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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Vacancy
Vacancy
Vacancy
Vacancy
Vacancy

Vacancy

director: Alexandra Kandy Longuet
original title: Vacancy
country: Belgium
year: 2018
running time: 80 min.

synopsis

The camera observes an American motel along the main highway – just the way many of us imagine the United States. We follow four people inside the room at night, where they have been living in a kind of private purgatory for several years. Their sins are drugs, crime, and bad decisions. The slow flow of scenes and the occasionally blurred image create an atmosphere of being out of time and out of place – which probably just where these four people, incapable of breaking free from the vicious circle of apathy, feel themselves to be. The four documentary portraits combine to form a picture of the depressing life of people nurturing a tiny flame of hope. 

„,I have been to hell and / back. / And let me / tell you / It was / wonderful‘ (from Louise Bourgeois work)“ A. Kandy Longuet

biography

Alexandra Kandy Longuet (1984) studied theater and art in Paris while at the same time organizing art exhibitions. After traveling in Russia and Argentina, she began to study film in Belgium. Her first documentary, As She Left (2012), won several festival prizes. Her next film, Shipwreck America (2016) earned her the L’Étoile de la Scam documentary award.

more about film

director: Alexandra Kandy Longuet
producer: Marie Besson, Samuel Tilman
script: Alexandra Kandy Longuet
photography: Caroline Guimbal
editing: Agathe Hervieu
music: Thomas Vaquié
sound: Alexandra Kandy Longuet, Jean-François Levillain

other films in the section

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
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
The Room You Take
The world is a theatre. And in every theatre, there are usually backstage spaces that remain hidden from the run-of-the-mill spectator. In this stylized observational documentary, director Marques provides us with a glimpse behind the scenes of smaller Portuguese theatre groups. At a time when metallic monsters in the form of giant demolition bulldozers are razing a traditional theatre building, the marginal position of most theatre outsiders becomes even more depressing. Excerpts of conversations held in front of dressing room mirrors, poetic commentaries, and natural motifs are brought together to create an allegory filled with reflections, both those in the mirror, as well as their equivalents from the theatre that is the world. “I wonder if the proletarian artist isn't already an endangered species. From observational to essayistic, I build this atlas-like film to capture the mirrors of those who take this adventurous survival.”

The Room You Take

Pedro Filipe Marques
Portugal / 2016 / 165 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European 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
Katyusha: Rocket Launchers, Folk Songs, and Ethnographic Refrains
What is the effect of an overheard melody, especially when it sounds almost painfully familiar? In a house full of personal photographs and to the sound of a barrel-organ melody, the film’s director explores the history of her family, which was forced to flee from the Soviet Union before the Second World War. This experimental anthropological film is a mediation on the shared experience of song and the phenomenon of memories associated with popular melodies. As if fired from the eponymous rocket launcher, the artificial folk song Katyusha soared through civilizational skies to become the soundtrack of more than a few human tragedies.“Conflating years of research, archival digging, and excerpts from familial, institutional, and other collections, Katyusha is an experimental documentary that ruminates on the circulation and constructions of cultural memory and national(ist) narratives.” 

Katyusha: Rocket Launchers, Folk Songs, and Ethnographic Refrains

Kandis Friesen
Canada / 2016 / 38 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Backstage Action
This is de facto a film about a film, with the only difference being that the focus is exclusively on the extras. They are filmed while waiting to take their turn, while conversing with others, and thinking about their performances. Although they take their duties very seriously and long to be stars, for the filmmakers, they’re just people that can be coordinated as necessary, nothing more. This film, on the contrary, gives them full consideration, revealing their personalities, what they experience, and what they dream of. The footage comes from many different places where movies are made, involving extras from all different nationalities."The representative becomes a present body, a speaking body, he becomes an acting body, even a political body liberated from the stereotypes that pertain to the community he was supposed to represent." S. Azari 

