Two women live in one of Cologne’s largest private houses, a villa built in 1912 – with a cat, a dog and their extensive private art collection. A precise camera captures the fastidious furnishings and design of both house and garden, through which the inhabitants, their staff and visitors appear to move in orderly paths. We rarely see the protagonists in close-up, instead they blend in to an overall picture, which holds the viewer’s attention in a symbiosis between art and life. Deliberately rhythmic static camera shots allow us time to take in the myriad details. Just before it moves on, the film shows us a cross-section of this unique place, where living space and art space mingle.
Büttel, Germany. Fragments of an “empty” landscape – with its characteristic windmills, a yellow mailbox, a petrol station. Industrial, mobile homes of construction workers. The sole commentary is a poem by Ulrika Almut Sandig, where the word “Heimat” sounds foreign and empty.
Four generations of women from a certain Polish-German family give short answers to simple questions, providing an inside view of their family lives, experiences of emigration, social identity, and sense of responsibility as mothers. A video work inspired by the Polish social reportage “Talking Heads” by Krzysztof Kieślowski.
During his excursions into the literature, archives and history of China Ivan Garcia encounters the Red Guard Zhou Xuan, the daughter of a metal worker, who was born in 1946 and later studied mathematics and mechanics,. She speaks to us with the voice of the younger Su Guangyu, leading us through Mao’s cultural revolution. But Zhou Xuan is film, she is a fiction fed by the unspeakable knowledge of the multitude. In our lives there are circumstances, truths and hells of which a single individual cannot tell.
Cairo in 2011-2012, during the revolution. The camera is aimed at the ground. On a walk through the city it films feet, road surfaces, suitcases, carpets, rubbish and flyers, accompanied by the sound of traffic, scraps of conversation, people chanting. The unusually limited bird’s eye view stimulates the imagination. The footsteps and film cuts are sometimes unhurried but then there is a sense of anxiety. People are lying on the ground.
The clash of tradition and civilisational progress depicted in a desert village in North Sudan. The construction of a giant dam threatens to flood the settlement, evict its inhabitants, and annihilate life as they knew it – life to the rhythm of nature.
The successive uncovering of trauma experienced by the Turkish family of Arslan from the German town of Mölln. An annual family and community meeting commemorating the tragic day – the day of the fire that killed 3 family members. The survivors struggle to cope in every way possible. The film shows a specific example of human cruelty and stupidity (the perpetrator is a victim himself – a victim of family violence and neo-nazi ideology); it is also a universal story of coping with unjust trauma.
Julian lives in a small town in northern Florida – with his mother, without a job, without a future. When he’s not hanging out with his friends he goes to the American Veterans’ Club to recite one of his patriotic poems. Once a year he leaves his scruffy home to take part in the 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York. He greets policemen with a “God bless you sir. Thank you for serving” in passing. Julian’s naive patriotism stems from his lack of personal prospects. Thomas Haley’s subtle portrait of this “poor white boy”, clinging to the American Dream, at the same time describes the inner turmoil of a society traumatised by the events of 9/11.
Photographs for gravestones, as an individual attempt to maintain contact with life and leave behind a lasting and often self-chosen likeness, are also part of collective memory. But even with gravestone photographs the devil is in the detail: hairstyle, complexion, background, this photo or that, a double portrait with one’s partner or rather two separate photos side by side? All these decisions need to be made calmly and in good time, for the last rest.
A small village in Mecklenburg, home of a close community shaped by German reunification: they shape their environment, inscribe themselves into the landscape. The 50 inhabitants breathe beyond the tides that define the values of the west. The people here exist on the breadline, are dependent on each other’s support. Work, memories and loss determine their daily lives. And yet the powerful farmer Maxe, his girlfriend Cordula, who lives with him in the country because she loves him, the newcomer Harry, who dreams of white nights at the North Cape, the milker Oli, soon to marry, and Gabi, mother of three, whose sons have come home looking for work, have created a wonderful community: an idyll that nevertheless seems on the brink of an abyss.
An 18-minute music video starring Michael Jackson and Wesley Snipes, among others. The story of a boy named Daryl (Jackson). The youngster is on his way home from school and faces various difficulties that he tries to overcome. In his autobiography from 1988, Jackson writes: “Bad” is a song about the street. It's about this kid from a bad neighborhood who gets to go away to a private school. He comes back to the old neighborhood when he's on a break from school and the kids from the neighborhood start giving him trouble. He sings, “I'm bad, you're bad, who's bad, who's the best?”
