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25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Pill Junkies
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Pill Junkies
Pill Junkies

Pill Junkies

director: Bartosz Staszewski
original title: Tableciarze
country: Poland
year: 2014
running time: 76 min.

synopsis

In the 1980s, they fled from Poland to Sweden to find independence, but instead discovered the exact opposite. Tadeusz and Krystyna are addicted to legally distributed drugs. They form an ageing couple who are drawn together more by their common weaknesses and withdrawal symptoms than a mutual attraction. The safety net of the Swedish social system meanwhile dangerously tightens in around them in proportion to their increasing need for the drugs. This observational documentary filmed by Tadeusz’s son reveals, with an unusual intensity, a type of addiction that with bitter irony can be called legal.

DETAIL:
“For some people happiness is winning a million bucks or two. This ain’t happiness. Happiness is when someone can live an ordinary life.”

biography

Bartosz Staszewski was born in Sweden and studied the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw. He works as a photojournalist and his work has appeared in major Polish media outlets. During his studies he attended a documentary film seminar and later shot short films. He worked on the mockumentary Fire-Followers (2013) with director Karolina Bregula. Pill Junkies is his feature-length film debut.

more about film

director: Bartosz Staszewski
producer: Bartosz Staszewski
script: Bartosz Staszewski
photography: Bartosz Staszewski
editing: Bartłomiej Szkop
sound: Bartosz Staszewski

other films in the section

Call Me Marianna
At the center of this film stands an attractive forty-year-old woman who has decided to fulfill a lifelong dream at the cost of great sacrifice - to be herself. She alienated her parents and lost loved ones when she underwent a long-desired sex change. The film attempts to explain to viewers and help them understand the difficult decision that Marianna had to face. While in the first, staged, part of the film the woman comes to terms with her own past through autobiographical theater performance, in the second, documentary part of the film, she is, however, confronted with unexpected twists and precarious situations that fate has set before her.DETAIL:“I’ll finally be able to look at myself in the mirror naked and not feel disgusted by my own body. – There are men and women. There’s male and female. The world doesn’t really allow any third options.”

Call Me Marianna

Karolina Bielawska
Poland / 2015 / 75 min.
section: Between the Seas, First Lights
Czech Premiere
The Chimney
In a cluster of houses outside town, in the shadow of an old chimney, there live several light-haired girls. This light portrait of a unique children’s microcosm consists of scenes from daily life, in which most of the time is spent exploring one’s surroundings, playing, and asking curious questions on various subjects. With her extreme sense for detail, the director convincingly captures the poetry of the everyday. The result is a fresh and humorous look at a world surrounded by vegetation, wrecked cars, and puddles that is ruled by spontaneity, playfulness and the immediacy of children’s logic.DETAIL:I will give you something. I will give you a bag, okay? Don’t lose it! There’s nothing in it.

The Chimney

Laila Pakalnina
Latvia / 2013 / 54 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European Premiere
New Life of Family Album
  In 2005, documentary filmmaker Adam Oľha’s father decided to leave his wife and six children in order to start a new life. As the oldest of the siblings and the only remaining man in the family, Adam explores his father’s old photographs, compares them with the present, and tries to discover what led to such a radical decision. He traces his parents’ relationship from its beginnings, reveals problems in communication between husband and wife at a particular time, and observes how they are reflected in the lives of his sisters.  

New Life of Family Album

Adam Oľha
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2012 / 80 min.
section: Between the Seas
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
Victoria
The hypnotic wasteland of Southern California is infused with the free-spirited nature of Easy Rider, the alienation and uprootedness of Michelangelo Antonioni, and the deep transcendence of Werner Herzog. It speaks to us through fragments of dialogues from iconic films, and yet it remains elusive and dissolves into abstract shapes, rhythms, and compositions. The landscape as a captivating and intangible, all-encompassing and insubstantial yet full emptiness becomes the means for the transgressive experience of two temporalities – the “real” time of people and the time of natural processes.„How much further do we have to go? I don't know. Not much further. That's what you said this morning. I sometimes say it all day. Really? You say it all day? We don't have much longer. We'll be there soon.“ L. Marxt

