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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

#3511
The film’s main topics are migration and the integration of immigrants into their new society. #3511 explores these issues through the story of an Australian soldier whose daily correspondence and diary from his time traveling during World War I are combined with a short story by J. L. Borges. His particular life story is a metaphor for contemporary questions regarding exile, memory, and integration. In terms of form, the film consists primarily of footage of an abandoned landscape and homes, accompanied by a voiceover commentary. On rare occasions, we can see the speakers’ faces. „The film began from a serendipitous coincidence : fiction and reality. 100 years later the material challenged the limits of what could be, known and reconstructed. But what if fiction were to pose reality as an enigma ?“ I.Stillwell

#3511

Isaac Stillwell
Australia, France, Belgium, Germany, Poland / 2018 / 68 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Mittelmeer
A poetic documentary about the Mediterranean brings together a mosaic of images of the southern and the northern coast that the director, writer and poet Nathalie Quintane collected without traveling anywhere – they acquired them through hotel and other publicly accessible webcams. In this way, both of them walk the shores and beaches, rocks and ports, enhanced with the memories and conversations that JeanMarc shares with his son about the current problems of coastal countries. Suddenly the contrasts between the European, African and Middle Eastern shores of the sea are revealed. "Webcam images placed around the Mediterranean Sea don’t have any deepness. They are like an ideal illusion of a unique world. A film has perhaps a chance to say it.“ J.-M. Chapoulie
personal program

Mittelmeer

Jean-Marc Chapoulie
France / 2019 / 73 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
The Making of Justice
A consistently out-of-focus visual record tracking seven men as they discuss the screenplay for a film about the life path of Tom, a young murderer who, after twelve years in prison, returns to the village where he lived, and tries to prove – to himself and others – that he has changed. The camera slides down the walls, snoops between chair legs, and captures useless details of the individual body parts of the participating figures. The schematic story of Tom’s guilt, punishment, and new beginning, which the film’s director guides her consultants through step by step, gradually gains in plasticity and becomes a surprisingly effective tool for thinking about the image of a criminal and the concept of justice. "Fiction is a powerful tool to re-imagine oneself and the world, a place where judgement can be suspended. This is a rare occasion to hear the voices of perpetrators as human beings, in an increasingly revengeful society."  S. Vanhee

The Making of Justice

Sarah Vanhee
Belgium / 2017 / 60 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
Where the Land Ends
Québec is the largest Canadian province and the only one with the official language being only French. Modern struggles for Québec’s independence have resulted in two referendum polls which both acknowledged its being a part of Canada. The film explores Québec identity through the perspective of young people who haven’t had the chance to vote in the referendums. It comes up with questions about their relationship to their ancestors, whose traditions had been captured on camera by the documentary filmmaker Pierre Perrault, or whether their previously clear identification has begun losing ground now. In the course of a contemplative journey through the province’s cities and nature, seventeen young people provide their questions and ideas.“Where the Land Ends is a voice and a space. A voice that I realized I no longer heard, yet that I needed to hear. A space that still lived through some, but which we could no longer inhabit ourselves.” L. Darses     
personal program

Where the Land Ends

Loïc Darses
Canada / 2019 / 90 min.
section: First Lights
International 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
I Remember Nothing
As Tunisia experiences revolutionary unrest, Diane tries to come to terms with manic-depressive symptoms so intense that she nearly loses her memory. Five years later, she comes across the diverse records – photographs, diaries and home videos – that she kept during thi time of crisis. She then transforms these documentary materials into a tool by which she captures the seemingly lost fragments of memory. Nevertheless, her goal is not to weave these fragments into a holistic narrative, but to preserve their fluidity in order to present the chaotic events that made the chasm between the public and the private unimaginable."This is the story of a broken memory locked on a harddrive. I wanted to look at the pieces of the puzzle - footage, sounds. To face the black holes. Remember. Show the violence of this inner storm." D. S. Bouzgarrou

I Remember Nothing

Diane Sara Bouzgarrou
France / 2017 / 59 min.
section: First Lights
International 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
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
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
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
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27 Times Time
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27 Times Time

Annick Ghijzelings
Belgium / 2016 / 73 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
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