In a series of episodes presented, and probably provoked, by Jan Gogola, in the dialogues he has with their protagonists, borders “our way” seem like something elusive and – not being too serious – transcendently and transcendentally uncertain. The bridge between the Czech Těšín and the Polish Cieszyn can divide as well as connect. The protagonists of the film's episodes live in Silesia, where the borders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia meet. They speak different languages, one of which, perhaps the most important one, is speaking “our way.” A cook and songster, born in 1920, sings in Czech, Polish, Latin, Italian, German, Hungarian... When listening to him, Austria-Hungary comes to mind; a country that no longer existed the year he was born.
The documentary “Cinema World” tells us a story of one of the last village cinemas in Slovakia. Real life stories and memories of local villagers give us a look into the history of this cinema and show us its importance. Not only has the viewer an opportunity to be a witness of the cinema's celebration in the memories of people, but he can also witness the closure of this cultural village temple. Even though the cinema was a significant part of the village for over half of the century, villagers will have to give it their last goodbye. The trigger in this scenario is the digitalization of cinemas in Slovakia. Village Očová decided not to take a part in this action. Unfortunately, this means sending their cinema straight to execution. Will the last goodbye carry the smell of sadness or pride? That is the question.
In this grotesque found-footage-film close-ups of 65 actors playing Adolf Hitler in movies created between 1940 and today are combined in shot/countershot-manner. The soundtrack is produced by the Austrian composer Bernhard Lang. No other historical figure of the 20th century was portrayed more often in movies and by so many different actors than Adolf Hitler. (Only Jesus Christ has more appearances in cinema´s history – but with a headstart of more than 50 years.) In this grotesque and uncanny identity parade Adolf Hitler is presented as an undead who is impersonated by an alarming number of revenants. “Conference” is part five of Pfaffenbichler’s notes on film-series, which deals with filmtheoretical and -historical subjects. The movie is also part of a series of works about Charles Chaplin, which includes a number of installations and films.
With calm concentration the camera tracks through modest homes in a remote village in rural Poland. People are watching TV, listening to music, playing computer games. The inhabitants don’t seem bothered, are not addressed directly. Now and then the camera closes in on their faces. Otherwise it makes the transition to the next home through a close-up of a radio or a TV screen. Then our gaze can continue to roam. Like voyeuristic, weightless divers we comb through the moving tableau, and are permitted to look into living spaces that normally lie beyond our perceptional horizon.
A moving portrait of Poles in the People's Republic of Poland – composed of intimate letters filled with anguish, despair, and threats directed at the government; letters controlled by security officers who are to report on public attitudes. The film is composed of unique archive material.
Rich in colour and content, minimal in its form, a story about a father who painted. His colour preferences changed during the long years of practising his art. He only ever painted in the evenings, as he was an accountant during the day. He never liked to throw things away. He was not fond of corporal punishment. The story of a man, realised through the objects he made use of and for which he came up with applications of his own.
The history of December 1970 and August 1980. Creating the Solidarity movement presented through the story of a hypothetical activist; rich in private and social emotions, emanating with the spirit of Polish opposition of the '70s and '80s. The offscreen narration accompanies the archival photographs. Basing on the recollections of many women, Maj Hasager created one cohesive narrative, whose key dramaturgic moments are: the cold asphalt before the shipyard gates, and a procession of men led by the story's heroine.
Paratroopers landing in Provence. The images are commented on by a voiceover typical of WWII propaganda newsreels. Battle sequences are interwoven with footage of soldiers resting. The newsreel ends, the film's frames withdraw. Once again we are watching paratroopers in Provence, but the commentary is different – now in the convention of a TV documentary on a history channel. Dragoon, an airborne operation of the allied forces, began in August 1944 with a landing in Provence.
A heap of rubble from buildings bombed in wartime rises like a green forested wall outside the city which Edward has refused to acknowledge for 22 years. The hermit has built his shack and paths out of the bricks he digs nonstop from the ground and constantly handles. He can sell the metal he unearths in the process. He has no objections to the film about himself.
Delfina, 23, a hairdresser from Poland, wants to leave for the West. Mariusz, 26, long distance truck driver, is already there. He spends most of his time in Germany, always on the autobahn. But there is nothing going on there, either. On the road, he feels like a dog – living in his can of a truck, eating canned food, and peeing on the wheels of his truck.
A ten-minute product of a fascination with the possibility to produce pure cinematic beauty, lined with melancholy and an affinity towards industrial buildings. Sequences of factory interiors and working machinery that give the impression of 19th-century relics, interwoven with images of lamps against a green background, musty water, peeling paint, and broken windows through which sunlight beams.
The Romans called the département in the far northwest of Brittany that today bears the number 29 “End of the Earth”. Finis Terrae. Its Breton name Penn ar Bed means “Beginning of the World”. Between these two points of view an unnamed suicidal man survives in a boat on the beach, and attributes his favourite quote to the anarchistic chansonnier Léo Ferré: Better lonely than in bad company. In death the man hopes to finally find his daughter Sophie, who died before him but still has no gravestone.
