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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

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
Also Known as Jihadi
This conceptual documentary, inspired by Masao Adachi’s famous 1969 film Ryakushô renzoku shasatsuma (A.K.A. Serial Killer), is based on landscape theory, whose proponents strive to capture in art the environmental influences that help to form ones’ personality, and the effect that specific locations have on an individual’s life. The film’s director uses this approach to dissect the path followed by a young Frenchman of Algerian descent from his native country to Syria and back again – a path from a secure social position to radicalism and ruin. Without even once showing us the protagonist, he builds an overall picture of him using a series of shots consisting of streets, beaches, buildings, and text from written records made during investigations and interrogations. „Fûkei means landscape in Japanese. Fûkeiron is a proposition: turn the camera 180 degrees to film not the subject of the film, but rather the landscapes that he has seen.” E. Baudelaire

Also Known as Jihadi

Eric Baudelaire
France / 2017 / 101 min.
section: Opus Bonum
East European 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
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: Opus Bonum
East European Premiere
Albertine Gone
This updating of the sixth part of In Search of Lost Time explores the current identity of Proust’s book. Through a staged docu-fictions with elements of performance art, the filmmaker strips the text, quoted by an employee of a fire station, of its period references, thus giving it new attributes. Since 1993, Véronique Aubouy has been filming people reading various parts of Proust’s masterpiece of literature. The planned date of completion for her monumental project, which sees the protagonist as an object in a cinematic landscape and the book as a signpost of various interpretations, is in 2050."Since my discovery of Proust’s Recherche I'm convinced  that this book is an expression of the Here and now. When I met Jean, fireman, nurse anaesthetist who had read la Recherche during his night guards, the film was there, here and now." V. Aubouy

Albertine Gone

Véronique Aubouy
France / 2018 / 34 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Lost Paradise
The life of the filmmaker, also the film’s main character, is determined by a double fear. On one side, her world collapses under the weight of personal and historical tragedies, on the other she is threatened by the loss of the memories of everything that is dear to her. In this documentary, which blurs the lines between personal and public, she attempts to preserve all traces of memories, whether they’re images of her deceased husband or the ruins of local Beirut monuments. Slowly flowing images, virtually free of musical accompaniment, give memory fragments emerging from the surfaces of material things, including the heroine’s body, space to have spontaneous effect. "This film evolves around the notions of disappearance and loss: individual death and disappearance of places, loss of personal memory and collective memory. " R. Mitri

Lost Paradise

Reine Mitri
Lebanon / 2017 / 61 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Western, Family and Communism
The first shots of the film show Parisians demonstrating and protesting, interspersed with shouted political slogans of Iranian activists. While the situation is very heated in Paris, calmness reigns in Iran. A French family is traveling here in a caravan and getting to know the country. The father films footage of their journey including his wife and daughter. The first third of the film suggests that the issue is a national one, namely that of the Iranian citizens, while the remaining two-thirds shows, however, the French on holiday. From a formal point of view, the film comprises interesting shots taken with a handheld camera, as well highly-overexposed, almost white, shots and double exposures. „Perhaps politics is the multiple of experiments and inventions in an equation with two unknowns: ‚I‘ and ‚we‘. Rather than solve it, once and for all, it would be a matter of keeping trying. Once again. (Precarious springs of the peoples, Maria Kakogianni, 2017)“ L. Krief

Western, Family and Communism

Laurent Krief
France / 2018 / 83 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
Spectres are haunting Europe
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.”

Spectres are haunting Europe

Maria Kourkouta, Niki Giannari
France, Greece / 2016 / 99 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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
The New Day
A mixture of documentary and fiction as seen through the eyes of a non-participant observer, this drama presents the life of the fisherman Maldonado. After his wife Celia leaves him, we watch his lonely life in a series of cyclical everyday activities as we listen to Celia’s voiceover. Although it tends to repeat itself, it reveals something new every day. We always observe a different part of the daily work of a fisherman, or see it from a different angle. This sense of conflict is heightened by contradictory motifs on-screen and in the voiceover. Words clash with images, the everyday with the extraordinary, space with time. “Maldonado is a fisherman of the Paraná River. Modern times leave him on a threshold: a way of inhabiting that no longer finds its possibilities. That frailty that cracks into his world is what we intent to film.”

The New Day

Gustavo Fontán
Argentina / 2016 / 62 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
NU
“A terrible winter came. Snow was falling in endless flurry. The wind cooled down the air and the earth. The sun stopped shining. Three winters came without a summer that would follow them.” These words open the documentary dystopia conceived as personal correspondence between a woman/the nature and the last surviving man. On the background of images of natural scenery and desolate achievements of the civilization, a poetic confession of feelings is followed by descriptions of banal experiences and symbolic situations, all presented with a declamatory diction. In the last moments of humanity, the severed bond between the loving mother and her lost and rediscovered son is restored again.„You loved me as a male loves a woman, with his worst defects. You wanted to possess me, to dominate me, to control me, you wanted to strip me. You choked me, you devoured me. You loved me for you only, you took all I had. And you did not know you were going to die.“ F. Cousseau

NU

Frédéric Cousseau, Blandine Huk
France / 2018 / 54 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
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