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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Owner’s Portrait
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Owner’s Portrait
Owner’s Portrait
Owner’s Portrait
Owner’s Portrait

Owner’s Portrait

director: Joaquín Maito
original title: Retrato de propietarios
country: Argentina
year: 2018
running time: 80 min.

synopsis

A fable-like documentary composed of footage from different corners of the planet juxtaposes animals and humans like two separate yet connected universes. Virtually without speech, with a heavy emphasis on the audio component, it tells the story of an island of untamed cats and mysterious antennas that broadcast to the world on long-wave radio a call for liberation from the economic and social ties that bind us. Everywhere the radio waves reach, we see static shots of human bondage and animal freedom, and by linking these contrasting images, an Eisenstein-style montage emerges, with new cinematic meaning.

„Everything started with an image in my head: a world without pets. That image became a documentary essay with a science fiction atmosphere, about freedom, work, domestic animals and societies in capitalism.“ J. Maito

biography

Joaquín Maito (1987) is an independent filmmaker from Argentina. Together with Tatiana Mazú, he filmed the documentary The State of Things in 2012, which was selected for screening at the Argentinian Mar del Plata International Film Festival. The film focuses on the auction of items from people’s estates – the process of assigning a value to items that meant everything to their original owners but which for buyers have only the value expressed in the terms of sale.

more about film

director: Joaquín Maito
producer: Joaquín Maito, Romina Beraldi
script: Joaquín Maito
photography: Joaquín Maito
editing: Manuel Embalse, Tatiana Mazú
sound: Catriel Vildosola

other films in the section

27 Times Time
Documentary filmmaker Annick Ghijzelings used her visit to Polynesia to shoot a personal meditation on the phenomenon of time. She slowed down the smooth flow of time in order to consider, in 27 short fragments, the various ways time can be represented. She does so by combining poetic narrative with images of the past and slow-motion shots of nature and local life. Gradually, she puts together a multilayered image of time that questions the boundaries between art, science, and philosophy, between advanced civilization and native cultures, and between the past, present, and future."The stories never subscribe to explanations or expert digressions. They are off-camera, barely pronounced, they are whispered in our ear like a secret between friends that beckons sharing."

27 Times Time

Annick Ghijzelings
Belgium / 2016 / 73 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
God Straightens Legs
At the center of this observational documentary stands the director's mother, Renée, bedridden with an insidious disease. With respect for her mother’s devotional faith, the atheistic-minded filmmaker captures a woman who for religious reasons refused to undergo traditional chemotherapy and waits for a miracle between the walls of her bedroom . While outside the window of the woman's room life goes on day after day, the camera patiently follows the protagonist during her normal activities with which she whiles away the hours - watching TV, talking with friends, praying with a friend, meeting with nurses, as well as routinely cleaning the house."Dealing not only with the trauma of her diagnosis but also with societal reproach for her decision, I wanted to make a portrait of my mother without judgement, instead with empathy, curiosity and patience." J. Walinga

God Straightens Legs

Joële Walinga
Canada / 2018 / 67 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Depth Two
A history of the armed conflict in Kosovo, in which NATO forces also eventually took part, includes many heretofore unexamined events, including mass murders of civilians which the Serbian police attempted to cover up. Ognjen Glavonić’s poetic documentary presents shocking witness testimony and leaves it to the viewer to piece together the events of the time. Unsettlingly stunning visuals give the events a current dimension - long shots of the locations in which the atrocities took place create a symbol of surviving the past in the present that the inexorable forward passage of time usually softens.“By using light and sound, a combination of spoken testimonies and images of the places where the crimes happened, the film speaks directly to the sensations, imagination and emotions of the viewer.” Ognjen Glavonić

Depth Two

Ognjen Glavonić
Serbia, France / 2016 / 80 min.
section: First Lights
Czech 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
Set Off
The city of Kobani lies in Syria on the border of the sphere of influence of the Islamic State, Turkey and the Kurds. Representatives of these three opposing parties battled it out between the years 2014 and 2016 during a war conflict that claimed the lives of many civilians, including thirty-three Turkish citizens who had come there beforehand for various reasons. Conceptualized as a film in their memory, the filmmakers use symbolism to follow their fateful journey as they set off for a city in ruins. The footage is complemented by double exposures of the survivors' faces, who tell of the untimely deaths of their friends and relatives. “Set Off was an exercise about how and what to tell, after an unmourned disaster; a journey parallel to theirs, daydreaming in the middle of a conflict zone, where landscape deconstructs power regimes.“ M. E. Büyükcoskun
personal program

