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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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A Volatile Tale
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A Volatile Tale
A Volatile Tale
A Volatile Tale
A Volatile Tale

A Volatile Tale

director: Carla Vestroni
original title: Una storia volatile
country: Italy
year: 2017
running time: 44 min.

synopsis

The unexpected birth of young birds frames this daily observation of a bird colony from the window of a flat in Rome. A poetic juxtaposition of human and bird life, of the search for god and a yearning for perfection, plays out on a minimalist stage of a few slanting rooftops. The footage of urban gulls, taken with a shaky handheld camera and intercut with shots of nuns from the neighbouring monastery, are mixed with poems, excerpts from novels and classical music. Only now and then – in a reflection in a window or from a seemingly banal conversation – do we learn anything about the people behind the camera.

„Is life linear? Why should narration be. Our attentive eyes excite our thoughts. Let's follow them. A Volatile Tale proceeds through associations describing not the existing but the experience." C. Vestroni

biography

Carla Vestroni (1942) teaches courses on Italian cinema for foreign students at Gonzaga University in Florence and at the British Council in Bologna. She is also a regular contributor to Cinema Sessanta magazine. Besides writing on film theory, she has also created several experimental video documentaries, such as The Sorting Game (2007), In The Bench (2008) and A Life Away, which have been showing at numerous European film festivals.

more about film

director: Carla Vestroni
producer: Sophie Chiarello, Carla Vestroni
photography: Carla Vestroni
editing: Carla Vestroni
music: Pino Censi
sound: Paolo de Laurentiis

other films in the section

Expectant
If we look up the word "expectante" in a Spanish-English dictionary, we learn it is an adjective which can be translated as “expecting” or “biding one's time”. It is no accident this single-word title belongs to an disconcerting Peruvian film which takes its audience to a darkened city where a group of friends is spending an evening of leisure. Even though the neighborhood they live in is a relatively safe one, their locked doors and gates provide no more than an illusion of safety, which is a thought applicable world wide. The distant black-and-white camera through which the audience observes the plot seems to be biding its time for a chance to attack."I think cinema is about creating sensations and reaching out to a personal language as a way to manifest our vision as individuals." F. Rodriguez Rivero

Expectant

Farid Rodriguez Rivero
Peru, Portugal / 2018 / 77 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Memories from Gehenna
Grande-Synthe is a suburb of the French port town of Dunkerque. In 2002, its residents were shocked by a racially motivated murder committed by a longtime resident looking to release his inner frustrations through ethnic violence. More than 10 years after the tragic events, the filmmakers have come to record how this place has changed. Their various stops in this agglomeration retrace the murderer’s journey as he drove around town looking for his future victim. Recited excerpts from his interrogation mix with current reflections by local residents and a piano soundtrack to give the film a sense of desolation.DETAIL:“When I was 16, I wanted to die too. I also wanted to shoot myself because a girl dumped me. But my dog would have been alone. I’m sure people will say it’s my fault. It’s always like that.”

Memories from Gehenna

Jenkoe Thomas
France / 2015 / 56 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Vacancy
The camera observes an American motel along the main highway – just the way many of us imagine the United States. We follow four people inside the room at night, where they have been living in a kind of private purgatory for several years. Their sins are drugs, crime, and bad decisions. The slow flow of scenes and the occasionally blurred image create an atmosphere of being out of time and out of place – which probably just where these four people, incapable of breaking free from the vicious circle of apathy, feel themselves to be. The four documentary portraits combine to form a picture of the depressing life of people nurturing a tiny flame of hope. „,I have been to hell and / back. / And let me / tell you / It was / wonderful‘ (from Louise Bourgeois work)“ A. Kandy Longuet

Vacancy

Alexandra Kandy Longuet
Belgium / 2018 / 80 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Acts and Intermissions
This experimental documentary essay about American anarchist and political activist Emma Goldman (1869–1940), known as the “most dangerous living woman” of her time, is the second part of her directorial trilogy about women and ideology, in which she poses the fundamental question: what do women have to give up in order to more than “just women”? The filmmaker presents a rich collage of archival footage, reconstructed scenes, and observed moments from the present with the goal of exploring the resurgence of protests in the 21st century. Over several timelines, we see fragments of Goldman’s diary entries intertwined with moments from her life and prophetic speeches. “The 2nd in my explores Emma Goldman & Anarchism in a series of non-hierarchical fragmented ‘memory’ chapters. Each part asks what we give up to be more than merely female?” A. Child

Acts and Intermissions

Abigail Child
United States / 2017 / 57 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Talks with TGM
Another contribution to the specific subgenre of animated history by the scriptwriter Pavel Kosatík. On 26 September 1928, Karel Čapek and President Masaryk meet in the gardens of Topolčianky castle to decide about the fate of their joint literary work. Their fiction film dialogue is based on quotes from a future book and their mutual correspondence, considerably freeing the original format of literary conversation from binding conventions. Čapek and Masaryk reproach and offend each other, but they also ask key personal questions and questions about the social functions of a writer and politician respectively.“It’s a film about two extraordinary men; it’s about the fact that emotions can be sometimes more powerful than ideas even in such exceptional people.” J. Červenka

Talks with TGM

Jakub Červenka
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2018 / 80 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
A Distant Echo
What can the landscape tell us about ancient history and how it is shaped? George Clark’s film essay explores this question through seemingly motionless images of the California desert accompanied by a minimalist chorale. This chosen form emphasizes the at first glance subtle shifts in the nature of the landscape, which becomes a stage for negotiations between an Egyptian archeologist and the members of a native tribe regarding the ancient graves hidden beneath the sand. The result is a multilayered tale that uncovers traces of the past, the ecology of the landscape, and cinematic history in locations that were once used to film Hollywood epics. “Existing in the resonance between ecological, cinematic and sonic domains, A Distant Echo explores the mythical continuity of sand as site for history, transformation and preservation. The things we cherish must sometimes be buried.”

