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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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The Building
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The Building
The Building
The Building

The Building

director: Matilda Mester, Tatjana Kononenko
original title: Budinok
country: Germany, Ukraine
year: 2019
running time: 93 min.

synopsis

In Kharkov, Ukraine lies Derzhprom Palace. The constructivist building, built between 1925 and 1927, was intended to embody the idea of communism. The palace soon became a symbol of the new society and inspired many avant-garde artists, e.g. Mayakovsky, Ejsenstein, Vertov and Dovzhenko. The film captures the current bustling activity of the building at a slow pace and offers a kaleidoscope of different perspectives. Through archival materials - building plans and contemporary film footage - it maps the history of the building and creates tension between the past and present, the new and old parts, the duties of employees and two astonished tourists wandering about.

“Like rag-pickers of history, we look at the fragments left over from a time when a new society seemed possible, convinced that history is ultimately about the people who inhabit it” M. Mester, T. Kononenko

biography

Danish cinematographer Matilda Mester studied film at Berlin's DFFB. Her debut, Limbo, was nominated by the European Film Awards jury for the Fassbinder Prize for Discovery of the Year.
 
Tatjana Kononenko (1980) was born in Ukraine and now lives and works in Berlin and Tbilisi. She graduated in film direction from DFFB. Her first documentary, Keep Out, premiered at the thirteenth annual Ji.hlava festival.  
 

more about film

director: Matilda Mester, Tatjana Kononenko
producer: Svitlana Zinovyeva
photography: Matilda Mester, Bruno Derksen
editing: Matilda Mester, Tatjana Kononenko, Bruno Derksen, Slava Poliantsev
music: Felia Gram-Hanssen
sound: Tatjana Kononenko, Maxim Stativko, Oleksandr Kovalievskyi, Bruno Derksen, Tobias Bilz, Jan Aleyt

other films in the section

Yellowing
The Hong Kong protests of 2014 known as the “Umbrella Revolution” were an expression of some people’s dissatisfaction with the restrictive interventions in local affairs by the Chinese government. The protestors, primarily young people, rejected the limitations on local autonomy made by the communist government. In his first-person participant documentary, director Tze-woon Chan and his hand-held camera become a part of events in the island city. Over the course of 20 chapters (or “memos”), the film’s young protagonists express their feelings and views of the revolution whose cruel historical momentum rolled right over them.“Hearts might change before China’s assumed complete takeover. But I made Yellowing to document the Umbrella Movement, in the hope that our initial intent and belief might be remembered and be reminded of.”

Yellowing

Tze Woon Chan
Hong Kong SAR China / 2016 / 133 min.
section: First Lights
European Premiere
Set Off
The city of Kobani lies in Syria on the border of the sphere of influence of the Islamic State, Turkey and the Kurds. Representatives of these three opposing parties battled it out between the years 2014 and 2016 during a war conflict that claimed the lives of many civilians, including thirty-three Turkish citizens who had come there beforehand for various reasons. Conceptualized as a film in their memory, the filmmakers use symbolism to follow their fateful journey as they set off for a city in ruins. The footage is complemented by double exposures of the survivors' faces, who tell of the untimely deaths of their friends and relatives. “Set Off was an exercise about how and what to tell, after an unmourned disaster; a journey parallel to theirs, daydreaming in the middle of a conflict zone, where landscape deconstructs power regimes.“ M. E. Büyükcoskun
personal program

Set Off

Mustafa Emin Büyükcoskun
Germany, Turkey / 2019 / 63 min.
section: First Lights
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: First Lights
East European Premiere
Savagery
Just forty years ago, the Brazilian state of Pará was covered by rainforest. Today, it is an area where the wilderness comes into harsh conflict with the savagery of the urban population. Using several segments, a team of two French documentarians compose an especially brutal poetical mythology of a place where poachers hunt snakes that are many meters long, crowds of people look on during police murder investigations, and a mother must apologize because her adolescent rapper son insulted the local police. Using a handheld camera, the filmmakers take spontaneous shots, sensitive to both the genius loci and the unaffected interviews with local inhabitants. "We went to Pará, Brazil, at the pursuit of some sort of vision of savagery. Crossing tales, ecological themes and fantastic apparitions, we try to undo this arbitrary separation between the fascination with nature and the fear of violence." J. Le Fourn

Savagery

Jonathan Le Fourn, Rèmi De Gaalon
France / 2017 / 94 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Owner’s Portrait
A fable-like documentary composed of footage from different corners of the planet juxtaposes animals and humans like two separate yet connected universes. Virtually without speech, with a heavy emphasis on the audio component, it tells the story of an island of untamed cats and mysterious antennas that broadcast to the world on long-wave radio a call for liberation from the economic and social ties that bind us. Everywhere the radio waves reach, we see static shots of human bondage and animal freedom, and by linking these contrasting images, an Eisenstein-style montage emerges, with new cinematic meaning.„Everything started with an image in my head: a world without pets. That image became a documentary essay with a science fiction atmosphere, about freedom, work, domestic animals and societies in capitalism.“ J. Maito

