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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Smiling on the Phone
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Smiling on the Phone

Smiling on the Phone

director: Aitziber Olaskoaga
original title: La sonrisa telefónica
country: Netherlands, Spain, United States
year: 2016
running time: 38 min.

synopsis

This observational documentary investigates the phenomenon of the call centre as a contemporary labor issue. “A”, employed in a Nike customer service centre, decides to document her last weeks prior to her return to Spain. A casually placed camera captures her loneliness, her colleagues, or aimless shots of a room with strange voices and sounds. It reveals the discrepancy between the image, as presented by the media and as it is promoted among employees, and its perception, which we come to know from text messages sent between “A” and “K” that flash onto the screen. The feelings of alienation and demotivation conflict with the requirement to behave more positively and enthusiastically.

Smiling on the Phone explores issues of contemporary labor and highlights the political relevance of documenting the workspace while exploring forms of response and resistance to those work-related images created by the powers.”

biography

Spanish filmmaker Aitziber Olaskoag (1980) focuses on unconventional audio-visual projects. She graduated from the Barcelona film school and worked as a camera assistant for commercial productions. She then worked at a number of jobs having nothing to do with film, but began documenting with her own camera. She was involved in the collective project Fake Guide, and María Ruid used her shots from the call centre for her own project Duty-Free Zone.

more about film

director: Aitziber Olaskoaga
cast: Rebeca -, Alex -, Richard -, José Manuel -, Aderito -, Ryan -, Aitziber -, Laura -, Jaime -
producer: Aitziber Olaskoaga
photography: Aitziber Olaskoaga
editing: Aitziber Olaskoaga
music: Coleman Zurkowski
sound: Alex Reynolds

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
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
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
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
China, 87. The Others
We follow the film journey of director Viollaine de Villers and traveller Jean-Pierre Outers around the Chinese interior during the late 1980s. In a fragmented sequence of archival shots, vignettes of local culture gradually emerge, including everyday work, leisure time moments, and reflections of ancient myths. But it’s not just another of the countless travel documentaries or urban symphonies, but rather a suggestive video essay. The VHS camera becomes a fully-fledged historiographical medium through which foreign culture is revealed in all its myriad facets without crystallizing it into a comfortably consumable image„Welcome to China, freed from any historical or political perspective, we are confronted with the Otherness of Chinese culture. We see in this film the opposite of the picturesque – a slice of quotidian life that may be banal, but still fascinates us.” V. de Villers

China, 87. The Others

Violaine de Villers, Jean-Pierre Outers
Belgium / 2017 / 60 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
She Sings
Past memories and flashes of future disappointment follow a 19-year-old Bhutanese girl to the capital city of Thimphu, where she hopes to fulfill her singing ambitions on a television song contest. The ambient nature of the scenes and dialogues creates a lo-ficomingof-age story in a country where television was not officially permitted until 1999. A mystical oscillation between Buddhism and pop culture, broken into stories and images of drunken venerable old women, loitering monkeys, and tears of disappointment and comfort in a community of kindred souls.  

She Sings

Dechen Roder, Caroline Sascha Cogez
Denmark, Bhutan / 2012 / 48 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Czech Premiere
Misericordia: The Last Mystery of Kristo Vampiro
Experimental filmmaker Khavn de la Cruz claims that Misericordia was shot on a four-day trip in the Philippines, during which he recorded his family through a blood-red filter and accompanied violent images of cockfights or flagellant rituals with no less bloodthirsty hallucinatory voiceovers. Khavn presents a blood-filled point of view of the Filipino culture of pain and suffering. Even if most of the film had not been shot through a red filter, this colour would still dominate.

Misericordia: The Last Mystery of Kristo Vampiro

Khavn De La Cruz
Philippines / 2013 / 70 min.
section: Opus Bonum
East European Premiere
Dark Matter
A film with almost no words, about things that people do not usually talk about. Army testing has turned an Italian army firing range into a dangerous place for people and all nearby living beings. Not coincidentally, it is a place reminiscent of the Zone in Stalker – a place that arouses curiosity precisely through its forced negation of life. Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter that does not interact with light. It neither emits nor absorbs light. Dark matter has no radiation and no shadow. And yet, scientists are convinced that it exists.

Dark Matter

Massimo D'Anolfi, Martina Parenti
Italy / 2013 / 77 min.
section: Opus Bonum
East European Premiere
Flesh Memory
Finley Blake supports herself by performing live online erotic webcam shows. Because of this, her young son was taken from her and she is desperately trying to get him back. She is 33 years old and alone, with only her cat and the rats that inhabit her house in Austin, Texas. The film captures several ordinary days of her life – days in which she is so terribly alone yet still surrounded by people. She lives her life through computer monitors, isolated from the outside world. Although this is an observational documentary, its composition, often alternating image sizes, helps make the film’s pace even more dynamic. "Title came first. I was showering when I decided I would, one day, make a movie called Flesh Memory, about eroticism and the Internet. Then I met Finley. And everything suddenly made sense. Best ideas always pop up in the shower, don’t they?" J. Goldberg

Flesh Memory

Jacky Goldberg
France / 2018 / 60 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Thawathosamat
This nearly four-hour film encyclopaedia takes us on a tour of Thailand’s many religions, including various forms of animism, Buddhism and Hinduism. Footage is limited to images of rituals, all without commentary and accompanied only with information on the location and the text of short excerpts from the prayers.In the immense length of the film, the individuality of each ritual dissolves into a flow of colours, lights, shouts, dance, song, music, voices and exploding firecrackers. It is an encyclopaedia that does not emphasize differences but blurs them.

Thawathosamat

Punlop Horharin
Thailand / 2012 / 170 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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
Looking for North Koreans
The dual nature of North and South Korea, forcibly divided by the Soviet Union’s power plays, continues to aff ect the lives of both countries’ inhabitants to this day. Every year, more and more people leave the totalitarian north; every year, more families and lives are torn apart. Kidnappings, extortion, human trafficking, threats of extermination, and hundreds of missing are the order of the day. A dark shadow looms over neighbouring China as well, where the trail of most traffickers and their victims comes to an end. The film goes searching for North Koreans who have disappeared, interviews victims and traffickers, and explores the grey zone of these political twins.  

Looking for North Koreans

Jero Yun
France / 2012 / 73 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
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Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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