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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

Ettrick
This visually captivating observational documentary of Scotland offers not only images of the rugged landscape, meadows, extensive forests and windmills, but also a detailed study of the meticulous handiwork completed at the local textile mill. Through exploring the nature of the digital record that captures the shape of the landscape, the film identifies images that reflect local everyday life. The physical movement through the area is also a journey into the imagery, which gradually disintegrates into particles of colour and shifting surfaces, subsequently reassembling back into the contours that change as a result of weather and time. Through the emphasis placed on colours and flow in calm compositions, the symbols of the traditional life in the region are revealed.DETAIL:“I shot the film three years long in Scotland. The path we drive leads to the heart of the Ettrick Forest, a dive into a textile world. A land where man, machinery and nature deal with a complex relationship that draws their future.” Jacques Perconte

Ettrick

Jacques Perconte
France / 2015 / 57 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European Premiere
Collapse
The basic motif of this experimental film – collapse – is found on both the personal and the societal level. This 10-year filmmaking effort was inspired by one of the directors’ fears that his second child will be born with Down Syndrome. His documentary work with mentally handicapped children helps him come to terms with his sense of guilt. He combines introspection with his activism against evicting people from houses slated for demolition because of urban renewal. The theme of collapse also makes it into the film’s form – it overturns traditional documentary approaches and makes room for an evocative experimentation with real and virtual images.DETAIL:“He could not dare tell anyone how he wanted the child aborted… And the day when he was waiting for the child’s birth in front of the delivery room he said his face full of fear seen in the full-body mirror was abominating.”

Collapse

Jeong-hyun Mun, Won-woo Lee
South Korea / 2014 / 78 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
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
The Road Back
The Road Back is a documentary journey to a time and place that have long been considered lost. The main character tries to find a lost village near a former international railway line where his recently deceased mother spent her youth. The past merges with the present as the filmmaker mixes archival films and close-ups of nature with old photographs. In fact, this blending of two media with different relationships to time forms the basis for discovering not only the relicts of the past that lie hidden beneath layers of contemporary phenomena, but also the unstoppable flow of seemingly unchanging time.“The Road Back incorporates the characteristics of home videos in narrative schemes. In the hope to create a personified and intimate film, based on the directness of home video.”

The Road Back

Wouters Maurits
Belgium / 2016 / 31 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
The Life and Death of Oscar Pérez
Óscar Alberto Pérez (1981-2018) was a Venezuelan policeman who, after Nicolás Maduro had been sworn in as president, became an active opponent of his regime. In June 2017, he attacked the Supreme Court of Justice from a helicopter. In January 2018, the Venezuelan national guard tracked him down, and although he gave up to them, shot him dead along with five other rebels. The film is his traditional portrait sketched out as a pattern edited documentary with Pérez himself having taken part in its making. Actually, all audiovisual material that the editor Romain Champalaune composed the film of comes from Pérez’s profiles on social networks. “Oscar Perez's story tells about the desperation in today's Venezuela but also questions our era. It reflects on our incapacity to change things in a complex world where social medias predominate.” R. Champalaune   
personal program

The Life and Death of Oscar Pérez

Romain Champalaune
France / 2018 / 45 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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
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
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
Skokan
Director Petr Václav calls Skokan a documentary film with fairy-tale aspects, mainly because of its emphasis on authenticity in telling the fictional tale of a Romani recidivist in search of career opportunities at the Cannes film festival. The main character is played a by real ex-con, Julius Oračko, whom the filmmakers got out of prison on parole shortly before the start of filming. The film was shot with just a rough script, which was fine-tuned on the set. The scenes from Cannes were shot during the festival. The ending, which recalls the liberation of an enchanted princess, again feels like a fairy tale.“We improvised most of the scenes during filming – we used the places we were able to get into and the light that was available. Above all, I tried to capture the experiences of the main character,” P. Václav

Skokan

Petr Václav
Czech Republic, France / 2017 / 93 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
Shahrzaad's Tale
In the 1960s and ’70s, actress, director, dancer, and poet Kobra Amin-Sa’idi, who performed under the pseudonym Shahrzaad, was a leading figure of the Iranian New Wave and a symbol of the struggle for social change. Following the 1979 revolution, however, she was forced into seclusion and today just barely manages to scrape by. Parhami’s film is not a typical documentary portrait, but a moving meditative work in which the filmmaker is open about his interventions in the film and in which he makes room for a group of young female protagonists to hold their own interviews with the famous artist. Her emotional responses are not filled with resignation, but are a call for more engagement.DETAIL:“So she became like herselfHardly fit into her own skinDust covers her faceAs it might a stoneInscribed with a legend,and her tale passed heart to heart...”

Shahrzaad's Tale

Shahin Parhami
Canada / 2015 / 129 min.
section: Opus Bonum
European Premiere
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