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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Set Off
Set Off
Set Off
Set Off

Set Off

director: Mustafa Emin Büyükcoskun
original title: Gitmek
country: Germany, Turkey
year: 2019
running time: 63 min.

synopsis

The city of Kobani lies in Syria on the border of the sphere of influence of the Islamic State, Turkey and the Kurds. Representatives of these three opposing parties battled it out between the years 2014 and 2016 during a war conflict that claimed the lives of many civilians, including thirty-three Turkish citizens who had come there beforehand for various reasons. Conceptualized as a film in their memory, the filmmakers use symbolism to follow their fateful journey as they set off for a city in ruins. The footage is complemented by double exposures of the survivors' faces, who tell of the untimely deaths of their friends and relatives.

“Set Off was an exercise about how and what to tell, after an unmourned disaster; a journey parallel to theirs, daydreaming in the middle of a conflict zone, where landscape deconstructs power regimes.“ M. E. Büyükcoskun

biography

Istanbul-born Mustafa Emin Büyükcoşkun (1988) is a student of the German University of Art and Design in Karlsruhe. He worked as assistant director for the film, but also worked as a producer and cameraman assistant. As director, he made the short film, Sardunya (2008), and thirteen episodes of the Hanlardan Plazalara (2013) documentary series for Turkish television. Set-Off is his feature film debut.

more about film

director: Mustafa Emin Büyükcoskun
producer: Arzu Demir
photography: Ezgi Aydın, Emre Altan, Mustafa Emin Büyükcoşkun
editing: Semih Gülen, Mustafa Emin Büyükcoşkun
sound: David Loscher

other films in the section

Among Houses and the Cosmos
In this sensual film essay, the director has assembled her experiences with rituals in various corners of the world, from Europe across Africa to Latin America. The close interaction of the camera with bodies moving in trances encourages active involvement in the frenzied moments in which people lose themselves in Dionysian intoxication. These moments serve the filmmaker to obliterate the distance between the individual and the collective, personal and foreign, internal and external. The film, however, attaches a political meaning to the rituals, or rather shows how uprooted cultures cope with their minority status through rituals, or even turn it to their favor. “I felt the urgency to work with video footage from years of different travels. During editing, I found myself thinking about the human necessity to impose meaningful patterns on life and being.” Koštana Banović

Among Houses and the Cosmos

Kostana Banović
Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portugal, Senegal, Brazil, Angola, Turkey, Gambia, Cuba, Serbia, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles / 2016 / 70 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Notorious Deeds
October 1989. A high school student in Bucharest is apprehended for pasting up anti-regime posters and is interred in a secret police building for a number of days. As a result, his family, loved ones, friends, and schoolmates are affected by restrictions. Twenty years later at their class reunion, an excursion begins into memories of that moment of shock etched forever into memory, but for each somewhat differently. Director Gabriel Tempea is more interested in exploring the subjective interpretation from the point of view of “talking heads” than the actual facts. A postmodern form of oral history based on the testimonies of those who have most of their lives ahead of them.“Based on personal, subjective and painstakingly detailed recollections of an exceptional occurrence, I attempted to provide a glimpse at the bigger picture of  atroubled historical period.” Gabriel Tempea

Notorious Deeds

Gabriel Tempea
Romania, Austria / 2015 / 68 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
On the Edge of Freedom
Moscow and Kyiv. Angela and Vlad. Two young and talented people brought together by an unusual passion for the extravagant and public conquest of forbidden parts of the city. Tall buildings, underground tunnels or freight trains are the new pastimes of a young generation yearning to get out of the rut, escape a predictable future and find fame among their peers through risky “urbex” videos. At the same time, however, the logic of social networks is turning them into a commercial phenomenon that can bring them big money – but also compel them to engage in even crazier stunts. “This is urban exploration, baby!” “This is a portrait of a new generation we rarely hear about. It is a film about the human behind an extreme phenomenon.” A. M. Hopland

On the Edge of Freedom

Anita Mathal Hopland, Jens Lengerke
Denmark / 2017 / 74 min.
section: First Lights
Central European Premiere
My Name is Hungry Buffalo
Jan calls himself Buffalo. He loves cowboys, he’s blind, and may lose his hearing. Pavel Jurda’s documentary follows his journey to America to visit the chief of the Navajo tribe, who wants to perform a ritual to help his hearing. The film is full of unpretentious humor thanks to Jan’s charisma. In the USA, he’s like the Don Quixote of the Wild West - a naive adventurer in a world that is much more ordinary than his imagination. This observational, but not standoffish, film is also an example of how the medium of film can relate to blind people by constantly showing the difference between what Jan perceives and what we actually see.“The film is not about blindness, even if the main character is blind. It is about yearning for life. ‘We are all handicapped in some way,’ says a guy during a journey that starts with an accident and ends in triumph.”

