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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

ji-hlavadok-revuecdfEmerging producersInspiration Forum
Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: the astronaut, the robot, the alien)
Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: the astronaut, the robot, the alien)
Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: the astronaut, the robot, the alien)
Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: the astronaut, the robot, the alien)

Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: the astronaut, the robot, the alien)

director: Ralo Mayer
original title: Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: the astronaut, the robot, the alien)
country: Austria
year: 2018
running time: 43 min.

synopsis

What new things can we learn about ecology from science fiction? According to this video essay by artist Ralo Mayer, quite a lot. A flow of thoughts and analogies inspired not only by such sci-fi films as The Martian, E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Silent Running, but also by Biosphere 2, a project simulating an enclosed ecosystem located far away in outer space, have led the artist to reevaluate the way in which ecology is currently considered.  For his new view of things, which relies more on a cosmic rather than an earthly perspective, the key concepts consist of humans as space travellers, robotic technologies, and extraterrestrials as apparitions whom we suspect exist in distant star systems.

"Ecology in outer space, far from our home planet, is literally unheimlich–uncanny, or better: unsettling. After years of research about Biosphere 2, I met E. T. & we talked Haraway in a Redwood forest." R. Mayer

biography

Multimedia artist Ralo Mayer (1976) expresses his interest in science fiction and ecology in a number of his projects that lie on the boundary of video, installation, text, and performance. He has long been working on the project The Ninth Biospherian, which reflects the artificial Biosphere 2 ecosystem. His exhibition, including the video Space Post Colonialism (2013–2015), is based on cosmic designs from the 1970s.

more about film

director: Ralo Mayer
producer: Ralo Mayer
photography: Ralo Mayer, Ben Pointeker

other films in the section

The Calling
Fathers Gabriel, Vicilentius, and Nazari, three monks of varying ages living at the Orthodox Pochayiv Lavra monastery in Ukraine, spend their time in isolation from the world. Nevertheless, they all came here after having lived a worldly life, and so they harbor memories of the turbulent recent history of their homeland. The film brings these memories to life against the backdrop of their daily routine within the monastery’s majestic architecture. The quiet, meditative observation of the monks’ rituals, work, and free time creates a sympathetic portrait of a place and its inhabitants, using snippets of life to offer a glimpse into their existence. “This film is shows a metamorphosis of a human individual who abandoned the worldly life and decided to follow God.” E. Praus
personal program

The Calling

Erik Praus
Slovakia / 2019 / 70 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
One Day in Selimpasha
One man and an apartment, about which we know nothing. This is the premise of a conceptual documentary based on the concept of providing a deliberately limited amount of information to the viewer. We look into the intimate space behind the closed front door, where the most ordinary activities are carried out: cooking lunch, preparing tea, eating lunch, starting a fire in the fireplace. In this residential monodrama, a second living actor is desperately lacking, one that would bring to life the plot embodied in speech. It becomes a study of a person’s existence in their most personal space - a dwelling that can be just as much a preserve of peace and security as a golden cage of solitude."What are the feelings of a person who does nothing while everyone expects him to do something? What should he do? In general, is there any difference between the emotions of two humans? What does portrait mean? A human face or something else?" H. Baydarov

One Day in Selimpasha

Hilal Baydarov
Azerbaijan / 2018 / 64 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
António and Catarina
In one of the gloomy rooms in his flat, seventy-year-old Augusto casts shy glances at the camera behind which stands twenty-five year old Cristina, the film’s director. For three years she repeatedly visited him to record their interviews, during which they used the assumed names of António and Catarina. This game with identity, and mainly with the nature of their mutual relationship, is reflected in small talk, where the topics turn to diverse themes, including masturbation and gender stereotypes. Augusto/António is usually the one talking as well as the one in front of the camera, which records his image in dark details. Cristina/Catarina stands behind the camera and asks questions. “Drawn by the vigour of an old enchanting man, I made this film without knowing where it would take me.” C. Hanes

António and Catarina

Cristina Hanes
Portugal / 2017 / 40 min.
section: Between the Seas
East European Premiere
The Sun Sets in the East
The film depicts the year 1984/85 through the diary entries by the director’s grandfather, a Soviet peasant from Lithuania, which reflect contemporary values associated with faith in God, as well as details about daily routines and political change. Despite its historicizing base, the film is still relevant today. The formal side is made up of live images taken with static cameras that contemplate the depopulated state of the Lithuanian rural areas. The poetic documentary essay about the irreparable impact of man examines the transformation of society from rural to urban and forces the viewer to question the hectic lifestyles we lead today."The Sun Sets in the East is a sincere film that can be watched and felt by anyone, and we hope that everyone will be able to find a reflection of themselves or their family's past in it." A. Dovydaityte, A. Belinski

The Sun Sets in the East

Alexander Belinski, Agne Dovydaityte
Lithuania / 2018 / 83 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
The Betrayed Square
The Arab Spring of 2011. Day after day, thousands of young Egyptian protesters flooded Tahrir Square in Cairo. Poet and sound artist Stéphane Montavon assembled a psychedelic collage composed of freely accessible images of the revolution, adding an acoustic probe full of tension, rebellion and aggression of the repressive forces. The revolutionary turmoil is expanded into a sonic dimension of auteur installation. It is an impressive story of symbolic moments of ecstatic struggles for democracy and a new Constitution. It exposes mottos, protesters’ slogans and dialogues of the massacred victims. The images of repressive government forces are confronted with everyday life. On a cold morning, the betrayed revolution melts into a day-to-day routine."Rebuilding the revolution with found footage reminds us not only of the past fight, but most importantly of the Egyptian’s revolutionary will still awaiting to be accomplished." Maciej Madracki, Michał Mądracki, MML collective

