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25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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God Straightens Legs
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God Straightens Legs
God Straightens Legs
God Straightens Legs
God Straightens Legs

God Straightens Legs

director: Joële Walinga
original title: God Straightens Legs
country: Canada
year: 2018
running time: 67 min.

synopsis

At the center of this observational documentary stands the director's mother, Renée, bedridden with an insidious disease. With respect for her mother’s devotional faith, the atheistic-minded filmmaker captures a woman who for religious reasons refused to undergo traditional chemotherapy and waits for a miracle between the walls of her bedroom . While outside the window of the woman's room life goes on day after day, the camera patiently follows the protagonist during her normal activities with which she whiles away the hours - watching TV, talking with friends, praying with a friend, meeting with nurses, as well as routinely cleaning the house.

"Dealing not only with the trauma of her diagnosis but also with societal reproach for her decision, I wanted to make a portrait of my mother without judgement, instead with empathy, curiosity and patience." J. Walinga

biography

Joële Walinga (1988) is a visual artist and filmmaker from Toronto. She studied intermedia at NSCAD University and Concordia University. In 2017 she made her first short fiction-film Cave Small Cave Big, which was included in the catalogue of the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Center (CFMDC). God Straightens Legs, which is her first feature-length documentary film, premiered at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival. 

more about film

director: Joële Walinga
producer: Joële Walinga, Daniel Warth, Vita Carlino
photography: Maya Bankovic

other films in the section

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
My Name is Hungry Buffalo
Jan calls himself Buffalo. He loves cowboys, he’s blind, and may lose his hearing. Pavel Jurda’s documentary follows his journey to America to visit the chief of the Navajo tribe, who wants to perform a ritual to help his hearing. The film is full of unpretentious humor thanks to Jan’s charisma. In the USA, he’s like the Don Quixote of the Wild West - a naive adventurer in a world that is much more ordinary than his imagination. This observational, but not standoffish, film is also an example of how the medium of film can relate to blind people by constantly showing the difference between what Jan perceives and what we actually see.“The film is not about blindness, even if the main character is blind. It is about yearning for life. ‘We are all handicapped in some way,’ says a guy during a journey that starts with an accident and ends in triumph.”

My Name is Hungry Buffalo

Pavel Jurda
Czech Republic / 2016 / 83 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Ming of Harlem: Twenty One Storeys in the Air
Despite the outrage and indignation of his fellow New Yorkers, Antoine Yates and his animal friends – a 250-kilo Bengal tiger and a two-meter-long alligator – spent several years living together in his Harlem flat. Warnell’s investigative film essay on the relationship between humanity and animality takes Yates’s statements from the time when the public learned of his cohabiting with dangerous animals, and juxtaposes them with poetic footage of the predators moving freely around his flat. The director is less interested in the sensational case from 2003 than in exploring more universal and intimate aspects of people’s communication with animals, and their behavior in a domesticated setting.DETAIL:“People really don’t understand, like, when they took him away is, like is almost, like, taken a part of me away. It’s like cut to a piece your soul. Part of me is just gone.”

Ming of Harlem: Twenty One Storeys in the Air

Phillip Warnell
United Kingdom, United States, Belgium / 2014 / 71 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
Chasing after the Wind
In recent years, the Getsemaní neighborhood in the Colombian town of Cartagena has evolved from a dangerous and crime-filled area to an attractive tourist center. The film nevertheless attempts to capture the neighborhood’s old spirit, as embodied by the 60-something Gustav, whom the camera follows on his nighttime wandering through the town and his occasional musings (sometimes drug-influenced) on God, death, drugs, and the natural order. For the most part, the camera keeps close to Gustav’s body, following him through long shots while exploring the play of the nighttime lights on his skin.DETAIL:“Religion for me... the best exercise it has. But the best thing religion has to offer for me is confession. By doing this they can clean up their rubble. One of the things that make people feel most relieved is when they throw out their rubble.”

Chasing after the Wind

Juan Camilo Olmos Feris
Colombia / 2014 / 61 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Noiseless, Desert Extras
Since the dawn of cinematography, the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate has been a lively center where extras for films with an Arabic theme are found in abundance. This poetic documentary, intentionally using acknowledged staging, shows how the electrifying energy of film flows through the local population. In this “game for real”, the filmmakers deconstruct film as an imitation of life, but one that becomes more than real for the interviewed film extras. This story presents the totality of moving images from a location where you would definitely never look for it."We are concerned about ideologies and fantasies that shape singular communities. In Noiseless we decided to build pictures with the extras of Ouarzazate to reflect on cinema's illusions." G. Lepore, Maciek and Michał Madracki

