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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

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 Deathless Woman
The far right is on the rise again. Racial intolerance is spreading through real and virtual spaces. Which is why a woman buried alive in the Polish forests during World War II comes back to life to commemorate the history of violence against the Roma. Her “avatar” becomes a young researcher visiting locations in Poland and Hungary where Roma have lost their lives both in the distant and recent past. Thanks to the authentic testimonies and staged passages that blur the line between mystery novel and dreamlike horror, buried secrets come to light serving as both a warning and a reminder. “An uncanny series of events led me to a Polish forest. Later I found out this place was the forgotten grave of the Deathless Woman. Looking back now, I realize she'd been there all along, guiding me.” R. Mortimer
personal program

The Deathless Woman

Roz Mortimer
United Kingdom / 2019 / 88 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
De Sancto Ambrosio
The opening ten-minute sequence of the film raises a question whether something is about to happen or not. Nothing much is going to happen, though. Workers are working at a building site, kids are playing, tourists are sightseeing, a wedding and a funeral are in progress, followed by images of empty streets and perspectives of building rooftops – in brief, a microcosm. The film shows the town from a totally different perspective, laying out fragments of life of seemingly totally uninteresting people who simply go about their existence. The camera is set in motion without the passersby even noticing since it has been put in a strategic elevated spot. The whole movie consists purely of bird’s-eye view shots."I always had a fascination to go up the building's rooftops to contemplate the city. Spending one year on a medieval bell tower was like being in a time machine which made time into something tangible." A. Di Bias

De Sancto Ambrosio

Antonio Di Biase
Italy / 2018 / 50 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World 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
One Night Stand
The film is based on the filmmakers’ real encounter with an unknown European one night in a bar in Beirut in 2017. It was a man on the road to join the Kurdish militia fighting in the war against the Islamic state on the territory of Syria. The conversation was secretly recorded on a cellphone and serves as the script for animated modeled situations and reconstructions of that night. In addition to a fascinating probe into the thinking of a man who is willing to sacrifice his life for the struggle for  freedom, the film is also a formal polemic on the apparent authenticity of the documentary and the possibilities of representation of reality by means of simulations and modeled situations. “War today is a constant state of preparation for absolute destruction beyond the frontline. We no longer have the means of recognising it, nor distinguishing between a soldier and a citizen.” M. Lotfy, N. Abed     
personal program

One Night Stand

Noor Abed, Mark Lotfy
Palestine, Egypt / 2019 / 24 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
The Wall
The Stalin Cult is once again gaining in strength in Russia. Every December 21st, the former Communist leader’s admirers gather to honor him on Red Square, at the site of his grave in the Kremlin Wall. In this observational documentary, the Russian director introduces the principle of “walking heads” – the majority of the footage consists of long takes showing the faces of the people waiting in line to place flowers and pay homage in front of a bust of Stalin. Accompanied by the sound of shuffling feet, a representative sample of various human types parades in front of our eyes, their faces reflecting almost a sacred reverence for a man who was responsible for the murder of several millions of their fellow citizens."Imagine thousands of Jews praying to Hitler’s grave. Impossible? How people can worship the one who annihilated them? In modern Russia we can witness a similar paradox." D. Bogolubov

The Wall

Dmitry Bogolubov
Russia / 2017 / 43 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World 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
A Long Farewell
After years of negotiations, a complex of apartment buildings on the edge of Seoul is heading inexorably for destruction. With the demolition impending, the residents of the buildings slated for destruction try to express what this place means to them. Raya Kim’s minimalist documentary is not built on an apocalyptic mood or kitschy sentiment, but is rather precisely presented in the contrasts between image and sound. Static shots of homes and the surrounding landscape present a portrait of a quiet, seemingly undisturbed everyday life, while detached voices of observers recount their often-dramatic personal experiences, not hiding the uncertainty of what comes next. „What do the actual residents think about the houses scheduled for reconstruction? As with all homes, there are many different forms of time and love.” R. Kim

A Long Farewell

Raya Kim
South Korea / 2017 / 72 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
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
Fonja
Ten juvenile delinquents from the largest detention institution in Madagascar have joined a four-month workshop to learn working with a film camera, editing, creating simple cinematic tricks, and telling their own stories. The camera became a tool for them to grasp the new reality, allowing them to express themselves freely despite the isolation they live in. The film presents a sincere testimony about life in a strictly hierarchical, closed community as perceived by the young film-makers who were given the opportunity not only to discover and develop their creative potential, but also make new friends. “I want to reach out and spread the great spirit and creativity of this strong group, the emerging young filmmakers of the Antanimora prison in Madagascar, to inspire and create wonder amongst others.” L. Zacher
personal program

Fonja

Ravo Henintsoa Andrianatoandro, Lovatiana Desire Santatra, Sitraka Hermann Ramanamokatra, Jean Chrisostome Rakotondrabe, Erick Edwin Andrianamelona, Elani Eric Rakotondrasoa, Todisoa Niaina Sylvano Randrialalaina, Sitrakaniaina Raharisoa, Adriano Raharison Nantenaina, Alpha Adrimamy Fenotoky, Lina Zacher
Madagascar, Germany / 2019 / 80 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World 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
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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