The history of “the boys from Liverpool,” told from a slightly different perspective. The director focuses on George Harrison – the Beatle who died in 2001. It is a very interesting story, due to the unorthodox narrative as well as the inclusion of talks with the greatest figures in the music and film world, and thanks to the previously unpublished archive material.
The tune of the Polish Broadcasting Station of Radio Free Europe has entrenched itself in the minds of several generations of Poles. In times of communist propaganda, the broadcasting station was one of the few sources of credible information from around the country and the world.
At the beginning we see Mr Kikuchi massaging his face. The precise movements prepare him for his regular daily routine, and prepare the audience to watch him and his wife as they go about their tasks. Unhurriedly the camera captures them working in the fields and in their garden. Some repairs need doing to the house, they cook and eat, do Aikido, barbecue with guests. In the evening a hot bath. A life in flow and at one with Nature. Over again the focus is on the simple things and gestures. After retirement the Kikuchis created their farm on the Japanese island of Kyushu – the fields, the garden, the buildings – with their own hands. Only the vapour trails in the sky bring back memories of their former life in the city.
Every day we are bombarded with images from many different countries, making us feel we’re in touch with the world and understand what’s going on. Beneath TV footage of demonstrations, uprisings, exchanges of gunfire, conflagrations and floods crawls a line of text, a news ticker that speaks of the subjectivity of our perception: “There are many things I don’t know, but I see them, and what I see, am I.”
A walking comedy from Appenzell about naive and magical chasms. Mountains and echoes reflect our inmost soul. The commentary whispers and dramatises, open hate of tourists takes over and makes the camera tilt. An expressionist essay examines what mountains do to us, and what we do in them.
A car journey through a landscape, villages, an industrial area. We are looking straight ahead, only occasionally to the side. All is silent. Here language exists only in the form of a literary text crawling across the windscreen. In three episodes a narrator considers his own experiences and those of his family during the bombardments in the Bosnian War. He tries to find connections, to make logical sense of them. But the journey into the past opens up a chasm between the images of the present and the text about what happened in 1992. The lack of soundtrack, the dead silence, takes possession of the images. From time to time the very words cast doubt the communicability of the experience, contradict themselves. The destination is not a specific place (of remembrance).
Something perfect for the most passionate fans of Martin Scorsese. Produced in 1974, this film is his first documentary. The first and already so very intimate, revealing: it touches upon the issues of relations within the Scorsese family and uses them to exemplify the life of a Sicilian emigrant in America. Through this film we also learn Charles and Catherine Scorsese's views on religion, customs, fatherland, cuisine, and cooking. This is not a sentimental picture, but a source of interesting and inspiring facts from the life of the grand master's family and his loved ones.
A boy is dancing in the street amidst the cars. He is probably dancing for money. His attire is bizarre – something like an ice-skating dress and puffed pants. He has no headphones on, you can't see any music player. A quote from Pushkin at the film's opening mentions a certain sound of a South-American flute that can be heard only by its player.
September 27th, 1962. That day in the People's Republic of Poland nothing outstanding took place. And yet, there emerged an interesting story about a time that seems both distant and very familiar. The film's author spent over a year collecting the documentation.
Kern is excessive in every respect and impressive not just because of his girth. A former Fassbinder actor, he is an aging diva, openly gay, an irritating and uncompromising character. His strong voice fills every room, even if it is only a modest modern flat in the Viennese suburbs. He is on stage everywhere, keeping the two directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala on a short leash. He never for a moment permits any illusion about who is directing this film. He turns the camera around and holds the mirror up to us. He is the finger in the wound, exposing our voyeurism and pleasure in the obscene. But Franz and Fiala bravely stand up to him and disarm him by revealing their strategies. This shadow-boxing produces an extraordinary and complex portrait. It’s true that we don’t learn much about Peter Kern the human being, but a lot about the artist he plays so consummately, a role by now inseparable from his self. One of the rare magic cinema moments comes when Kern snuggles up to the cameraman’s hand. One is reminded of “The Beauty and the Beast” – only who is who?
A documentary film produced for the History Channel. The director goes back in time and analyses the influence that the Statue of Liberty has had on New Yorkers. He inspects what role it played in their lives after the tragedy of 9/11. Everything here seems to revolve around “Her” – the mysterious and majestic figure. With the passing of minutes, however, we realise that “She” and part of the history investigated by Martin Scorsese have a lot more to reveal.
