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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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The Room of Bones
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The Room of Bones
The Room of Bones
The Room of Bones

The Room of Bones

director: Marcela Zamora
original title: The Room of Bones
country: El Salvador, Mexico
year: 2015
running time: 61 min.

synopsis

A poorly equipped and underpaid team of forensic anthropologists is sent to study the countless mass graves in El Salvador, trying to identify the victims using fragments of bodies. Desperate mothers go for DNA tests in the hope of being able to bury the bones of their sons and daughters. Shot in muted colors and with muted emotions, this film on the search for physical and metaphysical remains uncovers the unprecedentedly brutal history of this small Central American country. The impossibility of resolving the local situation is illustrated by the film’s central metaphor hidden in its title: El Salvador is like a closet overflowing with bones, too small for this much death.

DETAIL:
“How many go into each grave?” “If they’re fat, four. Otherwise, five. If they’re smaller, we fit in six to eight.”

biography

El Salvadorian filmmaker Marcela Zamora studied documentary film and journalism in Cuba. She is the author of Maria in Nobody’s Land (2011), which won the ICARO Award for Best Central American Feature Documentary. In addition to filmmaking, she is also a journalist, and has worked for Al Jazeera and various Salvadorian media outlets.

more about film

director: Marcela Zamora
producer: Anaïs Vignal, José Luis Sanz, Julio Lopez
script: Marcela Zamora
photography: Alvaro Rodríguez Sánchez
editing: Leopoldo Joe Nakata
music: Alvaro Arce Urroz
sound: Eduardo Cáceres

other films in the section

Looking for North Koreans
The dual nature of North and South Korea, forcibly divided by the Soviet Union’s power plays, continues to aff ect the lives of both countries’ inhabitants to this day. Every year, more and more people leave the totalitarian north; every year, more families and lives are torn apart. Kidnappings, extortion, human trafficking, threats of extermination, and hundreds of missing are the order of the day. A dark shadow looms over neighbouring China as well, where the trail of most traffickers and their victims comes to an end. The film goes searching for North Koreans who have disappeared, interviews victims and traffickers, and explores the grey zone of these political twins.  

Looking for North Koreans

Jero Yun
France / 2012 / 73 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Night's Drifters
Afghan immigrants Sobhan and Hamid fall asleep together underneath a bridge in the big city. Their difficult months-long journey from home has not been rewarded by a better life, but has been shattered by fears of the coming day. They live outside of time, hope extinguished in the French suburbs. Afghan defiance and enthusiasm are fractured within blurry images from mobile telephones and in endless dark nights spent by a makeshift fire. The fate of young immigrants, seen from a distance, offers a topical picture of more than one Middle Eastern country.  

Night's Drifters

Bijan Anquetil
France / 2012 / 45 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European Premiere
Dark Matter
A film with almost no words, about things that people do not usually talk about. Army testing has turned an Italian army firing range into a dangerous place for people and all nearby living beings. Not coincidentally, it is a place reminiscent of the Zone in Stalker – a place that arouses curiosity precisely through its forced negation of life. Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter that does not interact with light. It neither emits nor absorbs light. Dark matter has no radiation and no shadow. And yet, scientists are convinced that it exists.

Dark Matter

Massimo D'Anolfi, Martina Parenti
Italy / 2013 / 77 min.
section: Opus Bonum
East 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
One Night Stand
The film is based on the filmmakers’ real encounter with an unknown European one night in a bar in Beirut in 2017. It was a man on the road to join the Kurdish militia fighting in the war against the Islamic state on the territory of Syria. The conversation was secretly recorded on a cellphone and serves as the script for animated modeled situations and reconstructions of that night. In addition to a fascinating probe into the thinking of a man who is willing to sacrifice his life for the struggle for  freedom, the film is also a formal polemic on the apparent authenticity of the documentary and the possibilities of representation of reality by means of simulations and modeled situations. “War today is a constant state of preparation for absolute destruction beyond the frontline. We no longer have the means of recognising it, nor distinguishing between a soldier and a citizen.” M. Lotfy, N. Abed     
personal program

One Night Stand

Noor Abed, Mark Lotfy
Palestine, Egypt / 2019 / 24 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World 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
Guests
Set in a remote Russian village located about hundered and sixty kilometres from Moscow, this observational documentary is focused on a group of loggers – illegal migrants from Tajikistan who came to Russia in the hope of finding work. Hired by Russian businesses, they live thousands of kilometres away from their families to whom they send their earnings. The uncompromising endless shots capture the simplicity of the lives of these seasonal workers, and the overall undisciplined style of the filming corresponds well to the unfriendly environment in which they must survive from day to day.DETAIL:“Yeah, well, life is tough. As they say – it's not a bed of roses. You have to live your life properly... Can you imagine how difficult it must be for our wives?”

