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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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TEACH
TEACH
TEACH
TEACH

TEACH

director: Alex Brendea
original title: PROFU'
country: Romania
year: 2019
running time: 82 min.

synopsis

The personality of a rural Transylvanian math teacher who teaches his students at home and ignores the existing curriculum, tells us not only about the Romanian school system, but also about society there as a whole. The stubborn elder man follows the words of essayist Constantine Noica, who believes that in an ideal school, there should not be any lessons, but rather students should go there to free themselves from the tyranny of learning. The observational portrait documentary monitors the dynamics of the lessons themselves, where, in addition to mathematics, the problem of education itself is addressed and where the teacher acts like a father fi gure.

“I think that if you really want to make something matter within 100 years from now, then you have to educate people first.” A. Brendea

biography

Alex Brendea (1987) makes his directorial debut after ten years of working in Romanian cinematography as a cameraman. In addition to several feature films, he has also shot Dieter Auner's documentary Off the Beaten Track (2010) about herdsmen in northern Transylvania and Anul dragonului (2013) for HBO Europe, which was dedicated to Chinese immigrants in Romania.

more about film

director: Alex Brendea
cast: Dorin Ionita
script: Alex Brendea
photography: Alex Brendea
editing: Letitia Stefanescu
sound: Razvan Ionescu

other films in the section

The Winter Garden's Tale
Valentina Voronina, gardener and tenacious manager of a large conservatory, is fired after forty-five years on the job. Time is winning in its unequal battle with a lack of financing, a decaying building, and the approach of retirement age. The dilapidated conservatory reflects the weakening strength of its distinctive manager and visionary. The conviction that the plants will die if nobody looks after them, is intertwined with the appearance of esoterics and a shaman with a divining rod who discovers a spring of positive energy in front of the building’s entrance. Palm fronds rustle like a silent witness to the melancholic struggle against time and the relentlessness of decay. Another cruel winter is on the horizon. "It is built on its own internal rhythm without the author’s direct speech. Just rethought reality, placed in ironical and a little magic conditions with the main conflict between dreams and reality. " S. Mozgovyi

The Winter Garden's Tale

Simon Mozgovyi
Ukraine / 2018 / 75 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
Enticing, Sugary, Boundless or Songs and Dances about Death
How can we talk about death and still enjoy the beauty of life? Who can we tell if we have no one? People from all corners of the world deal with the perspective of death and ask similar questions. This documentary collage by Tetiana Khodakivska and Oleksandr Stekolenko (1980) is a patient enterprise, working with intimate portraits of both ordinary people and the brilliant filmmakers, and thoughtfully placing them within a three-part mosaic about the greatest riddle of human existence. Only the motif of death gives life a purpose and links us all – but what must happen in order for us take it seriously? This imaginatively edited work of docufiction is a contemplation of life in relation to our own mortality. "This movie is about awareness of death. The story is built on documentary and fiction narrative techniques blended together. " T. Khodakivska, O. Stekolenko

Enticing, Sugary, Boundless or Songs and Dances about Death

Oleksandr Stekolenko, Tetiana Khodakivska
Ukraine / 2017 / 95 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
TIMEBOX
Professor Ioan-Matei Agapi, an 80-year-old photographer and cameraman from Iași, Romania, owns a unique collection of 16mm films and photographs documenting almost fifty years of the city’s history. His daughter, also a filmmaker, has decided to make a film about her father's archives. In the unconventional surroundings of his old apartment, he reminisces about the past until one day Ioan is informed that he must leave or be evicted from home where he has spent the past 40 years. Ioan’s years of work suddenly transform into a huge burden, and the film unexpectedly changes into drama in which conflicts with city officials reveal old and hidden conflicts within the family. "The deepest thing I learned whilst doing this film is that we are stronger than we think we are." N. Agapi 

TIMEBOX

Nora Agapi
Romania / 2018 / 69 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
Opera about Poland
A travelogue collage in search of Polish identity in an uncertain world. A carefully composed dream about the unfound unity of nation, old injustices and moments of glory that fade away under the burden of petty thoughts and the fear of non-existent enemies. A selection of period footage, newspaper articles, and bitterly current citations from the internet, mixed with journal entries by the author Andrzej Stasiuk to create a personal reflection of events. The staged portraits of ordinary Poles set to a tension-filled disharmonic operatic soundtrack at first seems like a series of unrelated images and thoughts, but they slowly come together to form a portrait of the soul of the Polish nation."To begin the repair or therapy you need to be diagnosed. You need to see what mistakes have been made in the past. Or check if you are living with untrue myths and beliefs." P. Stasik

Opera about Poland

Piotr Stasik
Poland / 2017 / 41 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
The End and the Means
Massage, doing the laundry, grazing water buffalo, snake charmers, street jugglers and dentists, music and dance lessons. Through his humble contemplation on various expressions of people’s devotion to their work, Paweł Wojtasik shows the web of human activities that each have their fixed place within India’s caste society. Work is not a path out of poverty or towards wealth, but a form of Hindu meditation on the roots of human activity and established working techniques and rituals. Man is a machine controlled by a higher power. This observational documentary, filmed primarily in India’s oldest city, Varanasi, focuses on the sacred Ganges River as a source of all human endeavours. „I wanted to investigate the Indian idea that work can lead to liberation rather than alienation. As a film worker myself, I learned from the people I filmed – to be present with the whole body and mind.“ P. Wojtasik

