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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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The Road Back

The Road Back

director: Wouters Maurits
original title: De weg terug
country: Belgium
year: 2016
running time: 31 min.

synopsis

The Road Back is a documentary journey to a time and place that have long been considered lost. The main character tries to find a lost village near a former international railway line where his recently deceased mother spent her youth. The past merges with the present as the filmmaker mixes archival films and close-ups of nature with old photographs. In fact, this blending of two media with different relationships to time forms the basis for discovering not only the relicts of the past that lie hidden beneath layers of contemporary phenomena, but also the unstoppable flow of seemingly unchanging time.

The Road Back incorporates the characteristics of home videos in narrative schemes. In the hope to create a personified and intimate film, based on the directness of home video.”

biography

Maurits Wouters (1986) is a Belgian director and visual artist who experiments with the expressive possibilities of film, video, and photography in order to engage in nostalgic explorations of the landscape of personal and historical memory. His previous films include the short Son (2013), which was dedicated to his sick mother, and The Movement of Phill Niblock (2015), a portrait of the iconic New York avant-garde musician and filmmaker.

more about film

director: Wouters Maurits
producer: Wouters Maurits
music: Jeroen Van de Sande, Ronald Brosens
sound: Chris Watson

other films in the section

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: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Talks with TGM
Another contribution to the specific subgenre of animated history by the scriptwriter Pavel Kosatík. On 26 September 1928, Karel Čapek and President Masaryk meet in the gardens of Topolčianky castle to decide about the fate of their joint literary work. Their fiction film dialogue is based on quotes from a future book and their mutual correspondence, considerably freeing the original format of literary conversation from binding conventions. Čapek and Masaryk reproach and offend each other, but they also ask key personal questions and questions about the social functions of a writer and politician respectively.“It’s a film about two extraordinary men; it’s about the fact that emotions can be sometimes more powerful than ideas even in such exceptional people.” J. Červenka

Talks with TGM

Jakub Červenka
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2018 / 80 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
A Volatile Tale
The unexpected birth of young birds frames this daily observation of a bird colony from the window of a flat in Rome. A poetic juxtaposition of human and bird life, of the search for god and a yearning for perfection, plays out on a minimalist stage of a few slanting rooftops. The footage of urban gulls, taken with a shaky handheld camera and intercut with shots of nuns from the neighbouring monastery, are mixed with poems, excerpts from novels and classical music. Only now and then – in a reflection in a window or from a seemingly banal conversation – do we learn anything about the people behind the camera.„Is life linear? Why should narration be. Our attentive eyes excite our thoughts. Let's follow them. A Volatile Tale proceeds through associations describing not the existing but the experience." C. Vestroni

A Volatile Tale

Carla Vestroni
Italy / 2017 / 44 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
29 26
 The film 29 26 is an audiovisual recording of the thoughts and feelings of two sixteen-year-old and two nineteen-year-old girls, who in monologues reveal their concerns and ideas about the life they’ll lead in ten years. The director underscores their speech with stylized and realistic images of themselves, acquired under varying circumstances and on different materials, thus creating an original work of art connecting elements of multiple artistic areas that are close to the author. Long shots of the protagonists’ faces, captured in great detail, are highlighted with expressive illumination and interleaved with poetic, experimentally conceived passages.„‘The world grows with fear next to us‘“ - 29 26, tries to be an intimate and honest tribute/portrait about growing up. Together we create a new space, between performance and film hoping to remember who we were one day.“ P. Velho

29 26

Pedro Velho
Portugal / 2018 / 40 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Our Nixon
During Watergate, the FBI confiscated more than 500 reels of Super 8 film shot by Nixon’s advisors Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Chapin. The films spent 40 years locked in a government safe. Our Nixon uses this “found footage” as the basis not for an experiment in form, but for a humorous, playful and pertinent commentary on the line between privacy and politics. “All of Nixon’s men” smile as they run towards the camera, a circus bear circles on a motorcycle, and a pop hit of the time goes: “You’ve been around for such a long time now.” A home video becomes the opening sequence for a television series.

Our Nixon

Penny Lane
United States / 2013 / 85 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European Premiere
Appunti del passaggio
The 1960s saw a large wave of immigration from Italy to Switzerland, which was infamously accompanied by hurdles thrown up against this new workforce. Meditative static images reveal the places, the landscape, and the border between the countries that are a part of this story. Photographs and an intermezzo consisting of the reading of poems inspired by the diaspora add an emotional element. The notes of a young woman read as voiceover give the documentary a multilayered narrative that tells the story of the collective memory of a group of economic migrants and their working conditions, exploitation, and loss of dignity. “By critically examining the merging of political power and cinema, as well as various ‘aesthetics of reality’, the project proposes a convergence of past and present to question history through (hi)stories of migration, architecture and cinema.”

