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25th 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

noimage
FilmORACLE captures the emotionally complicated relationship between a young Israeli and his Cambodian girlfriend. He earns his living reading cards on the nighttime streets of Phnom Penh, while she succumbs to alcohol. Together, they care for their children, although they are incapable of taking care of themselves. Within the protagonists’ everyday existence of love and fighting, the film shows their solitude and their doubts, as well as the difficulty of choosing between cultures.

Phnom Penh Lullaby

Pawel Kloc
Poland / 2011 / 103 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European Premiere
Looking for Mr. Dice
Many years ago, the film’s director and the man nicknamed Mr. Dice were best friends. In a whirlwind of parties, the famous musician and the influential banker were carried on a wave of the euphoria of wild capitalism after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The bank, however, led by Mr. Dice, went bankrupt and he disappeared without a trace with the money that his friends and clients had entrusted to him. Here begins the documentary search that leads us on an adventure from Latvia to the heat of Africa and far beyond the crime, guilt, and betrayal. It is also a search for the sense of deep friendship and the struggle with common sense and conventional moral categories. "I hope the film makes the audience to think what it really means "a true friendship” when money gets involved, as well as shows an ordinary man’s struggle through the abstract glory of diamonds." K. Roga

Looking for Mr. Dice

Kaspars Roga
Latvia / 2019 / 79 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
The Halves
The film’s main protagonist, Alexandr Zarchikov, works on a cargo ship transporting Japanese cars that have been cut in half to the Russian port city Vladivostok. There, the cars are reassembled and transporters take them away to their final destinations. Zarchikov decides to try working on the mainland, and joins one car on its journey through Siberia. His experience morphs into a meditative film essay, symbolically divided into two halves (sea and land), where he ponders his relationship with his motherland, religion, and nature, and tries to overcome his feelings of rootlessness.DETAIL:“When I worked on a ship like this, we always got home quickly, safe and sound. Now, I don’t feel at home on a boat, nor on the island I was born, Sakhalin. Maybe by making this film, I’ll find my place.”

The Halves

Alexandr Zarchikov
France, Russia / 2015 / 95 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
Bojo Beach
Regular rushes of waves wash the Ghanaian coast, and a group of fishermen pulls their catch from the sea as they do every day. This short film depicts the labours of local fishermen in several chapters. Almost aescetically static cinematography and minimal editing during the fishermen’s work set it off from anything that could happen on the beach that day. Thanks to the slow pace, unintentional abstract compositions of the fishing nets end up in the picture, or a lonely mountain is traced in the background. The film’s atmosphere isn’t determined by people but rather by the rhythm of the sea, the colour of the sky, and the structure of the sand on Bojo Beach."The idea of being sat on the beach is always one of soaking up the atmosphere, breathing in the air, being contemplative, just watching things, just letting them happen. All this in a globalized world" E. Groen

Bojo Beach

Elke Groen
Austria / 2017 / 25 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
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
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
Christ Lives in Siberia
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, a Siberian policeman claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and together with his followers set up Sun City in remote Siberia as an outpost of Christian life. Over a decade later, a mother of four children decides to leave her husband and life in Saint Petersburg behind and heads east with her offspring. The expected classic denouement of this tale does not, however, come to pass. To the contrary - this purely observational documentary shows that the coexistence of the breakaway religious group is problematic in some aspects, but despite that, it is a functional way of life in today’s complicated world.DETAIL:“We have to work for the children, for the future. That’s the right way, then everything will turn out right. They won’t have to live through the convulsions, the tough times which we had. It can all be different for them.”

Christ Lives in Siberia

Jaak Kilmi, Arbo Tammiksaar
Estonia, Finland / 2015 / 85 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
noimage
FilmREFUGE looks at the struggle to create a new life faced by asylum seekers in interim facilities and reception centers. Strict rules result in only one out of ten applications being accepted. Those who are awarded refugee status are placed in a pre-integration facility, where they meet with social workers, learn the language, and prepare for life in Hungary.

Caught Between Two Worlds

Viktor Oszkár Nagy
Hungary / 2011 / 67 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European Premiere
noimage
FilmBOUT shows the journey of an old and lonely man who embodies Georgia’s past and present. The former wrestler, who once beat seven opponents in less than a minute, is a reminder of past fame, a patriotic symbol, for wrestling is Georgia’s national sport. Today, he is going to visit his mother’s grave, and he yearns to meet the woman he loved and lost 50 years ago.

Ramin

Audrius Stonys
Georgia, Latvia / 2011 / 58 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European Premiere
noimage
FilmSNOW bears traces of the style of Alexander Sokurov, whose long, silent shots unite the incongruity of physical and mental reality. This film, which looks at the border villages in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region, is marked by a similar inner conflict. The Kurds’ history of humiliation and murder has marked entire families, including that of Svetlana, a former citizen of the Soviet Union.

We Need Happiness

Alexander Sokurov, Alexei Jankowski
France / 2010 / 52 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European 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
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