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25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

ji-hlavadok-revuecdfEmerging producersInspiration Forum
Yellowing
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Yellowing

Yellowing

director: Tze Woon Chan
original title: 亂世備忘
country: Hong Kong SAR China
year: 2016
running time: 133 min.

synopsis

The Hong Kong protests of 2014 known as the “Umbrella Revolution” were an expression of some people’s dissatisfaction with the restrictive interventions in local affairs by the Chinese government. The protestors, primarily young people, rejected the limitations on local autonomy made by the communist government. In his first-person participant documentary, director Tze-woon Chan and his hand-held camera become a part of events in the island city. Over the course of 20 chapters (or “memos”), the film’s young protagonists express their feelings and views of the revolution whose cruel historical momentum rolled right over them.

“Hearts might change before China’s assumed complete takeover. But I made Yellowing to document the Umbrella Movement, in the hope that our initial intent and belief might be remembered and be reminded of.”

biography

Chan Tze Woon (1987) studied political sciences and film production at the Baptist University of Hong Kong. His first two films, The Aqueous Truth (2013) and Being Rain: Representation and Will (2014), are essentially mockumentaries that used a conspirational narrative form to reveal hidden truths about Hong Kong politics. Among other things, Yellowing (2016) is a documentary of his participation in the Umbrella Revolution.

more about film

director: Tze Woon Chan
producer: Yin-Cheung Peter Yam
photography: Tze Woon Chan
editing: Jean Ho, Tze Woon Chan
music: Jacklam Ho

other films in the section

Spectres are haunting Europe
The Idomeni refugee camp housed people from the Middle East who were trying to cross the border into Europe. When the Greek police closed the camp, the refugees resisted and blocked a railway line used to deliver goods. Maria Kourkouta’s minimalist documentary not only observes these events but also presents carefully modeled static images that open up the space within and without the frame of view, and in the closing black-and-white sequence offers a poetic commentary. The result is a bleak portrait of a place where endless lines of refugees try to preserve the final remnants of their individual freedoms. “This film is a call to welcome the refugees that cross the European borders, as well as the ghosts that return with them.”

Spectres are haunting Europe

Maria Kourkouta, Niki Giannari
France, Greece / 2016 / 99 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Missing
Once we begin to consider certain people, items, or memories as our own, we lay ourselves open to the threat that we’ll lose them. Once the loss actually occurs, our mental image of the lost thing doesn’t disappear – on the contrary – it intensifies. This documentary, inspired by the stories of missing people in Iranian newspapers, searches for people who have disappeared for various reasons, but their tracks still resonate. A wide spectrum of archival materials offers a variety of answers to the question of how the absent can remain present, while live images of grieving loved ones then act as an appeal to all those who would brush off this painful ambivalence. „It could be so simple at times. We just leave home and forget to return. Or don’t want to return. Or cannot return...” F. Sharifi

Missing

Farahnaz Sharifi
Iran / 2017 / 60 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
The Shelter
Nervousness, stress and bursts of violence in front of a bunker in the Swiss town of Lausanne, where every night in winter homeless people – most of them immigrants – undergo selection. The old bunker is an emergency shelter, but the number of people looking for a bed is more than the facility can handle. First women and children, the aged and handicapped, then the men. All of the participants in this ritual are under mental pressure. Shot in a combination of static long shots and close-ups of the arguing people, the film looks at the microcosm of stories of people caught in a vicious bureaucratic circle.DETAIL:“I’ve seen people arrive, handsome like you. After five months, when they didn’t find work... human decline... people’s morals deteriorate... at some point, before getting to that stage, go back home.”

The Shelter

Fernand Melgar
Switzerland / 2014 / 101 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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
Pill Junkies
In the 1980s, they fled from Poland to Sweden to find independence, but instead discovered the exact opposite. Tadeusz and Krystyna are addicted to legally distributed drugs. They form an ageing couple who are drawn together more by their common weaknesses and withdrawal symptoms than a mutual attraction. The safety net of the Swedish social system meanwhile dangerously tightens in around them in proportion to their increasing need for the drugs. This observational documentary filmed by Tadeusz’s son reveals, with an unusual intensity, a type of addiction that with bitter irony can be called legal. DETAIL:“For some people happiness is winning a million bucks or two. This ain’t happiness. Happiness is when someone can live an ordinary life.”

