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25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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The Chimney
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The Chimney
The Chimney

The Chimney

director: Laila Pakalnina
original title: Skurstenis
country: Latvia
year: 2013
running time: 54 min.

synopsis

In a cluster of houses outside town, in the shadow of an old chimney, there live several light-haired girls. This light portrait of a unique children’s microcosm consists of scenes from daily life, in which most of the time is spent exploring one’s surroundings, playing, and asking curious questions on various subjects. With her extreme sense for detail, the director convincingly captures the poetry of the everyday. The result is a fresh and humorous look at a world surrounded by vegetation, wrecked cars, and puddles that is ruled by spontaneity, playfulness and the immediacy of children’s logic.

DETAIL:
I will give you something. I will give you a bag, okay? Don’t lose it! There’s nothing in it.

biography

Laila Pakalnina is one of today’s best known Latvian directors. The author of many award-winning fiction and documentary films, she originally studied TV journalism and then attended Moscow’s VGIK film school. Her earlier films include Ūdens (2006, Golden Bear at the Berlinale), On Rubik’s Road (2010) and Dream Land (2004, European Film Award).

more about film

director: Laila Pakalnina
producer: Laila Pakalnina
script: Laila Pakalnina
photography: Uldis Jancis
editing: Kaspar Kallas
sound: Anrijs Krenbergs

other films in the section

The Halves
The film’s main protagonist, Alexandr Zarchikov, works on a cargo ship transporting Japanese cars that have been cut in half to the Russian port city Vladivostok. There, the cars are reassembled and transporters take them away to their final destinations. Zarchikov decides to try working on the mainland, and joins one car on its journey through Siberia. His experience morphs into a meditative film essay, symbolically divided into two halves (sea and land), where he ponders his relationship with his motherland, religion, and nature, and tries to overcome his feelings of rootlessness.DETAIL:“When I worked on a ship like this, we always got home quickly, safe and sound. Now, I don’t feel at home on a boat, nor on the island I was born, Sakhalin. Maybe by making this film, I’ll find my place.”

The Halves

Alexandr Zarchikov
France, Russia / 2015 / 95 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
1+8
This film about Turkey, a country that borders eight different countries, explores the various forms that borders can take. The filmmakers visit towns located close to each border, always one on the Turkish and one on the other side. In a total of 16 small towns, we observe various forms of daily life and the social and political problems that give this life motion. The country thus takes shape by tracing its borders on a map.  

1+8

Cynthia Madansky, Angelika Brudniak
Austria, Turkey / 2012 / 131 min.
section: Between the Seas
Czech Premiere
THE LAST IMAGE
What’s it like to live with vision loss, knowing that someday soon you’ll never be able to see the faces of those you love again? This film is a survey of the lives of people living with visual impairments who have either already gone completely blind or are slowly losing sight of the world around them, but still do not give up in their pursuit of happiness and a life of positivity. The film’s protagonists share their feelings, fears, and frustrations, but also their most memorable visual sights, their dreams, and their hope of perhaps one day being able to go on living an almost completely normal life. The film’s lyrical storytelling style, melancholically stylised frames, and fragments of personal archives contrast with the harsh realities of the lives of people living with visual impairments.   “It’s mostly moments that I remember. Not even images. A smile is what I can remember... or the sparkle in someone else’s eyes.” from THE LAST IMAGE (00:01:40–00:01:54)   Q&A with Judith Zdesar:  
personal program

THE LAST IMAGE

Judith Zdesar
Austria / 2020 / 70 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
Mirage
Dubai becomes the setting for an audiovisual meditation contrasting the majestic and exuberant life of the big city with the uneasy and cheerless life of its inhabitants. The film captures Dubai after the economic crisis has interrupted an era of feverish construction, and creates a delicate impression where long rides through town alternate with close-ups of women lying on the beach and images of sandstorms burying construction workers.  

Mirage

Srđan Keča
United Kingdom, Serbia / 2011 / 42 min.
section: Between the Seas
Czech Premiere
Earth
In this documentary by Victor Asliuk, the past comes to light as a barren, dead, difficult to comprehend artifact – specifically, as a human skeleton dug out of the earth by a group of volunteers looking for the bodies of missing Russian soldiers from the Second World War. The film intersperses the immediate reactions of the remains’ discoverers with black-and-white archival footage of soldiers that in the end reveal as little as the body.  

