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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

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
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: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
At home, walking
This poetic documentary about pilgrims is adapted to the rhythm of their walking. It serves as an act of liberation and knowledge, returning man as well as meditation to the present moment. During the annual pilgrimage through the Deccan Plateau, the differences between the sexes, different religions and castes become blurred. They are all aiming for the same goal. One of the many millions of pilgrims is the author herself, describing her impressions on a journey across the country and her journey in finding herself. Conceptualized as a personal diary, the film also calls for deceleration in an overly technological and fast-paced world.
personal program

At home, walking

Rajula Shah
India / 2019 / 114 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
Day 32
Face to face with the possible end of the world, the filmmaker collects cinematic records of human existence as a message to someone or something that will come after us. This documentary essay erects a monument to the inventiveness and destructiveness of man, and its collection of images from the history of culture, war and sports forms a kind of ark, ready to survive the deluge. The natural elements assault the screen with all their might. The almost poetic voiceover offers a testament of life: at once generic and deeply personal. The director’s awareness of the inevitable end compels him to engage on an enigmatic journey in search of the places, people and phenomena of our civilization. “Two things always moved me: the end of the world and the end of images. I didn’t know they could come together, and was far from imagining they would be related. That’s how Day 32 was born.” A. V. Almeida

Day 32

Andre Valentim Almeida
Portugal / 2017 / 85 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Backstage Action
This is de facto a film about a film, with the only difference being that the focus is exclusively on the extras. They are filmed while waiting to take their turn, while conversing with others, and thinking about their performances. Although they take their duties very seriously and long to be stars, for the filmmakers, they’re just people that can be coordinated as necessary, nothing more. This film, on the contrary, gives them full consideration, revealing their personalities, what they experience, and what they dream of. The footage comes from many different places where movies are made, involving extras from all different nationalities."The representative becomes a present body, a speaking body, he becomes an acting body, even a political body liberated from the stereotypes that pertain to the community he was supposed to represent." S. Azari 

Backstage Action

Sanaz Azari
Belgium / 2018 / 61 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Talks with TGM
Another contribution to the specific subgenre of animated history by the scriptwriter Pavel Kosatík. On 26 September 1928, Karel Čapek and President Masaryk meet in the gardens of Topolčianky castle to decide about the fate of their joint literary work. Their fiction film dialogue is based on quotes from a future book and their mutual correspondence, considerably freeing the original format of literary conversation from binding conventions. Čapek and Masaryk reproach and offend each other, but they also ask key personal questions and questions about the social functions of a writer and politician respectively.“It’s a film about two extraordinary men; it’s about the fact that emotions can be sometimes more powerful than ideas even in such exceptional people.” J. Červenka

Talks with TGM

Jakub Červenka
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2018 / 80 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Appunti del passaggio
The 1960s saw a large wave of immigration from Italy to Switzerland, which was infamously accompanied by hurdles thrown up against this new workforce. Meditative static images reveal the places, the landscape, and the border between the countries that are a part of this story. Photographs and an intermezzo consisting of the reading of poems inspired by the diaspora add an emotional element. The notes of a young woman read as voiceover give the documentary a multilayered narrative that tells the story of the collective memory of a group of economic migrants and their working conditions, exploitation, and loss of dignity. “By critically examining the merging of political power and cinema, as well as various ‘aesthetics of reality’, the project proposes a convergence of past and present to question history through (hi)stories of migration, architecture and cinema.”

Appunti del passaggio

Maria Iorio, Raphaël Cuomo
Italy, Switzerland / 2016 / 43 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Expectant
If we look up the word "expectante" in a Spanish-English dictionary, we learn it is an adjective which can be translated as “expecting” or “biding one's time”. It is no accident this single-word title belongs to an disconcerting Peruvian film which takes its audience to a darkened city where a group of friends is spending an evening of leisure. Even though the neighborhood they live in is a relatively safe one, their locked doors and gates provide no more than an illusion of safety, which is a thought applicable world wide. The distant black-and-white camera through which the audience observes the plot seems to be biding its time for a chance to attack."I think cinema is about creating sensations and reaching out to a personal language as a way to manifest our vision as individuals." F. Rodriguez Rivero

Expectant

Farid Rodriguez Rivero
Peru, Portugal / 2018 / 77 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Skokan
Director Petr Václav calls Skokan a documentary film with fairy-tale aspects, mainly because of its emphasis on authenticity in telling the fictional tale of a Romani recidivist in search of career opportunities at the Cannes film festival. The main character is played a by real ex-con, Julius Oračko, whom the filmmakers got out of prison on parole shortly before the start of filming. The film was shot with just a rough script, which was fine-tuned on the set. The scenes from Cannes were shot during the festival. The ending, which recalls the liberation of an enchanted princess, again feels like a fairy tale.“We improvised most of the scenes during filming – we used the places we were able to get into and the light that was available. Above all, I tried to capture the experiences of the main character,” P. Václav

Skokan

Petr Václav
Czech Republic, France / 2017 / 93 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Carousel
A chrono-photographic visit to the museum in the age of its digital reproducibility. This is the director’s characterization of Carousel, a film that skirts the boundary between documentary and visual art. Using un-commented images, the film correlates the museum space, its visitors, and digital recording technology. Using changing film speeds, visitors become ghosts, their movement becoming the most fundamental element, dictated more by a need to document everything with the camera than a desire to actually view the exhibited objects. The film’s conclusion shows that the most remarkable exhibits at museums today are their visitors."You don't have to see. You don't have to feel. You don't have to share. You just have to follow the guide, turn around and admire." A.Gerber

Carousel

Arnaud Gerber
France, Germany / 2018 / 35 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
The Road Back
The Road Back is a documentary journey to a time and place that have long been considered lost. The main character tries to find a lost village near a former international railway line where his recently deceased mother spent her youth. The past merges with the present as the filmmaker mixes archival films and close-ups of nature with old photographs. In fact, this blending of two media with different relationships to time forms the basis for discovering not only the relicts of the past that lie hidden beneath layers of contemporary phenomena, but also the unstoppable flow of seemingly unchanging time.“The Road Back incorporates the characteristics of home videos in narrative schemes. In the hope to create a personified and intimate film, based on the directness of home video.”

The Road Back

Wouters Maurits
Belgium / 2016 / 31 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
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