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23rd Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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NU

director: Frédéric Cousseau, Blandine Huk
original title: NU
country: France
year: 2018
running time: 54 min.

synopsis

“A terrible winter came. Snow was falling in endless flurry. The wind cooled down the air and the earth. The sun stopped shining. Three winters came without a summer that would follow them.” These words open the documentary dystopia conceived as personal correspondence between a woman/the nature and the last surviving man. On the background of images of natural scenery and desolate achievements of the civilization, a poetic confession of feelings is followed by descriptions of banal experiences and symbolic situations, all presented with a declamatory diction. In the last moments of humanity, the severed bond between the loving mother and her lost and rediscovered son is restored again.

„You loved me as a male loves a woman, with his worst defects. You wanted to possess me, to dominate me, to control me, you wanted to strip me. You choked me, you devoured me. You loved me for you only, you took all I had. And you did not know you were going to die.“ F. Cousseau

biography

Frédéric Cousseau (1963) started his career as a rock musician; since the 1980s, he makes documentary, fiction, and experimental films. The Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival presented his films Pornographic Isolation (2011) and Coal & Cossacks (2013) in the section Short Joy.
Blandine Huk (1969) is a professional journalist, and she regularly collaborates with Frederic Cousseau.

more about film

director: Frédéric Cousseau, Blandine Huk
producer: Frédéric Cousseau, Blandine Huk
photography: Frédéric Cousseau
editing: Blandine Huk, Frédéric Cousseau
sound: Frédéric Cousseau

other films in the section

Also Known as Jihadi
This conceptual documentary, inspired by Masao Adachi’s famous 1969 film Ryakushô renzoku shasatsuma (A.K.A. Serial Killer), is based on landscape theory, whose proponents strive to capture in art the environmental influences that help to form ones’ personality, and the effect that specific locations have on an individual’s life. The film’s director uses this approach to dissect the path followed by a young Frenchman of Algerian descent from his native country to Syria and back again – a path from a secure social position to radicalism and ruin. Without even once showing us the protagonist, he builds an overall picture of him using a series of shots consisting of streets, beaches, buildings, and text from written records made during investigations and interrogations. „Fûkei means landscape in Japanese. Fûkeiron is a proposition: turn the camera 180 degrees to film not the subject of the film, but rather the landscapes that he has seen.” E. Baudelaire

Also Known as Jihadi

Eric Baudelaire
France / 2017 / 101 min.
section: Opus Bonum
East European 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
Germany, Italy, France / 2017 / 53 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
The Road Back
The Road Back is a documentary journey to a time and place that have long been considered lost. The main character tries to find a lost village near a former international railway line where his recently deceased mother spent her youth. The past merges with the present as the filmmaker mixes archival films and close-ups of nature with old photographs. In fact, this blending of two media with different relationships to time forms the basis for discovering not only the relicts of the past that lie hidden beneath layers of contemporary phenomena, but also the unstoppable flow of seemingly unchanging time.“The Road Back incorporates the characteristics of home videos in narrative schemes. In the hope to create a personified and intimate film, based on the directness of home video.”

The Road Back

Wouters Maurits
Belgium / 2016 / 31 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
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
Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?
In 1946, S.E. Branch clearly shot Bill Spann, a black man, in Alabama. One story of many, it can be said, but this time it’s being unraveled by the great-nephew of the murderer through this political and aesthetically distinctive film essay. During the investigation, he constantly ran in to obstacles, due not only to the prevailing racism, but also the inevitable reflection of his own connection with history. A montage of black and white memories of places, endless drives through red sunsets, and agitating tunes brings the work together in the best southern Gothic tradition, in which “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” (W. Faulkner)„This time I offered my love and my labor to a film that I wished somehow to be corrective. A film about the worst of my family.” T. Wilkerson

Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?

Travis Wilkerson
United States / 2017 / 90 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European 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: Opus Bonum
East European Premiere
Notes from Unknown Maladies
A minimalist observational portrait of 94-year-old Concepcion presents the life of a person suffering with mental illness for fifty years. After a nervous breakdown, the filmmaker’s grandmother decided to isolate from the rest of the world and deal with the disease itself. In her solitude she is haunted with random memories, hallucinations, and gradually begins to face loss of memory and intellect. A black-and-white film steeped in a melancholic mood sensitively captures the themes of old age, disease and human loneliness. The slow pace and limited dialogue helps the viewer to transcend the world of a suffering single woman in a discreet and highly suggestive manner. "Dear Grandma, If you will see me lost in the unknown one day, please remind me about the suffering and memory of our nation. Only history and truth can save my fragile heart." L. P. Dela Cruz
personal program

Notes from Unknown Maladies

Liryc Dela Cruz
Philippines / 2017 / 62 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European 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
personal program

Things We Do Not Say

Ali Razi
France, Iran / 2018 / 52 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Albertine Gone
This updating of the sixth part of In Search of Lost Time explores the current identity of Proust’s book. Through a staged docu-fictions with elements of performance art, the filmmaker strips the text, quoted by an employee of a fire station, of its period references, thus giving it new attributes. Since 1993, Véronique Aubouy has been filming people reading various parts of Proust’s masterpiece of literature. The planned date of completion for her monumental project, which sees the protagonist as an object in a cinematic landscape and the book as a signpost of various interpretations, is in 2050."Since my discovery of Proust’s Recherche I'm convinced  that this book is an expression of the Here and now. When I met Jean, fireman, nurse anaesthetist who had read la Recherche during his night guards, the film was there, here and now." V. Aubouy
personal program

Albertine Gone

Véronique Aubouy
France / 2018 / 34 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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
Until Porn Do Us Part
Eulália, a religious and conservative sixty-something woman, must come to terms with a difficult period in her life. Her son has emigrated to Germany, where is a gay porn star. Eulália spends ever more time on Facebook scanning his profile and writing long, mostly unread messages. This dramatically structured observational documentary touches on a number of contemporary issues, including the crisis of the traditional family, how social networks are changing interpersonal relationships, and society’s views of homosexuality and pornography. An unobtrusive look at the LGBT community, humility, and the strength of motherly love."God heard my prayers / He gave me a lovely son / I'll never trade him for anything / Not even for the biggest treasures / Even if I have to spend / My whole life suffering..." J. Pelicano
personal program

Until Porn Do Us Part

Jorge Pelicano
Portugal / 2018 / 90 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
The New Day
A mixture of documentary and fiction as seen through the eyes of a non-participant observer, this drama presents the life of the fisherman Maldonado. After his wife Celia leaves him, we watch his lonely life in a series of cyclical everyday activities as we listen to Celia’s voiceover. Although it tends to repeat itself, it reveals something new every day. We always observe a different part of the daily work of a fisherman, or see it from a different angle. This sense of conflict is heightened by contradictory motifs on-screen and in the voiceover. Words clash with images, the everyday with the extraordinary, space with time. “Maldonado is a fisherman of the Paraná River. Modern times leave him on a threshold: a way of inhabiting that no longer finds its possibilities. That frailty that cracks into his world is what we intent to film.”

The New Day

Gustavo Fontán
Argentina / 2016 / 62 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
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