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25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Aphasia
Aphasia
Aphasia

Aphasia

director: Jelena Jureša
original title: Aphasia
country: Belgium
year: 2019
running time: 80 min.

synopsis

The brutal Belgian colonial policy, the Austrian oppression of the Balkans, and ethnic conflicts after the breakup of Yugoslavia – these seemingly unrelated historical episodes create one line of the documentary. In the film, history becomes a kind of speech, which often leads to the inability to formulate a complete sentence in the statements of a person suffering from loss of speech or speech disorder. In three acts, the film looks for words to describe and understand the existence of the museum of the Belgian colonial history, the hovering of Kurt Waldheim before the commission investigating his involvement in SS, and the infamous photograph of the Belgrade’s most popular DJ kicking the head of a dead woman.

“Slavenka Drakulic once wrote that if we believe that the perpetrators are monsters it is because we would like to separate ‘us’ from ‘them’. Aphasia came as a result of questioning that distance.” J. Juresa

biography

Jelena Juresa (1974) was born in Novi Sad in the former Yugoslavia; now she lives and works in Ghent, Belgium. In her photographs, videos and texts, she deals with the issues of identity and memory in politics in. Her work is often related to history, using archival materials contrasted with personal memories and official political narratives.

more about film

director: Jelena Jureša
cast: Barbara Matejčić, Ivana Jozić, Andrew Wise
producer: Quaghebeur Rolf
script: Asa Mendelsohn, Jelena Jureša
photography: Jelena Jureša
editing: Jelena Jureša
music: Sinkauz Alen, Sinkauz Nenad
sound: Slobodan Bajić

other films in the section

Panoptic
Lebanese filmmaker Rana Eid’s documentary essay premiered in the Signs of Life section at the Locarno Film Festival, a film in which she captured her journey through Beirut while mourning the death of her father. In an attempt to understand her hometown, she decided to explore its very core – its underground. Because that was exactly how she de facto lived – in hiding, just as everyone else did during the 17-year-long civil war. The director’s personal journey, filled with atmospheric, auditory sensations (she doesn’t deny her years of sound work), reflects Lebanon’s troubled past, as well as its present and future prospects, on a whole different level. “Drawing into my own memories, Panoptic is both a historical document and the memoir of an ordinary citizen trying to understand the injustices we lived through in Lebanon over the past 40 years.” R. Eid

Panoptic

Rana Eid
Lebanon, United Arab Emirates / 2017 / 69 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
Depth Two
A history of the armed conflict in Kosovo, in which NATO forces also eventually took part, includes many heretofore unexamined events, including mass murders of civilians which the Serbian police attempted to cover up. Ognjen Glavonić’s poetic documentary presents shocking witness testimony and leaves it to the viewer to piece together the events of the time. Unsettlingly stunning visuals give the events a current dimension - long shots of the locations in which the atrocities took place create a symbol of surviving the past in the present that the inexorable forward passage of time usually softens.“By using light and sound, a combination of spoken testimonies and images of the places where the crimes happened, the film speaks directly to the sensations, imagination and emotions of the viewer.” Ognjen Glavonić

Depth Two

Ognjen Glavonić
Serbia, France / 2016 / 80 min.
section: First Lights
Czech Premiere
Sea Tomorrow
This observational documentary examines the disappearance of the Aral Sea and attempts at its restoration. At the location where the majority of maps and atlases show a large, majestic body of water, Katerina Suvorova finds only a largish pond and an arid wasteland, filled with the rusting remnants of wrecks waiting for scrap metal collectors. Shots of the enigmatic landscape, consisting of endless expanses of sand and dust, are alternated with captivating details. Just as fascinating is the strong will and faith of the people who have stayed in this inhospitable environment, such as old gardener, fishermen, and a hydrobiologist. They hope that the sea will return, they are fighting to save it, and they all hope for a better tomorrow. “I see people of the Aral region as a collective image of the last survivors on Earth. Their stories prove that even when the last shuttle abandons our racked planet, there will be people who stay and prefer correction of errors of the past to uncertainty of the future.” Katerina Suvorova

Sea Tomorrow

Yekaterina Suvorova
Kazakhstan, Germany / 2015 / 88 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
Among Houses and the Cosmos
In this sensual film essay, the director has assembled her experiences with rituals in various corners of the world, from Europe across Africa to Latin America. The close interaction of the camera with bodies moving in trances encourages active involvement in the frenzied moments in which people lose themselves in Dionysian intoxication. These moments serve the filmmaker to obliterate the distance between the individual and the collective, personal and foreign, internal and external. The film, however, attaches a political meaning to the rituals, or rather shows how uprooted cultures cope with their minority status through rituals, or even turn it to their favor. “I felt the urgency to work with video footage from years of different travels. During editing, I found myself thinking about the human necessity to impose meaningful patterns on life and being.” Koštana Banović

Among Houses and the Cosmos

Kostana Banović
Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portugal, Senegal, Brazil, Angola, Turkey, Gambia, Cuba, Serbia, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles / 2016 / 70 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
The Things
Nearly 10 years after the conflict in Georgia, Georgian inhabitants of the Russian-occupied territory are still living in temporary camps, waiting to return home. Their dwellings are cookie-cutter houses. They brought only the few items that they managed to grab from their homes when fleeing from the occupation army. Equally austere, almost as empty as their provisional housing, they live their lives at the mercy of waiting for what is to come. In this meditative documentary, real relics of their past lives, everyday things brought from their original homes, are the most tangible manifestations of the irreversibility of time as measured by losses. “We attempted to reflect about war experience from particular perspective, to meet persons rather than statistics, to observe rather than inquire, to contemplate about something we all share - the attachments.” Nino Gogua

