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23rd 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

My Unknown Soldier
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
personal program

My Unknown Soldier

Anna Kryvenko
Slovakia, Latvia, Czech Republic / 2018 / 79 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
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
personal program

Through Foreign Eyes

Mykaela Plotkin
Argentina, Brazil / 2018 / 74 min.
section: First Lights
World 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
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
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
Notorious Deeds
October 1989. A high school student in Bucharest is apprehended for pasting up anti-regime posters and is interred in a secret police building for a number of days. As a result, his family, loved ones, friends, and schoolmates are affected by restrictions. Twenty years later at their class reunion, an excursion begins into memories of that moment of shock etched forever into memory, but for each somewhat differently. Director Gabriel Tempea is more interested in exploring the subjective interpretation from the point of view of “talking heads” than the actual facts. A postmodern form of oral history based on the testimonies of those who have most of their lives ahead of them.“Based on personal, subjective and painstakingly detailed recollections of an exceptional occurrence, I attempted to provide a glimpse at the bigger picture of  atroubled historical period.” Gabriel Tempea

Notorious Deeds

Gabriel Tempea
Romania, Austria / 2015 / 68 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
In Praise of Nothing
“A whistleblowing documentary parody about Nothing.” That is how the filmmakers describe In Praise of Nothing. In fact, Nothing is the only protagonist of this essay-like film. An ironic and unflinchingly critical monologue, delivered in simple rhymes and with the voice of Iggy Pop, accompanied by captivating and succinctly expressive footage shot by several dozen people all over the world with the assignment to “shoot nothing.” „A cinematic equivalent to Erasmus’s humanistic classic In Praise of Folly, in which Folly goes around the world arguing it is smarter to be mad than smart. 500 years later, it is Nothing who gets the main role.“ B. Mitić

In Praise of Nothing

Boris Mitic
France, Croatia, Serbia / 2017 / 78 min.
section: First Lights
Central European Premiere
On the Edge of Freedom
Moscow and Kyiv. Angela and Vlad. Two young and talented people brought together by an unusual passion for the extravagant and public conquest of forbidden parts of the city. Tall buildings, underground tunnels or freight trains are the new pastimes of a young generation yearning to get out of the rut, escape a predictable future and find fame among their peers through risky “urbex” videos. At the same time, however, the logic of social networks is turning them into a commercial phenomenon that can bring them big money – but also compel them to engage in even crazier stunts. “This is urban exploration, baby!” “This is a portrait of a new generation we rarely hear about. It is a film about the human behind an extreme phenomenon.” A. M. Hopland

On the Edge of Freedom

Anita Mathal Hopland, Jens Lengerke
Denmark / 2017 / 74 min.
section: First Lights
Central European 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
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
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

Rania Stephan, Rana Eid
United Arab Emirates, Lebanon / 2017 / 69 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
The Things
Nearly 10 years after the conflict in Georgia, Georgian inhabitants of the Russian-occupied territory are still living in temporary camps, waiting to return home. Their dwellings are cookie-cutter houses. They brought only the few items that they managed to grab from their homes when fleeing from the occupation army. Equally austere, almost as empty as their provisional housing, they live their lives at the mercy of waiting for what is to come. In this meditative documentary, real relics of their past lives, everyday things brought from their original homes, are the most tangible manifestations of the irreversibility of time as measured by losses. “We attempted to reflect about war experience from particular perspective, to meet persons rather than statistics, to observe rather than inquire, to contemplate about something we all share - the attachments.” Nino Gogua

The Things

Nino Gogua
Georgia / 2016 / 62 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
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