My Name is Hungry Buffalo

Pavel Jurda
Czech Republic / 2016 / 83 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Like an Abortion, for the Very First Time
The Umbrella Movement was a wave of street protests that took place in Hong Kong from September to December 2014 as a reaction to oppressive practices of the Chinese government against the citizens of Hong Kong dissatisfied with planned changes in the electoral system. In her feature film debut, To Liu captured the citizens of the western part of Kowloon, Mong Kok, whose protests might not have been as visible as those of the leading activists, but were no less important. The documentary rhythmized by opening entries and darkening of the scene, much like the director’s first film, follows two characters, a master and an apprentice.„'We are the fucking losers. But at least we fought', Mongkok people." T. Liu

Like an Abortion, for the Very First Time

To Liu
Hong Kong SAR China / 2018 / 102 min.
section: First Lights
World 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
Through Foreign Eyes
Mykaela Plotkinova thought of making this poetic, mosaic documentary in a bookshop, when she came across the words of poet Manoel de Barros about “the accent of the place of our origin we carry in our eyes”. She never found the quote again, but in the course of the next few years, she carried out the project with the help of other contributors, mainly the editor C. A. Saquieres. She created a film essay combining reflections on the identity and ethnic roots of several natives of the Brazilian city of Recife, who live abroad, and the images of the places where they live.„I’ve never not felt like a foreigner, but neither did I really know where I came from. Through Foreign Eyes searches for a story that no-one has ever really told me. This film is a must for me. A film that is made to understand life.“ M. Plotkin

Through Foreign Eyes

Mykaela Plotkin
Brazil, Argentina / 2018 / 74 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Double Me
The film is based on photographs, manuscripts, audio recordings and 8mm films shot by the ethnographer Gregorio Hernández de Alba in the 1930s and 1940s. The director has used the materials to create a partial reconstruction of Hernández’s expeditions, and his unique image collages illustrate the way of life of the natives and the tragic misunderstandings between them and the Spanish colonizers. The film is interlaced with fictional scenes that bring the conqueror Pero López to life. The film on the border between reality and dream reveals the inability of the Colombians of two different origins to understand one another. „Exota (noun): one who manages to return to himself after having undergone the experience of diversity.“ F. Rugeles

Double Me

Felipe Rugeles
Colombia, Spain / 2018 / 80 min.
section: First Lights
European Premiere
IN MY SKIN
The theme of domestic violence is discussed in the public more often than before, but it still remains a burning issue victims are afraid to talk about. The director deals with the issue from an unusual perspective in a stylized documentary: she does not only describe the problem, but lets us experience it together with three female characters, using subjectifying methods based on testimonies of actual victims of domestic violence. Their inner voices describe how diffi cult it is to prevent or break up the relationship with the abuser. Then their actions suggest possible solutions.“For women, home is the most dangerous place. This movie resulted from the desire to let women tell their stories shame free. The viewer experiences their journey.” A.-S. Richard
personal program

IN MY SKIN

Anna-Sophia Richard
Germany / 2019 / 72 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Where the Land Ends
Québec is the largest Canadian province and the only one with the official language being only French. Modern struggles for Québec’s independence have resulted in two referendum polls which both acknowledged its being a part of Canada. The film explores Québec identity through the perspective of young people who haven’t had the chance to vote in the referendums. It comes up with questions about their relationship to their ancestors, whose traditions had been captured on camera by the documentary filmmaker Pierre Perrault, or whether their previously clear identification has begun losing ground now. In the course of a contemplative journey through the province’s cities and nature, seventeen young people provide their questions and ideas.“Where the Land Ends is a voice and a space. A voice that I realized I no longer heard, yet that I needed to hear. A space that still lived through some, but which we could no longer inhabit ourselves.” L. Darses     
personal program

Where the Land Ends

Loïc Darses
Canada / 2019 / 90 min.
section: First Lights
International Premiere
Depth Two
A history of the armed conflict in Kosovo, in which NATO forces also eventually took part, includes many heretofore unexamined events, including mass murders of civilians which the Serbian police attempted to cover up. Ognjen Glavonić’s poetic documentary presents shocking witness testimony and leaves it to the viewer to piece together the events of the time. Unsettlingly stunning visuals give the events a current dimension - long shots of the locations in which the atrocities took place create a symbol of surviving the past in the present that the inexorable forward passage of time usually softens.“By using light and sound, a combination of spoken testimonies and images of the places where the crimes happened, the film speaks directly to the sensations, imagination and emotions of the viewer.” Ognjen Glavonić

Depth Two

Ognjen Glavonić
Serbia, France / 2016 / 80 min.
section: First Lights
Czech 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
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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