Two Minutes to Midnight
Dir. Yael Bartana / Germany, Netherlands / 2021 / 48’ / Polish premiere
Director: Yael Bartana
Screenplay: Yael Bartana, Alex Barrett, Mille Haynes, Itamar Gov
Cinematography: Itai Neeman
Editing: Yael Bartana
Sound: Daniel Meir
Producers: Yael Bartana, Naama Pyritz
Production: Ingenue Productions, My-i Productions
World sales: Studio Yael Bartana
A group of actors gather on a stage, ready for their performance. They are playing the all-female government of an imaginary nation. In light of the looming threat posed by an enemy country which is increasing its nuclear stockpiles, the government assembles in its Peace Room—so named as an inversion of Dr. Strangelove’s War Room, because here peace is preferable to war. In deciding how to respond, and in considering whether to proceed with their plans for unilateral disarmament, the government consults with female experts—real-life specialists, defence advisers, soldiers, lawyers, peace activists, humanitarians and politicians—who join the actors on stage. As the women exchange ideas about war, security, and inequality, their discussion ranges across the global emergencies of our male-dominated reality, with climate change, toxic masculinity and the nuclear arms race rising to the fore. As they strive to reimagine international gender paradigms, tensions escalate with the enemy nation—the country’s leader is a man obsessed with the size of his rocket, and he seems determined to prove to the world that his big red button really does work.
“Two Minutes to Midnight” is the final stage of a four year transdisciplinary series by Yael Bartana. Incorporating footage recorded at experimental public performances in Aarhus, Berlin and Philadelphia, it presents a filmic synthesis of the series’ ideas, images and actions. By placing real-life participants within a fictional environment, and mixing scripted material with improvised discussions, the project explores what would happen if countries around the world were governed by women. Foreshadowing the real-life study that COVID-19 provided for this inquiry, the work examines the impact that female-led governments would have on the way that international crises are resolved, seeking to answer the ever-so pertinent question that forms the title of Bartana’s series: ‘What if Women Ruled the World?’
FESTIVALS AND AWARDS
CPH:DOX, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Docaviv
Yael Bartana (born Israel, 1970) is an observer of the contemporary and a preenactor. She employs art as a scalpel inside the mechanisms of power structures and navigates the fine and crackled line between the sociological and the imagination. Over the past twenty years, she has dealt with some of the dark dreams of the collective unconscious and reactivated the collective imagination, dissected group identities and (an-)aesthetic means of persuasion. In her films, installations, photographs, staged performances and public monuments Yael Bartana investigates subjects like national identity, trauma, and displacement, often through ceremonies, memorials, public rituals and collective gatherings. Her work has been exhibited worldwide, and is represented in the collections of many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. She currently lives and works in Berlin and Amsterdam. She won the Artes Mundi 4 Prize (2010) and the trilogy “And Europe Will Be Stunned” was ranked as the 9th most important artwork of the 21th century by the “Guardian” newspaper (2019).