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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Once More unto the Breach
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Once More unto the Breach
Once More unto the Breach
Once More unto the Breach
Once More unto the Breach

Once More unto the Breach

director: Michele Manzolini, Federico Ferrone
original title: Il Varco
country: Italy
year: 2019
running time: 70 min.

synopsis

Because of his Russian origins, Italian soldier Romano Isman is called to the front to act as a military interrogator and translator for the fascist bigwigs and the local population. Isman’s narrative mixes a detailed description of the horrors of war and historical testimony with a lyrical disillusioned contemplation on the insignifi cance of the individual in the midst of war. The filmmaker creates a contrast between historicized illustrative images accompanying the narration of the protagonist and images of modern Ukraine and Russia, which to this day are still dealing with the despair and frustration caused by the events of the twentieth century.

Il varco combines found footage of different origins. it's a fictional story populated by presences: ghosts wandering in the Ukrainian steppe, echoes of bloody pasts, and wars still being fought today.” M. Manzolini, F. Ferrone

biography

Italian director and graduate in semiotics Michele Manzolini (1980) and trained historian and political theorist Federico Ferrone (1981) have been creating documentary films together since 2007. They often address contemporary political and historical topics. For many years they worked as producers for the Al-Jazeera television network. Their film Train to Moscow (2013) was screened at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

more about film

director: Michele Manzolini, Federico Ferrone
producer: Claudio Giapponesi
editing: Federico Ferrone, Maria Fantastica Valmori
sound: Simonluca Laitempergher

other films in the section

Fovea Centralis
Under significant pressure from the government and the media, the Fukushima nuclear power plant released video recordings from its closed circuit camera system. The recordings did not escape the censor’s reach: people’s faces are blurred and in some places, the sound has been removed. Using this material, the director assembled a meditative film-poem that skirts the fringe of video art. Using bricolage technique, the filmmaker combines multiple images, sound disruptions, and written text that are burned into the viewer’s mind like the image of a mushroom cloud on the retina, the center of which – the spot which creates the sharpest vision – is called the fovea centralis.DETAIL:“My forehead and chin lean on bars of cold metal. I hear an unknown’s man voice. The visual field of your left eye is reduced. You have a mark on your retina. It is shaped like an inverted mushroom.”

Fovea Centralis

Philippe Rouy
France / 2014 / 50 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Taego Ãwa
Tutawa Tuagaek, the ageing leader of the Ãwa, a Brazilian indigenous tribe, is one of the last survivors of the 1973 massacre of Indians in the Amazon jungle. This team of filmmaker-ethnographers records his everyday life in the company of young followers, to whom he is trying to pass on his experiences. The Indian community’s everyday rituals are contrasted with found photographs and video clips that offer rare evidence of the atrocities that Tutawa recounts. Different epochs and visual formats create a continuum that reveals the traumatic history of an oppressed people who have managed to survive despite all odds."The imagination is not only mediator between understanding and sensibility, it has its own dynamism, scheme free, organized bodies, constituted individuals, fixed identities, consolidated psyches."

Taego Ãwa

Henrique Borela, Marcela Borela
Brazil / 2016 / 75 min.
section: Opus Bonum
East European Premiere
The New Day
A mixture of documentary and fiction as seen through the eyes of a non-participant observer, this drama presents the life of the fisherman Maldonado. After his wife Celia leaves him, we watch his lonely life in a series of cyclical everyday activities as we listen to Celia’s voiceover. Although it tends to repeat itself, it reveals something new every day. We always observe a different part of the daily work of a fisherman, or see it from a different angle. This sense of conflict is heightened by contradictory motifs on-screen and in the voiceover. Words clash with images, the everyday with the extraordinary, space with time. “Maldonado is a fisherman of the Paraná River. Modern times leave him on a threshold: a way of inhabiting that no longer finds its possibilities. That frailty that cracks into his world is what we intent to film.”

The New Day

Gustavo Fontán
Argentina / 2016 / 62 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
20 Cents
São Paulo, June 2013: The local government’s decision to raise the price for a public transit ticket by 20 cents results in a wave of social unrest. The protests are an expression of a more general dissatisfaction among the working classes with their living conditions. However, the mass of protestors does not succeed in achieving a common vision: The carneval-like ethos is replaced by the atmosphere of guerilla struggle, and solidarity by violence. Over several days, this observational documentary places the viewer directly into the middle of the chaotic events. The cadence of kinetic footage of angry mobs, accompanied by tribal rhythms and heavy-metal riffs, is enough to give the viewer a sense of vertigo.DETAIL:“Brazil cannot continue being the country of impunity! Brazil cannot continue sending only poor to prison. It’s time the politicians go to jail.”