The End and the Means

Pawel Wojtasik
United States, India, France / 2018 / 99 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
Blind Cinema
An unusual group sets sail from St. Petersburg to Finland. The crew, which consists of vision-impaired people and people with normal eyesight, learns to work together in order to successfully complete their undertaking. The observational documentary shows the crew’s first contact with the boat, which is done by touch, and then follows their daily routine while at sea. The disinterested camera records a reality that overcomes our prejudices regarding the helplessness of blind people. The problem-free journey gives the sailors space for new sensations. Excerpts from the ship’s log show us aspects of the mission – i.e., the transformation of oneself that can change the world. „What do you see when you cannot see? How do you interact with a world with fewer visual elements to distract you? Blind Cinema explores the realm of sightless people who sail the sea and expand the boundaries of self.” G. Glyants

Blind Cinema

Grigory Glyants
Russia / 2017 / 50 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
The Makavejev Case or Trial in a Movie Theater
In 1971, the film WR: Mysteries of the Organism, an outstanding example of the Yugoslav Black Wave, was enthusiastically received at the Cannes Film Festival. Back home, however, this radical and ironic exploration of sexuality and communism was banned by the Yugoslav regime, and director Dušan Makavejev subsequently emigrated. The ban was decided during the film’s premiere screening, which turned into an unofficial trial. The Makavejev Case plays a newly discovered audio record of the debate in its entirety, accompanied by images of the incredulous faces of people listening to the audiotape recording: actors from Makavejev’s film, random passers-by on the street, and monkeys in a cage. „Makavejev - is my favorite Serbian director. WR: Mysteries of the Organism became a symbol of Makavejev’s heritage: a film language as a play game and an everlasting experiment in in directing." G. Radovanovic
personal program

The Makavejev Case or Trial in a Movie Theater

Goran Radovanovic
Serbia / 2019 / 73 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: the astronaut, the robot, the alien)
What new things can we learn about ecology from science fiction? According to this video essay by artist Ralo Mayer, quite a lot. A flow of thoughts and analogies inspired not only by such sci-fi films as The Martian, E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Silent Running, but also by Biosphere 2, a project simulating an enclosed ecosystem located far away in outer space, have led the artist to reevaluate the way in which ecology is currently considered.  For his new view of things, which relies more on a cosmic rather than an earthly perspective, the key concepts consist of humans as space travellers, robotic technologies, and extraterrestrials as apparitions whom we suspect exist in distant star systems."Ecology in outer space, far from our home planet, is literally unheimlich–uncanny, or better: unsettling. After years of research about Biosphere 2, I met E. T. & we talked Haraway in a Redwood forest." R. Mayer

Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: the astronaut, the robot, the alien)

Ralo Mayer
Austria / 2018 / 43 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
de fac-to
How do we deal with our history? Is it possible that history becomes rather a tool made to justify our current interests and views? Such questions are posed in the observation documentary called de fac-to. The filmmakers visited several public events commemorating World War II in the Ukrainian town of Lviv. Moving recitations of poems are followed by anti-alcoholism propagandist bashings, allegations claiming that decommunization process in Ukraine had been started by Hitler or comparing numbers of victims during the Nazi and Communist eras. This diverse, often absurd kaleidoscope is structured as a stream of footage of events in chronological order with no commentary. „With our film we want to give an insight into specific situations and atmospheres, documenting the various protagonists as they find a relationship to the present through rituals celebrating the past.“ E. Shapiro-Obermair

de fac-to

Alexandra Wachter, Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair
Russia, Austria / 2018 / 32 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
Butterflies
Young Alexei is openly homosexual. Although his peers have no problem with his sexual orientation, his mother is unable to accept it. This documentary portrait follows Alexei during summer break, as he spends time with his new lover Grisha, whom he met at a Tarkovsky festival. The film takes an unusual observational approach in that the camera is often right up against people’s bodies and faces during impassioned discussions, arguments, or testimony. As a result, the spontaneous and eccentric manner in which Alexei breaks down gender stereotypes are brought to the fore. “Making a movie always goes hand in hand with fear and shame. This is because the film just now learned to dive into the man. Untill now it only described. During the work on the film Butterflies I always thought about it.” Dmitry Kubasov

Butterflies

Dmitry Kubasov
Russia / 2016 / 79 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
The Irreversible Consequences of Slipping on a Banana Peel
A foggy morning in a small Romanian town. Alexandrina returns from Canadian exile from Canada to her withering mother Mary, a former teacher who is being taken over by advancing old-people's dementia. The intimate moments of broken relationships oscillating between acceptance, compassion and helplessness creep into the fate of a nation disrupted by communism, progressing illness, and the increased feeling of loneliness of an aging woman surrounded by her childhood dolls. In a documentary approximation interlaced by internal monologues with her own (imaginary) daughter, we follow the complicated and anxious path to family reconciliation and towards the place of no return. “I believe in a documentary that endorses questioning, anguish, and uncertainty.“ B. Stoica 
personal program

The Irreversible Consequences of Slipping on a Banana Peel

Bogdan Stoica
Canada / 2019 / 76 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
A Two Way Mirror
This poetic documentary presents one woman’s journey towards finding self-confidence, inner peace, and harmony. The filmmaker returns to Croatia’s Lika region, where her family comes from. In the bosom of nature, she tries to come to terms with the losses she has suffered in her life, her illness, and her fear of the future. The film is structured into six parts (prologue, spring, summer, autumn, winter, epilogue), each linked to a different stage of human life. It is a very open and intimate confession, framed in a mosaic of memories and experiences, thoughts and feelings. The film is also therapeutic, helping the filmmaker find the strength to fight. The film received the Croatian Oktavijan Award for Best Documentary Film. “Every fear comes with the reason. To cure my fears I merged secret patterns and knowledge of my family with the cycles of nature. Through this collision I revealed what is the human in beasts and the beastly in humans.” Katarina Zrinka Matijević Veličan

A Two Way Mirror

Katarina Zrinka Matijević
Croatia / 2016 / 42 min.
section: Between the Seas
European Premiere
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