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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

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
The Irreversible Consequences of Slipping on a Banana Peel
A foggy morning in a small Romanian town. Alexandrina returns from Canadian exile from Canada to her withering mother Mary, a former teacher who is being taken over by advancing old-people's dementia. The intimate moments of broken relationships oscillating between acceptance, compassion and helplessness creep into the fate of a nation disrupted by communism, progressing illness, and the increased feeling of loneliness of an aging woman surrounded by her childhood dolls. In a documentary approximation interlaced by internal monologues with her own (imaginary) daughter, we follow the complicated and anxious path to family reconciliation and towards the place of no return. “I believe in a documentary that endorses questioning, anguish, and uncertainty.“ B. Stoica 
personal program

The Irreversible Consequences of Slipping on a Banana Peel

Bogdan Stoica
Canada / 2019 / 76 min.
section: Between the Seas
World 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
Enticing, Sugary, Boundless or Songs and Dances about Death
How can we talk about death and still enjoy the beauty of life? Who can we tell if we have no one? People from all corners of the world deal with the perspective of death and ask similar questions. This documentary collage by Tetiana Khodakivska and Oleksandr Stekolenko (1980) is a patient enterprise, working with intimate portraits of both ordinary people and the brilliant filmmakers, and thoughtfully placing them within a three-part mosaic about the greatest riddle of human existence. Only the motif of death gives life a purpose and links us all – but what must happen in order for us take it seriously? This imaginatively edited work of docufiction is a contemplation of life in relation to our own mortality. "This movie is about awareness of death. The story is built on documentary and fiction narrative techniques blended together. " T. Khodakivska, O. Stekolenko

Enticing, Sugary, Boundless or Songs and Dances about Death

Oleksandr Stekolenko, Tetiana Khodakivska
Ukraine / 2017 / 95 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
Among Houses and the Cosmos
In this sensual film essay, the director has assembled her experiences with rituals in various corners of the world, from Europe across Africa to Latin America. The close interaction of the camera with bodies moving in trances encourages active involvement in the frenzied moments in which people lose themselves in Dionysian intoxication. These moments serve the filmmaker to obliterate the distance between the individual and the collective, personal and foreign, internal and external. The film, however, attaches a political meaning to the rituals, or rather shows how uprooted cultures cope with their minority status through rituals, or even turn it to their favor. “I felt the urgency to work with video footage from years of different travels. During editing, I found myself thinking about the human necessity to impose meaningful patterns on life and being.” Koštana Banović

Among Houses and the Cosmos

Kostana Banović
Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portugal, Senegal, Brazil, Angola, Turkey, Gambia, Cuba, Serbia, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles / 2016 / 70 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
My Granny from Mars
Babushka Zina is originally Ukrainian, but because of the current political situation she has remained in Russian-occupied Crimea. Separated from her family, she lives in a forgotten seaside town while trying to decide whether to stay or to leave. The sounds of Russian contemporary music and folk songs add to the atmosphere of her exile town, which is seen through a sensitive lens filled with sentimentality. But the consequences of the unsatisfactory political situation are ever-present in this place, which is like a different planet. The way in which the director records Zina’s relationship to her friends and family betrays a deep respect for this old woman, her life wisdom, and her experiences."After the annexation of Crimea my old Ukranian granny Zina had to face the fact of living on a 'new planet'. For many reasons, the time has come for her to make a crucial decision." A. Mihalkovich

My Granny from Mars

Alexander Mihalkovich
Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia / 2018 / 83 min.
section: Between the Seas
World 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
Opera about Poland
A travelogue collage in search of Polish identity in an uncertain world. A carefully composed dream about the unfound unity of nation, old injustices and moments of glory that fade away under the burden of petty thoughts and the fear of non-existent enemies. A selection of period footage, newspaper articles, and bitterly current citations from the internet, mixed with journal entries by the author Andrzej Stasiuk to create a personal reflection of events. The staged portraits of ordinary Poles set to a tension-filled disharmonic operatic soundtrack at first seems like a series of unrelated images and thoughts, but they slowly come together to form a portrait of the soul of the Polish nation."To begin the repair or therapy you need to be diagnosed. You need to see what mistakes have been made in the past. Or check if you are living with untrue myths and beliefs." P. Stasik

Opera about Poland

Piotr Stasik
Poland / 2017 / 41 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
Victoria
The hypnotic wasteland of Southern California is infused with the free-spirited nature of Easy Rider, the alienation and uprootedness of Michelangelo Antonioni, and the deep transcendence of Werner Herzog. It speaks to us through fragments of dialogues from iconic films, and yet it remains elusive and dissolves into abstract shapes, rhythms, and compositions. The landscape as a captivating and intangible, all-encompassing and insubstantial yet full emptiness becomes the means for the transgressive experience of two temporalities – the “real” time of people and the time of natural processes.„How much further do we have to go? I don't know. Not much further. That's what you said this morning. I sometimes say it all day. Really? You say it all day? We don't have much longer. We'll be there soon.“ L. Marxt

Victoria

Lukas Marxt
Austria / 2018 / 63 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
The Haunted
The Turan tiger, a majestic symbol of the Central Asian landscape, has been extinct for several decades, but it lives on as a sacred symbol in the collective imagination of the local population. In her captivating film essay, Ismailova pays homage to this animal as she shows how firmly bound it is, in people’s minds, with the region’s history. The tiger is a spectre that emerges from the darkness and disappears again, the landscape is like a network of ruins buried under layers of the past. The collage of visual and audio fragments, accompanied by the filmmaker’s passionate commentary, shows that “real” history cannot be separated from shared ideas and dreams."The Haunted is an intimate video letter to the spirit of the extinct Turan tiger, which disappeared from Central Asia in the 20th century. Today, the tiger lives on in people’s collective memory." S. Ismailova

The Haunted

Saodat Ismailova
Norway, Uzbekistan / 2017 / 23 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European 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
PhoeniXXX
Two young Romanian women make money as models on an erotic video chat site. All while they try to lead normal family lives, get along with their parents, and raise children. This observational documentary captures exactly this - their private space. The filmmakers let them speak freely about not only their jobs, but also how they themselves see their lives. At the same time, they show how a publicly condemned profession influences people’s behavior and their view of the world. The film also presents dramatic generational differences in contemporary Romanian society in which the older generation, working in agriculture, wants their children to remain at home while the younger one seems to be moving coninously to the bigger cities, leaving behind their past. "For a good documentary you have to go out and live among your characters." M. G. Dragolea

PhoeniXXX

Mihai Gavril Dragolea
Romania / 2017 / 53 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
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