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Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers

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Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers

Erik Gandini
Born (1967-08-14) 14 August 1967 (age 46)
Bergamo, Italy
Occupation Producer, director, writer
Years active 1994 – present

Erik Gandini (born 14 August 1967) is an Italian-Swedish film director, writer, and producer. He is one of the co-founders of ATMO film company.

Early life

Erik Gandini moved to Sweden at age 19 to attend film school and avoid military service in Italy. After film school studies at Biskops Arnö and a master's degree in film science at Stockholm University, he started working as a documentary filmmaker.

In 1994, Gandini adventured with a fake recommendation letter from a small local Swedish TV broadcaster to the besieged city of Sarajevo where he directed and produced his first documentary Raja Sarajevo for Cinema du Reél in Paris.

In 2000, Erik Gandini founded the Stockholm-based film production company Kristina Åberg. ATMO produces documentaries, fiction films and TV series.


Raja Sarajevo

Raja Sarajevo from 1994 (Raja means 'group of friends' in Bosnian) starred i.a. Enes Zlatar, leader of rock band Sikter and international artist Nebojsa Seric Soba, who at the time was a part-time art student and part-time soldier in the Bosnian army. In 1996, Erik Gandini shot a second documentary about the Balkan war, Not without Priedor, about four young Bosnian refugees in Sweden who decided to return to their country to join the war. The same year he became part of a cult TV show on Swedish TV, ELBYL, where he met with Tarik Saleh.

His film Amerasians-the 100.000 children of the vietnam war from 1998 about the children of American soldiers and Vietnamese women was awarded the Silver Spire at the 1999 San Francisco International Film Festival[3]

SACRIFICIO - Who Betrayed Che Guevara?

In 2001, he co-directed with Che Guevara's Argentinian lieutenant and the person who more than other has been blamed in history books as guilty of Che's death.

When captured in Bolivia, Bustos drew Ches portraits of Che Guevara and his guerrillas for the Bolivian army. Providing his interrogators with drawings framed Bustos as a traitor by historians but was according to his version part of a misleading strategy adopted under interrogation. After living in Sweden in silence for some thirty years, Sacrificio was the first documentary he took part in.

Sacrificio confronts Busto's version of the events with the surviving protagonists of Che Guevara's death and raises questions about how history has been written. Sacrificio stars several of the main characters surrounding the capture and killing of the Argentinian revolutionary leader, including former CIA agent Felix Rodriguez, former Bolivian General Gary Prado and Che Guevara's executioner Mario Teran.

When released in 2001, Sacrificio sparked an international debate concerning Che's death and shed new light on the role played by French intellectual Regis Debray.

Creative documentary

Surplus - Terrorized into being consumers

Read My Lips series. Surplus premiered in competition at the largest documentary film festival IDFA in Amsterdam[5] in 2003 where it won the prestigious Silver Wolf Award.

Surplus's innovative style is the product of a method that Gandini adopts in his very personal approach to documentary film, "the freest, cheapest way for a person to express themselves cinematically".[6] Although his films deal with social issues they are far from traditional political documentaries. They are "creative documentaries"[7] relying on the idea of "show, don't tell", to give the viewer an experience of politics rather than mere facts, making a powerful use of cinematography, music and editing to make their point.


Gitmo – The New Rules of War is a documentary about the Guantanamo Bay detention camp by Erik Gandini and Tarik Saleh. The film features interviews with Janis Karpinski, Mehdi Ghezali and Geoffrey Miller, among others. Gitmo premiered at IDFA in 2005, and reached mainstream theaters in Sweden on February 10, 2006. It won a Jury award as best documentary at the 2006 Seattle International Film Festival,[8]

In July 2012, after a suicide bomb attack that left seven people dead in the Bulgarian city of Burgas on a bus carrying Israeli tourists, Gitmo's main character and former Guantanamo detainee Mehdi Ghezali was named in Bulgarian and Israeli media as the main suspect.[9] The Swedish Secret services denied soon after categorically his involvement but his name picture had already been widely exposed in the world press.


Erik Gandini's 2009 feature-length documentary Videocracy is so far his most successful film. The film, produced and directed by Gandini, explores how Italy has been pushed to the brink of moral melt-down under the rule of Silvio Berlusconi. When it premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, its trailer was banned by Italian state broadcaster RAI,[10] stirring an international controversy. When widely released in theaters across Italy, it climbed to the fourth position on the Italian Box Office the first week end.[11]

Videocracy was voted best documentary film at the Toronto International Film Festival by a critics poll conducted by Indy Wire[12] and chosen as one of best documentaries in 2010 by The Guardian top critic Peter Bradshaw.[13]

"The Evilness of Banality"

To explain the cultural phenomenon of Berlusconismo, Erik Gandini coined the expression "The Evilness of Banality", thus paraphrasing Hanna Arendt's banality of evil.

In 2010, Erik Gandini was appointed visiting professor at KAU, University of Karlstad, Gobal Media Studies.[14] Besides his professional career as a director and producer, Gandini lectures extensively about film, politics and media, in Sweden, Italy and around the world.


Erik Gandini is the winner of the 2012 Maj Zetterling award. The prize of 200,000 sek was granted by Swedish Art Council for his "innovation of cinematic language within the documentary genre"[15] Gandini was also nominated Swedish producer of the year in 2010 competing for the Lorens Award[16]

Gandini has three children with his wife, author and cookbook writer Johanna Westman.


Year Result Festival Film
2009 Special Jury Prize Sheffiled Film Festival Videocracy
2009 Nomination Swedish Guldbagge Videocracy
2006 First Prize Seattle Int. Film Festival Gitmo
2006 Special Jury Mention Miami Int. Film Festival Gitmo
2004 Audience Award Vila do Conde International Film Festival, Portugal Surplus
2003 First prize, Silver Wolf IDFA Amsterdam Surplus
2003 International Festival Environmental Film, FICA, Brazil First Prize Surplus
2003 Nominated Swedish Gulbagge Surplus
2001 First Prize Its all True Doc, Film Festival Sacrificio
2001 Best non Latin american documentary Havana Film Festival Sacrificio
2001 Best use of music and sound One World Film Festival Sacrificio
2001 First Prize Oporto International Film Festival Sacrificio


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