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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

In Praise of Nothing
“A whistleblowing documentary parody about Nothing.” That is how the filmmakers describe In Praise of Nothing. In fact, Nothing is the only protagonist of this essay-like film. An ironic and unflinchingly critical monologue, delivered in simple rhymes and with the voice of Iggy Pop, accompanied by captivating and succinctly expressive footage shot by several dozen people all over the world with the assignment to “shoot nothing.” „A cinematic equivalent to Erasmus’s humanistic classic In Praise of Folly, in which Folly goes around the world arguing it is smarter to be mad than smart. 500 years later, it is Nothing who gets the main role.“ B. Mitić

In Praise of Nothing

Boris Mitic
Serbia, Croatia, France / 2017 / 78 min.
section: First Lights
Central European Premiere
Yellowing
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.”

Yellowing

Tze Woon Chan
Hong Kong SAR China / 2016 / 133 min.
section: First Lights
European Premiere
Among Houses and the Cosmos
In this sensual film essay, the director has assembled her experiences with rituals in various corners of the world, from Europe across Africa to Latin America. The close interaction of the camera with bodies moving in trances encourages active involvement in the frenzied moments in which people lose themselves in Dionysian intoxication. These moments serve the filmmaker to obliterate the distance between the individual and the collective, personal and foreign, internal and external. The film, however, attaches a political meaning to the rituals, or rather shows how uprooted cultures cope with their minority status through rituals, or even turn it to their favor. “I felt the urgency to work with video footage from years of different travels. During editing, I found myself thinking about the human necessity to impose meaningful patterns on life and being.” Koštana Banović

Among Houses and the Cosmos

Kostana Banović
Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portugal, Senegal, Brazil, Angola, Turkey, Gambia, Cuba, Serbia, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles / 2016 / 70 min.
section: First Lights
World 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
Boy of War
Artiom is 18 years old and has just one wish: to go to war and fight for his homeland, Ukraine. Everything else comes second. He dresses in camouflage, watches war videos online, and in his free time practices battle scenes with his friends. Or at least they think they are battle scenes. As a child, he only sees the surface of the war. And he has the bad luck that the fighting rages so tantalizingly close. This observational documentary is a fascinating study of the cult of war in a post-Soviet setting where those who succumb to the allure of battle are the least suitable and least predisposed to fighting – a fact perfectly illustrated by Artiom’s final struggle with the reality of war."War is not about weapons, tanks or bombs. War is in the mind of the soldiers, the leaders and the crowd. It excites theirs souls, captivate their lives, strikes their imagination…before destroying them. War is a state of mind." C. Clément-Delmas

Boy of War

Cyprien Clément-Delmas, Igor Kosenko
Germany, Czech Republic / 2018 / 79 min.
section: First Lights
World 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
I Remember Nothing
As Tunisia experiences revolutionary unrest, Diane tries to come to terms with manic-depressive symptoms so intense that she nearly loses her memory. Five years later, she comes across the diverse records – photographs, diaries and home videos – that she kept during thi time of crisis. She then transforms these documentary materials into a tool by which she captures the seemingly lost fragments of memory. Nevertheless, her goal is not to weave these fragments into a holistic narrative, but to preserve their fluidity in order to present the chaotic events that made the chasm between the public and the private unimaginable."This is the story of a broken memory locked on a harddrive. I wanted to look at the pieces of the puzzle - footage, sounds. To face the black holes. Remember. Show the violence of this inner storm." D. S. Bouzgarrou

I Remember Nothing

Diane Sara Bouzgarrou
France / 2017 / 59 min.
section: First Lights
International 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
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
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
Owner’s Portrait
A fable-like documentary composed of footage from different corners of the planet juxtaposes animals and humans like two separate yet connected universes. Virtually without speech, with a heavy emphasis on the audio component, it tells the story of an island of untamed cats and mysterious antennas that broadcast to the world on long-wave radio a call for liberation from the economic and social ties that bind us. Everywhere the radio waves reach, we see static shots of human bondage and animal freedom, and by linking these contrasting images, an Eisenstein-style montage emerges, with new cinematic meaning.„Everything started with an image in my head: a world without pets. That image became a documentary essay with a science fiction atmosphere, about freedom, work, domestic animals and societies in capitalism.“ J. Maito

Owner’s Portrait

Joaquín Maito
Argentina / 2018 / 80 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
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
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