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25th 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

She Sings
Past memories and flashes of future disappointment follow a 19-year-old Bhutanese girl to the capital city of Thimphu, where she hopes to fulfill her singing ambitions on a television song contest. The ambient nature of the scenes and dialogues creates a lo-ficomingof-age story in a country where television was not officially permitted until 1999. A mystical oscillation between Buddhism and pop culture, broken into stories and images of drunken venerable old women, loitering monkeys, and tears of disappointment and comfort in a community of kindred souls.  

She Sings

Caroline Sascha Cogez, Dechen Roder
Denmark, Bhutan / 2012 / 48 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Czech Premiere
Albertine Gone
This updating of the sixth part of In Search of Lost Time explores the current identity of Proust’s book. Through a staged docu-fictions with elements of performance art, the filmmaker strips the text, quoted by an employee of a fire station, of its period references, thus giving it new attributes. Since 1993, Véronique Aubouy has been filming people reading various parts of Proust’s masterpiece of literature. The planned date of completion for her monumental project, which sees the protagonist as an object in a cinematic landscape and the book as a signpost of various interpretations, is in 2050."Since my discovery of Proust’s Recherche I'm convinced  that this book is an expression of the Here and now. When I met Jean, fireman, nurse anaesthetist who had read la Recherche during his night guards, the film was there, here and now." V. Aubouy

Albertine Gone

Véronique Aubouy
France / 2018 / 34 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
Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?
In 1946, S.E. Branch clearly shot Bill Spann, a black man, in Alabama. One story of many, it can be said, but this time it’s being unraveled by the great-nephew of the murderer through this political and aesthetically distinctive film essay. During the investigation, he constantly ran in to obstacles, due not only to the prevailing racism, but also the inevitable reflection of his own connection with history. A montage of black and white memories of places, endless drives through red sunsets, and agitating tunes brings the work together in the best southern Gothic tradition, in which “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” (W. Faulkner)„This time I offered my love and my labor to a film that I wished somehow to be corrective. A film about the worst of my family.” T. Wilkerson

Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?

Travis Wilkerson
United States / 2017 / 90 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European Premiere
The Uprising
Consisting of amateur video footage of the Arab Spring uploaded onto YouTube, this documentary presents seven days of the uprising, captured from the inside. Blurry but unfiltered images of protestors, brutal police crackdowns, and destroyed cities show that the best way to understand chaos is to be a part of it. When the cameraman asks a man standing on the street to describe the events of recent days, he answers, “This is the real Egypt. Before, we were living somewhere else. We are all pilgrims, emigrants, exiles.”

The Uprising

Peter Snowdon
Belgium, United Kingdom / 2013 / 78 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
noimage
FilmENERGY enters atomic power plants, research facilities, and nuclear waste storage facilities in Germany and Austria. The focused, static shots of control rooms and cracking cooling towers evoke an aesthetic pathos of cinematic meditations upon the fragile beauty of the monstrous world of technological utopias.

Under Control

Volker Sattel
Germany / 2011 / 98 min.
section: Opus Bonum
East European 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
Rift Finfinnee
In grandiose wide opening shots, slow panoramas, and concise static compositions, Daniel Kötter explores the landscape east of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. He focused his attention on four urbanizing areas, in which the boundaries between urban and rural, between industry and agriculture are blurring. The film also gives us an insight into the private lives of the locals. Their off-screen comments help create a layered portrait of a place undergoing drastic ecological and social changes - for which many are not prepared.     „While the camera represents my distant and outside perspective on the landscapes and urban development in Addis' periphery, the locals speak to each other in their local languages.“ D. KötterQ&A with the director of Rift Finfinnee Daniel Kötter:  
personal program

Rift Finfinnee

Daniel Kötter
Germany / 2020 / 79 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Katyusha: Rocket Launchers, Folk Songs, and Ethnographic Refrains
What is the effect of an overheard melody, especially when it sounds almost painfully familiar? In a house full of personal photographs and to the sound of a barrel-organ melody, the film’s director explores the history of her family, which was forced to flee from the Soviet Union before the Second World War. This experimental anthropological film is a mediation on the shared experience of song and the phenomenon of memories associated with popular melodies. As if fired from the eponymous rocket launcher, the artificial folk song Katyusha soared through civilizational skies to become the soundtrack of more than a few human tragedies.“Conflating years of research, archival digging, and excerpts from familial, institutional, and other collections, Katyusha is an experimental documentary that ruminates on the circulation and constructions of cultural memory and national(ist) narratives.” 

Katyusha: Rocket Launchers, Folk Songs, and Ethnographic Refrains

Kandis Friesen
Canada / 2016 / 38 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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
Water to Tabato
In mid-summer 2011, Paulo Carneiro and set out as assistant director for a film crew working on a project on the west African coast. There he unexpectedly ended up shooting his own film, a documentary report about a sinking ship near the coast of Guinea-Bissau on which he was a passenger. The digital camera records the growing panic on the ship after it has gotten stuck in the ocean in an oppressive nighttime atmosphere. In shaky interview footage, we see passengers move from an initial apathy to nervous anxiety, and from there fluidly to a fear for their lives. The growing tension on board is reflected in the film’s ever quickening tempo.DETAIL:Call somebody to pick up us. Please take us out of there. - What’s goin’ on? - Please take us out of here. - There’s nobody there that can save us. We are all passengers.

Water to Tabato

Paulo Carneiro
Guinea-Bissau, Portugal / 2014 / 45 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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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