Owner’s Portrait

Joaquín Maito
Argentina / 2018 / 80 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Depth Two
A history of the armed conflict in Kosovo, in which NATO forces also eventually took part, includes many heretofore unexamined events, including mass murders of civilians which the Serbian police attempted to cover up. Ognjen Glavonić’s poetic documentary presents shocking witness testimony and leaves it to the viewer to piece together the events of the time. Unsettlingly stunning visuals give the events a current dimension - long shots of the locations in which the atrocities took place create a symbol of surviving the past in the present that the inexorable forward passage of time usually softens.“By using light and sound, a combination of spoken testimonies and images of the places where the crimes happened, the film speaks directly to the sensations, imagination and emotions of the viewer.” Ognjen Glavonić

Depth Two

Ognjen Glavonić
Serbia, France / 2016 / 80 min.
section: First Lights
Czech Premiere
Aphasia
The brutal Belgian colonial policy, the Austrian oppression of the Balkans, and ethnic conflicts after the breakup of Yugoslavia – these seemingly unrelated historical episodes create one line of the documentary. In the film, history becomes a kind of speech, which often leads to the inability to formulate a complete sentence in the statements of a person suffering from loss of speech or speech disorder. In three acts, the film looks for words to describe and understand the existence of the museum of the Belgian colonial history, the hovering of Kurt Waldheim before the commission investigating his involvement in SS, and the infamous photograph of the Belgrade’s most popular DJ kicking the head of a dead woman. “Slavenka Drakulic once wrote that if we believe that the perpetrators are monsters it is because we would like to separate ‘us’ from ‘them’. Aphasia came as a result of questioning that distance.” J. Juresa
personal program

Aphasia

Jelena Jureša
Belgium / 2019 / 80 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
My Unknown Soldier
Documentarian Anna Kryvenko offers an unusual perspective on the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia. She conceived My Unknown Soldier as an audio-visual diary, through which she revisits the events of the time with rare archive material and her own commentary. Her great-uncle was a soldier in the occupying forces; he committed suicide shortly after his return from Czechoslovakia. Kryvenko’s own Ukrainian origin earns her first-hand experience of the Czechs’ deep-seated hatred of Russian-speaking people. The film therefore casts light on another unfortunate legacy of the August 1968 events in contemporary Czech, but also Ukrainian and Russian society."I don’t want to speak about general justice or truth. I would like to show that no truth can be definite. This is a story about how one becomes an “occupier” without intending to." A. Kryvenko

My Unknown Soldier

Anna Kryvenko
Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia / 2018 / 79 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
In Praise of Nothing
“A whistleblowing documentary parody about Nothing.” That is how the filmmakers describe In Praise of Nothing. In fact, Nothing is the only protagonist of this essay-like film. An ironic and unflinchingly critical monologue, delivered in simple rhymes and with the voice of Iggy Pop, accompanied by captivating and succinctly expressive footage shot by several dozen people all over the world with the assignment to “shoot nothing.” „A cinematic equivalent to Erasmus’s humanistic classic In Praise of Folly, in which Folly goes around the world arguing it is smarter to be mad than smart. 500 years later, it is Nothing who gets the main role.“ B. Mitić

In Praise of Nothing

Boris Mitic
Serbia, Croatia, France / 2017 / 78 min.
section: First Lights
Central European Premiere
Among Houses and the Cosmos
In this sensual film essay, the director has assembled her experiences with rituals in various corners of the world, from Europe across Africa to Latin America. The close interaction of the camera with bodies moving in trances encourages active involvement in the frenzied moments in which people lose themselves in Dionysian intoxication. These moments serve the filmmaker to obliterate the distance between the individual and the collective, personal and foreign, internal and external. The film, however, attaches a political meaning to the rituals, or rather shows how uprooted cultures cope with their minority status through rituals, or even turn it to their favor. “I felt the urgency to work with video footage from years of different travels. During editing, I found myself thinking about the human necessity to impose meaningful patterns on life and being.” Koštana Banović

Among Houses and the Cosmos

Kostana Banović
Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portugal, Senegal, Brazil, Angola, Turkey, Gambia, Cuba, Serbia, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles / 2016 / 70 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Czech Journal: Teaching War
This episode from the Czech Journal series examines how a military spirit is slowly returning to our society. Attempts to renew military training or compulsory military service and in general to prepare the nation for the next big war go hand in hand with society’s fear of the Russians, the Muslims, or whatever other “enemies”. This observational flight over the machine gun nest of Czech militarism becomes a grotesque, unsettling military parade. It can be considered not only to be a message about how easily people allow themselves to be manipulated into a state of paranoia by the media, but also a warning against the possibility that extremism will become a part of the regular school curriculum.“In order to identify the reason for which people prepare for war in the name of peace, I have started to portray the rising military spirit in a kaleidoscopic image.”

Czech Journal: Teaching War

Adéla Komrzý
Czech Republic / 2016 / 69 min.
section: First Lights
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: First Lights
East European Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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