Pill Junkies

Bartosz Staszewski
Poland / 2014 / 76 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Katyusha: Rocket Launchers, Folk Songs, and Ethnographic Refrains
What is the effect of an overheard melody, especially when it sounds almost painfully familiar? In a house full of personal photographs and to the sound of a barrel-organ melody, the film’s director explores the history of her family, which was forced to flee from the Soviet Union before the Second World War. This experimental anthropological film is a mediation on the shared experience of song and the phenomenon of memories associated with popular melodies. As if fired from the eponymous rocket launcher, the artificial folk song Katyusha soared through civilizational skies to become the soundtrack of more than a few human tragedies.“Conflating years of research, archival digging, and excerpts from familial, institutional, and other collections, Katyusha is an experimental documentary that ruminates on the circulation and constructions of cultural memory and national(ist) narratives.” 

Katyusha: Rocket Launchers, Folk Songs, and Ethnographic Refrains

Kandis Friesen
Canada / 2016 / 38 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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 Interceptor from My Hometown
The Chinese government allows its citizens to file official complaints against their local governments, but at the same time unofficially prevents them from doing so. This documentary is the result of the director’s random encounter with an old classmate whose job is to convince people not to file their complaints. In long monologues by the director’s acquaintance, which take up most of this critical portrait of modern China, we hear a sense of shame at his job, but also helpless resignation  

The Interceptor from My Hometown

Zanbo Zhang
China / 2011 / 90 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European Premiere
The Lust for Power
In recent Slovak history, there’s hardly a more significant figure than Vladimír Mečiar. Director Tereza Nvotová approaches him from several different directions. One is an interview that she conducted with him directly, another is his narrative monologue that presents Slovak history against the backdrop of his own family history, and finally through archival images of Mečiar’s public appearances in the media. Her film, accompanied by aerial images of the Slovak landscape as it appears today, poses the question of what Mečiar meant for the her generation, for society at the time, and for Slovakia in general. “When I was 10-years-old, we´d make believe that we were E. T., Winnetou or Mečiar. Now I want to find out who he really was and what he has done to us and to our country because now I see the same story playing out all over the world.“ T. NvotováThe film is being screened in cooperation with the Representation of the European Commission in the Czech Republic.

The Lust for Power

Tereza Nvotova
Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2017 / 89 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Looking for North Koreans
The dual nature of North and South Korea, forcibly divided by the Soviet Union’s power plays, continues to aff ect the lives of both countries’ inhabitants to this day. Every year, more and more people leave the totalitarian north; every year, more families and lives are torn apart. Kidnappings, extortion, human trafficking, threats of extermination, and hundreds of missing are the order of the day. A dark shadow looms over neighbouring China as well, where the trail of most traffickers and their victims comes to an end. The film goes searching for North Koreans who have disappeared, interviews victims and traffickers, and explores the grey zone of these political twins.  

Looking for North Koreans

Jero Yun
France / 2012 / 73 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
We Went to War
In 1970, the documentary I Was a Soldier about American soldiers who had recently returned from the war in Vietnam explored an open wound. Its continuation, We Went to War, shows how that wound is healing after more than 40 years. It follows the same three men from Texas as the first film, except that the young men with recent traumatic experiences are now old men who have been shaped by those experiences.  

We Went to War

Michael Grigsby
United Kingdom, Ireland / 2012 / 77 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European Premiere
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Grande-Synthe is a suburb of the French port town of Dunkerque. In 2002, its residents were shocked by a racially motivated murder committed by a longtime resident looking to release his inner frustrations through ethnic violence. More than 10 years after the tragic events, the filmmakers have come to record how this place has changed. Their various stops in this agglomeration retrace the murderer’s journey as he drove around town looking for his future victim. Recited excerpts from his interrogation mix with current reflections by local residents and a piano soundtrack to give the film a sense of desolation.DETAIL:“When I was 16, I wanted to die too. I also wanted to shoot myself because a girl dumped me. But my dog would have been alone. I’m sure people will say it’s my fault. It’s always like that.”

Memories from Gehenna

Jenkoe Thomas
France / 2015 / 56 min.
section: Opus Bonum
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