Set Off

Mustafa Emin Büyükcoskun
Germany, Turkey / 2019 / 63 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Where the Land Ends
Québec is the largest Canadian province and the only one with the official language being only French. Modern struggles for Québec’s independence have resulted in two referendum polls which both acknowledged its being a part of Canada. The film explores Québec identity through the perspective of young people who haven’t had the chance to vote in the referendums. It comes up with questions about their relationship to their ancestors, whose traditions had been captured on camera by the documentary filmmaker Pierre Perrault, or whether their previously clear identification has begun losing ground now. In the course of a contemplative journey through the province’s cities and nature, seventeen young people provide their questions and ideas.“Where the Land Ends is a voice and a space. A voice that I realized I no longer heard, yet that I needed to hear. A space that still lived through some, but which we could no longer inhabit ourselves.” L. Darses     
personal program

Where the Land Ends

Loïc Darses
Canada / 2019 / 90 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Dopamina
The filmmaker’s family falls into crisis when her father is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease – a condition in which the brain stops producing dopamine, the hormone responsible for muscle movement and happiness. At the same time, Natalia is coming out to her parents, former left-wing social activists, something for which they have no understanding. In her intimate and contemplative film, the director interviews her relatives about their life stories and, through an intergenerational dialogue, tries to reach a mutual respect and family harmony that could help her sick father. “Making films is my way of experiencing the world, the most organic form of inhabiting it that I have ever felt. Dopamine, my first feature film, was a necessity and a beautiful exorcism.” N. Imery Almario 
personal program

Dopamina

Natalia Imery Almario
Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina / 2019 / 87 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
FREM
The film is a reaction to the current wave of post-humanist thinking caused by the development of technology and artifi cial intelligence as well as the climate crisis. The human species is beginning to realize its insignifi cance and transience, and human identity has found itself in a crisis. The fi lm FREM attempts to refl ect this feeling and creates a dehumanized and alienated view of landscape and nature beyond human perception of reality. Incomplete thoughts and fragments of dialogue, diverse music interrupted by rushes and glitches, and the seemingly confused, unanchored camera, create a disturbing, philosophical refl ection on the limits of anthropocentric thinking. "Making this film was an extreme experience, in every aspect, not only physical, since we shot in Antarctica. I had to think un-thinkable. Leave the prison of anthropomorphism behind. Stop being human." V. Čákanyová
personal program

FREM

Viera Čákanyová
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2019 / 73 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Meteors
People are transformed from hunters into victims and the city is hit by rockets and meteors on the same day. Through the eyes of actress Ebru Ojen, this strange docu-fiction captures the historical memory of one Kurdish town in eastern Turkey, which is stricken by armed conflict and where martial law throws daily life into a frozen timelessness. The director’s original combination of various cinematic styles with recycled video material joins the film’s many fragments into visually and musically interrelated chapters that mix political commentary with a documentary essay about a disappearing world. “Our behaviours relate to a certain geographic location and its history. It shapes our memories, how we remember them. What happened back then is a faded memory now, and Meteors is my re-imagining of how we remember everything.” G. Keltek

Meteors

Gürcan Keltek
Turkey, Netherlands / 2017 / 85 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
Sea Tomorrow
This observational documentary examines the disappearance of the Aral Sea and attempts at its restoration. At the location where the majority of maps and atlases show a large, majestic body of water, Katerina Suvorova finds only a largish pond and an arid wasteland, filled with the rusting remnants of wrecks waiting for scrap metal collectors. Shots of the enigmatic landscape, consisting of endless expanses of sand and dust, are alternated with captivating details. Just as fascinating is the strong will and faith of the people who have stayed in this inhospitable environment, such as old gardener, fishermen, and a hydrobiologist. They hope that the sea will return, they are fighting to save it, and they all hope for a better tomorrow. “I see people of the Aral region as a collective image of the last survivors on Earth. Their stories prove that even when the last shuttle abandons our racked planet, there will be people who stay and prefer correction of errors of the past to uncertainty of the future.” Katerina Suvorova

Sea Tomorrow

Yekaterina Suvorova
Kazakhstan, Germany / 2015 / 88 min.
section: First Lights
East European 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
The Building
In Kharkov, Ukraine lies Derzhprom Palace. The constructivist building, built between 1925 and 1927, was intended to embody the idea of communism. The palace soon became a symbol of the new society and inspired many avant-garde artists, e.g. Mayakovsky, Ejsenstein, Vertov and Dovzhenko. The film captures the current bustling activity of the building at a slow pace and offers a kaleidoscope of different perspectives. Through archival materials - building plans and contemporary film footage - it maps the history of the building and creates tension between the past and present, the new and old parts, the duties of employees and two astonished tourists wandering about.“Like rag-pickers of history, we look at the fragments left over from a time when a new society seemed possible, convinced that history is ultimately about the people who inhabit it” M. Mester, T. Kononenko
personal program

The Building

Matilda Mester, Tatjana Kononenko
Germany, Ukraine / 2019 / 93 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
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