Lyrically poignant yet contained, “Like Rats Leaving a Sinking Ship” is an intimate piece that combines personal subjectivity with the clinical objectivity of medical reports, challenging the very notions of these categories. The film is partly based on the author's psychiatric assessments diagnosing her with Gender Identity Disorder, in accordance with the International Classification of Diseases. Along with the discourse of the legally mandatory documents for transgendered people are her own personal writings that reflect upon the nature of memory – the present interpretation of the past - and question the possibility of any coherent biographic or filmic narrative. As evocative images inconspicuously blend with found family footage, a multilayered reality emerges in which the distinction between what is true or false becomes unimportant and obsolete. Although in line with topics such as general assumptions of gender, or “popular knowledge” of transgender people, “Like Rats Leaving a Sinking Ship” is, in fact, a deep reflection on the relation of “abnormal individuals” to authority apparatuses such as state, law and psychiatry.
In the autumn of 2002 and spring 2003 Gerald Harringer shoots the experimental short film “Ma” with the German performance artist Boris Nieslony. It is about a hiking tour from the Czech-Austrian border to Hallstatt. The film interweaves scenes of the journey with impressively minimalist performances and dreams by Boris Nieslony. The film centres on a man, who sets off on a very lonely journey. His path takes him from a deserted village on the former death strip between the Czech Republic and Austria into the mountains. The last part of his hiking tour starts on the expanses of the high plateau on the Dachstein, his journey ends in Hallstatt. As in the Australian aborigines’ paths, which are mapped in the form of songs (“Songlines”) there are dreams showing the way to the nameless protagonist and leading him to impressively symbolic acts and rituals. This border area between dream and reality is also denoted by the film title Ma, being the Japanese word for “gap.”
A scientific-comic film about animal life. We cross a toad who doesn’t have, like us, one big baby in her belly, but a lot of little babies on her back, a dunnock polyandrous, a mother hamster who eats her weakest babies to resume forces and allow it to raise its scope, a spider who, out of maternal loving, can be eaten by her babies, and many others surprises. Rossellini embodies them with her fantasy, doing laugh by offst that she creats between the scientific speech and her staging fun and creative. A Rossellinienne exploration of animal life and life lesson for all “mammas.”
China’s urbanisation programme is consuming up to 40 per cent of the world’s cement and steel reserves. Kangbashi is being built as an ultramodern administrative, research, finance and education centre to dwarf all its predecessors. Not far away, Yumen is crumbling hopelessly. Two manifestations of megalomania, both of them ghost towns: one post-industrial, the other obsessed by the future. Against the backdrop of the one goats graze among the ruins, and in the other the world’s largest and most beautiful fountains are all but deserted. Man Made Place is a Janus-faced opera, like a gigantic coin, not with two sides but with haunting images full of quiet mourning and painful melancholy.
Maria is passing away, gently and peacefully, surrounded by family and friends. The calm voices of women fill the room – a room with a television set, a tile stove, and candles lit by Maria's side. She is sleeping peacefully. Her companions are eating, laughing quietly, and talking all the time. Maria passes away amidst their friendly and cheerful voices. This documentary film, very simple both in terms of image and sound, is filled with calmness, discretion, respect for the situation and characters; at the same time it aptly captures this terminal situation and its participants.
Wolves’ eyes shine in the night, surround you, seemingly multitudinous. War has many facets, abduction and displacement have opposite causes. Janina, born in eastern Poland, found herself in the Soviet Union after the German-Russian division of the country, was deported to Siberia at the age of ten and six years later to Stettin, which was now called Szczecin. This is where Annemarie lived, until Janina arrived, when she moved to the West with the Germans. Both women have ceased to weep. They have wept enough during their lives.
A subjective review of works of Italian cinematography which influenced Martin Scorsese most. The director pays homage to his great compatriots: Rossellini, De Sica, Fellini, Visconti, and Antonioni (whose retrospective was presented at last year's Top League). “Roma, città aperta” (“Rome, Open City”), “Germania anno zero” (“Germany Year Zero”), “L'Eclisse” (“The Eclipse”), “8 ½,” and "L'Oro di Napoli” (“The Gold of Naples”) are just some of the pictures in question. Shot in traditional 35-mm format, the film is a collage of different genres: old newsreels, “home” videos, and, last but not least, the masterpieces of Italian cinema. This long film, over four hours in running time, is watched with excitement throughout, and that is thanks to the interesting, personal, and amusing commentary by Scorsese.
Because a landslide threatens, yak herdsmen and their families in Kyrgyzstan will soon have to leave their traditional territory. They drive their herds through a seemingly endless snow-covered landscape of breathtaking beauty. The film team must have had a hard time keeping up with them through the snow drifts and across the ice. The focus is on the animals, and on one occasion they are almost engulfed by an avalanche. The people are often shown as a (small) part of an omnipotent natural world. It is not until the herdsmen and their yaks reach a caravanserai, where the animals are sold, that civilisation intrudes in the shape of inquisitive tourists and a blaring car radio. Nature has its limits – as does the lifestyle of the yak herders, as the film very nostalgically testifies.
