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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Notes from Unknown Maladies
Notes from Unknown Maladies
Notes from Unknown Maladies
Notes from Unknown Maladies

Notes from Unknown Maladies

director: Liryc Dela Cruz
original title: Notes from Unknown Maladies
country: Philippines
year: 2017
running time: 62 min.

synopsis

A minimalist observational portrait of 94-year-old Concepcion presents the life of a person suffering with mental illness for fifty years. After a nervous breakdown, the filmmaker’s grandmother decided to isolate from the rest of the world and deal with the disease itself. In her solitude she is haunted with random memories, hallucinations, and gradually begins to face loss of memory and intellect. A black-and-white film steeped in a melancholic mood sensitively captures the themes of old age, disease and human loneliness. The slow pace and limited dialogue helps the viewer to transcend the world of a suffering single woman in a discreet and highly suggestive manner. 

"Dear Grandma, If you will see me lost in the unknown one day, please remind me about the suffering and memory of our nation. Only history and truth can save my fragile heart." L. P. Dela Cruz

biography

Liryc Paolo Dela Cruz (1992) is a Filipino film director, screenwriter and producer. He is the creator of several short films that are thematically related to his origins, history, and personal psychology. He often collaborates with the Philippine independent filmmaker Lavey Diaz and is considered one of the representatives of the slow cinema movement. In his contemplative films, he uses long minimalistic shots, without either a story or dialogue.

more about film

director: Liryc Dela Cruz
cast: Concepcion Dela Cruz
producer: Liryc Dela Cruz
photography: Liryc Dela Cruz
editing: Liryc Dela Cruz, Mickel Mendoza

other films in the section

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
Katyusha: Rocket Launchers, Folk Songs, and Ethnographic Refrains
What is the effect of an overheard melody, especially when it sounds almost painfully familiar? In a house full of personal photographs and to the sound of a barrel-organ melody, the film’s director explores the history of her family, which was forced to flee from the Soviet Union before the Second World War. This experimental anthropological film is a mediation on the shared experience of song and the phenomenon of memories associated with popular melodies. As if fired from the eponymous rocket launcher, the artificial folk song Katyusha soared through civilizational skies to become the soundtrack of more than a few human tragedies.“Conflating years of research, archival digging, and excerpts from familial, institutional, and other collections, Katyusha is an experimental documentary that ruminates on the circulation and constructions of cultural memory and national(ist) narratives.” 

Katyusha: Rocket Launchers, Folk Songs, and Ethnographic Refrains

Kandis Friesen
Canada / 2016 / 38 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
A Long Farewell
After years of negotiations, a complex of apartment buildings on the edge of Seoul is heading inexorably for destruction. With the demolition impending, the residents of the buildings slated for destruction try to express what this place means to them. Raya Kim’s minimalist documentary is not built on an apocalyptic mood or kitschy sentiment, but is rather precisely presented in the contrasts between image and sound. Static shots of homes and the surrounding landscape present a portrait of a quiet, seemingly undisturbed everyday life, while detached voices of observers recount their often-dramatic personal experiences, not hiding the uncertainty of what comes next. „What do the actual residents think about the houses scheduled for reconstruction? As with all homes, there are many different forms of time and love.” R. Kim

A Long Farewell

Raya Kim
South Korea / 2017 / 72 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
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
Appunti del passaggio
The 1960s saw a large wave of immigration from Italy to Switzerland, which was infamously accompanied by hurdles thrown up against this new workforce. Meditative static images reveal the places, the landscape, and the border between the countries that are a part of this story. Photographs and an intermezzo consisting of the reading of poems inspired by the diaspora add an emotional element. The notes of a young woman read as voiceover give the documentary a multilayered narrative that tells the story of the collective memory of a group of economic migrants and their working conditions, exploitation, and loss of dignity. “By critically examining the merging of political power and cinema, as well as various ‘aesthetics of reality’, the project proposes a convergence of past and present to question history through (hi)stories of migration, architecture and cinema.”

Appunti del passaggio

Maria Iorio, Raphaël Cuomo
Italy, Switzerland / 2016 / 43 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International 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
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
14 Homicides
The state of Utah has very broad definitions of when a police officer can use a weapon on duty. Last year, 14 controversial deaths were caused by the police. This documentary, based on traditional film structure, is made up of 14 two-minute static shots of the crime scenes. The soundtrack consists of recited texts made up of interrogation reports and the responses of people close to the victims. The objective communication sharply contrasts with the tragic incidents. The fixed camera view becomes a sad reminder of a fatal incident which paradoxically most authorities consider to be justified.DETAIL:An attorney for the Hunt family says they don't believe Darian attacked officers with the toy sword. He also stated that he was a harmless and innocent young man who was drawn into an incident provoked by the police.

14 Homicides

Jona Gerlach
United States / 2015 / 34 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
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
China, 87. The Others
We follow the film journey of director Viollaine de Villers and traveller Jean-Pierre Outers around the Chinese interior during the late 1980s. In a fragmented sequence of archival shots, vignettes of local culture gradually emerge, including everyday work, leisure time moments, and reflections of ancient myths. But it’s not just another of the countless travel documentaries or urban symphonies, but rather a suggestive video essay. The VHS camera becomes a fully-fledged historiographical medium through which foreign culture is revealed in all its myriad facets without crystallizing it into a comfortably consumable image„Welcome to China, freed from any historical or political perspective, we are confronted with the Otherness of Chinese culture. We see in this film the opposite of the picturesque – a slice of quotidian life that may be banal, but still fascinates us.” V. de Villers

China, 87. The Others

Violaine de Villers, Jean-Pierre Outers
Belgium / 2017 / 60 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Evropská unie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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