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24th 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

The Paradise
The film consists of video tapes made by the filmmaker’s father documenting daily scenes of family life, family celebrations, and holidays over the course of fifteen years. The tapes are a mixture of the personal and the political – the father was politically engaged in the revolutionary movement that brought Hugo Chávez to power. The family’s life becomes a backdrop for political and economic developments in Venezuela and their impact on the lives of ordinary citizens. Throughout the entire film, Ferreira offers commentary full of personal memories and historical facts. At the end, she returns to her family home, which has changed been recognition. "When I found my father's family tapes it was almost a revelation, I felt a strong need to tell the history of my country through its lens. A metaphor for what we were and what we are, reconstruction and reborn." D. Ferreira

The Paradise

Dulce Ferreira Sanchez
Venezuela / 2018 / 93 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
The Building
In Kharkov, Ukraine lies Derzhprom Palace. The constructivist building, built between 1925 and 1927, was intended to embody the idea of communism. The palace soon became a symbol of the new society and inspired many avant-garde artists, e.g. Mayakovsky, Ejsenstein, Vertov and Dovzhenko. The film captures the current bustling activity of the building at a slow pace and offers a kaleidoscope of different perspectives. Through archival materials - building plans and contemporary film footage - it maps the history of the building and creates tension between the past and present, the new and old parts, the duties of employees and two astonished tourists wandering about.“Like rag-pickers of history, we look at the fragments left over from a time when a new society seemed possible, convinced that history is ultimately about the people who inhabit it” M. Mester, T. Kononenko
personal program

The Building

Matilda Mester, Tatjana Kononenko
Germany, Ukraine / 2019 / 93 min.
section: First Lights
World 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
Instructions for Use of Jiří Kolář
Roman Štětina returns to the subject of radio in a documentary project created in collaboration with radio director Miroslav Buriánek. In documenting Buriánek and the members of the KLAS theater ensemble as they prepare a radio adaptation of Kolář’s poetry collection Instructions for Use, Štětina tries to explore radio directing as a distinctive but hidden artistic act. Without showing the viewer the final radio production, Štětina offers us a unique chance to witness the creative process involved in creating a radio adaptation. The voiceover features commentary on the events in the studio.“Speak, create, share geometrically. No slapped on layers of lyricism. Just sorrow and yearning. And respect the rule of the right angle.” (Miroslav Buriánek)

Instructions for Use of Jiří Kolář

Roman Štětina, Miroslav Buriánek
Czech Republic / 2016 / 130 min.
section: First Lights
World 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
Connatural
This documentary, shot on black and white film, is an excruciating meditation on living close to death, which is nonetheless an inseparable part of life. Three generations of women live in one home, away from other people: an ageing mother, her two daughters, and her granddaughter. In long, slow shots, we see ordinary, regular actions that make up their day: braiding hair in the morning, cleaning the mother’s feet, reading the evening prayers. Lyrically stylized scenes depict their lives as an endless succession of moments of solitude, but which in their sequence and repetition gain strength, approaching analogy in the surrounding beautiful but inert nature.“Connatural stems from a need to express a series of emotions and thoughts related to the human condition. It delves into universal issues that are not usually represented as the experience of old age, everyday life and closeness to death.” J. Bellido

Connatural

Javier Bellido Valdivia
Peru / 2018 / 83 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
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     
personal program

Where the Land Ends

Loïc Darses
Canada / 2019 / 90 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
The Nature of Things
This documentary essay explores the inner world of Angelo Santagostino, a man suffering from ALS, which has left him unable to perform the most basic functions or to communicate without the help of a special computer. The illness has permanently imprisoned him in a wheelchair, but he has maintained a rich inner life. The film conveys Angelo’s dreams, memories, and fantasies in scenes that evoke unfettered movement beyond normal horizons, whether it’s travelling through the universe, swimming underwater, or riding rides at a theme park. The symbolic contrast between his immobile body and his boundless spirit creates a portrait of a person who has maintained admirable dignity in the face of death.„Angelo has been the longest and shortest journey of my life, for sure the most beautiful.” 

The Nature of Things

Laura Viezzoli
Italy / 2016 / 68 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
Czech Journal: Teaching War
This episode from the Czech Journal series examines how a military spirit is slowly returning to our society. Attempts to renew military training or compulsory military service and in general to prepare the nation for the next big war go hand in hand with society’s fear of the Russians, the Muslims, or whatever other “enemies”. This observational flight over the machine gun nest of Czech militarism becomes a grotesque, unsettling military parade. It can be considered not only to be a message about how easily people allow themselves to be manipulated into a state of paranoia by the media, but also a warning against the possibility that extremism will become a part of the regular school curriculum.“In order to identify the reason for which people prepare for war in the name of peace, I have started to portray the rising military spirit in a kaleidoscopic image.”

Czech Journal: Teaching War

Adéla Komrzý
Czech Republic / 2016 / 69 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
The Dazzling Light of Sunset
On dilapidated theater stages, the secular rituals of contemporary Georgian society play out: weddings, fashion shows, beauty pageants, political elections. The static camera, which captures this emotionless choreography of ceremonies in wide-angle shots, contrasts with the dynamic pans of the small camera held by a television reporter whose energetic activities keep a local television station going. A series of carefully framed scenes from the events that Dariko chooses to present to her viewers is juxtaposed with images from inside the run-down television studio, which survives thanks to fees earned from reading obituaries.“It fascinated me how small stories from small towns were so much more important than the big politics. And I wondered what these small stories were.” Salomé Jashi

The Dazzling Light of Sunset

Salomé Jashi
Georgia, Germany / 2016 / 74 min.
section: First Lights
Central European Premiere
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
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