Guests

Alexey Sukhovey
Russia, France, Germany / 2014 / 62 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Profession: Documentarist
This group project by seven independent women documentary filmmakers from Iran – who were brought together by the desire to capture the world around them despite the dangers they face in their work every day – is a courageous voice for the emancipation of Muslim women. The autobiographical chapters, which all make use of voiceover, represent a personal testimony on the disappointments and hopes for political change at the next presidential elections. For Western viewers, the film is a remarkable report on the mood in contemporary Iranian society.DETAIL:“We Iranian documentary directors have movies that can only be made in our minds. Sometimes, we tell them to each other. This is one of these movies I’m going to tell you now.”

Profession: Documentarist

Shirin Barghnavard, Firouzeh Khosrovani, Farahnaz Sharifi, Mina Keshavarz, Sepideh Abtahi, Sahar Salahshoor, Nahid Rezaei
Iran / 2013 / 80 min.
section: Opus Bonum
East European Premiere
Felvidek. Caught in between (English version)
In her documentary on Hungarian-Slovak relations, Vladislava Plančíková focuses on the word “felvidék”, which refers to the now non-existent northern part of Austro-Hungary. In a personal collage consisting of the stories of members of her Slovak-Hungarian family and of visual references to historical events, she follows the eventful and today often taboo history of the post-war fate of Hungarians on Slovak soil. The abstract topic grabs our interest not only through the witnesses’ testimony, but also by using thre novel technique of animating real objects, including a number of contemporary and modern photographs. DETAIL:“The word ‘Felvidék’ lives on today and evokes negative emotions, sometimes even fights. But for me it’s a magical place, a kind of Macondo, the place where I was born and raised. My home.”

Felvidek. Caught in between (English version)

Vladislava Plančíková
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2014 / 75 min.
section: First Lights
Czech Premiere
At home, walking
This poetic documentary about pilgrims is adapted to the rhythm of their walking. It serves as an act of liberation and knowledge, returning man as well as meditation to the present moment. During the annual pilgrimage through the Deccan Plateau, the differences between the sexes, different religions and castes become blurred. They are all aiming for the same goal. One of the many millions of pilgrims is the author herself, describing her impressions on a journey across the country and her journey in finding herself. Conceptualized as a personal diary, the film also calls for deceleration in an overly technological and fast-paced world.
personal program

At home, walking

Rajula Shah
India / 2019 / 114 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
We Went to War
In 1970, the documentary I Was a Soldier about American soldiers who had recently returned from the war in Vietnam explored an open wound. Its continuation, We Went to War, shows how that wound is healing after more than 40 years. It follows the same three men from Texas as the first film, except that the young men with recent traumatic experiences are now old men who have been shaped by those experiences.  

We Went to War

Michael Grigsby
United Kingdom, Ireland / 2012 / 77 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European Premiere
Fonja
Ten juvenile delinquents from the largest detention institution in Madagascar have joined a four-month workshop to learn working with a film camera, editing, creating simple cinematic tricks, and telling their own stories. The camera became a tool for them to grasp the new reality, allowing them to express themselves freely despite the isolation they live in. The film presents a sincere testimony about life in a strictly hierarchical, closed community as perceived by the young film-makers who were given the opportunity not only to discover and develop their creative potential, but also make new friends. “I want to reach out and spread the great spirit and creativity of this strong group, the emerging young filmmakers of the Antanimora prison in Madagascar, to inspire and create wonder amongst others.” L. Zacher
personal program

Fonja

Ravo Henintsoa Andrianatoandro, Lovatiana Desire Santatra, Sitraka Hermann Ramanamokatra, Jean Chrisostome Rakotondrabe, Erick Edwin Andrianamelona, Elani Eric Rakotondrasoa, Todisoa Niaina Sylvano Randrialalaina, Sitrakaniaina Raharisoa, Adriano Raharison Nantenaina, Alpha Adrimamy Fenotoky, Lina Zacher
Madagascar, Germany / 2019 / 80 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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