work themselves to the bone. Their works, inspired by man’s worst, unveil the frailty and brittleness of humanity when we are subjected to the pressures of fear or are inebriated with power. Thanks to their widened perception, these writers aim to pierce false pretence in order to enable us to see man stripped naked.

”Their art speaks of us, and of the banality of evil, as misuse of power largely exceeds the borders of dictatorships and involves the very core of human relations. With tremendous lucidity, their eyes reveal to us that the worst is lurking and thriving omnipresent...

”Throughout the film, the writers' singular and solitary stories respond to each other. A profound feeling of brotherhood is woven beyond that singularity; the viewers find themselves both witnesses and doers through their own eyes.”