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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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The Deathless Woman
play
The Deathless Woman
The Deathless Woman
The Deathless Woman
The Deathless Woman

The Deathless Woman

director: Roz Mortimer
original title: The Deathless Woman
country: United Kingdom
year: 2019
running time: 88 min.

synopsis

The far right is on the rise again. Racial intolerance is spreading through real and virtual spaces. Which is why a woman buried alive in the Polish forests during World War II comes back to life to commemorate the history of violence against the Roma. Her “avatar” becomes a young researcher visiting locations in Poland and Hungary where Roma have lost their lives both in the distant and recent past. Thanks to the authentic testimonies and staged passages that blur the line between mystery novel and dreamlike horror, buried secrets come to light serving as both a warning and a reminder.

“An uncanny series of events led me to a Polish forest. Later I found out this place was the forgotten grave of the Deathless Woman. Looking back now, I realize she'd been there all along, guiding me.” R. Mortimer

biography

Roz Mortimer is the author of hybrid documentaries and lives and works in London. She combines film techniques with writing, photography and theatre. She gives lectures on alternative approaches to documentary direction at universities in both the US and the UK. Her works, which are showcased at festivals and galleries around the world, usually carry a strong political stance. In recent years, she has mainly been dealing with the traumatic historical experience of national minorities.

more about film

director: Roz Mortimer
cast: Iveta Kokyová, Loren O'Dair, Oliver Malik
producer: Roz Mortimer

other films in the section

NU
“A terrible winter came. Snow was falling in endless flurry. The wind cooled down the air and the earth. The sun stopped shining. Three winters came without a summer that would follow them.” These words open the documentary dystopia conceived as personal correspondence between a woman/the nature and the last surviving man. On the background of images of natural scenery and desolate achievements of the civilization, a poetic confession of feelings is followed by descriptions of banal experiences and symbolic situations, all presented with a declamatory diction. In the last moments of humanity, the severed bond between the loving mother and her lost and rediscovered son is restored again.„You loved me as a male loves a woman, with his worst defects. You wanted to possess me, to dominate me, to control me, you wanted to strip me. You choked me, you devoured me. You loved me for you only, you took all I had. And you did not know you were going to die.“ F. Cousseau

NU

Frédéric Cousseau, Blandine Huk
France / 2018 / 54 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
A Long Farewell
After years of negotiations, a complex of apartment buildings on the edge of Seoul is heading inexorably for destruction. With the demolition impending, the residents of the buildings slated for destruction try to express what this place means to them. Raya Kim’s minimalist documentary is not built on an apocalyptic mood or kitschy sentiment, but is rather precisely presented in the contrasts between image and sound. Static shots of homes and the surrounding landscape present a portrait of a quiet, seemingly undisturbed everyday life, while detached voices of observers recount their often-dramatic personal experiences, not hiding the uncertainty of what comes next. „What do the actual residents think about the houses scheduled for reconstruction? As with all homes, there are many different forms of time and love.” R. Kim

A Long Farewell

Raya Kim
South Korea / 2017 / 72 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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
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
Lost Paradise
The life of the filmmaker, also the film’s main character, is determined by a double fear. On one side, her world collapses under the weight of personal and historical tragedies, on the other she is threatened by the loss of the memories of everything that is dear to her. In this documentary, which blurs the lines between personal and public, she attempts to preserve all traces of memories, whether they’re images of her deceased husband or the ruins of local Beirut monuments. Slowly flowing images, virtually free of musical accompaniment, give memory fragments emerging from the surfaces of material things, including the heroine’s body, space to have spontaneous effect. "This film evolves around the notions of disappearance and loss: individual death and disappearance of places, loss of personal memory and collective memory. " R. Mitri

Lost Paradise

Reine Mitri
Lebanon / 2017 / 61 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Once More unto the Breach
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
personal program

Once More unto the Breach

Michele Manzolini, Federico Ferrone
Italy / 2019 / 70 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
De Sancto Ambrosio
The opening ten-minute sequence of the film raises a question whether something is about to happen or not. Nothing much is going to happen, though. Workers are working at a building site, kids are playing, tourists are sightseeing, a wedding and a funeral are in progress, followed by images of empty streets and perspectives of building rooftops – in brief, a microcosm. The film shows the town from a totally different perspective, laying out fragments of life of seemingly totally uninteresting people who simply go about their existence. The camera is set in motion without the passersby even noticing since it has been put in a strategic elevated spot. The whole movie consists purely of bird’s-eye view shots."I always had a fascination to go up the building's rooftops to contemplate the city. Spending one year on a medieval bell tower was like being in a time machine which made time into something tangible." A. Di Bias

De Sancto Ambrosio

Antonio Di Biase
Italy / 2018 / 50 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Entrance to the End
A dark psycho-ethnographic journey of Maria von Hausswolff and Anne Gry F. Kristensen into the depths of the jungle of the human subconsciousness. The footage from the Panama rainforest was shot on 16mm and all sound was recorded on cassette tapes. The film is a subconscious reaction to Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust, an ultraviolent Italian film from the 1970s, as well as to all romanticizing depictions of nature as a place of harmony which is in balance with both itself and its inhabitants. Balancing between imagination and reality, this work is on of the most uncompromising films at this year's festival."The film is a mysterious poem-like journey through an eerie jungle where the viewer get to meet all kinds of creatures and spirits, living and dead. It's shot on a 16mm bolex camera accompanied by sounds recorded on analogue tapes.“ M. Von Hausswolff, A. G. Friis Kristensen 

Entrance to the End

Anne Gry Friis Kristensen, Maria Von Hausswolff
Denmark, Sweden / 2018 / 33 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
Spectres are haunting Europe
The Idomeni refugee camp housed people from the Middle East who were trying to cross the border into Europe. When the Greek police closed the camp, the refugees resisted and blocked a railway line used to deliver goods. Maria Kourkouta’s minimalist documentary not only observes these events but also presents carefully modeled static images that open up the space within and without the frame of view, and in the closing black-and-white sequence offers a poetic commentary. The result is a bleak portrait of a place where endless lines of refugees try to preserve the final remnants of their individual freedoms. “This film is a call to welcome the refugees that cross the European borders, as well as the ghosts that return with them.”

Spectres are haunting Europe

Maria Kourkouta, Niki Giannari
France, Greece / 2016 / 99 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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
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
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