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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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The Things
The Things

The Things

director: Nino Gogua
original title: Nivtebi
country: Georgia
year: 2016
running time: 62 min.

synopsis

Nearly 10 years after the conflict in Georgia, Georgian inhabitants of the Russian-occupied territory are still living in temporary camps, waiting to return home. Their dwellings are cookie-cutter houses. They brought only the few items that they managed to grab from their homes when fleeing from the occupation army. Equally austere, almost as empty as their provisional housing, they live their lives at the mercy of waiting for what is to come. In this meditative documentary, real relics of their past lives, everyday things brought from their original homes, are the most tangible manifestations of the irreversibility of time as measured by losses.

“We attempted to reflect about war experience from particular perspective, to meet persons rather than statistics, to observe rather than inquire, to contemplate about something we all share - the attachments.” Nino Gogua

biography

Nino Gogua (1988) studied journalism at Tbilisi State University. She worked on news programs for the private television station Maestro TV and as a reporter for Liberali magazine. In 2012, she co-founded the CineMark production company, which focuses on documentary films. Her previous film Madonna (2014) is a portrait of the only female driver employed by the Georgian public transportation system.

more about film

director: Nino Gogua
producer: Natia Guliashvili
photography: Sandro Khutsishvili

other films in the section

In Praise of Nothing
“A whistleblowing documentary parody about Nothing.” That is how the filmmakers describe In Praise of Nothing. In fact, Nothing is the only protagonist of this essay-like film. An ironic and unflinchingly critical monologue, delivered in simple rhymes and with the voice of Iggy Pop, accompanied by captivating and succinctly expressive footage shot by several dozen people all over the world with the assignment to “shoot nothing.” „A cinematic equivalent to Erasmus’s humanistic classic In Praise of Folly, in which Folly goes around the world arguing it is smarter to be mad than smart. 500 years later, it is Nothing who gets the main role.“ B. Mitić

In Praise of Nothing

Boris Mitic
Serbia, Croatia, France / 2017 / 78 min.
section: First Lights
Central European 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: First Lights
World Premiere
Not my Land
Allotment gardens near an international airport. Their ownership is unclear. Ethnic Russians living in the Baltic republics. Following in the footsteps of a documentary photographer, the filmmakers reveal the complicated modern history of Estonia as a country with a large Russian minority. They do so on a stage measuring several square kilometres in size. The aging gardeners are like squatters in the house of history. Beneath our feet is soil that is not theirs; over our heads, planes fly to countries they cannot visit; on all sides they are surrounded by a nation that doesn’t want them in their house.

Not my Land

Aljona Surzhikova
Estonia / 2013 / 52 min.
section: Between the Seas
Central European Premiere
Metaphysics and Democracy
On average, our eyes remained fixed on an advertisement for six seconds. Advertisements are probably the most common ideological channel that we encounter in visible form. Director Luis Ortiz has based his documentary film on this contrast à la thèse. The visual aspect of the film is made up of 57 one-minute static views of advertising. The soundtrack features texts that challenge the existence of ideology as such (the Borges story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius) and draws attention to the fact that we often confuse it with ontology (the critics of neoliberalism, such as Ignacio Ramonet and Noam Chomsky).“In times of political extremism I find it necessary to ask which mechanisms undermine democracy in the so called modern societies, then new progressive answers are needed to confront the simplistic discourses from the right.” 

Metaphysics and Democracy

Luis Ortiz
Germany, Colombia / 2016 / 59 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Waiting room
Waiting, as a condition in which people spend a large part of their lives, is the central theme of this narrative film. The lives of seven women of various ages, who do not know each other, intersect for a brief period of time. They are linked by one place – the waiting room at the main railway station – where each one of them, in deep contemplation, is looking for something or someone different. The slow non-dramatic narration, with stiff stylised camera movements places the viewer in the role of stalker. In this film, in which the director admittedly combines elements from both fictional film and documentary practice, he worked with non-professional actresses.DETAIL:“Believe it or not, for me otherness is what is real, what is normal. I love those who are different. They are my people. My life is in God’s hands. That is how I received it, just like everyone else.”

