United Red Army

Naeem Mohaiemen, Bangladesh, 2012, color / black and white, HDcam, 70'
Synopsis

In the 1970s, left-wing radicals who used violence to achieve their goals often ended up accidentally helping right-wing politicians in countries like Bangladesh. This strikingly designed documentary by visual artist Naeem Mohaiemen investigates the temptations and danger of movements that promise quick revolution and utopia, often by means of violent confrontations with the state. Using the original sound recordings from the airport control tower, this first part of a planned trilogy reconstructs the hijacking of Japan Air Lines flight 472 at the hands of the Japanese Red Army in 1977, during which the hijackers forced the plane to fly to Dhaka, Bangladesh. On a dark background, the written transcript of the crackly radio conversation between hijacker and hostage negotiator appears. Their communication is tense and cautious, as so much depends on it. The relationship between these two strangers is one of power and trust. Mohaiemen interrupts the negotiations to take a trip back to his own living room, where he followed the events as an eight-year-old, hoping it would end so he could watch his favorite TV show. United Red Army is part of Mohaiemen's continuing research project on ultra-left movements, with each chapter expressed through essays, photography and film.

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