A few years ago, Berlin-born Alexa Karolinski set out to make a cookbook project of her grandmother’s delicious Jewish dishes, but in capturing her warm, familial kitchen on camera as part of her research, she realized there was more to share than a few recipes. “Oma & Bella”, the feature documentary that resulted, is a touching portrait of two spirited characters – Alexa’s grandmother and her good friend and roommate Bella, a fellow Holocaust survivor. With practiced hands, they prepare meal after meal in their fully stocked West Berlin kitchen, all the while sharing engaging stories about their past. Some are endearing memories of dance clubs and heartthrobs, some very difficult recollections of their time spent in Nazi concentration camps. Their sincerity and outpouring of warmth are magnetic, and it is almost impossible not to fall in love with them by the end of the film.
An Israeli airstrike kills Ahmed Jabari, the leader of the Al Qassam Brigade. Amidst the chaos a young combatant gathers up flesh and an eye of Jabari in a cloth and takes them to the place where the body is being mourned. God willing, he will one day blow himself up in Israel so they will look like this too. At the same time Bissan, the daughter of the Palestinian journalist who is supervising the filming in Gaza, has three fingers blown off by shrapnel, and he fights for her to have surgery in Israel. The operation there is a success. The concept of OTS, a TV documentary series that has been a world-wide success is: Let the locals tell their stories.
A poster is an image with a purpose. It informs, it advertises, it warns or entertains. Collectively, posters form a gallery in the public space. But if there are no longer any messages, if advertising is prohibited and the billboards are abandoned, they reflect only our inner void. Out of the sound of traffic in the street, voice fragments and a concert of whistles and sirens emerges a continuous ominous tone that grows steadily louder, like the sound of approaching aircraft squadrons.
A chronology of isolation: in the autumn of 2011 Banja Koviljača had a population that included 1500 illegal immigrants, who were very conspicuous in the town. They used the small spa on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina in western Serbia as an interim stopover on their way into the EU. But the town’s inhabitants, who had previously made good money renting out accommodation to the asylum-seekers, said “no” to the immigrants. In the spring of 2012, on the initiative of the citizens of Banja Koviljača, units of special police ensured that the town was freed of immigrants. In September the inhabitants celebrated their royal carnival amongst themselves. We see a sad performance with dancers dressed as cockerels: filmed as a farce about the spa culture, now saved from foreign influence. Then a melancholy journey through a wall of fog that isolates the town from the outside world.
Kiedyś mówiło się, że życie zwierząt w jeziorach, stawach i niektórych rzekach jest ograniczane przez zarastającą roślinność. W ostatnich latach nastąpiła degradacja wielu zbiorników wodnych, wynikająca albo z rabunkowej gospodarki wielu tzw. dzierżawców jezior, albo z trwającego od lat kłusownictwa. Cel programu: uzmysłowić społeczeństwu, w jaki sposób degraduje się bezkarnie przyrodę niszcząc jeziora i rzeki, co oznacza dla naszej przyszłości taka degradacja.
The military training ground in Drawsko – as well as other such training grounds, e.g. in Lower Silesia – span thousands of hectares of forests and lakes. One can assume that the life of plants and animals are at risk. Observations prove, however, that the training grounds' regulations enable wildlife growth.
Summer in the city. Promenades, beaches, boats, everywhere semi-naked sun-worshippers with sun protection. Not far away there is the magic quiet of a salt-pan and the archaic labour in the ponds. In an ancient olive grove the tree trunks embrace the stones in their soil. The olives are harvested to be packed in sea salt, and to yield oil, some of it for sunscreen products. Stones are dug from the earth and stacked to form shelters for man and beast or to mark the boundaries of pastures and fields. Salt, olive and stone are the last three bastions of a paradise sought by holidaymakers, but spared because unfound. Or does the tourists’ sun-tan oil get into the sea salt as they bathe?
“Mental work is hard shit”, says the farmer, painter and writer Jüri Jürna, who is slowly making a name for himself with exhibitions and in the publishing world. We get to know this idiosyncratic but likeable older gentleman, with his pictures and his opinions. – “Let’s blow these banks up.” – The economic situation in rural Estonia is desolate. Jürna is a recluse, living in extremely modest circumstances, but at least he is his own master. And to improve his concentration this earnest septuagenarian, who often laughs nonetheless, rides a motocross motorbike.