The Things

Nino Gogua
Georgia / 2016 / 62 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Meteors
People are transformed from hunters into victims and the city is hit by rockets and meteors on the same day. Through the eyes of actress Ebru Ojen, this strange docu-fiction captures the historical memory of one Kurdish town in eastern Turkey, which is stricken by armed conflict and where martial law throws daily life into a frozen timelessness. The director’s original combination of various cinematic styles with recycled video material joins the film’s many fragments into visually and musically interrelated chapters that mix political commentary with a documentary essay about a disappearing world. “Our behaviours relate to a certain geographic location and its history. It shapes our memories, how we remember them. What happened back then is a faded memory now, and Meteors is my re-imagining of how we remember everything.” G. Keltek

Meteors

Gürcan Keltek
Turkey, Netherlands / 2017 / 85 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
My Unknown Soldier
Documentarian Anna Kryvenko offers an unusual perspective on the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia. She conceived My Unknown Soldier as an audio-visual diary, through which she revisits the events of the time with rare archive material and her own commentary. Her great-uncle was a soldier in the occupying forces; he committed suicide shortly after his return from Czechoslovakia. Kryvenko’s own Ukrainian origin earns her first-hand experience of the Czechs’ deep-seated hatred of Russian-speaking people. The film therefore casts light on another unfortunate legacy of the August 1968 events in contemporary Czech, but also Ukrainian and Russian society."I don’t want to speak about general justice or truth. I would like to show that no truth can be definite. This is a story about how one becomes an “occupier” without intending to." A. Kryvenko

My Unknown Soldier

Anna Kryvenko
Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia / 2018 / 79 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Cain´s Children
Three men, each from a different corner of Hungary. Their fates, their worldviews, and their living conditions differ, but they nonetheless have something in common: when they were very young, each of them killed someone and then suffered for years in prison. How do people who spent critical moments of their adolescence in the difficult conditions of a detention center come to terms with committing a crime and living their lives afterwards? As an answer, this film offers a chilling, visually compelling treatment of beings on the edge of society, whose crippled lives are cracked like the linoleum that one of their mothers futilely attempts to piece together in her crumbling home. DETAIL:People thought I was a psychopathic animal. But they didn’t laugh anymore.

Cain´s Children

Marcell Gerő
Hungary, France / 2014 / 104 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
Dopamina
The filmmaker’s family falls into crisis when her father is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease – a condition in which the brain stops producing dopamine, the hormone responsible for muscle movement and happiness. At the same time, Natalia is coming out to her parents, former left-wing social activists, something for which they have no understanding. In her intimate and contemplative film, the director interviews her relatives about their life stories and, through an intergenerational dialogue, tries to reach a mutual respect and family harmony that could help her sick father. “Making films is my way of experiencing the world, the most organic form of inhabiting it that I have ever felt. Dopamine, my first feature film, was a necessity and a beautiful exorcism.” N. Imery Almario 

Dopamina

Natalia Imery Almario
Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina / 2019 / 87 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Interregnum
The whole world experienced it. Empty streets. A restricted social life. Listening to news reports about increasing numbers of infected and dead. A slow return to the norm only after several months. The first people in the streets and the first stroll through the city. Because of the declared state of emergency and mandatory quarantine requirements, Fernando was stuck in Barcelona and César in Santiago. Together, they have created a penetrating film collage from their everyday impressions during the days of stagnation and uncertainty and from the letters they exchanged between March and May 2020. The leitmotif of their Covid correspondence is the desire to move about freely and a search for fixed points. One of these is a deep friendship. "Fragile and uncertain, like the era of the pandemic, the film emerges as a dialogue from the domestic, as an act of resistance that starts from the real and opens up to the possibility of reversing it" C. Souto Vilanova, F. Gómez-Luna  Q&A with César Suoto Vilanova, Fernando Goméz-Luna:  
personal program

Interregnum

César Souto Vilanova, Fernando Gómez-Luna
Spain / 2020 / 79 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Where the Land Ends
Québec is the largest Canadian province and the only one with the official language being only French. Modern struggles for Québec’s independence have resulted in two referendum polls which both acknowledged its being a part of Canada. The film explores Québec identity through the perspective of young people who haven’t had the chance to vote in the referendums. It comes up with questions about their relationship to their ancestors, whose traditions had been captured on camera by the documentary filmmaker Pierre Perrault, or whether their previously clear identification has begun losing ground now. In the course of a contemplative journey through the province’s cities and nature, seventeen young people provide their questions and ideas.“Where the Land Ends is a voice and a space. A voice that I realized I no longer heard, yet that I needed to hear. A space that still lived through some, but which we could no longer inhabit ourselves.” L. Darses     

Where the Land Ends

Loïc Darses
Canada / 2019 / 90 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
A last year in 114 minutes
The director captures the final year in the life of the woman who helped raise him, as age slowly gets the best of her. The simple filming style, in which neither the camera nor the protagonist ever leaves her flat, results in an unusually intense and extremely personal record of time passing and the relationship with a loved one. It’s a raw yet formal testament that sensitively manages to avoid any trace of sentimental kitsch, leading the viewer on an emotional journey of the everyday reality of Buni’s days and her mercilessly worsening physical and psychological condition.DETAIL:They put a pencil inside a tea package. I don’t know why someone would put the pencil in there. To keep a journal each time that you are drinking tea? I just don’t get it. In a tea for diabetes...

A last year in 114 minutes

Daniel Nicolae Djamo
Romania / 2014 / 114 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
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