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24th 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

Water to Tabato
In mid-summer 2011, Paulo Carneiro and set out as assistant director for a film crew working on a project on the west African coast. There he unexpectedly ended up shooting his own film, a documentary report about a sinking ship near the coast of Guinea-Bissau on which he was a passenger. The digital camera records the growing panic on the ship after it has gotten stuck in the ocean in an oppressive nighttime atmosphere. In shaky interview footage, we see passengers move from an initial apathy to nervous anxiety, and from there fluidly to a fear for their lives. The growing tension on board is reflected in the film’s ever quickening tempo.DETAIL:Call somebody to pick up us. Please take us out of there. - What’s goin’ on? - Please take us out of here. - There’s nobody there that can save us. We are all passengers.

Water to Tabato

Paulo Carneiro
Guinea-Bissau, Portugal / 2014 / 45 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Skokan
Director Petr Václav calls Skokan a documentary film with fairy-tale aspects, mainly because of its emphasis on authenticity in telling the fictional tale of a Romani recidivist in search of career opportunities at the Cannes film festival. The main character is played a by real ex-con, Julius Oračko, whom the filmmakers got out of prison on parole shortly before the start of filming. The film was shot with just a rough script, which was fine-tuned on the set. The scenes from Cannes were shot during the festival. The ending, which recalls the liberation of an enchanted princess, again feels like a fairy tale.“We improvised most of the scenes during filming – we used the places we were able to get into and the light that was available. Above all, I tried to capture the experiences of the main character,” P. Václav

Skokan

Petr Václav
Czech Republic, France / 2017 / 93 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
The Lust for Power
In recent Slovak history, there’s hardly a more significant figure than Vladimír Mečiar. Director Tereza Nvotová approaches him from several different directions. One is an interview that she conducted with him directly, another is his narrative monologue that presents Slovak history against the backdrop of his own family history, and finally through archival images of Mečiar’s public appearances in the media. Her film, accompanied by aerial images of the Slovak landscape as it appears today, poses the question of what Mečiar meant for the her generation, for society at the time, and for Slovakia in general. “When I was 10-years-old, we´d make believe that we were E. T., Winnetou or Mečiar. Now I want to find out who he really was and what he has done to us and to our country because now I see the same story playing out all over the world.“ T. NvotováThe film is being screened in cooperation with the Representation of the European Commission in the Czech Republic.

The Lust for Power

Tereza Nvotova
Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2017 / 89 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Expectant
If we look up the word "expectante" in a Spanish-English dictionary, we learn it is an adjective which can be translated as “expecting” or “biding one's time”. It is no accident this single-word title belongs to an disconcerting Peruvian film which takes its audience to a darkened city where a group of friends is spending an evening of leisure. Even though the neighborhood they live in is a relatively safe one, their locked doors and gates provide no more than an illusion of safety, which is a thought applicable world wide. The distant black-and-white camera through which the audience observes the plot seems to be biding its time for a chance to attack."I think cinema is about creating sensations and reaching out to a personal language as a way to manifest our vision as individuals." F. Rodriguez Rivero

Expectant

Farid Rodriguez Rivero
Peru, Portugal / 2018 / 77 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Shahrzaad's Tale
In the 1960s and ’70s, actress, director, dancer, and poet Kobra Amin-Sa’idi, who performed under the pseudonym Shahrzaad, was a leading figure of the Iranian New Wave and a symbol of the struggle for social change. Following the 1979 revolution, however, she was forced into seclusion and today just barely manages to scrape by. Parhami’s film is not a typical documentary portrait, but a moving meditative work in which the filmmaker is open about his interventions in the film and in which he makes room for a group of young female protagonists to hold their own interviews with the famous artist. Her emotional responses are not filled with resignation, but are a call for more engagement.DETAIL:“So she became like herselfHardly fit into her own skinDust covers her faceAs it might a stoneInscribed with a legend,and her tale passed heart to heart...”

