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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

ji-hlavadok-revuecdfEmerging producersInspiration Forum
Katyusha: Rocket Launchers, Folk Songs, and Ethnographic Refrains

Katyusha: Rocket Launchers, Folk Songs, and Ethnographic Refrains

director: Kandis Friesen
original title: Katyusha
country: Canada
year: 2016
running time: 38 min.

synopsis

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.” 

biography

Artist and filmmaker Kandis Friesen (1978) lives in Montreal. Her projects often combine numerous forms of art, usually with a focus on audiovisual recordings of public or personal memories. As with Katyusha (2015), she often works with collage and reconfiguration. Most of her audiovisual works have the nature of a video installation that could be shown in a gallery just as well as in a movie theater.

more about film

director: Kandis Friesen
producer: Kandis Friesen
script: Kandis Friesen
photography: Kandis Friesen
editing: Kandis Friesen
music: Kandis Friesen
sound: Kandis Friesen

other films in the section

We Make Couples
A multi-layered reflection intertwining types of domestic skirmishes with the ones we have within society. It relies on a number of central themes, such as the depictions of faces, touches, projection, or exploding light. It formulates arguments about production (relationships), forms of resistance (against restrictions), systems for organizing the way we see things (ourselves and each other), about ways we project (ourselves to others), about personal and industrial relationships, expressions of beauty (and politics) in an age when “intensity is more important than endurance”. Using montage and rhythmically brilliant collage essays, the filmmaker combines found and his own materials.“The cure for loneliness is solitude.” (Marianne Moore)

We Make Couples

Mike Hoolboom
Canada / 2016 / 57 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Czech Premiere
Kiruna – A Brand New World
Apocalyptic depiction of an area literally engulfed by the mining industry is presented in this documentary that observes the eponymous northern Swedish city, part of which was abandoned due to activities in the nearby iron mine. The mining company’s management decided not to halt profitable mining activities and instead made the decision to move the residents of the threatened district. Using footage shot in the city inside the Arctic Circle and directly in the mines, the director has uncovered subtle film imagery, and using the stories of three protagonists now living in a bizarre inter-time, imaginatively addresses the topics of resettlement, tradition, and respect for a particular location. “The dystopian story of Kiruna is about lost people looking for a home in an uprooted city. It shows the dark side of the advanced society, whether in Sweden or the Czech Republic.” G. Stocklassa
personal program

Kiruna – A Brand New World

Greta Stocklassa
Czech Republic / 2019 / 87 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Czech 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
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: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
Aftermath
A heterogeneous tetralogy of personal profiles brings together four individuals from different corners of the world of art – pianist and entertainer Fats Waller, painter Jackson Pollock, photographer Janieta Eyre, and painter Frida Kahlo. The ambient collage of turbulent social conditions is infused with intimate moments of artistic immersion. Hypnotic images vibrate with a captivating approach to the subjects’ individual lives. Hoolboom combines documentary footage and re-enactments with experimental collage. Sped-up footage, weightlessly floating cameras, VR, found footage, the patina of 16mm films – all of them tools for redefining the genre of cinematic portrait.„The movie poses this question: how to survive in the aftermath, of the state, of the state of your family, of your body. Artist examples are offered. Perhaps only in the act of doubling, in a crowd scene, can I find this thing I call myself.“ M. Hoolboom

Aftermath

Mike Hoolboom
Canada / 2018 / 75 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
Carousel
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

Carousel

Arnaud Gerber
France, Germany / 2018 / 35 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Lost Paradise
The life of the filmmaker, also the film’s main character, is determined by a double fear. On one side, her world collapses under the weight of personal and historical tragedies, on the other she is threatened by the loss of the memories of everything that is dear to her. In this documentary, which blurs the lines between personal and public, she attempts to preserve all traces of memories, whether they’re images of her deceased husband or the ruins of local Beirut monuments. Slowly flowing images, virtually free of musical accompaniment, give memory fragments emerging from the surfaces of material things, including the heroine’s body, space to have spontaneous effect. "This film evolves around the notions of disappearance and loss: individual death and disappearance of places, loss of personal memory and collective memory. " R. Mitri

Lost Paradise

Reine Mitri
Lebanon / 2017 / 61 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
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
Western, Family and Communism
The first shots of the film show Parisians demonstrating and protesting, interspersed with shouted political slogans of Iranian activists. While the situation is very heated in Paris, calmness reigns in Iran. A French family is traveling here in a caravan and getting to know the country. The father films footage of their journey including his wife and daughter. The first third of the film suggests that the issue is a national one, namely that of the Iranian citizens, while the remaining two-thirds shows, however, the French on holiday. From a formal point of view, the film comprises interesting shots taken with a handheld camera, as well highly-overexposed, almost white, shots and double exposures. „Perhaps politics is the multiple of experiments and inventions in an equation with two unknowns: ‚I‘ and ‚we‘. Rather than solve it, once and for all, it would be a matter of keeping trying. Once again. (Precarious springs of the peoples, Maria Kakogianni, 2017)“ L. Krief

Western, Family and Communism

Laurent Krief
France / 2018 / 83 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Beyond the One
A cinematic treatise on diverse forms of affection, love and partnership, and the difficult search for an individual way of expressing these feelings in the face of tradition and social conventions. People from around the world talk about love intimacy, but also their dark side and the violence that can erupt when spontaneous emotions are smothered by compromise. The contrasting use of different film and video formats, combined with the asynchronous combination of sound and image, underscores the film’s specific openness resulting from the subjects’ courageous testimony. Does love die when it submits to conformity and becomes ideology?“I filmed only when I felt my images became a caring record of a moment of sharing and when the act of filmmaking offered us the opportunity to live. That is how obstinately solitary and radically plural this act can be.” A. Marziano

Beyond the One

Anna Marziano
France, Italy, Germany / 2017 / 53 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
Aktuálně.cz
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