25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival
Of Land and Bread
director: Ehab Tarabieh
original title: Of Land and Bread
running time: 88 min.
The nonprofit B´Tselem organization documents the violation of human rights in Jordan’s West Bank. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers, it has collected thousands of hours of video records capturing the everyday hardships of Palestinians who are tormented by the Israeli army, the police, and even ordinary civilians. Amateurly filmed night raids and daily hardships provide a vivid narrative about injustice, helplessness and violence in the Israeli-occupied territories. The hand-held camera, which is the only weapon the volunteers use, creates a raw, aesthetically unadorned image of a world where people are deprived of their land, their privacy, a carefree childhood, and even a dignified death.
“It is a story of a vulnerable life, with no political rights or the right to protest, a life on the receiving end of the project of dispossession of land and resources which is the Israeli occupation.” E. Tarabien
Ehab Tarabien (1982) was born in Syria, where he studied violin at the academy of music. He then moved to the Czech Republic for a while and devoted himself to filmmaking. In 2010, he started working at the B´Tselem Centre and coordinated the shooting of an amateur film about the violation of human rights and freedoms under the Israeli occupation. He has already used some of this material once for his short film Smile, and the World Will Smile Back (2014), which premiered at Berlinale.
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other films in the section
In an abandoned industrial zone at the foot of the Austrian Alps, a Nigerian mechanic lives and works by dismantling old cars and selling their individual parts, mainly to Eastern Europe and Africa. The documentary captures him during his work and while taking meditative breaks with a cigarette overlooking Erzberg Mountain, where iron ore has been mined since ancient Rome. The hero's isolated microcosm is observed at the very edge of economic activity, yet it is inextricably linked to global economic relations in Europe and Africa, the mining of resources, and the exploitation of profits.
Movements of a Nearby Mountain
Austria, France / 2019 / 85 min.
A grandmother, a granddaughter and a dog. A path leading up to dying. Several timeless moments from the life of a sick woman enriched by the presence of a filmmaker granddaughter who captures the transient quality of life events and the gentleness of giving farewells through film. Behind closed doors, simple conversations, routine actions (a dinner) and handing over of experience (gutting the pig’s head) unwind. The acuteness of fleeting moments is augmented by the dog’s view. The projection of final moments in life captured by the eyes of the camera that of a devoted pet. An intimate balance of losses in one’s life laid out on a ground plan of a family tri-portrait.
The Dog's Eye
France, Belgium / 2019 / 37 min.
Streaming has become an unprecedented hit in China with a commercial value in the billions. In 2017, more than 427 million people could not get by without sharing the details of their pre-camera privacy. Whether it be an incompetent street dancer, an adult man suffering from a genetic disorder that makes him look like a child, or a slacker working in an underwear factory. The director watched dozens of these “newsmakers” and from more than 800 hours of absolute mundanity, she put together a remarkable collective portrait of a generation for whom offline and online worlds are inextricably linked, showing a fascinating testimony about the pursuit of rapid success and the loneliness and mere killing of time.
United States, Hong Kong SAR China / 2019 / 124 min.
East European Premiere
In eastern Nepal, the sacred mountain Janna looms at 7000m tall. The top of Janna is considered the seat of gods and demons. It is said that whoever tries to humble her will pay for it with his life. Under the mountain lies the village where Ngada Sherpa lives with his family. One of the most reliable mountain carriers in the area, he is struggling with poverty. Nevertheless, he is determined to pay for his son to attend medical school. He therefore decides to break the taboo and accompany a climbing expedition to the summit of Janna. He hopes the gods will be merciful to him. The majestic mountain scenery becomes the set for a drama about a man tempting the elements and his own religious beliefs. “People are often guided by emotions, and in the mountains it’s even more pronounced. Over there, we are who we are. Everything is black and white. Only here in the lowlands do we have many shades of grey.” E. Kubarska Q&A with Eliza Kubarska:
The Wall of Shadows
Poland, Germany, Switzerland / 2020 / 94 min.
“Krāslava Bridge is the first bridge over the river Daugava in the territory of Latvia — a gate for the Daugava river from Belarus to Latvia” says the opening title of the film in which a strategically built and historically significant construction holds a number of different meanings. An analytical documentary immortalised in a series of suggestive, black-and-white, static shots and sounds brings us closer to the life of the bridge in all its heaviness and lightness from various angles: through the eternally flowing river it arches over, we witness the endless movement of car traffic and pedestrians walking between two river banks as well as the call of the wild within close proximity to the manifestations of human civilisation, for which it serves as a symbolic backdrop. "The special thing about the documentary is the fact that we shot it on the leftovers of a 21-year-old 35mm negative. And it really worked. It looks great.” L. Pakalniņa
The First Bridge
Latvia / 2020 / 11 min.
