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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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My Unknown Soldier
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My Unknown Soldier
My Unknown Soldier
My Unknown Soldier
My Unknown Soldier
My Unknown Soldier
My Unknown Soldier
My Unknown Soldier
My Unknown Soldier
My Unknown Soldier
My Unknown Soldier

My Unknown Soldier

director: Anna Kryvenko
original title: Můj neznámý vojín
country: Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia
year: 2018
running time: 79 min.

synopsis

Documentarian Anna Kryvenko offers an unusual perspective on the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia. She conceived My Unknown Soldier as an audio-visual diary, through which she revisits the events of the time with rare archive material and her own commentary. Her great-uncle was a soldier in the occupying forces; he committed suicide shortly after his return from Czechoslovakia. Kryvenko’s own Ukrainian origin earns her first-hand experience of the Czechs’ deep-seated hatred of Russian-speaking people. The film therefore casts light on another unfortunate legacy of the August 1968 events in contemporary Czech, but also Ukrainian and Russian society.

"I don’t want to speak about general justice or truth. I would like to show that no truth can be definite. This is a story about how one becomes an “occupier” without intending to." A. Kryvenko

biography

Ukrainian director Anna Kryvenko (1986) studies at the Center for Audiovisual Studies at Prague’s FAMU film school. She has made short experimental films with source material from film archives and explored their relationship to history. They include Language but No Words (2012, Ji.hlava IDFF 2012), Silently Like a Comet (2014, Ji.hlava IDFF 2014) and Listen to the Horizon (2015, Ji.hlava IDFF 2015).

more about film

director: Anna Kryvenko
cast: Anna Kryvenko
producer: Michal Kráčmer, Sergei Serpuhov, Wanda Adamik Hrycova
script: Anna Kryvenko
sound: Viktor Krivosudský

other films in the section

Through Foreign Eyes
Mykaela Plotkinova thought of making this poetic, mosaic documentary in a bookshop, when she came across the words of poet Manoel de Barros about “the accent of the place of our origin we carry in our eyes”. She never found the quote again, but in the course of the next few years, she carried out the project with the help of other contributors, mainly the editor C. A. Saquieres. She created a film essay combining reflections on the identity and ethnic roots of several natives of the Brazilian city of Recife, who live abroad, and the images of the places where they live.„I’ve never not felt like a foreigner, but neither did I really know where I came from. Through Foreign Eyes searches for a story that no-one has ever really told me. This film is a must for me. A film that is made to understand life.“ M. Plotkin

Through Foreign Eyes

Mykaela Plotkin
Brazil, Argentina / 2018 / 74 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
We Own the Crisis
Greece has been affected by a drawn-out financial crisis for the past several years. The protagonists of this documentary about state power and its impact on individuals comprise a three-member family living in the capital city. Georgia works six days a week; Panagiotis is unsuccessfully looking for a job; and their daughter, Basiliki, is about to graduate. They all live in a house originally owned by Panagiotis’ family. Thus far they have been lucky. Some Greeks have been forced to live in the streets after banks auctioned off their property. How this one family functions is an authentic example of a whole nation in distress. Whether explicitly on camera or concealed in their actions, we can see the helplessness in their daily lives."I think of the Athenians on the streets. I hear them say, 'A hopeless situation forces you to keep on hoping.' " R. Kaufmann

We Own the Crisis

Rebekka Kaufmann
Germany, Greece / 2018 / 65 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Instructions for Use of Jiří Kolář
Roman Štětina returns to the subject of radio in a documentary project created in collaboration with radio director Miroslav Buriánek. In documenting Buriánek and the members of the KLAS theater ensemble as they prepare a radio adaptation of Kolář’s poetry collection Instructions for Use, Štětina tries to explore radio directing as a distinctive but hidden artistic act. Without showing the viewer the final radio production, Štětina offers us a unique chance to witness the creative process involved in creating a radio adaptation. The voiceover features commentary on the events in the studio.“Speak, create, share geometrically. No slapped on layers of lyricism. Just sorrow and yearning. And respect the rule of the right angle.” (Miroslav Buriánek)

Instructions for Use of Jiří Kolář

Roman Štětina, Miroslav Buriánek
Czech Republic / 2016 / 130 min.
section: First Lights
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: First Lights
World Premiere
Panoptic
Lebanese filmmaker Rana Eid’s documentary essay premiered in the Signs of Life section at the Locarno Film Festival, a film in which she captured her journey through Beirut while mourning the death of her father. In an attempt to understand her hometown, she decided to explore its very core – its underground. Because that was exactly how she de facto lived – in hiding, just as everyone else did during the 17-year-long civil war. The director’s personal journey, filled with atmospheric, auditory sensations (she doesn’t deny her years of sound work), reflects Lebanon’s troubled past, as well as its present and future prospects, on a whole different level. “Drawing into my own memories, Panoptic is both a historical document and the memoir of an ordinary citizen trying to understand the injustices we lived through in Lebanon over the past 40 years.” R. Eid

