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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

ji-hlavadok-revuecdfEmerging producersInspiration Forum
A Distant Echo

A Distant Echo

director: George Clark
original title: A Distant Echo
country: United Kingdom, United States
year: 2016
running time: 82 min.

synopsis

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.”

biography

George Clark (1982) is a British artist and curator. In his film projects, he tries to combine these two areas of activity in order to explore the history of images and how they are rooted in cultural, technological, or social circumstances. His more recent efforts include the short film Sea of Clouds (2016) and the audiovisual lecture On the Planter’s Art (2016), in which he explores the relationship between film, maps, and gardening.

more about film

director: George Clark
cast: Stuart Baxter, John Clark, Michael Parkinson, John Smith, Ivan Smith, Jasmine Ellis
producer: George Clark
photography: George Clark
music: Tom Challenger

other films in the section

Noiseless, Desert Extras
Since the dawn of cinematography, the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate has been a lively center where extras for films with an Arabic theme are found in abundance. This poetic documentary, intentionally using acknowledged staging, shows how the electrifying energy of film flows through the local population. In this “game for real”, the filmmakers deconstruct film as an imitation of life, but one that becomes more than real for the interviewed film extras. This story presents the totality of moving images from a location where you would definitely never look for it."We are concerned about ideologies and fantasies that shape singular communities. In Noiseless we decided to build pictures with the extras of Ouarzazate to reflect on cinema's illusions." G. Lepore, Maciek and Michał Madracki

Noiseless, Desert Extras

Michał Mądracki, Maciej Madracki, Gilles Lepore
Poland, France, Morocco / 2017 / 64 min.
section: First Lights
European Premiere
Things We Do Not Say
A video diary by a young Iranian actress, intended for her boyfriend living in exile. A lament of dashed hopes from the contested 2009 presidential elections, which were followed by the largest protests since the Islamic revolution. The filmmaker stages a parallel eight-year-old reality – the pre-election ecstasy is framed by an incomplete rehearsal of Macbeth. We relive situations that cannot be changed and that deeply resonate with the motif of coming to terms with reality. The actor’s hopeless gesture is balanced by a call for resisting totalitarianism and by an homage to the victims of the autocratic regime. The feverish atmosphere of the elections is muffled by the skepticism of the main protagonists – they, too, were once young and naive."Is there a void from which the sense emerges? Can we fill the emptiness by a reality, our own reality? The images that we remember, are they the same images, or reflections of those images?" A. Razi

Things We Do Not Say

Ali Razi
Iran, France / 2018 / 52 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Dopamina
The filmmaker’s family falls into crisis when her father is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease – a condition in which the brain stops producing dopamine, the hormone responsible for muscle movement and happiness. At the same time, Natalia is coming out to her parents, former left-wing social activists, something for which they have no understanding. In her intimate and contemplative film, the director interviews her relatives about their life stories and, through an intergenerational dialogue, tries to reach a mutual respect and family harmony that could help her sick father. “Making films is my way of experiencing the world, the most organic form of inhabiting it that I have ever felt. Dopamine, my first feature film, was a necessity and a beautiful exorcism.” N. Imery Almario 
personal program

Dopamina

Natalia Imery Almario
Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina / 2019 / 87 min.
section: First Lights
World Premiere
Dead Slow Ahead
A freighter sails through a barren seascape. Apparently drifting aimlessly. Apparently? A highly enigmatic allegory of the isolation of man and machine in a post-industrial capitalist society, which is as close to techno-pessimistic sci-fi as it is to romantic painting. This story, consisting almost exclusively of the landscape, the movements of workers and machinery, and the ship itself, uses a highly aesthetic style to put across the impression of absolute desolation and disconcertion. The sedative rhythm pulls the viewer into a completely new, unknown world. Bit by bit we come to a realisation and start to ask: is this the last ship of humanity, burdened with the difficult task of keeping in motion that which has long stopped making sense?DETAIL:“Is anybody listening? An entire river is entering through the keel. There’s a lot. The water is reaching the storage tanks. Roger! Roger! Attention! The wheat is getting wet. The wheat. Sir, this is a disaster!”

Dead Slow Ahead

Mauro Herce
Spain, France / 2015 / 74 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European 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
Things
In this crystalline ambient minimalist film, scenes of an unmade bed slowly alternate with windshield wipers in the rain and a glass of water with sunlight streaming through it. The camera gently touches objects and phenomena of everyday reality. The images are not accompanied by commentary – only in places can we hear the recorded “voice” of things and their surroundings. The viewer’s attention is unavoidably drawn to the texture of image and sound. Shapes, colours, light, background noise, and tones of the environment are fundamental elements that build the atmosphere of the moments from which the film is woven.

Things

Thomas A. Østbye
Norway / 2015 / 48 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
You Can Just Learn It
On their path to economic prosperity, Singaporeans have had to give up certain traditions and even their own particular Chinese dialect. Today, the youth of Singapore travel around the word speaking standard Chinese and English and, in general, taking advantage of all the benefits that globalisation has brought. At the same time, within their grandparents’ generation the continuity of previous eras continues to linger on. The film’s director goes against time and current trends when she asks her grandmother to teach her how to prepare a traditional dish – chicken and rice. In this minimalist documentary, which is filmed primarily in the kitchen, we inadvertently also find out many details of Singapore’s cultural history.DETAIL:“Why do you think this way?” “Because I am about to die, and I don’t have interest in anything. It’s true, I don’t have interest in anything. When there is no more strength in my heart, I stop caring about much.”

You Can Just Learn It

Abigail Han
Singapore, United States / 2015 / 29 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
Everything´s Gonna Be Fine
Producer Čestmír Kopecký had originally wanted to make a film about the changing face of Brno, but in the end director Robin Kvapil and co-writer Pavel Šplíchal created something more closely resembling Šplíchal’s ironic blog Prigl. In their “lovingly anarchistic” film, Brno forms the epicentre of a sarcastic look at Czech society. The naive and vacuous communist-era documentary with which Kvapil’s film opens gives way to the reporter’s bitter monologues right in front of the camera. These are intercut with acted sequences featuring Brno’s political elites, artists, and outcasts.“People say that Brno is the only joke that is inhabitable. The entire film follows this logic.” R. Kvapil

Everything´s Gonna Be Fine

Robin Kvapil
Czech Republic / 2017 / 71 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
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
In Praise of Nothing
“A whistleblowing documentary parody about Nothing.” That is how the filmmakers describe In Praise of Nothing. In fact, Nothing is the only protagonist of this essay-like film. An ironic and unflinchingly critical monologue, delivered in simple rhymes and with the voice of Iggy Pop, accompanied by captivating and succinctly expressive footage shot by several dozen people all over the world with the assignment to “shoot nothing.” „A cinematic equivalent to Erasmus’s humanistic classic In Praise of Folly, in which Folly goes around the world arguing it is smarter to be mad than smart. 500 years later, it is Nothing who gets the main role.“ B. Mitić

In Praise of Nothing

Boris Mitic
Serbia, Croatia, France / 2017 / 78 min.
section: First Lights
Central European Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
Aktuálně.cz
Respekt