25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival
director: Hubert Sauper
original title: Epicentro
running time: 107 min.
Somewhere between North and South America, capitalism and communism, and the Soviet Union and the United States lies Cuba — regarded as a historical, geographical, and cultural intersection of various utopian visions. Although these visions have yet to be fulfilled, the people of Havana, whom Hubert Sauper chose as his guide, still cleave to them and continue to believe the stories of their ancestors. This spontaneous and melancholic travel essay confronts the unadorned reality of the impoverished island state and explores the myths its people live by. And despite the country’s long history of foreign influence, oppression, and political upheavals, these myths have ensured that the people of Cuba never lose their inner freedom.
“In Epicentro, I tried to reflect on these amazing and opposing terms, ‘utopia’ and ‘dystopia’, and thereby focused on Cuban society as a case study.” H. Sauper
Q&A with the director of Epicentro Hubert Sauper:
Documentary filmmaker and traveler Hubert Sauper (1966) first studied film directing in his native Austria before continuing his studies in France, where he now lives today. He frequently returns to Africa where he also produced the investigative documentary film, Darwin's Nightmare (2004), which was nominated for an Oscar and won the Special Jury Recognition award in the Between the Seas competition section at the Jihlava International Film Festival. His poetic film, We Come as Friends (2014), also took home awards at Jihlava and a number of other festivals.
more about film
|cast:||Leonelis Arango Salas, Annielys Pelladito Zaldivar, Oona Chaplin|
|producer:||Martin Marquet, Daniel Marquet, Gabriele Kranzelbinder, Paolo Calamita|
|editing:||Yves Deschamps, Hubert Sauper|
|music:||Zsuzsanna Váarkonyi, Maximilian Turnbull|
other films in the section
The body as a material sculpting object and abstract unity of functions. The body as a part of early traumas, ideological rejection, political censorship, persistence and ephemerality. The body as a concept of organization of extensive natural communities. The body as an empty shrine for further artistic use. This audiovisual essay in letters by Iranian filmmaker and British sculptor is a dreamful, intimate dialogue, discourse on the country’s fate following the Islamic revolution, on family and a desire to perfect the female body devastated by malignant disease. A film conversation on the artistic reflection of beauty, memory, experience, fulfilment and inception of new life.
A Moon for My Father
Douglas White, Mania Akbari
United Kingdom, Iran / 2019 / 73 min.
A genre hybrid film by Vincent Boy Kars is a docu-dramatic experiment – the main character, Leyla, is supposed to play key scenes from her life. The acted parts of the film explore Leyla’s relationships with her parents and boyfriend – played by hired actors – and the art of dance she has been studying. More emphasis, however, is placed on the parts between the scenes when Boy Kars and Leyla discuss her life and the ways to present it. Not only does Leyla relive her memories but she also has re-enact them again and again, always in another way, following the director’s instructions. The documentary highlights the constructive nature of documentary films and begs the question how drama helps us understand our own lives. “To me, this film is about developing your own way of filming. Sometimes I seem to create a new genre. I combine interesting elements of fiction and documentary, trying to develop an approach where acting and being come together.” V. Boy Kars
Vincent Boy Kars
Netherlands / 2020 / 90 min.
Central European Premiere
The film opens up the topic of safety in public American high schools in response to the country’s frequent school shootings committed by armed students. While sports games, homecoming, and prom remain traditional high school rituals as always, a new set rituals have become commonplace: school lockdown drills, bag checks when entering the school, and even firearm training for teachers. The film approaches the deep, systemic problem of mass murders caused by racial and economic inequality among adolescents in American society, while also exploring the unimaginable fear for many European viewers that you can actually get shot in math class. “We’re doing everything we can to harden the infrastructure to keep people from getting in, but what keeps me up at night is that the wolf is in the henhouse. The threat always comes from inside.“ Bulletproof, (15:30–15:50)
United States / 2020 / 83 min.
On March 20, 1995, members of the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo religious cult released deadly sarin gas in five Tokyo subway stations. Twelve people died. Among the hundreds of others who suffered long-term complications was the film's director Atsushi Sakahara. After more than twenty years, he decided to find out who was behind the attacks. He managed to convince a man who is still associated with the active movement to appear in a film. Through inconsequential conversation, the filmmaker slowly gains his trust so that he can confront him about the trauma that he has caused him. An intimate debate about the banality and inconspicuousness of evil shows how long the road to truth and redemption can be. “I promised my high school classmate that I would become a respected director. But he committed suicide, and I blamed myself for not being able to stop him. For the next thirty years, I tried to keep my promise. After the sarin attack, my determination grew even stronger.” A. SakaharaQ&A with the director Atsushi Sakahara:
Me and the Cult Leader - A Modern Report on the Banality of Evil
Japan / 2020 / 114 min.
East European Premiere
Three places and three moments spent with the Geneva Golden Youth. For his documentary, the director organized a workshop with students from the prestigious HEAD School of Art and Design in Geneva to get to know the young men and women who are well-accustomed to a life of luxury and who like to kill time having long discussions in the nightclub, snorting cocaine and sipping champagne. The director sees the film as a highly subjective vision, a kind of pseudo-ethnological work in which some formal elements show hints of irony. Here he acts as an amused moralist and observer trying to break into a world riddled with lavish parties, drugs and all-pervasive vanity.
