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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Like an Abortion, for the Very First Time
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Like an Abortion, for the Very First Time
Like an Abortion, for the Very First Time
Like an Abortion, for the Very First Time
Like an Abortion, for the Very First Time

Like an Abortion, for the Very First Time

director: To Liu
original title: Ce kei﹑ngo jiu zan pou syun wo......
country: Hong Kong SAR China
year: 2018
running time: 102 min.

synopsis

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

biography

To Liu (1984), a native of Hong Kong, studied scriptwriting at the Department of Literature, Beijing Film Academy, graduating in 2012. Professionally, however, she has embarked on the path of independent documentary film to capture events happening around her, particularly oppressive practices of Chine and their consequences. During her brief career, she has already made three made short/mid-length films and one feature film.

more about film

director: To Liu
producer: To Liu
sound: Vincent Fung

other films in the section

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
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
Set Off
The city of Kobani lies in Syria on the border of the sphere of influence of the Islamic State, Turkey and the Kurds. Representatives of these three opposing parties battled it out between the years 2014 and 2016 during a war conflict that claimed the lives of many civilians, including thirty-three Turkish citizens who had come there beforehand for various reasons. Conceptualized as a film in their memory, the filmmakers use symbolism to follow their fateful journey as they set off for a city in ruins. The footage is complemented by double exposures of the survivors' faces, who tell of the untimely deaths of their friends and relatives. “Set Off was an exercise about how and what to tell, after an unmourned disaster; a journey parallel to theirs, daydreaming in the middle of a conflict zone, where landscape deconstructs power regimes.“ M. E. Büyükcoskun
personal program

Set Off

Mustafa Emin Büyükcoskun
Germany, Turkey / 2019 / 63 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
Through Foreign Eyes
Mykaela Plotkinova thought of making this poetic, mosaic documentary in a bookshop, when she came across the words of poet Manoel de Barros about “the accent of the place of our origin we carry in our eyes”. She never found the quote again, but in the course of the next few years, she carried out the project with the help of other contributors, mainly the editor C. A. Saquieres. She created a film essay combining reflections on the identity and ethnic roots of several natives of the Brazilian city of Recife, who live abroad, and the images of the places where they live.„I’ve never not felt like a foreigner, but neither did I really know where I came from. Through Foreign Eyes searches for a story that no-one has ever really told me. This film is a must for me. A film that is made to understand life.“ M. Plotkin

Through Foreign Eyes

Mykaela Plotkin
Brazil, Argentina / 2018 / 74 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Aphasia
The brutal Belgian colonial policy, the Austrian oppression of the Balkans, and ethnic conflicts after the breakup of Yugoslavia – these seemingly unrelated historical episodes create one line of the documentary. In the film, history becomes a kind of speech, which often leads to the inability to formulate a complete sentence in the statements of a person suffering from loss of speech or speech disorder. In three acts, the film looks for words to describe and understand the existence of the museum of the Belgian colonial history, the hovering of Kurt Waldheim before the commission investigating his involvement in SS, and the infamous photograph of the Belgrade’s most popular DJ kicking the head of a dead woman. “Slavenka Drakulic once wrote that if we believe that the perpetrators are monsters it is because we would like to separate ‘us’ from ‘them’. Aphasia came as a result of questioning that distance.” J. Juresa
personal program

Aphasia

Jelena Jureša
Belgium / 2019 / 80 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Double Me
The film is based on photographs, manuscripts, audio recordings and 8mm films shot by the ethnographer Gregorio Hernández de Alba in the 1930s and 1940s. The director has used the materials to create a partial reconstruction of Hernández’s expeditions, and his unique image collages illustrate the way of life of the natives and the tragic misunderstandings between them and the Spanish colonizers. The film is interlaced with fictional scenes that bring the conqueror Pero López to life. The film on the border between reality and dream reveals the inability of the Colombians of two different origins to understand one another. „Exota (noun): one who manages to return to himself after having undergone the experience of diversity.“ F. Rugeles

Double Me

Felipe Rugeles
Colombia, Spain / 2018 / 80 min.
section: First Lights
European Premiere
A Distant Echo
What can the landscape tell us about ancient history and how it is shaped? George Clark’s film essay explores this question through seemingly motionless images of the California desert accompanied by a minimalist chorale. This chosen form emphasizes the at first glance subtle shifts in the nature of the landscape, which becomes a stage for negotiations between an Egyptian archeologist and the members of a native tribe regarding the ancient graves hidden beneath the sand. The result is a multilayered tale that uncovers traces of the past, the ecology of the landscape, and cinematic history in locations that were once used to film Hollywood epics. “Existing in the resonance between ecological, cinematic and sonic domains, A Distant Echo explores the mythical continuity of sand as site for history, transformation and preservation. The things we cherish must sometimes be buried.”

A Distant Echo

George Clark
United Kingdom, United States / 2016 / 82 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
27 Times Time
Documentary filmmaker Annick Ghijzelings used her visit to Polynesia to shoot a personal meditation on the phenomenon of time. She slowed down the smooth flow of time in order to consider, in 27 short fragments, the various ways time can be represented. She does so by combining poetic narrative with images of the past and slow-motion shots of nature and local life. Gradually, she puts together a multilayered image of time that questions the boundaries between art, science, and philosophy, between advanced civilization and native cultures, and between the past, present, and future."The stories never subscribe to explanations or expert digressions. They are off-camera, barely pronounced, they are whispered in our ear like a secret between friends that beckons sharing."

27 Times Time

Annick Ghijzelings
Belgium / 2016 / 73 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
On the Edge of Freedom
Moscow and Kyiv. Angela and Vlad. Two young and talented people brought together by an unusual passion for the extravagant and public conquest of forbidden parts of the city. Tall buildings, underground tunnels or freight trains are the new pastimes of a young generation yearning to get out of the rut, escape a predictable future and find fame among their peers through risky “urbex” videos. At the same time, however, the logic of social networks is turning them into a commercial phenomenon that can bring them big money – but also compel them to engage in even crazier stunts. “This is urban exploration, baby!” “This is a portrait of a new generation we rarely hear about. It is a film about the human behind an extreme phenomenon.” A. M. Hopland

On the Edge of Freedom

Anita Mathal Hopland, Jens Lengerke
Denmark / 2017 / 74 min.
section: First Lights
Central European Premiere
Mittelmeer
A poetic documentary about the Mediterranean brings together a mosaic of images of the southern and the northern coast that the director, writer and poet Nathalie Quintane collected without traveling anywhere – they acquired them through hotel and other publicly accessible webcams. In this way, both of them walk the shores and beaches, rocks and ports, enhanced with the memories and conversations that JeanMarc shares with his son about the current problems of coastal countries. Suddenly the contrasts between the European, African and Middle Eastern shores of the sea are revealed. "Webcam images placed around the Mediterranean Sea don’t have any deepness. They are like an ideal illusion of a unique world. A film has perhaps a chance to say it.“ J.-M. Chapoulie
personal program

Mittelmeer

Jean-Marc Chapoulie
France / 2019 / 73 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
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
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