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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

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
Metaphysics and Democracy
On average, our eyes remained fixed on an advertisement for six seconds. Advertisements are probably the most common ideological channel that we encounter in visible form. Director Luis Ortiz has based his documentary film on this contrast à la thèse. The visual aspect of the film is made up of 57 one-minute static views of advertising. The soundtrack features texts that challenge the existence of ideology as such (the Borges story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius) and draws attention to the fact that we often confuse it with ontology (the critics of neoliberalism, such as Ignacio Ramonet and Noam Chomsky).“In times of political extremism I find it necessary to ask which mechanisms undermine democracy in the so called modern societies, then new progressive answers are needed to confront the simplistic discourses from the right.” 

Metaphysics and Democracy

Luis Ortiz
Germany, Colombia / 2016 / 59 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
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
Instructions for Use of Jiří Kolář
Roman Štětina returns to the subject of radio in a documentary project created in collaboration with radio director Miroslav Buriánek. In documenting Buriánek and the members of the KLAS theater ensemble as they prepare a radio adaptation of Kolář’s poetry collection Instructions for Use, Štětina tries to explore radio directing as a distinctive but hidden artistic act. Without showing the viewer the final radio production, Štětina offers us a unique chance to witness the creative process involved in creating a radio adaptation. The voiceover features commentary on the events in the studio.“Speak, create, share geometrically. No slapped on layers of lyricism. Just sorrow and yearning. And respect the rule of the right angle.” (Miroslav Buriánek)

Instructions for Use of Jiří Kolář

Roman Štětina, Miroslav Buriánek
Czech Republic / 2016 / 130 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Sand and Blood
The film takes a look at the recent history of two Middle Eastern countries torn by war – Iraq and Syria – from the perspective of local residents who have made the decision to flee their homes and seek asylum in Austria. It’s made up of a montage of conversations with refugees and amateur videos and images from various social networks and online platforms depicting events in both countries. Sand and Blood links individual stories and histories which are intended to awaken a deeper interest in the topic. Instead of a political film, the director considers his work to be something like a painting or poem. „A film that forces the viewer to question the very nature of good and evil, victim and perpetrator.” M. Krepp

Sand and Blood

Matthias Krepp
Austria / 2017 / 90 min.
section: First Lights
East 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
My Name is Hungry Buffalo
Jan calls himself Buffalo. He loves cowboys, he’s blind, and may lose his hearing. Pavel Jurda’s documentary follows his journey to America to visit the chief of the Navajo tribe, who wants to perform a ritual to help his hearing. The film is full of unpretentious humor thanks to Jan’s charisma. In the USA, he’s like the Don Quixote of the Wild West - a naive adventurer in a world that is much more ordinary than his imagination. This observational, but not standoffish, film is also an example of how the medium of film can relate to blind people by constantly showing the difference between what Jan perceives and what we actually see.“The film is not about blindness, even if the main character is blind. It is about yearning for life. ‘We are all handicapped in some way,’ says a guy during a journey that starts with an accident and ends in triumph.”

My Name is Hungry Buffalo

Pavel Jurda
Czech Republic / 2016 / 83 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Through Foreign Eyes
Mykaela Plotkinova thought of making this poetic, mosaic documentary in a bookshop, when she came across the words of poet Manoel de Barros about “the accent of the place of our origin we carry in our eyes”. She never found the quote again, but in the course of the next few years, she carried out the project with the help of other contributors, mainly the editor C. A. Saquieres. She created a film essay combining reflections on the identity and ethnic roots of several natives of the Brazilian city of Recife, who live abroad, and the images of the places where they live.„I’ve never not felt like a foreigner, but neither did I really know where I came from. Through Foreign Eyes searches for a story that no-one has ever really told me. This film is a must for me. A film that is made to understand life.“ M. Plotkin

Through Foreign Eyes

Mykaela Plotkin
Brazil, Argentina / 2018 / 74 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
We Own the Crisis
Greece has been affected by a drawn-out financial crisis for the past several years. The protagonists of this documentary about state power and its impact on individuals comprise a three-member family living in the capital city. Georgia works six days a week; Panagiotis is unsuccessfully looking for a job; and their daughter, Basiliki, is about to graduate. They all live in a house originally owned by Panagiotis’ family. Thus far they have been lucky. Some Greeks have been forced to live in the streets after banks auctioned off their property. How this one family functions is an authentic example of a whole nation in distress. Whether explicitly on camera or concealed in their actions, we can see the helplessness in their daily lives."I think of the Athenians on the streets. I hear them say, 'A hopeless situation forces you to keep on hoping.' " R. Kaufmann

We Own the Crisis

Rebekka Kaufmann
Germany, Greece / 2018 / 65 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Sea Tomorrow
This observational documentary examines the disappearance of the Aral Sea and attempts at its restoration. At the location where the majority of maps and atlases show a large, majestic body of water, Katerina Suvorova finds only a largish pond and an arid wasteland, filled with the rusting remnants of wrecks waiting for scrap metal collectors. Shots of the enigmatic landscape, consisting of endless expanses of sand and dust, are alternated with captivating details. Just as fascinating is the strong will and faith of the people who have stayed in this inhospitable environment, such as old gardener, fishermen, and a hydrobiologist. They hope that the sea will return, they are fighting to save it, and they all hope for a better tomorrow. “I see people of the Aral region as a collective image of the last survivors on Earth. Their stories prove that even when the last shuttle abandons our racked planet, there will be people who stay and prefer correction of errors of the past to uncertainty of the future.” Katerina Suvorova

Sea Tomorrow

Yekaterina Suvorova
Kazakhstan, Germany / 2015 / 88 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
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
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