Appunti del passaggio

Maria Iorio, Raphaël Cuomo
Italy, Switzerland / 2016 / 43 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Letters to Max
Maxim Gvinjia, the former minister of foreign affairs of the breakaway republic of Abkhazia – whose independence from Georgia has been recognized by only a few countries – is a friend of director Eric Baudelaire, who has been writing him from France since 2012. In the film, these letters are presented in text form and Gvinjia’s telephone replies are read in voiceovers. Gvinjia’s personal stories and his reflections upon his nation and its history are accompanied by footage of daily life in Abkhazia, for the most part short and simple snapshots taken by a professional hand-held camera, with no apparent connection to the letters’ contents.DETAIL:“The first letter that I received. It’s real letter, it’s wrapped in paper. ‘Dear Max, Are you there? Eric.’ Honestly, I am somewhere. I’m here, I’m in Abkhazia, in my office. It’s a sunny day. It’s eve of independence day.”

Letters to Max

Eric Baudelaire
France / 2014 / 103 min.
section: Opus Bonum
East European Premiere
You Can Just Learn It
On their path to economic prosperity, Singaporeans have had to give up certain traditions and even their own particular Chinese dialect. Today, the youth of Singapore travel around the word speaking standard Chinese and English and, in general, taking advantage of all the benefits that globalisation has brought. At the same time, within their grandparents’ generation the continuity of previous eras continues to linger on. The film’s director goes against time and current trends when she asks her grandmother to teach her how to prepare a traditional dish – chicken and rice. In this minimalist documentary, which is filmed primarily in the kitchen, we inadvertently also find out many details of Singapore’s cultural history.DETAIL:“Why do you think this way?” “Because I am about to die, and I don’t have interest in anything. It’s true, I don’t have interest in anything. When there is no more strength in my heart, I stop caring about much.”

You Can Just Learn It

Abigail Han
Singapore, United States / 2015 / 29 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Backstage Action
This is de facto a film about a film, with the only difference being that the focus is exclusively on the extras. They are filmed while waiting to take their turn, while conversing with others, and thinking about their performances. Although they take their duties very seriously and long to be stars, for the filmmakers, they’re just people that can be coordinated as necessary, nothing more. This film, on the contrary, gives them full consideration, revealing their personalities, what they experience, and what they dream of. The footage comes from many different places where movies are made, involving extras from all different nationalities."The representative becomes a present body, a speaking body, he becomes an acting body, even a political body liberated from the stereotypes that pertain to the community he was supposed to represent." S. Azari 

Backstage Action

Sanaz Azari
Belgium / 2018 / 61 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
The End of Time
From Swiss scientists who seek to probe regions of time we cannot see in a 27-kilometre long tunnel, to lava flows in Hawaii which have overwhelmed all but one home on the south side of Big Island, to a Hindu funeral rite near the place of Buddha’s enlightenment, Mettler explores our perception of time, the nature of time. “What is time? When no one asks me, then I know. Was I to explain it to someone, only then I don’t.” (St. Augustine)

The End of Time

Peter Mettler
Canada, Switzerland / 2012 / 109 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Expectant
If we look up the word "expectante" in a Spanish-English dictionary, we learn it is an adjective which can be translated as “expecting” or “biding one's time”. It is no accident this single-word title belongs to an disconcerting Peruvian film which takes its audience to a darkened city where a group of friends is spending an evening of leisure. Even though the neighborhood they live in is a relatively safe one, their locked doors and gates provide no more than an illusion of safety, which is a thought applicable world wide. The distant black-and-white camera through which the audience observes the plot seems to be biding its time for a chance to attack."I think cinema is about creating sensations and reaching out to a personal language as a way to manifest our vision as individuals." F. Rodriguez Rivero

Expectant

Farid Rodriguez Rivero
Peru, Portugal / 2018 / 77 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
The Wall
The Stalin Cult is once again gaining in strength in Russia. Every December 21st, the former Communist leader’s admirers gather to honor him on Red Square, at the site of his grave in the Kremlin Wall. In this observational documentary, the Russian director introduces the principle of “walking heads” – the majority of the footage consists of long takes showing the faces of the people waiting in line to place flowers and pay homage in front of a bust of Stalin. Accompanied by the sound of shuffling feet, a representative sample of various human types parades in front of our eyes, their faces reflecting almost a sacred reverence for a man who was responsible for the murder of several millions of their fellow citizens."Imagine thousands of Jews praying to Hitler’s grave. Impossible? How people can worship the one who annihilated them? In modern Russia we can witness a similar paradox." D. Bogolubov

The Wall

Dmitry Bogolubov
Russia / 2017 / 43 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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