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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Carousel

director: Arnaud Gerber
original title: Carousel
country: France, Germany
year: 2018
running time: 35 min.

synopsis

A chrono-photographic visit to the museum in the age of its digital reproducibility. This is the director’s characterization of Carousel, a film that skirts the boundary between documentary and visual art. Using un-commented images, the film correlates the museum space, its visitors, and digital recording technology. Using changing film speeds, visitors become ghosts, their movement becoming the most fundamental element, dictated more by a need to document everything with the camera than a desire to actually view the exhibited objects. The film’s conclusion shows that the most remarkable exhibits at museums today are their visitors.

"You don't have to see. You don't have to feel. You don't have to share. You just have to follow the guide, turn around and admire." A.Gerber

biography

Experimental filmmaker Arnaud Gerber (1971) works primarily with Super 8 and 16mm film. His philosophically-inclined conceptual projects are derived for example from Kierkegaardian appropriations of the phenomenon of repetition in the film Berlin Berlin (2009), or experiences of the working class mediated by the French philosopher Simone Weil in The Real Life (2013).

more about film

director: Arnaud Gerber
producer: Arnaud Gerber
sound: Frédéric Commault

other films in the section

China, 87. The Others
We follow the film journey of director Viollaine de Villers and traveller Jean-Pierre Outers around the Chinese interior during the late 1980s. In a fragmented sequence of archival shots, vignettes of local culture gradually emerge, including everyday work, leisure time moments, and reflections of ancient myths. But it’s not just another of the countless travel documentaries or urban symphonies, but rather a suggestive video essay. The VHS camera becomes a fully-fledged historiographical medium through which foreign culture is revealed in all its myriad facets without crystallizing it into a comfortably consumable image„Welcome to China, freed from any historical or political perspective, we are confronted with the Otherness of Chinese culture. We see in this film the opposite of the picturesque – a slice of quotidian life that may be banal, but still fascinates us.” V. de Villers

China, 87. The Others

Violaine de Villers, Jean-Pierre Outers
Belgium / 2017 / 60 min.
section: Opus Bonum
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: Opus Bonum
International 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: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Skokan
Director Petr Václav calls Skokan a documentary film with fairy-tale aspects, mainly because of its emphasis on authenticity in telling the fictional tale of a Romani recidivist in search of career opportunities at the Cannes film festival. The main character is played a by real ex-con, Julius Oračko, whom the filmmakers got out of prison on parole shortly before the start of filming. The film was shot with just a rough script, which was fine-tuned on the set. The scenes from Cannes were shot during the festival. The ending, which recalls the liberation of an enchanted princess, again feels like a fairy tale.“We improvised most of the scenes during filming – we used the places we were able to get into and the light that was available. Above all, I tried to capture the experiences of the main character,” P. Václav

Skokan

Petr Václav
Czech Republic, France / 2017 / 93 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World 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
Things We Do Not Say
A video diary by a young Iranian actress, intended for her boyfriend living in exile. A lament of dashed hopes from the contested 2009 presidential elections, which were followed by the largest protests since the Islamic revolution. The filmmaker stages a parallel eight-year-old reality – the pre-election ecstasy is framed by an incomplete rehearsal of Macbeth. We relive situations that cannot be changed and that deeply resonate with the motif of coming to terms with reality. The actor’s hopeless gesture is balanced by a call for resisting totalitarianism and by an homage to the victims of the autocratic regime. The feverish atmosphere of the elections is muffled by the skepticism of the main protagonists – they, too, were once young and naive."Is there a void from which the sense emerges? Can we fill the emptiness by a reality, our own reality? The images that we remember, are they the same images, or reflections of those images?" A. Razi