Waiting room

Palo Korec
Slovakia / 2015 / 72 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
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
PhoeniXXX
Two young Romanian women make money as models on an erotic video chat site. All while they try to lead normal family lives, get along with their parents, and raise children. This observational documentary captures exactly this - their private space. The filmmakers let them speak freely about not only their jobs, but also how they themselves see their lives. At the same time, they show how a publicly condemned profession influences people’s behavior and their view of the world. The film also presents dramatic generational differences in contemporary Romanian society in which the older generation, working in agriculture, wants their children to remain at home while the younger one seems to be moving coninously to the bigger cities, leaving behind their past. "For a good documentary you have to go out and live among your characters." M. G. Dragolea

PhoeniXXX

Mihai Gavril Dragolea
Romania / 2017 / 53 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
People Pebble
Stones form the landscape, they crunch underfoot as we walk, and children use them in their games. In this experimental film by the directing duo of Darakchiev and Gamot, the fascination with one particular object reaches its peak. The associative images, brought together by the lens of a 16mm camera, create a loosely related series of stream-of-consciousness ideas: Monumental shots of the cliffs of Dover, stone houses, people walking on a stone beach, and a metronome in the shape of a hammer. Ordinary images accompanied by cacophonous sounds and excerpts from unrelated interviews create new associations among familiar aspects of human existence. International Premiere shared with DocLisboa "People Pebble figuratively associates two disparate patrimonial identities, inciting a new dialogue through and beyond the traces of the human hand, all encompassed by the impermanence of nature." J. Darakchiev, P. Gamot

People Pebble

Perrine Gamot, Jivko Darakchiev
United Kingdom, France / 2017 / 18 min.
section: Between the Seas
International Premiere
Normalization
Nearly 40 years ago, a young woman was murdered in Slovakia. To this day, the group of men who were convicted of this crime have tried in vain to prove that they are the victims of judicial terror. The director, who does not hide the fact that the sympathizes with the convicted, goes beyond their case and indirectly reveals doubts as to the trustworthiness of his country’s judicial system. Only once do most of the convicted appear together before the camera: when their sentences are confirmed in 2006. More than the words, recriminations, anger, and sadness, the viewer remembers their exhausted expressions and the realization that they can never give up.

Normalization

Robert Kirchhoff
Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2013 / 100 min.
section: Between the Seas
Czech Premiere
Connatural
This documentary, shot on black and white film, is an excruciating meditation on living close to death, which is nonetheless an inseparable part of life. Three generations of women live in one home, away from other people: an ageing mother, her two daughters, and her granddaughter. In long, slow shots, we see ordinary, regular actions that make up their day: braiding hair in the morning, cleaning the mother’s feet, reading the evening prayers. Lyrically stylized scenes depict their lives as an endless succession of moments of solitude, but which in their sequence and repetition gain strength, approaching analogy in the surrounding beautiful but inert nature.“Connatural stems from a need to express a series of emotions and thoughts related to the human condition. It delves into universal issues that are not usually represented as the experience of old age, everyday life and closeness to death.” J. Bellido

Connatural

Javier Bellido Valdivia
Peru / 2018 / 83 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Birthday
A lonely life made up of daily routine tasks is depicted in this documentary made by the director about his own mother. It’s her birthday – her husband has been dead for years and her children have forgotten her, with the exception of her son, who remains behind the camera. Despite this, the ageing woman cleans, cooks, and makes ready for a possible celebration. Cursory inspections of her mobile phone screen show that she would have been happy with just a phone message. Birthdays give new meaning to loneliness, just as the director cuts away various natural barriers of the camera image and amplifies the sound effects track to allow silence to emerge and envelop the main character."One day of any person is the summary of his life. What we feel in one day is the same for all our life. Nothing changes. Repetitions, Repetitions and Repetitions. Just like my mother on her birthday." H. Baydarov

Birthday

Hilal Baydarov
Azerbaijan / 2018 / 63 min.
section: Between the Seas
World Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
Aktuálně.cz
Respekt