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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: Tatjana Kononenko, Matilda Mester
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: Tatjana Kononenko, Matilda Mester
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

Noiseless, Desert Extras
Since the dawn of cinematography, the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate has been a lively center where extras for films with an Arabic theme are found in abundance. This poetic documentary, intentionally using acknowledged staging, shows how the electrifying energy of film flows through the local population. In this “game for real”, the filmmakers deconstruct film as an imitation of life, but one that becomes more than real for the interviewed film extras. This story presents the totality of moving images from a location where you would definitely never look for it."We are concerned about ideologies and fantasies that shape singular communities. In Noiseless we decided to build pictures with the extras of Ouarzazate to reflect on cinema's illusions." G. Lepore, Maciek and Michał Madracki

Noiseless, Desert Extras

Michał Mądracki, Maciej Madracki, Gilles Lepore
Poland, France, Morocco / 2017 / 64 min.
section: First Lights
European Premiere
On the Edge of Freedom
Moscow and Kyiv. Angela and Vlad. Two young and talented people brought together by an unusual passion for the extravagant and public conquest of forbidden parts of the city. Tall buildings, underground tunnels or freight trains are the new pastimes of a young generation yearning to get out of the rut, escape a predictable future and find fame among their peers through risky “urbex” videos. At the same time, however, the logic of social networks is turning them into a commercial phenomenon that can bring them big money – but also compel them to engage in even crazier stunts. “This is urban exploration, baby!” “This is a portrait of a new generation we rarely hear about. It is a film about the human behind an extreme phenomenon.” A. M. Hopland

On the Edge of Freedom

Anita Mathal Hopland, Jens Lengerke
Denmark / 2017 / 74 min.
section: First Lights
Central European Premiere
Slits
Physicist Catarina, dedicated to her work and teaching at university, has come close to a breakthrough discovery in her research on quantum mechanics. She discovered a so far unknown level of sound spectrum, which is to become key in new perspectives of looking at the world. This simple film with a powerful concept is not merely a story of a Brazilian female scientist, but it also offers a commentary about our (in)ability to capture reality. The rather non-traditional topic of the film corresponds with its unusual form: it consists simply of very long, seemingly static images. “To keep the possible and impossible in life in tension. To build an escape line from this journey. To create a crack in the wall that surrounds us. That is the most important reason to make films for me.” C. Segundo

Slits

Carlos Segundo
Brazil, France / 2019 / 78 min.
section: First Lights
International 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
Boy of War
Artiom is 18 years old and has just one wish: to go to war and fight for his homeland, Ukraine. Everything else comes second. He dresses in camouflage, watches war videos online, and in his free time practices battle scenes with his friends. Or at least they think they are battle scenes. As a child, he only sees the surface of the war. And he has the bad luck that the fighting rages so tantalizingly close. This observational documentary is a fascinating study of the cult of war in a post-Soviet setting where those who succumb to the allure of battle are the least suitable and least predisposed to fighting – a fact perfectly illustrated by Artiom’s final struggle with the reality of war."War is not about weapons, tanks or bombs. War is in the mind of the soldiers, the leaders and the crowd. It excites theirs souls, captivate their lives, strikes their imagination…before destroying them. War is a state of mind." C. Clément-Delmas

Boy of War

Cyprien Clément-Delmas, Igor Kosenko
Germany, Czech Republic / 2018 / 79 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
IN MY SKIN
The theme of domestic violence is discussed in the public more often than before, but it still remains a burning issue victims are afraid to talk about. The director deals with the issue from an unusual perspective in a stylized documentary: she does not only describe the problem, but lets us experience it together with three female characters, using subjectifying methods based on testimonies of actual victims of domestic violence. Their inner voices describe how diffi cult it is to prevent or break up the relationship with the abuser. Then their actions suggest possible solutions.“For women, home is the most dangerous place. This movie resulted from the desire to let women tell their stories shame free. The viewer experiences their journey.” A.-S. Richard

IN MY SKIN

Anna-Sophia Richard
Germany / 2019 / 72 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
A Distant Echo
What can the landscape tell us about ancient history and how it is shaped? George Clark’s film essay explores this question through seemingly motionless images of the California desert accompanied by a minimalist chorale. This chosen form emphasizes the at first glance subtle shifts in the nature of the landscape, which becomes a stage for negotiations between an Egyptian archeologist and the members of a native tribe regarding the ancient graves hidden beneath the sand. The result is a multilayered tale that uncovers traces of the past, the ecology of the landscape, and cinematic history in locations that were once used to film Hollywood epics. “Existing in the resonance between ecological, cinematic and sonic domains, A Distant Echo explores the mythical continuity of sand as site for history, transformation and preservation. The things we cherish must sometimes be buried.”

A Distant Echo

George Clark
United Kingdom, United States / 2016 / 82 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
The Paradise
The film consists of video tapes made by the filmmaker’s father documenting daily scenes of family life, family celebrations, and holidays over the course of fifteen years. The tapes are a mixture of the personal and the political – the father was politically engaged in the revolutionary movement that brought Hugo Chávez to power. The family’s life becomes a backdrop for political and economic developments in Venezuela and their impact on the lives of ordinary citizens. Throughout the entire film, Ferreira offers commentary full of personal memories and historical facts. At the end, she returns to her family home, which has changed been recognition. "When I found my father's family tapes it was almost a revelation, I felt a strong need to tell the history of my country through its lens. A metaphor for what we were and what we are, reconstruction and reborn." D. Ferreira

The Paradise

Dulce Ferreira Sanchez
Venezuela / 2018 / 93 min.
section: First Lights
World 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
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
God Straightens Legs
At the center of this observational documentary stands the director's mother, Renée, bedridden with an insidious disease. With respect for her mother’s devotional faith, the atheistic-minded filmmaker captures a woman who for religious reasons refused to undergo traditional chemotherapy and waits for a miracle between the walls of her bedroom . While outside the window of the woman's room life goes on day after day, the camera patiently follows the protagonist during her normal activities with which she whiles away the hours - watching TV, talking with friends, praying with a friend, meeting with nurses, as well as routinely cleaning the house."Dealing not only with the trauma of her diagnosis but also with societal reproach for her decision, I wanted to make a portrait of my mother without judgement, instead with empathy, curiosity and patience." J. Walinga

God Straightens Legs

Joële Walinga
Canada / 2018 / 67 min.
section: First Lights
International 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

Aphasia

Jelena Jureša
Belgium / 2019 / 80 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
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Město Jihlava
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Český rozhlas
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