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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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The Last Self-portrait
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The Last Self-portrait
The Last Self-portrait
The Last Self-portrait
The Last Self-portrait

The Last Self-portrait

director: Marek Kuboš
original title: Posledný autportrét
country: Slovakia
year: 2018
running time: 72 min.

synopsis

Slovak director Marek Kuboš has not shot a film in 13 years. His first film ever – a student exercise at film school – was a self-portrait. The circle is closed, the source of creativity has seemingly dried up. All that is left to do in the last self-portrait is to clean up after oneself, to recapitulate one’s successes and failures, and to bid farewell to one’s protagonists. This introspective meta-documentary is not so much a study of a creative crisis as it is a self-therapeutic process and an attempt at offering a comprehensive profile of the filmmaker at a time of unstable certainties. Appearing in the role of Kuboš’s consultants are essentially all leading Slovak documentary filmmakers.

"I’ve long felt that through documentary filmmaking I can’t say what I want to, what calls out to me. I’ve butted against internal and external boundaries that have paralyzed me as a documentarian. " M. Kuboš

biography

Marek Kuboš (1970) studied documentary film at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and is often included in the so-called Generation 90, a group of outstanding filmmakers who attended school in the 1990s that includes Jaroslav Vojtek, Peter Kerekes, Robert Kirchhoff, and Marko Škop. He is best known for his documentary A Photographer’s Journey (1993), followed by Train Station 2nd Class Kraľovany (1998) and Voice 98 (1999).

more about film

director: Marek Kuboš
producer: Marek Kuboš, Tibor Horváth
script: Marek Kuboš
photography: Marek Kuboš
editing: Radoslav Dúbravský, Marek Kuboš
music: Marek Kuboš
sound: Ján Boleslav Kladivo

other films in the section

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: Between the Seas
East European Premiere
Butterflies
Young Alexei is openly homosexual. Although his peers have no problem with his sexual orientation, his mother is unable to accept it. This documentary portrait follows Alexei during summer break, as he spends time with his new lover Grisha, whom he met at a Tarkovsky festival. The film takes an unusual observational approach in that the camera is often right up against people’s bodies and faces during impassioned discussions, arguments, or testimony. As a result, the spontaneous and eccentric manner in which Alexei breaks down gender stereotypes are brought to the fore. “Making a movie always goes hand in hand with fear and shame. This is because the film just now learned to dive into the man. Untill now it only described. During the work on the film Butterflies I always thought about it.” Dmitry Kubasov

Butterflies

Dmitry Kubasov
Russia / 2016 / 79 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
Our Daily Water
Drinking water deliveries by boat to remote Croatian islands is a great opportunity to observe often humorous daily life. Especially when the ship’s captain has a tendency to make coarse comments, regaling his young nephew, the newest member of the crew, with his choleric outbursts. Our Daily Water is an observational film, but it gives inner energy and humor to its protagonists. The film’s creators successfully convey the atmosphere of lazy days along the hot Croatian coast and the explosive temperament of the locals."Through this Mediterranean comedy about a Captain and his crew I wanted to tell a story of invisible people who work honestly in order to prevent our country from becoming an "accidental state"." V. Vorkapić

Our Daily Water

Vlatka Vorkapic
Croatia / 2018 / 57 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
de fac-to
How do we deal with our history? Is it possible that history becomes rather a tool made to justify our current interests and views? Such questions are posed in the observation documentary called de fac-to. The filmmakers visited several public events commemorating World War II in the Ukrainian town of Lviv. Moving recitations of poems are followed by anti-alcoholism propagandist bashings, allegations claiming that decommunization process in Ukraine had been started by Hitler or comparing numbers of victims during the Nazi and Communist eras. This diverse, often absurd kaleidoscope is structured as a stream of footage of events in chronological order with no commentary. „With our film we want to give an insight into specific situations and atmospheres, documenting the various protagonists as they find a relationship to the present through rituals celebrating the past.“ E. Shapiro-Obermair

de fac-to

Alexandra Wachter, Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair
Russia, Austria / 2018 / 32 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
A Two Way Mirror
This poetic documentary presents one woman’s journey towards finding self-confidence, inner peace, and harmony. The filmmaker returns to Croatia’s Lika region, where her family comes from. In the bosom of nature, she tries to come to terms with the losses she has suffered in her life, her illness, and her fear of the future. The film is structured into six parts (prologue, spring, summer, autumn, winter, epilogue), each linked to a different stage of human life. It is a very open and intimate confession, framed in a mosaic of memories and experiences, thoughts and feelings. The film is also therapeutic, helping the filmmaker find the strength to fight. The film received the Croatian Oktavijan Award for Best Documentary Film. “Every fear comes with the reason. To cure my fears I merged secret patterns and knowledge of my family with the cycles of nature. Through this collision I revealed what is the human in beasts and the beastly in humans.” Katarina Zrinka Matijević Veličan

