Heddy Honigmann’s Crazy
Light Industry and The Baffler are pleased to present Heddy Honigmann’s 1999 documentary Crazy, a portrait of Dutch veterans who served on United Nations peacekeeping missions, in conjunction with our new issue, “Whither Humanitarianism?”
“I don’t do interviews,” Honigmann once remarked, “I have conversations.” She was one of the most distinctive documentarians of her generation, and among her great themes was the relationship between memory and displacement. Honigmann explored this correspondence across a variety of subjects, from street musicians to taxi drivers to war widows.
Crazy continues the project through a simple and straightforward approach—which ultimately results in anything but. To draw out their recollections, Honigmann asked her interlocutors about one song they associated with their time abroad, often counterposing the chosen track with photographs, films, and videos shot amid the conflicts. Seal’s “Crazy” is laid over images of carnage in Sarajevo; a Puccini aria soars as helicopters maneuver above Cambodian fields. “In my own life, music is also a kind of survival strategy that provides warmth and comfort,” Honigmann has said. “So I asked myself: What would it be like in the worst of all possible situations, war—where you are confronted with the absolute unknown, everything is strange, with the noises, the smell of death all around you? What could music mean in a situation like that?”
When describing first-person accounts of war, like the testimonies in Crazy, a familiar vocabulary is often reached for: unflinching, unsentimental. Yet here, somewhat paradoxically, it is through music and its surfeit of sentiment that the horrors of these episodes are restored with agonizing clarity in the minds of the soldiers, peeling back years of psychic varnish in the span of a pop song. By the film’s end, the prospect of humanitarian intervention is heard in a new and rather disquieting key.
TICKETS: Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at the door.
Seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7 p.m. No entry ten minutes after start of show.