20 Cents

Tiago Tambelli
Brazil / 2014 / 52 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
The Shelter
Nervousness, stress and bursts of violence in front of a bunker in the Swiss town of Lausanne, where every night in winter homeless people – most of them immigrants – undergo selection. The old bunker is an emergency shelter, but the number of people looking for a bed is more than the facility can handle. First women and children, the aged and handicapped, then the men. All of the participants in this ritual are under mental pressure. Shot in a combination of static long shots and close-ups of the arguing people, the film looks at the microcosm of stories of people caught in a vicious bureaucratic circle.DETAIL:“I’ve seen people arrive, handsome like you. After five months, when they didn’t find work... human decline... people’s morals deteriorate... at some point, before getting to that stage, go back home.”

The Shelter

Fernand Melgar
Switzerland / 2014 / 101 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
The Beijing Ants
In 2013, Beijing became the city with the most expensive rents in the world. The rising prices also affected the film’s director, Ryuji Otsuka, his wife and their small child. With the help of a handheld video camera and casual and hidden cameras, he has created a personal diary that begins at the moment when he must search for a new flat after his rent was suddenly and significantly raised. From this has emerged an immediate, spontaneous testimony about everyday situations that can change easily into acute conflicts – not only due to financial pressure, but also because of the ruthless approach of landlords and indifferent police. DETAIL:“We’ll handle things according to the contract. Spoken words have no clout, only black on white counts. You say it was promised, I disagree, where’s the proof? Show us a written document.”

The Beijing Ants

Ryuji Otsuka
China / 2014 / 88 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
Tour of Duty
Personal retrospectives reveal life on an American base and in the nearby village following the end of the Korean War. The late testimony of three women forms a raw probe into the soul of women forced by circumstances into prostitution, and reveals the consequences of the presence of American soldiers on the lives of the local inhabitants. The camera dispassionately follows a dancing woman whose movements bring to life memories of youth. The focused camera increases the intensity of the experience, and in an unbearably slow flow of images joins with the dancing woman to pull the viewer into the pain of her life.

Tour of Duty

Dong-ryung Kim, Kyoung-tae Park
South Korea / 2013 / 150 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
The Lake
A hand with a camera emerges from a lake. This surreal scene is like a period in the personal correspondence between two Japanese filmmakers. In the director’s mind, the faded 8mm footage depicts artifacts that evoke phantoms of the past. But besides aimless wanderings through the streets of his hometown, a collection of photographs of a women’s wrestling team, or the handmade mask of Mexican superhero El Santa, the camera also shows its own image. In this experimental correspondence written with a camera instead of a pen, the central theme is one of mirrors and reflections representing the connection between subject and object, life and film.DETAIL:“Now 8mm film is going out of existence. I waste valuable film stock by shooting long takes. I shoot long because a bird will fly across the frame. Isn’t this just a way I live my life?”

The Lake

Shin'ichi Miyakawa
Japan / 2013 / 43 min.
section: Opus Bonum
East European Premiere
Appunti del passaggio
The 1960s saw a large wave of immigration from Italy to Switzerland, which was infamously accompanied by hurdles thrown up against this new workforce. Meditative static images reveal the places, the landscape, and the border between the countries that are a part of this story. Photographs and an intermezzo consisting of the reading of poems inspired by the diaspora add an emotional element. The notes of a young woman read as voiceover give the documentary a multilayered narrative that tells the story of the collective memory of a group of economic migrants and their working conditions, exploitation, and loss of dignity. “By critically examining the merging of political power and cinema, as well as various ‘aesthetics of reality’, the project proposes a convergence of past and present to question history through (hi)stories of migration, architecture and cinema.”

Appunti del passaggio

Maria Iorio, Raphaël Cuomo
Italy, Switzerland / 2016 / 43 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Chasing after the Wind
In recent years, the Getsemaní neighborhood in the Colombian town of Cartagena has evolved from a dangerous and crime-filled area to an attractive tourist center. The film nevertheless attempts to capture the neighborhood’s old spirit, as embodied by the 60-something Gustav, whom the camera follows on his nighttime wandering through the town and his occasional musings (sometimes drug-influenced) on God, death, drugs, and the natural order. For the most part, the camera keeps close to Gustav’s body, following him through long shots while exploring the play of the nighttime lights on his skin.DETAIL:“Religion for me... the best exercise it has. But the best thing religion has to offer for me is confession. By doing this they can clean up their rubble. One of the things that make people feel most relieved is when they throw out their rubble.”

Chasing after the Wind

Juan Camilo Olmos Feris
Colombia / 2014 / 61 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Metaphysics and Democracy
On average, our eyes remained fixed on an advertisement for six seconds. Advertisements are probably the most common ideological channel that we encounter in visible form. Director Luis Ortiz has based his documentary film on this contrast à la thèse. The visual aspect of the film is made up of 57 one-minute static views of advertising. The soundtrack features texts that challenge the existence of ideology as such (the Borges story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius) and draws attention to the fact that we often confuse it with ontology (the critics of neoliberalism, such as Ignacio Ramonet and Noam Chomsky).“In times of political extremism I find it necessary to ask which mechanisms undermine democracy in the so called modern societies, then new progressive answers are needed to confront the simplistic discourses from the right.” 

Metaphysics and Democracy

Luis Ortiz
Germany, Colombia / 2016 / 59 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
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
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