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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Empty Horses
Empty Horses

Empty Horses

director: Péter Lichter
original title: Üres lovak
country: Hungary
year: 2019
running time: 67 min.

synopsis

Mihály Kertész (1886-1962) made more than 150 films, most of them as Michael Curtiz in the United States. He remains known thanks to one of them - the melodrama Casablanca (1942). Gábor Bódy (1946-1985), on the other hand, devoted his short life spent in Hungary creating experimental films, and his filmography is little known to the general public. In this untraditional documentary, we listen in on a conversation between these two directors as they discuss their experience with film work and its sense from somewhere beyond the imaginary cinematic afterlife. An associative collage of excerpts from classic Hollywood movies and the filmmakers’ own avant-garde works evokes not only questions connected with the history and theory of film, but also opens the personal dramas and inner conflicts of their creators. 

“Our aim was to imagine a fictional conversation between two film directors, both classical masters but from very different cinematic worlds, all brought to life with rich images of poetic associations.” P. Lichter 

biography

Petér Lichter (1984) studied film theory at Budapest University and since 2002 has also devoted himself to the practical aspects of film. He creates short experimental films in which he works with abstract images and the revival of found film material. Works from his filmography shown at the Ji.hlava IDFF include The Negative Hungarian Film History (2010), Non-Places: Beyond the Infinite (2016), 8th October 2016 (2016), and Nutrition Fugue (2018).

more about film

director: Péter Lichter
cast: Pál Mácsai, Roland Rába
producer: Dora Nedeczky, Péter Lichter, Bori Máté
script: Bence Kránicz, Gábor Roboz, Péter Lichter
photography: Dávid Gerencsér
editing: Péter Lichter, Bori Máté
music: Ádám Márton Horváth
sound: Péter Benjámin Lukács

other films in the section

Trapped By Law
In 2010, thousands of Kosovo Roma were forcibly repatriated from the European Union to their original home. And this despite the fact that many had spent years living in the EU. They had grown up there, studied there, some had even been born there. This engaged documentary follows the story of brothers Kefaet and Selami, rappers from Essen who, from one day to the next, find themselves in Kosovo, cut off from the rest of the world and from their family in Germany. The director does not remain neutral in recording their many years spent trying to get out of a trap of absurd and unfriendly laws, and to return from their native homeland to their real one.DETAIL:“We also had hard situations, you know, where we were maybe thinking about this, you know, to get separated, go separate ways, but no – In the end it was always just differences here and there, that you have to compromise with.”

Trapped By Law

Sami Mustafa
Kosovo, Germany / 2015 / 90 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
People Pebble
Stones form the landscape, they crunch underfoot as we walk, and children use them in their games. In this experimental film by the directing duo of Darakchiev and Gamot, the fascination with one particular object reaches its peak. The associative images, brought together by the lens of a 16mm camera, create a loosely related series of stream-of-consciousness ideas: Monumental shots of the cliffs of Dover, stone houses, people walking on a stone beach, and a metronome in the shape of a hammer. Ordinary images accompanied by cacophonous sounds and excerpts from unrelated interviews create new associations among familiar aspects of human existence. International Premiere shared with DocLisboa "People Pebble figuratively associates two disparate patrimonial identities, inciting a new dialogue through and beyond the traces of the human hand, all encompassed by the impermanence of nature." J. Darakchiev, P. Gamot

People Pebble

Perrine Gamot, Jivko Darakchiev
United Kingdom, France / 2017 / 18 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
The Last Self-portrait
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

The Last Self-portrait

Marek Kuboš
Slovakia / 2018 / 72 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
The Dazzling Light of Sunset
On dilapidated theater stages, the secular rituals of contemporary Georgian society play out: weddings, fashion shows, beauty pageants, political elections. The static camera, which captures this emotionless choreography of ceremonies in wide-angle shots, contrasts with the dynamic pans of the small camera held by a television reporter whose energetic activities keep a local television station going. A series of carefully framed scenes from the events that Dariko chooses to present to her viewers is juxtaposed with images from inside the run-down television studio, which survives thanks to fees earned from reading obituaries.“It fascinated me how small stories from small towns were so much more important than the big politics. And I wondered what these small stories were.” Salomé Jashi

The Dazzling Light of Sunset

Salomé Jashi
Georgia, Germany / 2016 / 74 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European Premiere
Waiting room
Waiting, as a condition in which people spend a large part of their lives, is the central theme of this narrative film. The lives of seven women of various ages, who do not know each other, intersect for a brief period of time. They are linked by one place – the waiting room at the main railway station – where each one of them, in deep contemplation, is looking for something or someone different. The slow non-dramatic narration, with stiff stylised camera movements places the viewer in the role of stalker. In this film, in which the director admittedly combines elements from both fictional film and documentary practice, he worked with non-professional actresses.DETAIL:“Believe it or not, for me otherness is what is real, what is normal. I love those who are different. They are my people. My life is in God’s hands. That is how I received it, just like everyone else.”

Waiting room

Palo Korec
Slovakia / 2015 / 72 min.
section: Between the Seas
International 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
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
Blind Cinema
An unusual group sets sail from St. Petersburg to Finland. The crew, which consists of vision-impaired people and people with normal eyesight, learns to work together in order to successfully complete their undertaking. The observational documentary shows the crew’s first contact with the boat, which is done by touch, and then follows their daily routine while at sea. The disinterested camera records a reality that overcomes our prejudices regarding the helplessness of blind people. The problem-free journey gives the sailors space for new sensations. Excerpts from the ship’s log show us aspects of the mission – i.e., the transformation of oneself that can change the world. „What do you see when you cannot see? How do you interact with a world with fewer visual elements to distract you? Blind Cinema explores the realm of sightless people who sail the sea and expand the boundaries of self.” G. Glyants

Blind Cinema

Grigory Glyants
Russia / 2017 / 50 min.
section: Between the Seas
International 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
Abdul & Hamza
The feelings of rootlessness and life concerns that prey on thousands of African and Middle Eastern refugees migrating to Europe resonate in this minimalist documentary about two young Somali emigrants. On the path to a better future, they have found temporary shelter in an abandoned house in the mountains near the Serbian-Romanian border. The camera simulates the perspective of an inconspicuous impartial observer capturing moments that often lack any action, but are still full of internal tension arising from the feelings of uncertainty that the silently waiting men cannot escape.DETAIL:“My friend, everyone who has kids is a lucky man. And what’s the situation with your family? – My three children and my wife are waiting for me. It’s great that they are together.”

Abdul & Hamza

Marko Grba Singh
Serbia / 2015 / 49 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European Premiere
The Winter Garden's Tale
Valentina Voronina, gardener and tenacious manager of a large conservatory, is fired after forty-five years on the job. Time is winning in its unequal battle with a lack of financing, a decaying building, and the approach of retirement age. The dilapidated conservatory reflects the weakening strength of its distinctive manager and visionary. The conviction that the plants will die if nobody looks after them, is intertwined with the appearance of esoterics and a shaman with a divining rod who discovers a spring of positive energy in front of the building’s entrance. Palm fronds rustle like a silent witness to the melancholic struggle against time and the relentlessness of decay. Another cruel winter is on the horizon. "It is built on its own internal rhythm without the author’s direct speech. Just rethought reality, placed in ironical and a little magic conditions with the main conflict between dreams and reality. " S. Mozgovyi

The Winter Garden's Tale

Simon Mozgovyi
Ukraine / 2018 / 75 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
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
Aktuálně.cz
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