Things We Do Not Say

Ali Razi
Iran, France / 2018 / 52 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
One Night Stand
The film is based on the filmmakers’ real encounter with an unknown European one night in a bar in Beirut in 2017. It was a man on the road to join the Kurdish militia fighting in the war against the Islamic state on the territory of Syria. The conversation was secretly recorded on a cellphone and serves as the script for animated modeled situations and reconstructions of that night. In addition to a fascinating probe into the thinking of a man who is willing to sacrifice his life for the struggle for  freedom, the film is also a formal polemic on the apparent authenticity of the documentary and the possibilities of representation of reality by means of simulations and modeled situations. “War today is a constant state of preparation for absolute destruction beyond the frontline. We no longer have the means of recognising it, nor distinguishing between a soldier and a citizen.” M. Lotfy, N. Abed     
personal program

One Night Stand

Noor Abed, Mark Lotfy
Palestine, Egypt / 2019 / 24 min.
section: Opus Bonum
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
Smiling on the Phone
This observational documentary investigates the phenomenon of the call centre as a contemporary labor issue. “A”, employed in a Nike customer service centre, decides to document her last weeks prior to her return to Spain. A casually placed camera captures her loneliness, her colleagues, or aimless shots of a room with strange voices and sounds. It reveals the discrepancy between the image, as presented by the media and as it is promoted among employees, and its perception, which we come to know from text messages sent between “A” and “K” that flash onto the screen. The feelings of alienation and demotivation conflict with the requirement to behave more positively and enthusiastically.“Smiling on the Phone explores issues of contemporary labor and highlights the political relevance of documenting the workspace while exploring forms of response and resistance to those work-related images created by the powers.”

Smiling on the Phone

Aitziber Olaskoaga
Netherlands, Spain, United States / 2016 / 38 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Metaphysics and Democracy
On average, our eyes remained fixed on an advertisement for six seconds. Advertisements are probably the most common ideological channel that we encounter in visible form. Director Luis Ortiz has based his documentary film on this contrast à la thèse. The visual aspect of the film is made up of 57 one-minute static views of advertising. The soundtrack features texts that challenge the existence of ideology as such (the Borges story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius) and draws attention to the fact that we often confuse it with ontology (the critics of neoliberalism, such as Ignacio Ramonet and Noam Chomsky).“In times of political extremism I find it necessary to ask which mechanisms undermine democracy in the so called modern societies, then new progressive answers are needed to confront the simplistic discourses from the right.” 

Metaphysics and Democracy

Luis Ortiz
Germany, Colombia / 2016 / 59 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Wind Shaped Rocks
What starts out as a calm, observational record from an excursion boat filled with Taiwanese tourists admiring glaciers, soon turns into a frenzied – in places almost hallucinogenic – series of bizarre events after a black hole appears in the sky. Shots of the tourists alternate with views of horses grazing in a snowy landscape, a couple in a hotel room, and a group of young people digging film strips out of a garbage can. From the start, the viewer searches for the key to this random sequence of wordless scenes, trying to keep pace with the rapid, sometimes even stroboscopic montage of juxtaposed shots, which is slowed down with contemplative views of monstrous icebergs. "Glaciers exist before/after human time-space. History is obsolete since self-representation democratized. This is a love story between users of a cybernetic system. Life is nonlinear inside a rhizome." E. Makoszay

Wind Shaped Rocks

Eduardo Makoszay
Mexico / 2017 / 44 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Entrance to the End
A dark psycho-ethnographic journey of Maria von Hausswolff and Anne Gry F. Kristensen into the depths of the jungle of the human subconsciousness. The footage from the Panama rainforest was shot on 16mm and all sound was recorded on cassette tapes. The film is a subconscious reaction to Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust, an ultraviolent Italian film from the 1970s, as well as to all romanticizing depictions of nature as a place of harmony which is in balance with both itself and its inhabitants. Balancing between imagination and reality, this work is on of the most uncompromising films at this year's festival."The film is a mysterious poem-like journey through an eerie jungle where the viewer get to meet all kinds of creatures and spirits, living and dead. It's shot on a 16mm bolex camera accompanied by sounds recorded on analogue tapes.“ M. Von Hausswolff, A. G. Friis Kristensen 

Entrance to the End

Anne Gry Friis Kristensen, Maria Von Hausswolff
Denmark, Sweden / 2018 / 33 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
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