Shahrzaad's Tale

Shahin Parhami
Canada / 2015 / 129 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
Once More unto the Breach
Because of his Russian origins, Italian soldier Romano Isman is called to the front to act as a military interrogator and translator for the fascist bigwigs and the local population. Isman’s narrative mixes a detailed description of the horrors of war and historical testimony with a lyrical disillusioned contemplation on the insignifi cance of the individual in the midst of war. The filmmaker creates a contrast between historicized illustrative images accompanying the narration of the protagonist and images of modern Ukraine and Russia, which to this day are still dealing with the despair and frustration caused by the events of the twentieth century. “Il varco combines found footage of different origins. it's a fictional story populated by presences: ghosts wandering in the Ukrainian steppe, echoes of bloody pasts, and wars still being fought today.” M. Manzolini, F. Ferrone
personal program

Once More unto the Breach

Michele Manzolini, Federico Ferrone
Italy / 2019 / 70 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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
I Crossed the Hallway
A personal probe deep into the memories of a death. During the night, the director lost his father at his family home. He crossed the hallway, entered his parents’ bedroom, and his mother said, “Your father is dying.” The shock of this trauma plunges El-Amine into a state of absolute apathy. He wanders blankly through the house as memories of times spent together come back to life. Painful moments alternate with stylized commentary by relatives about the events of that night. The feeling of loss is projected onto many minor details in the film. The cacophonous musical soundtrack is as deafening as grief. Once again, film becomes a tool for coming to terms with death. “Time is no more than a constant renewal in I Crossed the Hallway. The film is a long road, a long corridor, which gives ways to either reality or dreams or souvenirs.” R. El-Amine

I Crossed the Hallway

Rabih El-Amine
Lebanon / 2017 / 38 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Concerning Violence
Frantz Fanon (1925–1961) was an influential political thinker whose opinions influenced the anti-colonialist movement in Africa, especially in Algeria, where he worked as a psychiatrist during the war for independence from France. The title of the Swedish filmmaker’s documentary refers to the first chapter of Fanon’s celebrated – and in its day, banned in France – book The Wretched of the Earth, which defended the rights of colonized Africans. Found footage from the French-Algerian War, shocking in places, features commentary by American singer Lauren Hill, who recites passages from Fanon’s book, whose topics and ideas are still relevant to the current situation even today.DETAIL: “Fanon did not stop at thinking colonization but wanted to do something about it. He gave his time and skill to the healing of those who suffered from violence.”

Concerning Violence

Göran Hugo Olsson
Sweden, United States, Denmark, Finland / 2014 / 85 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European Premiere
Backstage Action
This is de facto a film about a film, with the only difference being that the focus is exclusively on the extras. They are filmed while waiting to take their turn, while conversing with others, and thinking about their performances. Although they take their duties very seriously and long to be stars, for the filmmakers, they’re just people that can be coordinated as necessary, nothing more. This film, on the contrary, gives them full consideration, revealing their personalities, what they experience, and what they dream of. The footage comes from many different places where movies are made, involving extras from all different nationalities."The representative becomes a present body, a speaking body, he becomes an acting body, even a political body liberated from the stereotypes that pertain to the community he was supposed to represent." S. Azari 

Backstage Action

Sanaz Azari
Belgium / 2018 / 61 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
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
The Uprising
Consisting of amateur video footage of the Arab Spring uploaded onto YouTube, this documentary presents seven days of the uprising, captured from the inside. Blurry but unfiltered images of protestors, brutal police crackdowns, and destroyed cities show that the best way to understand chaos is to be a part of it. When the cameraman asks a man standing on the street to describe the events of recent days, he answers, “This is the real Egypt. Before, we were living somewhere else. We are all pilgrims, emigrants, exiles.”

The Uprising

Peter Snowdon
Belgium, United Kingdom / 2013 / 78 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
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