Mikel, director of the film, along with the protagonist Mathias, are childhood friends, nevertheless due to the time that has elapsed, the former finds that he knows hardly anything about the latter. The mad circumstances leading up to a fatal twist in their lives makes them shoot a documentary reconstruction about the process that turns into a very personal portrayal of a man who was made to live a double life against his will, the border between each one of them being as thin as a line drawn between victim and perpetrator in a ruthless criminal underworld. More than to the criminal plot though, attention is turned to stubborn attempts of a person dragged down by a spiral of serious problems while being able to wear a mask of seemingly happy and steady life.
Mikel Cee Karlsson
Sweden, Finland / 2019 / 99 min.
East European Premiere
The narrator of the film is Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela. The film portrait captures his career from the 1980s to the present day using the footage of fashion shows and comments by Margiela’s close collaborators. The most important part of the film, however, is the designer, his voice and participation in the film. Margiela is known for his introversion; he does not let anyone photograph or interview him. When he does speak, he never speaks for himself but always on behalf of a collective. The film respects his approach and gives him a voice, not a face; we can see only his hands – the instruments of his imagination. “My documentary work is very personal and intimate in many ways, and what I want to achieve is to discreetly communicate these elements to the audience.” R. Holzemer
Martin Margiela: In His Own Words
Germany, Belgium / 2019 / 90 min.
East European Premiere
Right from its opening line: “Not everything in this story is true”, the film can be seen as a playful application of deductive reasoning often found in crime fiction. Somewhere at a landfill site where you can allegedly get the best views of the Adriatic sea, a middle-aged man comes across a microcassette and begins to deduce who could have made such a recording and for what reason based on the cassette’s simple label description. Accompanied by an essential Balkan brass band and with the help of animation by Ivana Pipal, the man begins to piece together a caricature image of this mystery person’s life and love story, which most likely never even happened. But whatever the case may be, this story will continue to be recycled. „I think local love is a good thing, to understand your surroundings. It’s when patriotic feelings start to lead to exclusion and neighborly tensions that it becomes dangerous.“ I. Bezinović Q&A Igor Bezinović and Ivana Pipal:
Microcassette - The Smallest Cassette I've Ever Seen
Ivana Pipal, Igor Bezinović
Croatia, Serbia / 2020 / 19 min.
A documentary portrait of the Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa is a contemporary audiovisual reflection on the meanings that objects, locations and sounds in films carry. The filmography of the director of films such as House of Lava, Bones, In Vanda’s Room, and Colossal Youth is explored using not only his own words and clips from his movie trailers, but also a melancholic atmosphere and experiments with image and sound. Despite occasional glimpses into Costa’s office, he remains an enigmatic personality, which we know only through his work and creative processes. How he thinks, what he feels, and how he lives must be derived from his work.
Portugal / 2019 / 65 min.
The Argentine Ministry of Justice encouraged research resulting in a thousand-page report on crimes against humanity committed during the military dictatorship in 1976–1983. The generally not very well-known content of the report can be heard from the mouth of the director who reads it in his car parked in front of twenty-five, mostly still functioning companies that used to denounce trade unionists and left-wing workers in exchange for their own profit. Illustratively brings evidence of thousands of missing people, hundreds of murders and countless cases of torture caused and links between dictatorship and capitalism. „The ruling paradigm in Argentine justice focused within the State itself, and not outside of it.“ J. Perel
Argentina / 2020 / 68 min.
An ageing beekeeper in the rural Macedonian mountains strives to maintain the tradition of honest, environmentally friendly beekeeping. Her quiet everyday life – caring for the colony and selling honey in a nearby town, the untiring care of her mother, living off their farm without electricity – is interrupted by the arrival of nomadic beekeepers, who perceive nature primarily as an opportunity for profit, a way to break free from their poverty. The filmmakers spent three years with the heroine of the film, shooting over four hundred hours of material which became the basis of this melancholy environmental appeal, lyrically depicting the immaculate beauty of nature.
Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska
Macedonia / 2019 / 85 min.
Multi-talented artist and Czech native Jiří Synek (1921-2017), known to readers as František Listopad, spent most of his life in Portugal, where he performed under the name Jorge. He was a poet, translator, theater and film director, organizer, and teacher, and as such had a large influence on Portuguese cultural life. He had a significant role in building the Portuguese television and film school. He also wrote continuously, and his poems and prose are an exceptional testimony to the melancholy of exile. The documentary contains revealing archival recordings and poetic sequences, presenting Listopad through his ideas and life philosophy.
Four Seasons and Autumn
Pedro Sena Nunes
Portugal / 2018 / 90 min.
Central European Premiere