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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Backstage Action

director: Sanaz Azari
original title: Faites sortir les figurants
country: Belgium
year: 2018
running time: 61 min.

synopsis

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 

biography

Sanaz Azari (1981) is originally from Iran, but has lived in Brussels since she was a child. She studied photography and stage design at La Cambre. During her studies, she took part in a theater course focusing on the Stanislavsky method. Since 2010, she has also focused on documentaries. Her debut film was Salaam Isfahan. A frequent topic of her films is her native Iran. 

more about film

director: Sanaz Azari
producer: Isabelle Truc
script: Sanaz Azari
photography: Johan Legraie, Pierre Choqueux, Vincent Pinckaers, Artur Castro Freire
editing: Simon Arazi, Annick Ghijzelings
music: Pierre Dozin, Frederic Becker
sound: Bruno Schweisguth, Fred Meert, Vincent Nouaille, Zied Mokaddem, Cosmas Antoniadis, Fabrice Osinski, Nicolas Dennefeld

other films in the section

Passion - Between Revolt and Resignation
Deeply personal and openly political, this documentary chronicles the life of activist Christian Labhart who was framed by Bach's oratorio of Matthew's Passion. The film presents a bitter testimony of the futile waiting for major social change, as well as the personified history of anti-establishment activism. A monologue recapitulating the director's life since 1968 across major historical events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 9/11 attacks has been interwoven with quotes from left-wing thinkers from Bertolt Brecht to Slavoj Žižek. Newly shot footage illustrates how their warning theses are gradually being fulfilled in a contemporary public space.Fifty years ago I began to fight for a better world. Now I switch between revolt and resignation. With these feelings I began a cinematic trip through the jungle of today’s capitalism. Ch. Labhart
personal program

Passion - Between Revolt and Resignation

Christian Labhart
Switzerland / 2019 / 80 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Covered with the Blood of Jesus
For Richard, life is an unending cyclical journey to scratch out a living. Fetch water, take diesel from the pipeline, try to sell it by the side of the road, go to school, study in the dorm, fetch water again. If he wants to reach his goal – to get his education and use it to break out of the vicious circle of his life – he can’t stop. In a lively observation, the film director brings us closer to the life of poor Africans in the Niger River Delta. Close to natural heritage of enormous value, a huge agglomeration of residents suffers, to whom massive oil extraction that brutally destroys the environment brings only meagre extra income.DETAIL:“We are taking our oil, we are not stealing, it’s in our village. Europeans are enriching themselves with our resources and leaving us in extreme poverty. The entire world is benefiting from Nigeria but we don’t have access to it...”

Covered with the Blood of Jesus

Tommaso Cotronei
Nigeria, Italy / 2015 / 72 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World 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
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
Talks with TGM
Another contribution to the specific subgenre of animated history by the scriptwriter Pavel Kosatík. On 26 September 1928, Karel Čapek and President Masaryk meet in the gardens of Topolčianky castle to decide about the fate of their joint literary work. Their fiction film dialogue is based on quotes from a future book and their mutual correspondence, considerably freeing the original format of literary conversation from binding conventions. Čapek and Masaryk reproach and offend each other, but they also ask key personal questions and questions about the social functions of a writer and politician respectively.“It’s a film about two extraordinary men; it’s about the fact that emotions can be sometimes more powerful than ideas even in such exceptional people.” J. Červenka

Talks with TGM

Jakub Červenka
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2018 / 80 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
TERRA NULLIUS or: How to be a Nationalist
Even uninhabited archipelagos may be subject to drawn out territorial disputes if they are rich in oil deposits. However, the filmmaker is more concerned with how ownership issues reverberate amongst nationalists in competing countries rather than in the history of the dispute or its resolution, making it possible to present the patriotic pathos-soaked ceremonies of the Japanese, the efforts of Chinese authorities to complicate diversionary activities, and the expressive protests and bizarre rituals of Taiwanese activists. The desire to understand the situation leads the director to participate in several futile attempts to land on the islands. Although he finds himself on the frontline during an escalation in the conflict, he is able to maintain his distance as an impartial observer.DETAIL:“I´m an American by birth, and a Taiwanese and a Chinese by blood. This blood is ideological. For me, and for the long dead philosopher Bishop Berkeley, to be is to be perceived.”