The bodies of parents grow old. The mind of an adult child refuses to accept these changes. Daniel Bunnik speaks about this directly in his diptych about his father and his mother. Shadow obscures the most drastic elements of the picture, the lighting is discreet. The author's mum has strategies for walking down the stairs – comical, in a way. The weight of the body is still bearable for its owner. For whom is this weight more difficult to withstand: for the parent or the child? The child keeps rebelling and the parent must accept it? The burdens of rebellion and acceptance is counterbalanced by the final scene.
Cornelia is tense and focused. She turns her laptop on and watches long binary sequences. Her face grows tighter, while her gaze, persistently observing the screen, reveals utmost concentration. The binary sequence runs up and down underneath her fingers. “I'm ready,” says Cornelia. The zeros and ones flood the room. Cornelia Beddies' record is 2940 binary symbols memorised in 30 minutes. The code used to digitally reproduce William Turner's “Snow storm at sea” is about 2 million symbols.
We don’t need a road here. There are more and more poachers and they drive foreign snow vehicles, with a road we’d be robbed of everything. We used to have so many elks here, now there are none left. In an endless winter landscape men feel that they and their animals are threatened by our world, until one after another they leave it.
This three-minute film is marked with cultural “isms” of the past two centuries. This can be taken both as its fault and its merit. The daring swimmer submerges and emerges, alone against the water's current, but is she actually against the current of meanings produced in the audio layer? The fear of being overwhelmed by them is indeed a bother, one wishes to escape, and the current is relentless. It makes its way mercilessly into the ears with its monotonous rhythm. The framework for this performance was made with the “rhythmisms” of several artistic generations.
Dr Hans Schonger has followed in his father’s footsteps and is an expert in one of the fringe fields of science: leaf-fall research. During his field-work in the forest he comes across an unusual creature, the timid “Bigfoot”, who is on the run. The sensitive scientist gains the trust of this far-travelled individual, despite their being two seekers worlds apart –expressed in the film by the use of a split screen. A study of a unique friendship that transcends linguistic and cultural barriers.
The water reflects a gigantic building. One could take it for a part of an overgrown housing estate in an impoverished district. A wall separates the building from a strip of greenery – a miserable area of wilderness in the middle (or perhaps on the outskirts – we don't know yet) of town. On the wall, someone sprayed the word SPACE. There we become the invisible onlookers of an intimate, though shouted, conversation. A young woman is talking through the moat, wall, and barbed wire with her love, an inmate inside the huge prison complex not far from central Amsterdam. She is with her daughter.
A fascinating film about Soviet astronautics. The author builds a feeling of enchantment with the cosmos and joy of dreams coming true – only to break it soon after, uncovering the secret of cruel medical experiments on humans and animals. The film reveals the tragedy of catastrophes and death, and ends with the bitterness of disappointment, meaninglessness, and emptiness.
At first just 16 photos, dating from 1992, of a basically simple movement, combined in rhythmic variations. Each image is allocated to a note of a 12-tone scale, until the visual event of sitting down blends with the musical and becomes comical. Then blue sky, white clouds, black chairs and sensual entanglement in an earworm of a New Orleans tune and a 2D world of 25 frames per second, but full of rotation, reflection, refinement, time-lapse, pixilation, rotoscoping and illusion to the point of self-deception in this extended self-portrait that begins with a childhood photo from 20 years before the film, and ends with the drawing of an old man 20 years after it.
Two women – one mature, the other very young, positioned symmetrically in relation to each other, symmetrically dressed. The young woman talks about getting into character, about constructing a personality, about how she becomes that role's persona. She starts to speak in third person: about the actress, about the audition, about the feeling of transparency. The senior woman looks to the side. A suspenseful autothematic situation between an actress and a casting professional – played out with image, short monologue, and silence.
There are couples whose love is put to special tests. If one of the partners is from out of Europe, the lovers are confronted with the regulations of immigration law. The author presents numerous aspects of this situation, creating a surprising and moving story of love that tends to defy borders.
An analysis of modern-day capitalism, definitely surpassing everyday media coverage. The authors have interviewed economy experts, offenders, and activists fighting for change. The analysis is aggressive – due to its content, which can be an unpleasant surprise for the meek (the economic news receivers unskilled at analysing modern capitalism – most of us, that is), as well as its grotesque form. The absurdity and horror of economic reality wittingly presented through animations and talks taking place in a virtual pub.
Everyone dreams. But do people in prison dream differently? The filmmaker Jean-Gabriel Périot asked eight inmates of a prison in Orléans – women and men – to record their dreams in writing. The texts were revised linguistically or, with the help of the musician Gérald Kurdian, rewritten as song lyrics. The protagonists seen reciting or singing their dreams are caught in static frame shots. Looking straight into the camera they capture our attention, especially during the silence at the beginning or end of their takes. The visual axes and the verbalisation of the dreams create a fictional outside world – an escape from prison routine.
