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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

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
The Room You Take
The world is a theatre. And in every theatre, there are usually backstage spaces that remain hidden from the run-of-the-mill spectator. In this stylized observational documentary, director Marques provides us with a glimpse behind the scenes of smaller Portuguese theatre groups. At a time when metallic monsters in the form of giant demolition bulldozers are razing a traditional theatre building, the marginal position of most theatre outsiders becomes even more depressing. Excerpts of conversations held in front of dressing room mirrors, poetic commentaries, and natural motifs are brought together to create an allegory filled with reflections, both those in the mirror, as well as their equivalents from the theatre that is the world. “I wonder if the proletarian artist isn't already an endangered species. From observational to essayistic, I build this atlas-like film to capture the mirrors of those who take this adventurous survival.”

The Room You Take

Pedro Filipe Marques
Portugal / 2016 / 165 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
29 26
 The film 29 26 is an audiovisual recording of the thoughts and feelings of two sixteen-year-old and two nineteen-year-old girls, who in monologues reveal their concerns and ideas about the life they’ll lead in ten years. The director underscores their speech with stylized and realistic images of themselves, acquired under varying circumstances and on different materials, thus creating an original work of art connecting elements of multiple artistic areas that are close to the author. Long shots of the protagonists’ faces, captured in great detail, are highlighted with expressive illumination and interleaved with poetic, experimentally conceived passages.„‘The world grows with fear next to us‘“ - 29 26, tries to be an intimate and honest tribute/portrait about growing up. Together we create a new space, between performance and film hoping to remember who we were one day.“ P. Velho

29 26

Pedro Velho
Portugal / 2018 / 40 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Koudelka Shooting Holy Land
Photographing armed conflict is a huge opportunity for artists, but at the same time it carries a risk of bias or emotional manipulation. Czech photographer Josef Koudelka plunged into this difficult task for the second time: the first time was during the Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968. This time he headed for the hotbed of contention between Israel and Palestine. Director Gilad Baram observed him at his creative work for five years – a solitary artist maintaining a discreet distance while physically experiencing the act of photographing. Austere images of landscape divided by concrete walls and barbed wire reveal the horrifying absurdity of the gulf between two nationalities.DETAIL:“I’ve never photographed any armed conflict, because none has upset me as much as the events in my own country – Czechoslovakia. They affected me directly and in that exceptional situation I felt I should get out the best of what’s in me.”

Koudelka Shooting Holy Land

Gilad Baram
Czech Republic, Germany / 2015 / 72 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
China, 87. The Others
We follow the film journey of director Viollaine de Villers and traveller Jean-Pierre Outers around the Chinese interior during the late 1980s. In a fragmented sequence of archival shots, vignettes of local culture gradually emerge, including everyday work, leisure time moments, and reflections of ancient myths. But it’s not just another of the countless travel documentaries or urban symphonies, but rather a suggestive video essay. The VHS camera becomes a fully-fledged historiographical medium through which foreign culture is revealed in all its myriad facets without crystallizing it into a comfortably consumable image„Welcome to China, freed from any historical or political perspective, we are confronted with the Otherness of Chinese culture. We see in this film the opposite of the picturesque – a slice of quotidian life that may be banal, but still fascinates us.” V. de Villers

China, 87. The Others

Violaine de Villers, Jean-Pierre Outers
Belgium / 2017 / 60 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Collapse
The basic motif of this experimental film – collapse – is found on both the personal and the societal level. This 10-year filmmaking effort was inspired by one of the directors’ fears that his second child will be born with Down Syndrome. His documentary work with mentally handicapped children helps him come to terms with his sense of guilt. He combines introspection with his activism against evicting people from houses slated for demolition because of urban renewal. The theme of collapse also makes it into the film’s form – it overturns traditional documentary approaches and makes room for an evocative experimentation with real and virtual images.DETAIL:“He could not dare tell anyone how he wanted the child aborted… And the day when he was waiting for the child’s birth in front of the delivery room he said his face full of fear seen in the full-body mirror was abominating.”

Collapse

Jeong-hyun Mun, Won-woo Lee
South Korea / 2014 / 78 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
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
The Nature of Things
This documentary essay explores the inner world of Angelo Santagostino, a man suffering from ALS, which has left him unable to perform the most basic functions or to communicate without the help of a special computer. The illness has permanently imprisoned him in a wheelchair, but he has maintained a rich inner life. The film conveys Angelo’s dreams, memories, and fantasies in scenes that evoke unfettered movement beyond normal horizons, whether it’s travelling through the universe, swimming underwater, or riding rides at a theme park. The symbolic contrast between his immobile body and his boundless spirit creates a portrait of a person who has maintained admirable dignity in the face of death.„Angelo has been the longest and shortest journey of my life, for sure the most beautiful.” 

The Nature of Things

Laura Viezzoli
Italy / 2016 / 68 min.
section: Opus Bonum
East European Premiere
Beyond the One
A cinematic treatise on diverse forms of affection, love and partnership, and the difficult search for an individual way of expressing these feelings in the face of tradition and social conventions. People from around the world talk about love intimacy, but also their dark side and the violence that can erupt when spontaneous emotions are smothered by compromise. The contrasting use of different film and video formats, combined with the asynchronous combination of sound and image, underscores the film’s specific openness resulting from the subjects’ courageous testimony. Does love die when it submits to conformity and becomes ideology?“I filmed only when I felt my images became a caring record of a moment of sharing and when the act of filmmaking offered us the opportunity to live. That is how obstinately solitary and radically plural this act can be.” A. Marziano

Beyond the One

Anna Marziano
France, Italy, Germany / 2017 / 53 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
Flesh Memory
Finley Blake supports herself by performing live online erotic webcam shows. Because of this, her young son was taken from her and she is desperately trying to get him back. She is 33 years old and alone, with only her cat and the rats that inhabit her house in Austin, Texas. The film captures several ordinary days of her life – days in which she is so terribly alone yet still surrounded by people. She lives her life through computer monitors, isolated from the outside world. Although this is an observational documentary, its composition, often alternating image sizes, helps make the film’s pace even more dynamic. "Title came first. I was showering when I decided I would, one day, make a movie called Flesh Memory, about eroticism and the Internet. Then I met Finley. And everything suddenly made sense. Best ideas always pop up in the shower, don’t they?" J. Goldberg

Flesh Memory

Jacky Goldberg
France / 2018 / 60 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
Things We Do Not Say
A video diary by a young Iranian actress, intended for her boyfriend living in exile. A lament of dashed hopes from the contested 2009 presidential elections, which were followed by the largest protests since the Islamic revolution. The filmmaker stages a parallel eight-year-old reality – the pre-election ecstasy is framed by an incomplete rehearsal of Macbeth. We relive situations that cannot be changed and that deeply resonate with the motif of coming to terms with reality. The actor’s hopeless gesture is balanced by a call for resisting totalitarianism and by an homage to the victims of the autocratic regime. The feverish atmosphere of the elections is muffled by the skepticism of the main protagonists – they, too, were once young and naive."Is there a void from which the sense emerges? Can we fill the emptiness by a reality, our own reality? The images that we remember, are they the same images, or reflections of those images?" A. Razi

Things We Do Not Say

Ali Razi
Iran, France / 2018 / 52 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
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Evropská unie
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