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25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Vitalina Varela
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Vitalina Varela
Vitalina Varela
Vitalina Varela
Vitalina Varela

Vitalina Varela

director: Pedro Costa
original title: Vitalina Varela
country: Portugal
year: 2019
running time: 124 min.

synopsis

Vitalina Varela, a 55-year-old woman from Cape Verde, arrives in Lisbon to sort out the affairs of her husband, who moved suddenly to Portugal twenty-five years ago and died three days before she could reach him. The grim hypnotic microcosm of the now defunct Fontainhas neighborhood, through which the grieving heroine navigates in an attempt to capture whatever is left of her husband, is filled with lost souls and emptied rooms that are engulfed in stunning darkness. The imagery of Costa's suggestive portrait of the Cape Verde diaspora is underlined by static compositions and the ubiquitous chiaroscuro.
 
„I think she wanted to stay in this moment, this moment of mourning. She was going through the worst, most painful moment of her life and I was proposing for her to organize, to work out and reveal these terrible feelings and emotions, to turn all of it into a film.“ P. Costa

biography

Portuguese director Pedro Costa (1958) studied history at the University of Lisbon and took film courses at the Lisbon Theater and Film School. He has worked as an assistant director for Jorge Silva Melo, Vítor Gonçalves, and João Botelha. In Costa’s films, often set in real locations in Lisbon and exquisite in their ascetic visual style, he teeters on the boundaries of documentary and fiction, captures the fates of those on the fringes of society.
 

more about film

director: Pedro Costa
cast: Vitalina Varela, Ventura
producer: Abel Ribeiro Chaves
script: Vitalina Varela, Pedro Costa
photography: Leonardo Simões
editing: João Dias, Vítor Carvalho
sound: João Gazua

other films in the section

Regarding Susan Sontag
A portrait of one of the most significant intellectuals of the 20th century, who always questioned established truths and provoked through her minority role. The film mixes up events from the author’s personal life with her multi-layered work and uses experimental elements to go beyond the usual mix of archival materials and interviews.

Regarding Susan Sontag

Nancy Kates
United States / 2014 / 100 min.
section: Special Event
East European Premiere
This Is Orson Welles
This documentary portrait follows Orson Welles from his early days in radio to his breakthrough work for RKO and his European exile. His non-conformist personality is presented through interview with his daughter, directors and fans such as Martin Scorsese and Peter Bogdanovich, and archival interviews with Welles himself.

This Is Orson Welles

Julia Kuperberg, Clara Kuperberg
France / 2015 / 52 min.
section: Special Event
East European Premiere
Chronicle of a Forgotten Death
The film’s investigation of the death of Michel Christen, who, forgotten, fell through the cracks in the system, becomes an indictment of a society incapable of taking care of its dead. A chimney sweep, volunteer fire fighter, husband, father, and later a heavy alcoholic, Christen died of severe illness in a social flat and was considered missing for 28 months. How can a man die, forgotten by all? The film uncovers the circumstances of an unreported death, revealing the advanced state of decay of an impassive Swiss society.  

Chronicle of a Forgotten Death

Pierre Morath
Switzerland / 2012 / 62 min.
section: Special Event
World Premiere
Blames and Flames
Iran’s 1978 Islamic revolution was closely associated with movie screens, cameras, and television images. At its outset, there were the arson attacks on more than 130 movie theatres, and the revolutionary events themselves were spontaneously recorded on film by the participants. Using only period footage, the filmmakers meditate upon the role of cinema, television, and film in society.  

Blames and Flames

Mohammadreza Farzad
Iran / 2011 / 28 min.
section: Special Event
Czech Premiere
With my Heart in Yambo
One night, when director María Fernanda Restrepo was 10 years old, her two brothers disappeared. They were detained by the police, but it is not known what happened next. The police allegedly tortured and murdered them, dumping their bodies into Yambo Lake. Years later, the filmmaker has turned her trauma into a deeply personal documentary, conceived as a search both for her missing siblings as well as for the traces that the tragedy has left on her own life.  