Panoptic

Rana Eid
Lebanon, United Arab Emirates / 2017 / 69 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
The Making of Justice
A consistently out-of-focus visual record tracking seven men as they discuss the screenplay for a film about the life path of Tom, a young murderer who, after twelve years in prison, returns to the village where he lived, and tries to prove – to himself and others – that he has changed. The camera slides down the walls, snoops between chair legs, and captures useless details of the individual body parts of the participating figures. The schematic story of Tom’s guilt, punishment, and new beginning, which the film’s director guides her consultants through step by step, gradually gains in plasticity and becomes a surprisingly effective tool for thinking about the image of a criminal and the concept of justice. "Fiction is a powerful tool to re-imagine oneself and the world, a place where judgement can be suspended. This is a rare occasion to hear the voices of perpetrators as human beings, in an increasingly revengeful society."  S. Vanhee

The Making of Justice

Sarah Vanhee
Belgium / 2017 / 60 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
#3511
The film’s main topics are migration and the integration of immigrants into their new society. #3511 explores these issues through the story of an Australian soldier whose daily correspondence and diary from his time traveling during World War I are combined with a short story by J. L. Borges. His particular life story is a metaphor for contemporary questions regarding exile, memory, and integration. In terms of form, the film consists primarily of footage of an abandoned landscape and homes, accompanied by a voiceover commentary. On rare occasions, we can see the speakers’ faces. „The film began from a serendipitous coincidence : fiction and reality. 100 years later the material challenged the limits of what could be, known and reconstructed. But what if fiction were to pose reality as an enigma ?“ I.Stillwell

#3511

Isaac Stillwell
Australia, France, Belgium, Germany, Poland / 2018 / 68 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Mittelmeer
A poetic documentary about the Mediterranean brings together a mosaic of images of the southern and the northern coast that the director, writer and poet Nathalie Quintane collected without traveling anywhere – they acquired them through hotel and other publicly accessible webcams. In this way, both of them walk the shores and beaches, rocks and ports, enhanced with the memories and conversations that JeanMarc shares with his son about the current problems of coastal countries. Suddenly the contrasts between the European, African and Middle Eastern shores of the sea are revealed. "Webcam images placed around the Mediterranean Sea don’t have any deepness. They are like an ideal illusion of a unique world. A film has perhaps a chance to say it.“ J.-M. Chapoulie
personal program

Mittelmeer

Jean-Marc Chapoulie
France / 2019 / 73 min.
section: First Lights
International 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
My Name is Hungry Buffalo
Jan calls himself Buffalo. He loves cowboys, he’s blind, and may lose his hearing. Pavel Jurda’s documentary follows his journey to America to visit the chief of the Navajo tribe, who wants to perform a ritual to help his hearing. The film is full of unpretentious humor thanks to Jan’s charisma. In the USA, he’s like the Don Quixote of the Wild West - a naive adventurer in a world that is much more ordinary than his imagination. This observational, but not standoffish, film is also an example of how the medium of film can relate to blind people by constantly showing the difference between what Jan perceives and what we actually see.“The film is not about blindness, even if the main character is blind. It is about yearning for life. ‘We are all handicapped in some way,’ says a guy during a journey that starts with an accident and ends in triumph.”

My Name is Hungry Buffalo

Pavel Jurda
Czech Republic / 2016 / 83 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Taego Ãwa
Tutawa Tuagaek, the ageing leader of the Ãwa, a Brazilian indigenous tribe, is one of the last survivors of the 1973 massacre of Indians in the Amazon jungle. This team of filmmaker-ethnographers records his everyday life in the company of young followers, to whom he is trying to pass on his experiences. The Indian community’s everyday rituals are contrasted with found photographs and video clips that offer rare evidence of the atrocities that Tutawa recounts. Different epochs and visual formats create a continuum that reveals the traumatic history of an oppressed people who have managed to survive despite all odds."The imagination is not only mediator between understanding and sensibility, it has its own dynamism, scheme free, organized bodies, constituted individuals, fixed identities, consolidated psyches."

Taego Ãwa

Henrique Borela, Marcela Borela
Brazil / 2016 / 75 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
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