Prime Time in the Camps

Director: Chris Marker
France / 1993 / 28 min
In French with English subtitles

Last streamed on Tue, Aug 10

On the occasion of Marker’s 100th birthday, we are presenting three of his previously unreleased documentary shorts—Berliner Ballade, Prime Time in the Camps, and Blue Helmet (Casque Blue)—which capture political upheaval in eastern Europe and the indomitable spirits of those affected. An Icarus Films release.

Housed in the Roska refugee camp–a former military barracks–Bosnian refugees find themselves cut off from their former lives, and from the rest of the world. It is 1993, and as the Yugoslav war rages and the siege of Sarajevo drags on, a group of young people decide to break the isolation by making their own television programs. A Belgian NGO provides them with gear, and they pirate satellite feeds from different sources, edit the footage, and assemble a news program complete with co-hosts. In the process, they learn about the biases of different outlets, and commit to presenting the news as fairly as possible. They also interview residents of the camp in a moving weekly special report feature “interview from a room” feature. And some of them work on a longer-term project, using video to preserve memories–a critical consideration, since so many keepers of stories have been killed. The programs are recorded on videocassette and “air” on a tiny TV in a packed screening room at the camp. Prime Time in the Camps is one in a series of short films by Chris Marker on the war in Yugoslavia. Featuring behind-the-scenes footage of the camp’s TV crews in action and interviews and excerpts from the TV programs, the film captures the importance of grassroots media and the need for people to share their stories.