A Distant Echo

George Clark
United Kingdom, United States / 2016 / 82 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Dead Slow Ahead
A freighter sails through a barren seascape. Apparently drifting aimlessly. Apparently? A highly enigmatic allegory of the isolation of man and machine in a post-industrial capitalist society, which is as close to techno-pessimistic sci-fi as it is to romantic painting. This story, consisting almost exclusively of the landscape, the movements of workers and machinery, and the ship itself, uses a highly aesthetic style to put across the impression of absolute desolation and disconcertion. The sedative rhythm pulls the viewer into a completely new, unknown world. Bit by bit we come to a realisation and start to ask: is this the last ship of humanity, burdened with the difficult task of keeping in motion that which has long stopped making sense?DETAIL:“Is anybody listening? An entire river is entering through the keel. There’s a lot. The water is reaching the storage tanks. Roger! Roger! Attention! The wheat is getting wet. The wheat. Sir, this is a disaster!”

Dead Slow Ahead

Mauro Herce
Spain, France / 2015 / 74 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European Premiere
Backstage Action
This is de facto a film about a film, with the only difference being that the focus is exclusively on the extras. They are filmed while waiting to take their turn, while conversing with others, and thinking about their performances. Although they take their duties very seriously and long to be stars, for the filmmakers, they’re just people that can be coordinated as necessary, nothing more. This film, on the contrary, gives them full consideration, revealing their personalities, what they experience, and what they dream of. The footage comes from many different places where movies are made, involving extras from all different nationalities."The representative becomes a present body, a speaking body, he becomes an acting body, even a political body liberated from the stereotypes that pertain to the community he was supposed to represent." S. Azari 

Backstage Action

Sanaz Azari
Belgium / 2018 / 61 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
14 Homicides
The state of Utah has very broad definitions of when a police officer can use a weapon on duty. Last year, 14 controversial deaths were caused by the police. This documentary, based on traditional film structure, is made up of 14 two-minute static shots of the crime scenes. The soundtrack consists of recited texts made up of interrogation reports and the responses of people close to the victims. The objective communication sharply contrasts with the tragic incidents. The fixed camera view becomes a sad reminder of a fatal incident which paradoxically most authorities consider to be justified.DETAIL:An attorney for the Hunt family says they don't believe Darian attacked officers with the toy sword. He also stated that he was a harmless and innocent young man who was drawn into an incident provoked by the police.

14 Homicides

Jona Gerlach
United States / 2015 / 34 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
The Lust for Power
In recent Slovak history, there’s hardly a more significant figure than Vladimír Mečiar. Director Tereza Nvotová approaches him from several different directions. One is an interview that she conducted with him directly, another is his narrative monologue that presents Slovak history against the backdrop of his own family history, and finally through archival images of Mečiar’s public appearances in the media. Her film, accompanied by aerial images of the Slovak landscape as it appears today, poses the question of what Mečiar meant for the her generation, for society at the time, and for Slovakia in general. “When I was 10-years-old, we´d make believe that we were E. T., Winnetou or Mečiar. Now I want to find out who he really was and what he has done to us and to our country because now I see the same story playing out all over the world.“ T. NvotováThe film is being screened in cooperation with the Representation of the European Commission in the Czech Republic.

The Lust for Power

Tereza Nvotova
Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2017 / 89 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Skokan
Director Petr Václav calls Skokan a documentary film with fairy-tale aspects, mainly because of its emphasis on authenticity in telling the fictional tale of a Romani recidivist in search of career opportunities at the Cannes film festival. The main character is played a by real ex-con, Julius Oračko, whom the filmmakers got out of prison on parole shortly before the start of filming. The film was shot with just a rough script, which was fine-tuned on the set. The scenes from Cannes were shot during the festival. The ending, which recalls the liberation of an enchanted princess, again feels like a fairy tale.“We improvised most of the scenes during filming – we used the places we were able to get into and the light that was available. Above all, I tried to capture the experiences of the main character,” P. Václav

Skokan

Petr Václav
Czech Republic, France / 2017 / 93 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
The Wall
The Stalin Cult is once again gaining in strength in Russia. Every December 21st, the former Communist leader’s admirers gather to honor him on Red Square, at the site of his grave in the Kremlin Wall. In this observational documentary, the Russian director introduces the principle of “walking heads” – the majority of the footage consists of long takes showing the faces of the people waiting in line to place flowers and pay homage in front of a bust of Stalin. Accompanied by the sound of shuffling feet, a representative sample of various human types parades in front of our eyes, their faces reflecting almost a sacred reverence for a man who was responsible for the murder of several millions of their fellow citizens."Imagine thousands of Jews praying to Hitler’s grave. Impossible? How people can worship the one who annihilated them? In modern Russia we can witness a similar paradox." D. Bogolubov

The Wall

Dmitry Bogolubov
Russia / 2017 / 43 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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