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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

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
A Distant Echo
What can the landscape tell us about ancient history and how it is shaped? George Clark’s film essay explores this question through seemingly motionless images of the California desert accompanied by a minimalist chorale. This chosen form emphasizes the at first glance subtle shifts in the nature of the landscape, which becomes a stage for negotiations between an Egyptian archeologist and the members of a native tribe regarding the ancient graves hidden beneath the sand. The result is a multilayered tale that uncovers traces of the past, the ecology of the landscape, and cinematic history in locations that were once used to film Hollywood epics. “Existing in the resonance between ecological, cinematic and sonic domains, A Distant Echo explores the mythical continuity of sand as site for history, transformation and preservation. The things we cherish must sometimes be buried.”

A Distant Echo

George Clark
United Kingdom, United States / 2016 / 82 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Like an Abortion, for the Very First Time
The Umbrella Movement was a wave of street protests that took place in Hong Kong from September to December 2014 as a reaction to oppressive practices of the Chinese government against the citizens of Hong Kong dissatisfied with planned changes in the electoral system. In her feature film debut, To Liu captured the citizens of the western part of Kowloon, Mong Kok, whose protests might not have been as visible as those of the leading activists, but were no less important. The documentary rhythmized by opening entries and darkening of the scene, much like the director’s first film, follows two characters, a master and an apprentice.„'We are the fucking losers. But at least we fought', Mongkok people." T. Liu

Like an Abortion, for the Very First Time

To Liu
Hong Kong SAR China / 2018 / 102 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
I Remember Nothing
As Tunisia experiences revolutionary unrest, Diane tries to come to terms with manic-depressive symptoms so intense that she nearly loses her memory. Five years later, she comes across the diverse records – photographs, diaries and home videos – that she kept during thi time of crisis. She then transforms these documentary materials into a tool by which she captures the seemingly lost fragments of memory. Nevertheless, her goal is not to weave these fragments into a holistic narrative, but to preserve their fluidity in order to present the chaotic events that made the chasm between the public and the private unimaginable."This is the story of a broken memory locked on a harddrive. I wanted to look at the pieces of the puzzle - footage, sounds. To face the black holes. Remember. Show the violence of this inner storm." D. S. Bouzgarrou

I Remember Nothing

Diane Sara Bouzgarrou
France / 2017 / 59 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Noiseless, Desert Extras
Since the dawn of cinematography, the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate has been a lively center where extras for films with an Arabic theme are found in abundance. This poetic documentary, intentionally using acknowledged staging, shows how the electrifying energy of film flows through the local population. In this “game for real”, the filmmakers deconstruct film as an imitation of life, but one that becomes more than real for the interviewed film extras. This story presents the totality of moving images from a location where you would definitely never look for it."We are concerned about ideologies and fantasies that shape singular communities. In Noiseless we decided to build pictures with the extras of Ouarzazate to reflect on cinema's illusions." G. Lepore, Maciek and Michał Madracki

Noiseless, Desert Extras

Michał Mądracki, Maciej Madracki, Gilles Lepore
Poland, France, Morocco / 2017 / 64 min.
section: First Lights
European Premiere
Everything´s Gonna Be Fine
Producer Čestmír Kopecký had originally wanted to make a film about the changing face of Brno, but in the end director Robin Kvapil and co-writer Pavel Šplíchal created something more closely resembling Šplíchal’s ironic blog Prigl. In their “lovingly anarchistic” film, Brno forms the epicentre of a sarcastic look at Czech society. The naive and vacuous communist-era documentary with which Kvapil’s film opens gives way to the reporter’s bitter monologues right in front of the camera. These are intercut with acted sequences featuring Brno’s political elites, artists, and outcasts.“People say that Brno is the only joke that is inhabitable. The entire film follows this logic.” R. Kvapil

Everything´s Gonna Be Fine

Robin Kvapil
Czech Republic / 2017 / 71 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Connatural
This documentary, shot on black and white film, is an excruciating meditation on living close to death, which is nonetheless an inseparable part of life. Three generations of women live in one home, away from other people: an ageing mother, her two daughters, and her granddaughter. In long, slow shots, we see ordinary, regular actions that make up their day: braiding hair in the morning, cleaning the mother’s feet, reading the evening prayers. Lyrically stylized scenes depict their lives as an endless succession of moments of solitude, but which in their sequence and repetition gain strength, approaching analogy in the surrounding beautiful but inert nature.“Connatural stems from a need to express a series of emotions and thoughts related to the human condition. It delves into universal issues that are not usually represented as the experience of old age, everyday life and closeness to death.” J. Bellido

Connatural

Javier Bellido Valdivia
Peru / 2018 / 83 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
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
Czech Journal: Teaching War
This episode from the Czech Journal series examines how a military spirit is slowly returning to our society. Attempts to renew military training or compulsory military service and in general to prepare the nation for the next big war go hand in hand with society’s fear of the Russians, the Muslims, or whatever other “enemies”. This observational flight over the machine gun nest of Czech militarism becomes a grotesque, unsettling military parade. It can be considered not only to be a message about how easily people allow themselves to be manipulated into a state of paranoia by the media, but also a warning against the possibility that extremism will become a part of the regular school curriculum.“In order to identify the reason for which people prepare for war in the name of peace, I have started to portray the rising military spirit in a kaleidoscopic image.”

Czech Journal: Teaching War

Adéla Komrzý
Czech Republic / 2016 / 69 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Sand and Blood
The film takes a look at the recent history of two Middle Eastern countries torn by war – Iraq and Syria – from the perspective of local residents who have made the decision to flee their homes and seek asylum in Austria. It’s made up of a montage of conversations with refugees and amateur videos and images from various social networks and online platforms depicting events in both countries. Sand and Blood links individual stories and histories which are intended to awaken a deeper interest in the topic. Instead of a political film, the director considers his work to be something like a painting or poem. „A film that forces the viewer to question the very nature of good and evil, victim and perpetrator.” M. Krepp

Sand and Blood

Matthias Krepp
Austria / 2017 / 90 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
Helena's Law
Documentary filmmaker Petra Nesvačilová’s study of the famous “Berdych Gang” focuses on police officer Helena Kahnová, but she also interviews other actors in the case, including the accused and the convicted. The resulting film is a mosaic that says less about the case or its background than it does about the people who exist on the edge of the law, and about their thoughts and motivations. Nesvačilová herself comes into contact with the criminal underworld and becomes an actor in her own film. She must decide whether it is safe to meet certain people, which leads her to consider questions related to the essence of crime and of good and evil in general.“I thought I was shooting a portrait of a brave police woman, but in the end I found myself in places that I had always been afraid of and that I only knew from the movies. The underworld. And now I see that this underworld is all around us – sometimes very, very close.”

Helena's Law

Petra Nesvačilová
Czech Republic / 2016 / 80 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
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