Victoria

Lukas Marxt
Austria / 2018 / 63 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
The Halves
The film’s main protagonist, Alexandr Zarchikov, works on a cargo ship transporting Japanese cars that have been cut in half to the Russian port city Vladivostok. There, the cars are reassembled and transporters take them away to their final destinations. Zarchikov decides to try working on the mainland, and joins one car on its journey through Siberia. His experience morphs into a meditative film essay, symbolically divided into two halves (sea and land), where he ponders his relationship with his motherland, religion, and nature, and tries to overcome his feelings of rootlessness.DETAIL:“When I worked on a ship like this, we always got home quickly, safe and sound. Now, I don’t feel at home on a boat, nor on the island I was born, Sakhalin. Maybe by making this film, I’ll find my place.”

The Halves

Alexandr Zarchikov
France, Russia / 2015 / 95 min.
section: Between the Seas, First Lights
International Premiere
Savagery
Just forty years ago, the Brazilian state of Pará was covered by rainforest. Today, it is an area where the wilderness comes into harsh conflict with the savagery of the urban population. Using several segments, a team of two French documentarians compose an especially brutal poetical mythology of a place where poachers hunt snakes that are many meters long, crowds of people look on during police murder investigations, and a mother must apologize because her adolescent rapper son insulted the local police. Using a handheld camera, the filmmakers take spontaneous shots, sensitive to both the genius loci and the unaffected interviews with local inhabitants. "We went to Pará, Brazil, at the pursuit of some sort of vision of savagery. Crossing tales, ecological themes and fantastic apparitions, we try to undo this arbitrary separation between the fascination with nature and the fear of violence." J. Le Fourn

Savagery

Jonathan Le Fourn, Rèmi De Gaalon
France / 2017 / 94 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Everything´s Gonna Be Fine
Producer Čestmír Kopecký had originally wanted to make a film about the changing face of Brno, but in the end director Robin Kvapil and co-writer Pavel Šplíchal created something more closely resembling Šplíchal’s ironic blog Prigl. In their “lovingly anarchistic” film, Brno forms the epicentre of a sarcastic look at Czech society. The naive and vacuous communist-era documentary with which Kvapil’s film opens gives way to the reporter’s bitter monologues right in front of the camera. These are intercut with acted sequences featuring Brno’s political elites, artists, and outcasts.“People say that Brno is the only joke that is inhabitable. The entire film follows this logic.” R. Kvapil

Everything´s Gonna Be Fine

Robin Kvapil
Czech Republic / 2017 / 71 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
A Tall Tale
The magic of folksongs lies in their freedom from the restraints of artificial genres and thematic rules. The creative duo of Lucia Nimcová and Sholto Dobie approach their improvised observational documentary in much the same way. The sequence of images from contemporary western Ukraine brings narrative, sound, and musical elements and nearly photographic detailed static scenes of reality into creative counterpoint. Figures of various ages alternate before the camera; interior and exterior locations change; but the song goes on. A folk opera consisting of bawdy folk songs, storytelling ballads, and pre-modern hip-hop. Old world music.“A Tall Tale seeks to capture private and hidden realities excluded from the main historical narrative of the region. Hard mountain rap, vintage feminism and filthy Carpathian hip hop are still alive and relevant.” Lucia Nimcová

A Tall Tale

Lucia Babjaková Nimcová
Slovakia / 2016 / 34 min.
section: Between the Seas
World 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
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: Between the Seas, First Lights
World Premiere
My Family Tree
The turbulent history of northern Europe as seen through the story of one regular family. Against the backdrop of actual events, Latvian director Una Celma unfolds an entertaining docudrama combining re-enacted segments with montages of archival and illustrative footage, all with an ironic and lightly educational narration. The film’s dynamic flight into the past highlights significant historical details – for example, each push of the pedal of a rusty old dental drill helps paint a picture of the sorry state of healthcare in the former Soviet Union.

My Family Tree

Una Celma
Latvia / 2013 / 71 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
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