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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Spectres are haunting Europe
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Spectres are haunting Europe

Spectres are haunting Europe

director: Maria Kourkouta, Niki Giannari
original title: Fantasmata planiountai pano apo tin Evropi
country: France, Greece
year: 2016
running time: 99 min.

synopsis

The Idomeni refugee camp housed people from the Middle East who were trying to cross the border into Europe. When the Greek police closed the camp, the refugees resisted and blocked a railway line used to deliver goods. Maria Kourkouta’s minimalist documentary not only observes these events but also presents carefully modeled static images that open up the space within and without the frame of view, and in the closing black-and-white sequence offers a poetic commentary. The result is a bleak portrait of a place where endless lines of refugees try to preserve the final remnants of their individual freedoms.

“This film is a call to welcome the refugees that cross the European borders, as well as the ghosts that return with them.”

biography

Maria Kourkouta (1982) is a Greek filmmaker and photographer living in France. She has been making short documentaries and experimental films since 2008, including the film collage Prelude 02 – 07 (2010, Jihlava 2011) and Epistrofi stin odo Ailolu (2013). For her feature-film debut Spectres sre haunting Europe, she collaborated with Greek author Niki Giannari.

more about film

director: Maria Kourkouta, Niki Giannari
producer: Maria Kourkouta, Carine Chichkowsky
script: Maria Kourkouta, Niki Giannari
photography: Maria Kourkouta
editing: Maria Kourkouta
music: Lena Platonos
sound: André Fèvre

other films in the section

We Make Couples
A multi-layered reflection intertwining types of domestic skirmishes with the ones we have within society. It relies on a number of central themes, such as the depictions of faces, touches, projection, or exploding light. It formulates arguments about production (relationships), forms of resistance (against restrictions), systems for organizing the way we see things (ourselves and each other), about ways we project (ourselves to others), about personal and industrial relationships, expressions of beauty (and politics) in an age when “intensity is more important than endurance”. Using montage and rhythmically brilliant collage essays, the filmmaker combines found and his own materials.“The cure for loneliness is solitude.” (Marianne Moore)

We Make Couples

Mike Hoolboom
Canada / 2016 / 57 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Czech Premiere
Memories from Gehenna
Grande-Synthe is a suburb of the French port town of Dunkerque. In 2002, its residents were shocked by a racially motivated murder committed by a longtime resident looking to release his inner frustrations through ethnic violence. More than 10 years after the tragic events, the filmmakers have come to record how this place has changed. Their various stops in this agglomeration retrace the murderer’s journey as he drove around town looking for his future victim. Recited excerpts from his interrogation mix with current reflections by local residents and a piano soundtrack to give the film a sense of desolation.DETAIL:“When I was 16, I wanted to die too. I also wanted to shoot myself because a girl dumped me. But my dog would have been alone. I’m sure people will say it’s my fault. It’s always like that.”

Memories from Gehenna

Jenkoe Thomas
France / 2015 / 56 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Until Porn Do Us Part
Eulália, a religious and conservative sixty-something woman, must come to terms with a difficult period in her life. Her son has emigrated to Germany, where is a gay porn star. Eulália spends ever more time on Facebook scanning his profile and writing long, mostly unread messages. This dramatically structured observational documentary touches on a number of contemporary issues, including the crisis of the traditional family, how social networks are changing interpersonal relationships, and society’s views of homosexuality and pornography. An unobtrusive look at the LGBT community, humility, and the strength of motherly love."God heard my prayers / He gave me a lovely son / I'll never trade him for anything / Not even for the biggest treasures / Even if I have to spend / My whole life suffering..." J. Pelicano

Until Porn Do Us Part

Jorge Pelicano
Portugal / 2018 / 90 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
The Visit
An inspection team from the World Bank arrives in an Egyptian village a few years after the revolution to assess how the transformation of agricultural management has progressed since the political upheaval. All of the activities are, as required, recorded by a television crew. We watch a drainage channel being built and visit the local museum. Everything seems to be as it should. However, the documentary’s authors leave the camera switched on even after the television crew has finished their work. As a result, the official record includes behind-the-scenes views and the members of the television crew become just additional actors in the film. The carefully arranged scene becomes an absurdly active image with advertising overtones.DETAIL:A reporter, wearing clothing that conceals all of her body except her face, interviews one of the local women. One detail is particularly worthy of attention: the front of her robe is embroidered with images of Western women wearing revealing clothes.

The Visit

Nadia Mounier, Marouan Omara
Egypt, Germany / 2015 / 43 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Koudelka Shooting Holy Land
Photographing armed conflict is a huge opportunity for artists, but at the same time it carries a risk of bias or emotional manipulation. Czech photographer Josef Koudelka plunged into this difficult task for the second time: the first time was during the Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968. This time he headed for the hotbed of contention between Israel and Palestine. Director Gilad Baram observed him at his creative work for five years – a solitary artist maintaining a discreet distance while physically experiencing the act of photographing. Austere images of landscape divided by concrete walls and barbed wire reveal the horrifying absurdity of the gulf between two nationalities.DETAIL:“I’ve never photographed any armed conflict, because none has upset me as much as the events in my own country – Czechoslovakia. They affected me directly and in that exceptional situation I felt I should get out the best of what’s in me.”