Backstage Action

Sanaz Azari
Belgium / 2018 / 61 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
27 Times Time
Documentary filmmaker Annick Ghijzelings used her visit to Polynesia to shoot a personal meditation on the phenomenon of time. She slowed down the smooth flow of time in order to consider, in 27 short fragments, the various ways time can be represented. She does so by combining poetic narrative with images of the past and slow-motion shots of nature and local life. Gradually, she puts together a multilayered image of time that questions the boundaries between art, science, and philosophy, between advanced civilization and native cultures, and between the past, present, and future."The stories never subscribe to explanations or expert digressions. They are off-camera, barely pronounced, they are whispered in our ear like a secret between friends that beckons sharing."

27 Times Time

Annick Ghijzelings
Belgium / 2016 / 73 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Aftermath
A heterogeneous tetralogy of personal profiles brings together four individuals from different corners of the world of art – pianist and entertainer Fats Waller, painter Jackson Pollock, photographer Janieta Eyre, and painter Frida Kahlo. The ambient collage of turbulent social conditions is infused with intimate moments of artistic immersion. Hypnotic images vibrate with a captivating approach to the subjects’ individual lives. Hoolboom combines documentary footage and re-enactments with experimental collage. Sped-up footage, weightlessly floating cameras, VR, found footage, the patina of 16mm films – all of them tools for redefining the genre of cinematic portrait.„The movie poses this question: how to survive in the aftermath, of the state, of the state of your family, of your body. Artist examples are offered. Perhaps only in the act of doubling, in a crowd scene, can I find this thing I call myself.“ M. Hoolboom

Aftermath

Mike Hoolboom
Canada / 2018 / 75 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Time Splits in the River
Four artists decide to make a film where apolitical parents play parts of dissidents from the 1980s. Later, they show them the footage, unfolding discussions about art and politics. A  fascinating conceptual therapy revolving around traumatic  events of the history of Taiwan combines a highly artistic style with the informal, echoing, in the best possible sense, the saying ‘the personal is political’. Idiosyncratic, half-improvised ‘performances’ of the protagonists, who embody a story fromthe life and work of writer Shi Mingzheng, and the visual side of the film, just as poetic as it is funny, make this film a highly personal experience that is difficult to categorize.“Through re-enacting the social minority’s experiences , the filmsheds light on new negotiations between the social majority and other dissidents, while exposing the impossibility of family communication.”

Time Splits in the River

Yu-Ping Wang, Chia-Hung Lee, I-Chieh Huang, Xuan-Zhen Liao
Taiwan / 2016 / 89 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
At home, walking
This poetic documentary about pilgrims is adapted to the rhythm of their walking. It serves as an act of liberation and knowledge, returning man as well as meditation to the present moment. During the annual pilgrimage through the Deccan Plateau, the differences between the sexes, different religions and castes become blurred. They are all aiming for the same goal. One of the many millions of pilgrims is the author herself, describing her impressions on a journey across the country and her journey in finding herself. Conceptualized as a personal diary, the film also calls for deceleration in an overly technological and fast-paced world.
personal program

At home, walking

Rajula Shah
India / 2019 / 114 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
Until Porn Do Us Part
Eulália, a religious and conservative sixty-something woman, must come to terms with a difficult period in her life. Her son has emigrated to Germany, where is a gay porn star. Eulália spends ever more time on Facebook scanning his profile and writing long, mostly unread messages. This dramatically structured observational documentary touches on a number of contemporary issues, including the crisis of the traditional family, how social networks are changing interpersonal relationships, and society’s views of homosexuality and pornography. An unobtrusive look at the LGBT community, humility, and the strength of motherly love."God heard my prayers / He gave me a lovely son / I'll never trade him for anything / Not even for the biggest treasures / Even if I have to spend / My whole life suffering..." J. Pelicano

Until Porn Do Us Part

Jorge Pelicano
Portugal / 2018 / 90 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
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