What happens when a bank fails?
It might for example be squatted by 3,000 people and transformed into a housing project. The ruins of a 200-meter-tall skyscraper rise up into the Caribbean sky of downtown Caracas and serve as a shelter and dwelling for 750 families. Ignored by the municipal administration and dreaded by the rest of the neighborhood, the inhabitants of Torre Confinanzas are working on their own model of a socialist microcosm in their vertical city. ‘Ruina’ portrays the difficulties and achievements in building a community.
Markus Lenz studied cultural and communication sciences in Leipzig an Palermo. Degree in Master of Arts in 2007. Between 2010 and 2013 he continued postgraduate studies at Cologne’s Academy of Media Arts and UNAL in Bogotá / Colombia specializing in documentary cinema. His work is focused on social issues in south Italy and Latin America. Ministery of Culture awards him in 2015 with the young artists award for his films. Stipend of MGZ in 2015 to develop Dokomotive film collective production company. Gerd Ruge investigation award for his current documentary in 2017. Founder of Dokomotive-Plattform in 2018. Markus Lenz filmed four feature documentaries and two shorts awarded and shown in renowned international filmfestivals.
Filmography (Direction and cinematography)
Vucciria, 67 min. (2009) – Italien
Clandestina Mente, 60 min. (2012) – Italien
Ruina, 73 min. (2014) – Venezuela
El Cacique, 90 min. (2017) – Kolumbien
Sala Espera, 21 min. (2017) – Kolumbien
Provisorium (in Produktion) – Kolumbien
I got to know about the tower through an article in a newspaper about Caracas and its crime situation in general. That was back in 2011. The journalists just wrote three notional sentences about Torre Confinanzas cause they were not able to get inside the tower. At that time it was really unknown and there where just some rumours around it. It attracted my attention so much and I said to myself: I have to try to get in to tell the story of this building and its people.
One year later in 2012 I was in Caracas. The squatters were really suspicious at that time and it took me a lot of attempts to get access to the building. The tower is totally closed and under the security control of the cooperative. I tried from different directions to gain an inside look and at the end I managed to get the telephone number of the secretary. I called her several times a day and could convince her finally to arrange an appointment.
I expected a dystopia of urban decay but what I explored was the opposite of it: a vibrant cooperation of a socialist micro-society in a vertical city. The inhabitants went through a couple of years of hard work, living in severe conditions and fighting with criminal elements as they suffered a lot from police raids at the same time. For sure it was very complicated to handle it during the first years and still it was in some floors when I was shooting. Only due to their well working organization and their inside system of justice and strict rules it could work like this for years. Their focus was on community building and everybody who wanted to live inside Torre Confinanzas had to adapt to the rules. At the end they reached to create an oasis inside downtown Caracas which is a very insecure city. In harsh contrast to its reputation I felt really safe inside the building and in fact it was. This aspect kept people together.
The metamorphosis of a financial center into social housing sounds like a fairy tale but in Caracas it is reality. Since 2007 the inhabitants of the tower work hard on their idea of a progressive society in their D.I.Y. community. Who owns the city? Who is allowed to live in the city centre and who has to emigrate to the suburbs? These questions dominate the discussion of urban societies all over the world. When we talk about gentrification often it comes to complaining about status quo. The people of Torre David just conquered their own living space in the heart of the city’s centre. And of course they got into trouble with the establishment. But they managed to create the biggest vertical city of the american continent.
CPH:DOX – Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival Copenhagen 2014
Duisburger Filmwoche 2014
One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival Prag 2014
RIFF – Rome Independent Film Festival, Rom 2014
Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, La Habana, Cuba 2014
Tempo Documentary Film Festival Stockholm 2015
Millenium International Documentary Film Festival, Brussels 2015
Verzio Film Festival, Budapest 2016
Days of Architecture Cluj, Romania 2015
Annual of Architecture Bucharest, Romania 2015
One World in Brussels – Human Rights Documentary Film Festival Brussels 2014
MIASTO movie, Wroclaw 2015
Kasseler Dokumentarfilm- und Videofest 2014
Move it! Filmfestival Dresden 2014
Istanbul International Architecture and Urban Films Festival 2014
FIFAAC Bordeaux 2016
Pärnu International Film Festival Estonia
Human Rights International Film Festival Valencia 2014
Astra International Film Festival Sibiu 2014
This Human World Vienna 2014
Inconvenient Films Festival Vilnius 2014
Stadtansichten Festival Leipzig 2017
Weltweit Sichten Dresden 2017
Architektur und Film / Kinotour-Festival NRW Bielefeld, Dortmund, Münster, Düsseldorf 2016
Urban Lens Film Festival Bangalore, Neu-Delhi / Indien 2017
Festival du film d’architecture Nancy 2017
B-MovieSt.Pauli, Hamburg 2015
Piñonal, Municipio Iragorri, Estado AraguaVenezuela, April 2015
Plaza BolívarCaracas, April 2015
Fundación Cultural ChacaoCaracas, April 2015
Seh-Stücke, Hamburg, 2019
Best feature Documentary – Festival Internacional Derechos Humanos y CineVenezuela 2014
Grand Prix du Jury International FIFAAC Bordeaux 2016
1. Mention du Jury Etudiants de l’ ENSAPBX / FIFAAC Bordeaux 2016