With my Heart in Yambo

Fernando Restrepo
Ecuador / 2011 / 139 min.
section: Special Event
East European Premiere
The Invisible War
In his award-winning documentary films This Film Is Not Yet Rated and Twist of Faith, director Kirby Dick looked at the abuse of power in the American film ratings association and in the church. The subject of his new film is the common but well hidden phenomenon of rape in the American army. Victims of sexual attacks testify not only about the situation in the military, but also about the impossibility of enforcing punishment and uncovering the truth.  

The Invisible War

Kirby Dick
United States / 2012 / 95 min.
section: Special Event
Czech Premiere
Far From Afghanistan
A tangle of commentaries, fragments, the confusion of war, bombings, explosions and thermo-vision images of the clash of civilizations within the virtual dimension of audiovisual images. A confusion of images from observer planes, the daily record of war and civilian life and forest contemplations. An urgent and intense documentary essay on civilization’s curse of the carefree life, a personal commentary on kidnapping of the filmmaker’s daughter and child abuse. The owl as a spectre of the night. A hypnotic, tense, and unsettling portrait, with a surgically precise aim and unclear meaning. An ambivalent delirium of viewpoints sanctifying foolish wisdome and impenetrability.

Far From Afghanistan

Travis Wilkerson, Soon- Mi Yoo, Minda Martin, Jon Jost, John Gianvito
United States, Afghanistan / 2012 / 129 min.
section: Special Event
Czech Premiere
West of the Jordan River
In 1982, Amos Gitai made a video diary tracking the progress of the peace process in the West Bank. Thirty-five years later, in something of a follow-up film, he conducts a dialogue with the inhabitants of the occupied territory. Disillusioned by politics, the Palestinians and the Israelis are trying to find their own way to achieve long-term changes.

West of the Jordan River

Amos Gitai
France / 2017 / 84 min.
section: Special Event
Czech Premiere
noimage
FilmPRISON, which was smuggled to this year’s Cannes Festival, was filmed by famous director Jafar Panahi in his Teheran home, where he was awaiting an appeals court decision. Over the course of the day, he drinks tea, talks on the phone, watches television, and welcomes visitors. These most ordinary of moments take on special meaning if we realize that he has been sentenced to six years in prison and banned from making movies for 20 years.

This Is Not a Film

Jafar Panahi, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb
France, Iran / 2011 / 75 min.
section: Special Event
East European Premiere
Coronation
The bureaucratic machinery of the Chinese political system quickly and effectively slowed the spread of coronavirus early in the crisis, but at the cost of more rigorous control and restriction of the rights of the citizens. The film raises the question whether it is more important to preserve personal freedom of individuals during a pandemic or health of the whole society. The raw footage, secretly filmed by amateur cameramen, shows the reality of life in the closed city of Wuhan, its desolate streets and strictly guarded medical facilities. To what extent can the state interfere in the lives of its citizens when a global humanitarian disaster is at stake? “I am very pessimistic about what we will learn from this. I think that things will return to normal, people will simply take off their masks and throw them away into the rubbish bin.” Ai Weiwei
personal program

Coronation

Ai Weiwei
Germany / 2020 / 113 min.
section: Special Event
Czech Premiere
Walked the Way Home
In 2015, after the terrorist attacks in the streets of France, military patrols appeared. The filmmaker took advantage of this and began filming his journey to and from work. The result is an impressive assemblage of reactions to passing soldiers and people walking around them. The experience is enhanced by a soundtrack of typical military sounds.

Walked the Way Home

Eric Baudelaire
France, Italy / 2018 / 27 min.
section: Special Event
International Premiere
noimage
FilmFRIENDSHIP looks at two friends, Ukrainian poet Em Rudenko and Czech musician Xavier Baumaxa. The non-conformist poet is unemployed, with occasional jobs cleaning up hazardous waste. Baumaxa, who studied teaching, travels the country with his guitar. They are brought together by friendship, talent, and this film, which Vladimír Michálek spent two years shooting “surrounded by the landscape of northern Bohemia and the decadence of its cities.”

EM and HE

Vladimír Michálek
Czech Republic / 2011 / 70 min.
section: Special Event
World Premiere
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