TERRA NULLIUS or: How to be a Nationalist

James T. Hong
China, Taiwan, Japan / 2015 / 78 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
The Room of Bones
A poorly equipped and underpaid team of forensic anthropologists is sent to study the countless mass graves in El Salvador, trying to identify the victims using fragments of bodies. Desperate mothers go for DNA tests in the hope of being able to bury the bones of their sons and daughters. Shot in muted colors and with muted emotions, this film on the search for physical and metaphysical remains uncovers the unprecedentedly brutal history of this small Central American country. The impossibility of resolving the local situation is illustrated by the film’s central metaphor hidden in its title: El Salvador is like a closet overflowing with bones, too small for this much death.DETAIL:“How many go into each grave?” “If they’re fat, four. Otherwise, five. If they’re smaller, we fit in six to eight.”

The Room of Bones

Marcela Zamora
El Salvador, Mexico / 2015 / 61 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
Albâtre
Liquid landscapes, each one absorbed into the next, transform the screen into a painter’s canvas. The digital decomposition of images in live interaction with Carlos Grätzer’s music draw attention to the permeability between traditional and abstract painting as well as to the harmony between the fine arts, film, and music. Shots evoking Monet’s Impression, Sunrise, or Renoir’s secluded forest corners, break apart into a raster pattern and are transformed into a shapeless mass of colors that then grow into a new composition. While the impressionists depicted a static moment, Perconte captures a moment that is in constant motion."Albâtre reflects the desire I had to express the energy of this very special part of France where everywhere the wind carries the sea, where nothing is stable, and where I love so much to film: the coast of Upper Normandy between Le Havre and Dieppe." J. Perconte

Albâtre

Jacques Perconte
France / 2018 / 41 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Taego Ãwa
Tutawa Tuagaek, the ageing leader of the Ãwa, a Brazilian indigenous tribe, is one of the last survivors of the 1973 massacre of Indians in the Amazon jungle. This team of filmmaker-ethnographers records his everyday life in the company of young followers, to whom he is trying to pass on his experiences. The Indian community’s everyday rituals are contrasted with found photographs and video clips that offer rare evidence of the atrocities that Tutawa recounts. Different epochs and visual formats create a continuum that reveals the traumatic history of an oppressed people who have managed to survive despite all odds."The imagination is not only mediator between understanding and sensibility, it has its own dynamism, scheme free, organized bodies, constituted individuals, fixed identities, consolidated psyches."

Taego Ãwa

Henrique Borela, Marcela Borela
Brazil / 2016 / 75 min.
section: Opus Bonum
East European Premiere
Once More unto the Breach
Because of his Russian origins, Italian soldier Romano Isman is called to the front to act as a military interrogator and translator for the fascist bigwigs and the local population. Isman’s narrative mixes a detailed description of the horrors of war and historical testimony with a lyrical disillusioned contemplation on the insignifi cance of the individual in the midst of war. The filmmaker creates a contrast between historicized illustrative images accompanying the narration of the protagonist and images of modern Ukraine and Russia, which to this day are still dealing with the despair and frustration caused by the events of the twentieth century. “Il varco combines found footage of different origins. it's a fictional story populated by presences: ghosts wandering in the Ukrainian steppe, echoes of bloody pasts, and wars still being fought today.” M. Manzolini, F. Ferrone
personal program

Once More unto the Breach

Michele Manzolini, Federico Ferrone
Italy / 2019 / 70 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Wind Shaped Rocks
What starts out as a calm, observational record from an excursion boat filled with Taiwanese tourists admiring glaciers, soon turns into a frenzied – in places almost hallucinogenic – series of bizarre events after a black hole appears in the sky. Shots of the tourists alternate with views of horses grazing in a snowy landscape, a couple in a hotel room, and a group of young people digging film strips out of a garbage can. From the start, the viewer searches for the key to this random sequence of wordless scenes, trying to keep pace with the rapid, sometimes even stroboscopic montage of juxtaposed shots, which is slowed down with contemplative views of monstrous icebergs. "Glaciers exist before/after human time-space. History is obsolete since self-representation democratized. This is a love story between users of a cybernetic system. Life is nonlinear inside a rhizome." E. Makoszay

Wind Shaped Rocks

Eduardo Makoszay
Mexico / 2017 / 44 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?
In 1946, S.E. Branch clearly shot Bill Spann, a black man, in Alabama. One story of many, it can be said, but this time it’s being unraveled by the great-nephew of the murderer through this political and aesthetically distinctive film essay. During the investigation, he constantly ran in to obstacles, due not only to the prevailing racism, but also the inevitable reflection of his own connection with history. A montage of black and white memories of places, endless drives through red sunsets, and agitating tunes brings the work together in the best southern Gothic tradition, in which “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” (W. Faulkner)„This time I offered my love and my labor to a film that I wished somehow to be corrective. A film about the worst of my family.” T. Wilkerson

Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?

Travis Wilkerson
United States / 2017 / 90 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
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Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
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