For a long time Jean-Gabriel Périot wanted to make a film about the Black Panther civil rights movement. But this was not possible until he met Boogers in Tours and heard his song “The Devil”, which, in the version of the time, faded into a Jeremiah Wright sermon. Périot’s footage loops of violence in a bar and on a sidewalk are not a video clip, they describe the relentlessness of racism. Wherever it reigns there will be not just one blow, kick or shot, but this will happen again and again, the moment a victim shows up in the “wrong” place, answers back or stands up for himself.
At the beginning we see, between black branches, a section of sky with white clouds passing. These grow darker and the silhouette
-like image turns black. We plunge into a visual experiment with the forest. Sounds become distorted, just as the images become increasingly abstract, then almost psychedelic. The outside of civilisation has apparently ceased to exist. The film’s title is ambiguous: it seems to be in the nature of forests to experiment with the observer too. After all, they have been the inspiration for countless paintings and tales. At the end a view across a lake to the edge of a forest. What at first looks like a drawing becomes a film shot that seems somehow familiar. Then the aesthetic adventure is over.
The Peruvian civil war lasted two decades (1980-2000) and cost the lives of 69,000 people, 70 percent of whom belonged to the Quechua-speaking rural population. Terrible crimes were committed not only by the left-wing rebel groups, but also by the military and the police. In addition to its final report, Peru’s Reconciliation Commission compiled an archive of 1500 photographs, on which the film draws. Using selected photographs the director develops a poetic narrative, which is augmented by statements from the forensic specialist José Pablo Baraybar. This is a film about the power of images waiting to be viewed, but which later continue to resurface, as if they were part of one’s own memory.
With their new album, the band Dubioza Kolektiv hope to drag the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina out of their lethargy. We get to know them when Ado interviews them for the organisation “Friends of Srebrenica”. Ado and his team later visit a place near Srebrenica where dumped barrels of radioactive material are causing sickness and death. Namir, who used to be a lawyer and now works for “Farmers Help Farmers” gives us insight into the lives and histories of the people in and around Srebrenica, where in 1995 the massacre took place, the biggest tragedy of the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “What happened, happened. We have to go on living. It’s o.k. ... it’s slow, but it’s getting better”, says one of the people portrayed.
“Most of all I'd like to work in a... where women walk around in fashionable dresses. I'd like to be an actress. And I'd like to be pretty. And for all the boys to love me, and for everyone to know me” - Kasia confesses. She is 6 years old, has a vivid imagination, lots of energy, dreams, and plans. She carefully observes the world around her and is not naive. Kasia, her siblings, parents, and neighbours are separated from the “better” world by a high wall. Kasia lives in Central-Eastern Europe, in Poland. She dreams of dancing lessons, but knows that you need to pay for those, and her parents must first and foremost feed the family.
A motion picture about Eadweard Muybridge, who analysed the movement of a galloping horse with the use of photography in the 1870s. Jean-Michel Rolland rhythmically repeats two shots of the Marseillais race track. The beauty of gallop is gone here. The crack of overcoming an obstacle brings to mind meaningless effort and pain, and the connotations with Muybridge give rise to a variety of questions regarding technology, ideology, analysis, evolution, and activism.
The Garib Nagar slums, Bandra district, Bombay, India. Adjoining houses, colourful garbage. Twelve years old Rubina likes this place: “Life here is nice, really. (…) There are eight-ten kids in every house in the neighbourhood.” For Rubina and her friends, the slums are one huge playground. They can bathe in the rain. Rubina knows, however, that each house can drift away, and each grownup or child can get very sick. She wants to be an actress but is unsure of the future. Rubina Ali is a genuine slum-dweller. She has played in two movies; her first one was “Slumdog millionaire.”
An experimental film full of quick plot twists. In an humourous fashion, the author observes the life of Poles in Germany through the example of Markus S., who – as the protagonist and narrator – ironically plays with prejudice associated with emigrants.
Anonymous consumer products on a shelf. Nonstop staccato from the small and large print from the packages, catalogues, consumer information and world history. In the foreground Auguste Rodin’s “Thinker”, posing as he does in countless copies the world over, sitting and thinking and thinking and depicting for all time Dante Alighieri. But this Thinker is made neither of bronze nor plaster, but of flesh and blood. Here and now a Serb contemplates human behaviour, until the infernal fire turns his supermarket too into the gates of hell.
According to Clausewitz, war is the continuation of politics by other means. 16 years after the war the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague sentences the Croatian general Ante Gotovina to 24 years’ imprisonment for war crimes against Serbian civilians. On the streets people sing a fervent a love-song for their hero, then are stunned when the loudspeakers announce his sentence. They weep, defiantly, angrily, and one declares war. The crowd chants “Fight, fight, fight! Fight for our people!” A year later the Tribunal reverses the verdict and finds him not guilty on all counts. Ante Gotovina is a free man and is given honorary citizenship of the city of Split. Since Roman times it is said that before the courts and on the high seas we are in God’s hands.