Earth

Victor Asliuk
Belarus / 2012 / 30 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European Premiere
Sleeping souls
A Russian director puts together a mosaic or his country’s rural mentality deformed by government propaganda. The pre-election season in the Russian town of Achinsk is filled with the voices of the regime’s supporters, drowned out only by the chopping of ice on a Siberian lake. The regime’s skeptical opponents are already predicting the clear outcome. The locals’ passivity and the election commission’s unspoken stance on the clear ballot manipulation culminate in the citizens’ inability to change the situation. Putin’s emotional tears following his victory are a visual metaphor for the artificiality of the entire election process in Russia.

Sleeping souls

Alexander Rastorguev
France / 2013 / 51 min.
section: Between the Seas
East European Premiere
The Waiting Point
The collective memory of a nation accumulates at a bus stop in Rijeka. Croatians wait aimlessly for a figurative Godot, as the flow of time is illustrated by the decreasing number of cigarettes in boxes along with the departure of the buses. Rijeka is like a crossroads, where the lives of the local community meet those of tourists passing through. The director steps into the black-and-white reality of Croatia with the invisibility of an objective observer. His footage shows people waiting for the bus as a metaphor for Croatians’ endless waiting for change. 

The Waiting Point

Maša Drndić
Croatia / 2013 / 43 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European Premiere
Pill Junkies
In the 1980s, they fled from Poland to Sweden to find independence, but instead discovered the exact opposite. Tadeusz and Krystyna are addicted to legally distributed drugs. They form an ageing couple who are drawn together more by their common weaknesses and withdrawal symptoms than a mutual attraction. The safety net of the Swedish social system meanwhile dangerously tightens in around them in proportion to their increasing need for the drugs. This observational documentary filmed by Tadeusz’s son reveals, with an unusual intensity, a type of addiction that with bitter irony can be called legal. DETAIL:“For some people happiness is winning a million bucks or two. This ain’t happiness. Happiness is when someone can live an ordinary life.”

Pill Junkies

Bartosz Staszewski
Poland / 2014 / 76 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
In the Basement
Static, perfectly composed scenes from the private life of various Austrians combine to form a tragicomic basement fresco. A cavalcade of scenes from a shooting range, S&M dungeons, and a private museum of Nazism. With almost scientific engagement, we watch the behavior of several individuals in their natural environment – in semi-darkness or in the glow of artificial lights, they engage in their unusual hobbies. The viewer remains uncertain as to how much the scenes were staged, where fresco ends and farce begins.DETAIL:“I absolutely adore my love slave. And the opposite is also true: He worships me. It doesn’t affect our love – on the contrary. Only with total devotion and love can something like this work.”

In the Basement

Ulrich Seidl
Austria / 2014 / 85 min.
section: Between the Seas
Czech Premiere
noimage
FilmBOUT shows the journey of an old and lonely man who embodies Georgia’s past and present. The former wrestler, who once beat seven opponents in less than a minute, is a reminder of past fame, a patriotic symbol, for wrestling is Georgia’s national sport. Today, he is going to visit his mother’s grave, and he yearns to meet the woman he loved and lost 50 years ago.

Ramin

Audrius Stonys
Georgia, Latvia / 2011 / 58 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European Premiere
Latvian Coyote
The Latvian-Russian border may seem like just an area of endless swampy forests and villages filled with dilapidated buildings and no people. But this inhospitable place also happens to be a destination for refugees from various countries heading through Eastern Europe, as it not only represents the end of their painful journey but also the pathway into the Schengen Zone and open borders. Long-term unemployment and an influx of immigrants have creative a new job opportunity for smugglers known as “coyotes”, who risk their own freedom to help others find freedom for a small reward. This observational documentary shot over the course of three years follows smugglers, refugees, and law enforcement: three sides of a hopeless socio-economic triangle.     “My goal was to show a border portrait of the border. It seems to me that there is a tunnel — a 2-kilometre-wide tunnel called the "border zone." And in that tunnel you can very well see how the world is changing, how globalisation is happening.” I. Zviedris    Q&A with Ivars Zviedris:  
personal program

Latvian Coyote

Ivars Zviedris
Latvia / 2020 / 90 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
The Dazzling Light of Sunset
On dilapidated theater stages, the secular rituals of contemporary Georgian society play out: weddings, fashion shows, beauty pageants, political elections. The static camera, which captures this emotionless choreography of ceremonies in wide-angle shots, contrasts with the dynamic pans of the small camera held by a television reporter whose energetic activities keep a local television station going. A series of carefully framed scenes from the events that Dariko chooses to present to her viewers is juxtaposed with images from inside the run-down television studio, which survives thanks to fees earned from reading obituaries.“It fascinated me how small stories from small towns were so much more important than the big politics. And I wondered what these small stories were.” Salomé Jashi

The Dazzling Light of Sunset

Salomé Jashi
Georgia, Germany / 2016 / 74 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Creative Europe
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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