France, Switzerland / 2019 / 31 min.
This autobiographical film shot in the form of a diary captures the everyday life and woes of an old man with many successes under his belt and a richly lived past, but whose zest for life is slowly beginning to fade away. Jørgen Leth survived a devastating earthquake in Haiti, but his legs have not served him well since and every step he takes is an arduous task. He travels to Laos with a team of filmmakers and his adult children where he plans a project with help from the local people to capture the pristine nature of the country. During the project’s pre-production phase, he revisits the past to speak about his own life story, taking a poetic approach as he answers the burning question: is it still possible to find beauty and happiness if one is barely able to put on his own shoes? “I think that happiness, or what appears to be happiness, exists in the simple life. What some might view as cheating.” I Walk (00:58:50–00:59:01)
Denmark / 2019 / 90 min.
In eastern Nepal, the sacred mountain Janna looms at 7000m tall. The top of Janna is considered the seat of gods and demons. It is said that whoever tries to humble her will pay for it with his life. Under the mountain lies the village where Ngada Sherpa lives with his family. One of the most reliable mountain carriers in the area, he is struggling with poverty. Nevertheless, he is determined to pay for his son to attend medical school. He therefore decides to break the taboo and accompany a climbing expedition to the summit of Janna. He hopes the gods will be merciful to him. The majestic mountain scenery becomes the set for a drama about a man tempting the elements and his own religious beliefs. “People are often guided by emotions, and in the mountains it’s even more pronounced. Over there, we are who we are. Everything is black and white. Only here in the lowlands do we have many shades of grey.” E. Kubarska Q&A with Eliza Kubarska:
The Wall of Shadows
Poland, Germany, Switzerland / 2020 / 94 min.
Small silhouettes appear in the middle of the sights, observed from afar. They move quickly but they cannot escape the quick all-seeing eye. They are monitored all the time. Despite the apparent absence of the human element we are not watching an animated film or a computer game but authentic videos from Afghan, Iraqi and Syrian missions of American and French soldiers. The silhouettes belong to real people who are only a trigger pull away from death. This is the 21st-century warfare. Everyone who can be seen is under threat. Eléonore Weber used dehumanized images of dying for her chilling reflection of the modern form of war.Q&A with the director Eléonore Weber:
There will be no more night
France / 2020 / 75 min.
“Krāslava Bridge is the first bridge over the river Daugava in the territory of Latvia — a gate for the Daugava river from Belarus to Latvia” says the opening title of the film in which a strategically built and historically significant construction holds a number of different meanings. An analytical documentary immortalised in a series of suggestive, black-and-white, static shots and sounds brings us closer to the life of the bridge in all its heaviness and lightness from various angles: through the eternally flowing river it arches over, we witness the endless movement of car traffic and pedestrians walking between two river banks as well as the call of the wild within close proximity to the manifestations of human civilisation, for which it serves as a symbolic backdrop. "The special thing about the documentary is the fact that we shot it on the leftovers of a 21-year-old 35mm negative. And it really worked. It looks great.” L. Pakalniņa
The First Bridge
Latvia / 2020 / 11 min.
The nonprofit B´Tselem organization documents the violation of human rights in Jordan’s West Bank. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers, it has collected thousands of hours of video records capturing the everyday hardships of Palestinians who are tormented by the Israeli army, the police, and even ordinary civilians. Amateurly filmed night raids and daily hardships provide a vivid narrative about injustice, helplessness and violence in the Israeli-occupied territories. The hand-held camera, which is the only weapon the volunteers use, creates a raw, aesthetically unadorned image of a world where people are deprived of their land, their privacy, a carefree childhood, and even a dignified death. “It is a story of a vulnerable life, with no political rights or the right to protest, a life on the receiving end of the project of dispossession of land and resources which is the Israeli occupation.” E. Tarabien
Of Land and Bread
Israel, Palestine / 2019 / 88 min.
Irving Park is a neighborhood in Chicago where the film's four lead characters live together under one roof. But their cohabitation has a rather unusual arrangement – they are all aging gay men practicing dominant-submissive relationships. This time-lapse film gets right in the middle of the action of this abnormal household, and through a seemingly primordial provocation that seems only natural and commonplace, such as long conversations from the Lord and his naked slaves, the film enables a sense of family reciprocity, unsolvable crises and daily inhabitation. As one of the cast members admits: we all live in acceptable relationships of domination and submission.
Greece / 2019 / 117 min.
Central European Premiere
In an abandoned industrial zone at the foot of the Austrian Alps, a Nigerian mechanic lives and works by dismantling old cars and selling their individual parts, mainly to Eastern Europe and Africa. The documentary captures him during his work and while taking meditative breaks with a cigarette overlooking Erzberg Mountain, where iron ore has been mined since ancient Rome. The hero's isolated microcosm is observed at the very edge of economic activity, yet it is inextricably linked to global economic relations in Europe and Africa, the mining of resources, and the exploitation of profits.
Movements of a Nearby Mountain
Austria, France / 2019 / 85 min.