If God would come down to Earth and try to earn a living in Bombay, most probably he would very soon become successful as a voice over artist, lending his voice to thousands of Hindi movies and even more documentaries and public service films in India. A melo-dramatic docu-drama with voice-over in stop-motion and long-time exposure.
A documentary portrait about the “emigrant of the year 2013,” Miroslaw Balonis, born in 1968, Polish businessman who has been living in Cologne for 20 years. A man of success, luck, or a charlatan? The film raises questions about identity and nationality in multicultural Europe.
Poland, 1969. The young boy Adam gets called up for service in the People's Army of Poland and is assigned to the Navy's submarine unit. With his older brother, Antoni, he sets out from Rzeszów to Świnoujście, where the unit is deployed. During the several-day trip they pay visits to their old friends and make new ones. This way, Antoni wants to prepare his brother for the tough military life. The plot is set against a background of late 60s' historic events, reported on by the media of the People's Republic of Poland era. “Ticket To The Moon” refers to the so-called road movie.
The intersection of two straight lines, not only in the acrobatics of formulae but also as far as perspective in concerned, lies at infinity. If we stood on rails and looked along them, optical illusion and lack of experience would help overcome the mathematics. But what if, right at our feet, there were countless intersections of countless rails, and what if they looked anything but straight, and the whole tangle began to revolve? We wouldn’t trust our senses, wouldn’t know which way to turn, and that would be the end of all our infinity. No train would ever get through unscathed.
Day and night oversized soft toys can be bought at a train station in Belarus. Salesmen peddle their wares, which are closely packed as in a fairground booth, but are not allowed onto the platform. They rely on travellers leaving the train and coming outside to buy their goods. The makers of these stuffed animal herds are condemned to standstill, misery and delirium. There is no commentary or music to mediate in this grotesquely gaudy catastrophe of wretchedness and plush, only the penetrating images help us to watch the madness.
A man in the subway talks about his fight with corruption, about the corporation people who killed his family and now want to silence him forever. Images of a modern city, scenes from the life of an ordinary Chinese family, and archival footage are accompanied by Tibetan and Western music, including “Lacrimosa” from Mozart's “Requiem,” as well as themes from the “Foundation” cycle by Isaac Asimov. A universal tale about civilisations.
A metropolis pictured from the perspective of a cemetery located on Hart Island in New York. Since 1689, the 18-hectare area served as a burial ground for the homeless, children, newborns. The images of the island – a deserted, cluttered place ideal for a population of wild birds – are accompanied by a dry report on the number and headcount of the transports of the deceased, and on the system of arranging bodies in mass graves. Metropolises and civilisations have their cemeteries bereft of plates or memorials, and their junkyards – literally and figuratively.
“In Tivim there’s a street, in the street a house, in the house a staircase” ... The voice of a little girl leads us into the rich and colourful images of this animated documentary, created together with HIV-infected children in a hospital in Tivim (Goa, India). The drawings and voices are from the boys and girls themselves. They talk about their time in the hospital, their everyday lives and their dreams – with the fantastic logic of children.
In 1968 at the 10th-Anniversary Stadium, Ryszard Siwiec set himself on fire in protest “against the tyranny of lies that overwhelm the world.” Out of the statements of the ones closest to Siwiec, and out of the reports of onlookers, there emerges a portrait of an honourable man who does not submit to compromise.
First the musician Todd Terje speaks: YouTube clips of someone called “Inspector Norse” inspired his dance track of the same name. In real life, Inspector Norse is Marius Solem Johansen. The 27-year-old lives with his sick father in a dismal little Norwegian town, where he runs a tanning studio. Marius hoped to make the big time with his music, but had to accept that no-one was interested: “Whateverest” represents the huge pile of his unfulfilled dreams and plans. A life in the superlative of whatever. The camera is watching when this lonely nerd dances round the supermarket, or when he rampages, completely stoned, through the night-time town dressed as a Christmas tree. An exemplary tale of a lost generation, as only life could write it?
MuLa is a member of the Kayan people, an ethnic minority in Burma. She fled from the Junta into Thailand, where she lives in poverty with her husband and two sons. Sometimes they telephone their daughter, whom they had to leave behind in Burma. “I hope I will see her before I die.” MuLa is seriously ill. Many of the scenes shot in gloom and darkness depict the uncertainty of waiting, which also determines the rhythm of the film. MuLa endures her painful fate, and even as an exotic tourist attraction – decorated with the neck rings typical of Kayan women – she never loses her dignity.