A Two Way Mirror

Katarina Zrinka Matijević
Croatia / 2016 / 42 min.
section: Between the Seas
European Premiere
THE GOOD DEATH
Terminally ill Janette wants to die with dignity, but it’s not possible in the UK, where she lives. She therefore decides for assisted suicide. She must plan her journey to Switzerland before her rapidly advancing disease makes it impossible. The question of whether we own our own lives or whether they own us is the primary impetus behind this documentary portrait, which shows that death can be good despite the sadness that always accompanies it. The film, with dramatically suggestive camera work, uses feature film techniques, and engaging characters and stories of her loved ones are interwoven with Janette’s story."Let's talk about death because we will all die someday. The question is: can we choose when and how? I think we should." T. Krupa

THE GOOD DEATH

Tomáš Krupa
Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, France, Switzerland / 2018 / 83 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
TIMEBOX
Professor Ioan-Matei Agapi, an 80-year-old photographer and cameraman from Iași, Romania, owns a unique collection of 16mm films and photographs documenting almost fifty years of the city’s history. His daughter, also a filmmaker, has decided to make a film about her father's archives. In the unconventional surroundings of his old apartment, he reminisces about the past until one day Ioan is informed that he must leave or be evicted from home where he has spent the past 40 years. Ioan’s years of work suddenly transform into a huge burden, and the film unexpectedly changes into drama in which conflicts with city officials reveal old and hidden conflicts within the family. "The deepest thing I learned whilst doing this film is that we are stronger than we think we are." N. Agapi 

TIMEBOX

Nora Agapi
Romania / 2018 / 69 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
My Friend Boris Nemtsov
Until his violent death in February 2015, Boris Nemtsov was know as the face of the anti-Putin opposition movement. This intimate portrait brings us closer to his activities during his final years, when voices of protest became stronger in Russian society. The film does not portray grand speeches and gestures, but rather the daily activities of a politician, which included long business trips in addition to appearances in the media or at demonstrations, the everyday office routine, and discussions with people on the street. Nemstov’s close contact with social actors and the director are evidence of his courage and spontaneity, without needless pathos. “It is a film début, a documental tragedy. It took three years to make this portrait of Boris Nemtsov. Murdered in February 2015, the outstanding leader of Russian opposition is shown sympathetically, with humane warmth and irony.” Zosya Rodkevich

My Friend Boris Nemtsov

Zosya Rodkevich
Estonia / 2016 / 70 min.
section: Between the Seas
Czech 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: Between the Seas
World Premiere
Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: the astronaut, the robot, the alien)
What new things can we learn about ecology from science fiction? According to this video essay by artist Ralo Mayer, quite a lot. A flow of thoughts and analogies inspired not only by such sci-fi films as The Martian, E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Silent Running, but also by Biosphere 2, a project simulating an enclosed ecosystem located far away in outer space, have led the artist to reevaluate the way in which ecology is currently considered.  For his new view of things, which relies more on a cosmic rather than an earthly perspective, the key concepts consist of humans as space travellers, robotic technologies, and extraterrestrials as apparitions whom we suspect exist in distant star systems."Ecology in outer space, far from our home planet, is literally unheimlich–uncanny, or better: unsettling. After years of research about Biosphere 2, I met E. T. & we talked Haraway in a Redwood forest." R. Mayer

Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: the astronaut, the robot, the alien)

Ralo Mayer
Austria / 2018 / 43 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
Monk of the Sea
Even today, seventy percent of the men in Thailand follow the old custom of spending at least a short part of their life as a Buddhist monk in a monastery. For Ball, the film’s protagonist, his two-week career as a monk is intended to serve as a symbolic steppingstone between his wild student life and more moderate adulthood. However, the reality of things is by far not so simple. Rafał Skalski’s staged documentary uses the example of Ball’s marginal experience to demonstrate the degree to which modern-day Thai society is based on the incompatibility between ascetic and hedonistic lifestyles, which the one-time transformation of the unrestrained young man into a monk cannot really conceal."To me, this is an instant kind of spirituality. We want to get a lot of things done in one go – quickly fall in love, make a career, be successful."

Monk of the Sea

Rafal Skalski
Poland, Germany / 2016 / 68 min.
section: Between the Seas
Czech Premiere
Picturesque Epochs
The main focus of the new series A Private Hungary consists of 8mm footage from the private archives of the painter Mária Gánóczy (1927), whose rhythm is accentuated by the director’s syntactic additions. Gánóczy’s melancholic narration contrasts with the ideological rhetoric of the era’s news weeklies and police reports. The portraits of her family and friends and contemporary images from her canvas-filled studio, accompanied by the poetry of Dezső Tandori, are condensed into a sense of open possibilities for how to depict the past. At the same time, the fragile and unique nature of human experience appear especially vulnerable when we touch on eternity."A time travel through 200 years of Hungarian art & history through the eye and lenses of painters. This weaved art-and-film grand patchwork streams like the currents of the river of times, ripples and floats." P.  Forgács

Picturesque Epochs

Péter Forgács
Hungary / 2016 / 133 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
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