Koudelka Shooting Holy Land

Gilad Baram
Czech Republic, Germany / 2015 / 72 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
I Crossed the Hallway
A personal probe deep into the memories of a death. During the night, the director lost his father at his family home. He crossed the hallway, entered his parents’ bedroom, and his mother said, “Your father is dying.” The shock of this trauma plunges El-Amine into a state of absolute apathy. He wanders blankly through the house as memories of times spent together come back to life. Painful moments alternate with stylized commentary by relatives about the events of that night. The feeling of loss is projected onto many minor details in the film. The cacophonous musical soundtrack is as deafening as grief. Once again, film becomes a tool for coming to terms with death. “Time is no more than a constant renewal in I Crossed the Hallway. The film is a long road, a long corridor, which gives ways to either reality or dreams or souvenirs.” R. El-Amine

I Crossed the Hallway

Rabih El-Amine
Lebanon / 2017 / 38 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
The Lust for Power
In recent Slovak history, there’s hardly a more significant figure than Vladimír Mečiar. Director Tereza Nvotová approaches him from several different directions. One is an interview that she conducted with him directly, another is his narrative monologue that presents Slovak history against the backdrop of his own family history, and finally through archival images of Mečiar’s public appearances in the media. Her film, accompanied by aerial images of the Slovak landscape as it appears today, poses the question of what Mečiar meant for the her generation, for society at the time, and for Slovakia in general. “When I was 10-years-old, we´d make believe that we were E. T., Winnetou or Mečiar. Now I want to find out who he really was and what he has done to us and to our country because now I see the same story playing out all over the world.“ T. NvotováThe film is being screened in cooperation with the Representation of the European Commission in the Czech Republic.

The Lust for Power

Tereza Nvotova
Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2017 / 89 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World 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: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Beyond the One
A cinematic treatise on diverse forms of affection, love and partnership, and the difficult search for an individual way of expressing these feelings in the face of tradition and social conventions. People from around the world talk about love intimacy, but also their dark side and the violence that can erupt when spontaneous emotions are smothered by compromise. The contrasting use of different film and video formats, combined with the asynchronous combination of sound and image, underscores the film’s specific openness resulting from the subjects’ courageous testimony. Does love die when it submits to conformity and becomes ideology?“I filmed only when I felt my images became a caring record of a moment of sharing and when the act of filmmaking offered us the opportunity to live. That is how obstinately solitary and radically plural this act can be.” A. Marziano

Beyond the One

Anna Marziano
France, Italy, Germany / 2017 / 53 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
Disappear One
The Nature Theatre of Oklahoma embarks on a trans-Atlantic sea voyage. Their main objective is to make a film about a former member of the theatre company who has mysteriously disappeared. Their creative experiment installs a regime of control that permeates every single part of the ship and which is much more ambiguous and even less sensible than traditional hierarchical forms of power. This film essay, building on Kafka’s Amerika and Guattari’s Project for a Film by Kafka, breaks film language down to the point where it decomposes into interwoven gestures, emotions, glances, voices, sounds and fragments of the story, and hints at the possibility of escape from the system of power into a world of uncertainty, openness, and change.DETAIL:“I came upon a room full of screens, monitored by officials from the Theatre…There were recordings of things happening at that moment, or that had already happened, or that hadn’t yet. They say they can’t know which is which.”

Disappear One

Silvia Maglioni, Graeme Thomson
France, United Kingdom, Italy / 2015 / 117 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Vacancy
The camera observes an American motel along the main highway – just the way many of us imagine the United States. We follow four people inside the room at night, where they have been living in a kind of private purgatory for several years. Their sins are drugs, crime, and bad decisions. The slow flow of scenes and the occasionally blurred image create an atmosphere of being out of time and out of place – which probably just where these four people, incapable of breaking free from the vicious circle of apathy, feel themselves to be. The four documentary portraits combine to form a picture of the depressing life of people nurturing a tiny flame of hope. „,I have been to hell and / back. / And let me / tell you / It was / wonderful‘ (from Louise Bourgeois work)“ A. Kandy Longuet

Vacancy

Alexandra Kandy Longuet
Belgium / 2018 / 80 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Once More unto the Breach
Because of his Russian origins, Italian soldier Romano Isman is called to the front to act as a military interrogator and translator for the fascist bigwigs and the local population. Isman’s narrative mixes a detailed description of the horrors of war and historical testimony with a lyrical disillusioned contemplation on the insignifi cance of the individual in the midst of war. The filmmaker creates a contrast between historicized illustrative images accompanying the narration of the protagonist and images of modern Ukraine and Russia, which to this day are still dealing with the despair and frustration caused by the events of the twentieth century. “Il varco combines found footage of different origins. it's a fictional story populated by presences: ghosts wandering in the Ukrainian steppe, echoes of bloody pasts, and wars still being fought today.” M. Manzolini, F. Ferrone
personal program

Once More unto the Breach

Michele Manzolini, Federico Ferrone
Italy / 2019 / 70 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
Aktuálně.cz
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