Noiseless, Desert Extras

Michał Mądracki, Maciej Madracki, Gilles Lepore
Poland, France, Morocco / 2017 / 64 min.
section: First Lights
European Premiere
Sand and Blood
The film takes a look at the recent history of two Middle Eastern countries torn by war – Iraq and Syria – from the perspective of local residents who have made the decision to flee their homes and seek asylum in Austria. It’s made up of a montage of conversations with refugees and amateur videos and images from various social networks and online platforms depicting events in both countries. Sand and Blood links individual stories and histories which are intended to awaken a deeper interest in the topic. Instead of a political film, the director considers his work to be something like a painting or poem. „A film that forces the viewer to question the very nature of good and evil, victim and perpetrator.” M. Krepp

Sand and Blood

Matthias Krepp
Austria / 2017 / 90 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
Evaporating Borders
Ethnically divided Cyprus is one entry point for those seeking asylum in “Fortress Europe”. In five acts, this film essay offers a subjective look, supported by sociological data, at the phenomenon of immigration as a lived experience. The director, herself a political immigrant, reflects upon the broader contexts of the competing social forces that shape contemporary Europe’s immigration policy, the liberal desire to take in political refugees, and society’s unwillingness to accept them. For the refugees themselves, the journey to freedom often ends by falling into an abyss of hopelessness and despair.DETAIL:“With strange paranoia, we shield ourselves from these humans who exile themselves for promises of rich countries. The world is not interested in their tides of humanity. Instead we welcome a new category of criminal: the migrant.”

Evaporating Borders

Iva Radivojević
United States / 2014 / 73 min.
section: First Lights
Central European Premiere
Daniel´s World
Twenty-five year old literary academy student Daniel is dealing with his non-traditional sexual orientation, the perception of which in society is colored by a number of prejudices. He introduces his family, friends, and society to his lot as a homosexual pedophile – and through his creative writing, himself as well. This documentary empathetically captures public and private moments of his confessions. Daniel’s deep self-reflection and emphasis on other than purely sexual values enabled the creators to present the situation of a pedophile completely and humanely. His charm, self-deprecating view, and sense of exaggeration give the film a surprising lightness and wit.DETAIL:“Let’s watch some boys.” “OK, one pedo-anthem, then.”

Daniel´s World

Veronika Lišková
Czech Republic / 2014 / 75 min.
section: First Lights
World 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 Making of Justice
A consistently out-of-focus visual record tracking seven men as they discuss the screenplay for a film about the life path of Tom, a young murderer who, after twelve years in prison, returns to the village where he lived, and tries to prove – to himself and others – that he has changed. The camera slides down the walls, snoops between chair legs, and captures useless details of the individual body parts of the participating figures. The schematic story of Tom’s guilt, punishment, and new beginning, which the film’s director guides her consultants through step by step, gradually gains in plasticity and becomes a surprisingly effective tool for thinking about the image of a criminal and the concept of justice. "Fiction is a powerful tool to re-imagine oneself and the world, a place where judgement can be suspended. This is a rare occasion to hear the voices of perpetrators as human beings, in an increasingly revengeful society."  S. Vanhee

The Making of Justice

Sarah Vanhee
Belgium / 2017 / 60 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Nagastyle
A radical introspection and a film diary that leads us into the heart of a noisy Indian city and of a life stranded in shallow waters. A gifted artist, Nagnath aka Nagastyle, reflects his journey to make his dream come true based on the notes in his diary. His hopes for creative filmmaking are swiftly replaced by endless routines of early mornings, long travel on crowded buses and sitting around in an uninspiring office. The crises becomes a theme, the film becomes perhaps a means of therapy but above all a study of alienation served straight, unfiltered, with complete honesty and mundanity.   „With the help of two friends and sometimes I lonely shot during the work time. Four months' time for shooting and eight months for editing. For me this film like selfie…“ N. Kharat   Q&A with Nagnath Kharat:  
personal program

Nagastyle

Nagnath Kharat
India / 2020 / 93 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Like an Abortion, for the Very First Time
The Umbrella Movement was a wave of street protests that took place in Hong Kong from September to December 2014 as a reaction to oppressive practices of the Chinese government against the citizens of Hong Kong dissatisfied with planned changes in the electoral system. In her feature film debut, To Liu captured the citizens of the western part of Kowloon, Mong Kok, whose protests might not have been as visible as those of the leading activists, but were no less important. The documentary rhythmized by opening entries and darkening of the scene, much like the director’s first film, follows two characters, a master and an apprentice.„'We are the fucking losers. But at least we fought', Mongkok people." T. Liu

Like an Abortion, for the Very First Time

To Liu
Hong Kong SAR China / 2018 / 102 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Creative Europe
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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