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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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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

The Lust for Power
In recent Slovak history, there’s hardly a more significant figure than Vladimír Mečiar. Director Tereza Nvotová approaches him from several different directions. One is an interview that she conducted with him directly, another is his narrative monologue that presents Slovak history against the backdrop of his own family history, and finally through archival images of Mečiar’s public appearances in the media. Her film, accompanied by aerial images of the Slovak landscape as it appears today, poses the question of what Mečiar meant for the her generation, for society at the time, and for Slovakia in general. “When I was 10-years-old, we´d make believe that we were E. T., Winnetou or Mečiar. Now I want to find out who he really was and what he has done to us and to our country because now I see the same story playing out all over the world.“ T. NvotováThe film is being screened in cooperation with the Representation of the European Commission in the Czech Republic.

The Lust for Power

Tereza Nvotova
Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2017 / 89 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World 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
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
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
Flesh Memory
Finley Blake supports herself by performing live online erotic webcam shows. Because of this, her young son was taken from her and she is desperately trying to get him back. She is 33 years old and alone, with only her cat and the rats that inhabit her house in Austin, Texas. The film captures several ordinary days of her life – days in which she is so terribly alone yet still surrounded by people. She lives her life through computer monitors, isolated from the outside world. Although this is an observational documentary, its composition, often alternating image sizes, helps make the film’s pace even more dynamic. "Title came first. I was showering when I decided I would, one day, make a movie called Flesh Memory, about eroticism and the Internet. Then I met Finley. And everything suddenly made sense. Best ideas always pop up in the shower, don’t they?" J. Goldberg

Flesh Memory

Jacky Goldberg
France / 2018 / 60 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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
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
Sea Tomorrow
This observational documentary examines the disappearance of the Aral Sea and attempts at its restoration. At the location where the majority of maps and atlases show a large, majestic body of water, Katerina Suvorova finds only a largish pond and an arid wasteland, filled with the rusting remnants of wrecks waiting for scrap metal collectors. Shots of the enigmatic landscape, consisting of endless expanses of sand and dust, are alternated with captivating details. Just as fascinating is the strong will and faith of the people who have stayed in this inhospitable environment, such as old gardener, fishermen, and a hydrobiologist. They hope that the sea will return, they are fighting to save it, and they all hope for a better tomorrow. “I see people of the Aral region as a collective image of the last survivors on Earth. Their stories prove that even when the last shuttle abandons our racked planet, there will be people who stay and prefer correction of errors of the past to uncertainty of the future.” Katerina Suvorova

Sea Tomorrow

Yekaterina Suvorova
Kazakhstan, Germany / 2015 / 88 min.
section: First Lights
East European Premiere
Expectant
If we look up the word "expectante" in a Spanish-English dictionary, we learn it is an adjective which can be translated as “expecting” or “biding one's time”. It is no accident this single-word title belongs to an disconcerting Peruvian film which takes its audience to a darkened city where a group of friends is spending an evening of leisure. Even though the neighborhood they live in is a relatively safe one, their locked doors and gates provide no more than an illusion of safety, which is a thought applicable world wide. The distant black-and-white camera through which the audience observes the plot seems to be biding its time for a chance to attack."I think cinema is about creating sensations and reaching out to a personal language as a way to manifest our vision as individuals." F. Rodriguez Rivero

Expectant

Farid Rodriguez Rivero
Peru, Portugal / 2018 / 77 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Aftermath
A heterogeneous tetralogy of personal profiles brings together four individuals from different corners of the world of art – pianist and entertainer Fats Waller, painter Jackson Pollock, photographer Janieta Eyre, and painter Frida Kahlo. The ambient collage of turbulent social conditions is infused with intimate moments of artistic immersion. Hypnotic images vibrate with a captivating approach to the subjects’ individual lives. Hoolboom combines documentary footage and re-enactments with experimental collage. Sped-up footage, weightlessly floating cameras, VR, found footage, the patina of 16mm films – all of them tools for redefining the genre of cinematic portrait.„The movie poses this question: how to survive in the aftermath, of the state, of the state of your family, of your body. Artist examples are offered. Perhaps only in the act of doubling, in a crowd scene, can I find this thing I call myself.“ M. Hoolboom

Aftermath

Mike Hoolboom
Canada / 2018 / 75 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
Entrance to the End
A dark psycho-ethnographic journey of Maria von Hausswolff and Anne Gry F. Kristensen into the depths of the jungle of the human subconsciousness. The footage from the Panama rainforest was shot on 16mm and all sound was recorded on cassette tapes. The film is a subconscious reaction to Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust, an ultraviolent Italian film from the 1970s, as well as to all romanticizing depictions of nature as a place of harmony which is in balance with both itself and its inhabitants. Balancing between imagination and reality, this work is on of the most uncompromising films at this year's festival."The film is a mysterious poem-like journey through an eerie jungle where the viewer get to meet all kinds of creatures and spirits, living and dead. It's shot on a 16mm bolex camera accompanied by sounds recorded on analogue tapes.“ M. Von Hausswolff, A. G. Friis Kristensen 

Entrance to the End

Anne Gry Friis Kristensen, Maria Von Hausswolff
Denmark, Sweden / 2018 / 33 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
Aktuálně.cz
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