The Betrayed Square

MML collective
Switzerland, Poland / 2018 / 45 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
A Tall Tale
The magic of folksongs lies in their freedom from the restraints of artificial genres and thematic rules. The creative duo of Lucia Nimcová and Sholto Dobie approach their improvised observational documentary in much the same way. The sequence of images from contemporary western Ukraine brings narrative, sound, and musical elements and nearly photographic detailed static scenes of reality into creative counterpoint. Figures of various ages alternate before the camera; interior and exterior locations change; but the song goes on. A folk opera consisting of bawdy folk songs, storytelling ballads, and pre-modern hip-hop. Old world music.“A Tall Tale seeks to capture private and hidden realities excluded from the main historical narrative of the region. Hard mountain rap, vintage feminism and filthy Carpathian hip hop are still alive and relevant.” Lucia Nimcová

A Tall Tale

Lucia Babjaková Nimcová
Slovakia / 2016 / 34 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
Notorious Deeds
October 1989. A high school student in Bucharest is apprehended for pasting up anti-regime posters and is interred in a secret police building for a number of days. As a result, his family, loved ones, friends, and schoolmates are affected by restrictions. Twenty years later at their class reunion, an excursion begins into memories of that moment of shock etched forever into memory, but for each somewhat differently. Director Gabriel Tempea is more interested in exploring the subjective interpretation from the point of view of “talking heads” than the actual facts. A postmodern form of oral history based on the testimonies of those who have most of their lives ahead of them.“Based on personal, subjective and painstakingly detailed recollections of an exceptional occurrence, I attempted to provide a glimpse at the bigger picture of  atroubled historical period.” Gabriel Tempea

Notorious Deeds

Gabriel Tempea
Romania, Austria / 2015 / 68 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
The Winter Garden's Tale
Valentina Voronina, gardener and tenacious manager of a large conservatory, is fired after forty-five years on the job. Time is winning in its unequal battle with a lack of financing, a decaying building, and the approach of retirement age. The dilapidated conservatory reflects the weakening strength of its distinctive manager and visionary. The conviction that the plants will die if nobody looks after them, is intertwined with the appearance of esoterics and a shaman with a divining rod who discovers a spring of positive energy in front of the building’s entrance. Palm fronds rustle like a silent witness to the melancholic struggle against time and the relentlessness of decay. Another cruel winter is on the horizon. "It is built on its own internal rhythm without the author’s direct speech. Just rethought reality, placed in ironical and a little magic conditions with the main conflict between dreams and reality. " S. Mozgovyi

The Winter Garden's Tale

Simon Mozgovyi
Ukraine / 2018 / 75 min.
section: Between the Seas
World 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: Between the Seas
World Premiere
TIMEBOX
Professor Ioan-Matei Agapi, an 80-year-old photographer and cameraman from Iași, Romania, owns a unique collection of 16mm films and photographs documenting almost fifty years of the city’s history. His daughter, also a filmmaker, has decided to make a film about her father's archives. In the unconventional surroundings of his old apartment, he reminisces about the past until one day Ioan is informed that he must leave or be evicted from home where he has spent the past 40 years. Ioan’s years of work suddenly transform into a huge burden, and the film unexpectedly changes into drama in which conflicts with city officials reveal old and hidden conflicts within the family. "The deepest thing I learned whilst doing this film is that we are stronger than we think we are." N. Agapi 

TIMEBOX

Nora Agapi
Romania / 2018 / 69 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
The Irreversible Consequences of Slipping on a Banana Peel
A foggy morning in a small Romanian town. Alexandrina returns from Canadian exile from Canada to her withering mother Mary, a former teacher who is being taken over by advancing old-people's dementia. The intimate moments of broken relationships oscillating between acceptance, compassion and helplessness creep into the fate of a nation disrupted by communism, progressing illness, and the increased feeling of loneliness of an aging woman surrounded by her childhood dolls. In a documentary approximation interlaced by internal monologues with her own (imaginary) daughter, we follow the complicated and anxious path to family reconciliation and towards the place of no return. “I believe in a documentary that endorses questioning, anguish, and uncertainty.“ B. Stoica 
personal program

The Irreversible Consequences of Slipping on a Banana Peel

Bogdan Stoica
Canada / 2019 / 76 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
A Hole in the Head
Everyone knows about the Roma holocaust, but no one talks about it. The process of eliminating memories of it began more or less at the end of the Second World War, when many mass graves in work and detention camps remained intact. Even for the winners, the Roma were “second class” victims. In a number of European countries (France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Germany, Croatia, Serbia), the director confronts a forgetful present with memories of the last surviving witnesses of these horrific events. The result is a partially scripted and staged documentary - an elegy to the victims of a monstrous regime and human indifference. “I think that what helped the Roma and Sinti survive persecution is their non-material relationship with the world, with being, with time. This was my main starting point for the film. The memory they carry with them, and the memory we perceive – our collective consciousness.” Robert Kirchhoff  

A Hole in the Head

Robert Kirchhoff
Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2016 / 90 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
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