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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Lost Paradise
Lost Paradise

Lost Paradise

director: Reine Mitri
original title: Al ferdaous al mafqoud
country: Lebanon
year: 2017
running time: 61 min.

synopsis

The life of the filmmaker, also the film’s main character, is determined by a double fear. On one side, her world collapses under the weight of personal and historical tragedies, on the other she is threatened by the loss of the memories of everything that is dear to her. In this documentary, which blurs the lines between personal and public, she attempts to preserve all traces of memories, whether they’re images of her deceased husband or the ruins of local Beirut monuments. Slowly flowing images, virtually free of musical accompaniment, give memory fragments emerging from the surfaces of material things, including the heroine’s body, space to have spontaneous effect.

"This film evolves around the notions of disappearance and loss: individual death and disappearance of places, loss of personal memory and collective memory. " R. Mitri

biography

Reine Mitri (1970) is a Lebanese documentary director and producer. The key theme of her work to date is memory, both personal and collective. In her work, she also captures the memory of place, in particular that of Beirut, which the local government has the tendency to suppress. Her film In This Land Lay Graves of Mine (2014), about the legacy of the Lebanese civil war, earned her a censorship ban.

more about film

director: Reine Mitri
producer: Reine Mitri
photography: Ayman Nahle
editing: Reine Mitri, Ayman Nahle
sound: Raed Younan

other films in the section

The Visit
An inspection team from the World Bank arrives in an Egyptian village a few years after the revolution to assess how the transformation of agricultural management has progressed since the political upheaval. All of the activities are, as required, recorded by a television crew. We watch a drainage channel being built and visit the local museum. Everything seems to be as it should. However, the documentary’s authors leave the camera switched on even after the television crew has finished their work. As a result, the official record includes behind-the-scenes views and the members of the television crew become just additional actors in the film. The carefully arranged scene becomes an absurdly active image with advertising overtones.DETAIL:A reporter, wearing clothing that conceals all of her body except her face, interviews one of the local women. One detail is particularly worthy of attention: the front of her robe is embroidered with images of Western women wearing revealing clothes.

The Visit

Nadia Mounier, Marouan Omara
Egypt, Germany / 2015 / 43 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Time Splits in the River
Four artists decide to make a film where apolitical parents play parts of dissidents from the 1980s. Later, they show them the footage, unfolding discussions about art and politics. A  fascinating conceptual therapy revolving around traumatic  events of the history of Taiwan combines a highly artistic style with the informal, echoing, in the best possible sense, the saying ‘the personal is political’. Idiosyncratic, half-improvised ‘performances’ of the protagonists, who embody a story fromthe life and work of writer Shi Mingzheng, and the visual side of the film, just as poetic as it is funny, make this film a highly personal experience that is difficult to categorize.“Through re-enacting the social minority’s experiences , the filmsheds light on new negotiations between the social majority and other dissidents, while exposing the impossibility of family communication.”

Time Splits in the River

Yu-Ping Wang, Chia-Hung Lee, I-Chieh Huang, Xuan-Zhen Liao
Taiwan / 2016 / 89 min.
section: Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Metaphysics and Democracy
On average, our eyes remained fixed on an advertisement for six seconds. Advertisements are probably the most common ideological channel that we encounter in visible form. Director Luis Ortiz has based his documentary film on this contrast à la thèse. The visual aspect of the film is made up of 57 one-minute static views of advertising. The soundtrack features texts that challenge the existence of ideology as such (the Borges story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius) and draws attention to the fact that we often confuse it with ontology (the critics of neoliberalism, such as Ignacio Ramonet and Noam Chomsky).“In times of political extremism I find it necessary to ask which mechanisms undermine democracy in the so called modern societies, then new progressive answers are needed to confront the simplistic discourses from the right.” 

Metaphysics and Democracy

Luis Ortiz
Germany, Colombia / 2016 / 59 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
The New Day
A mixture of documentary and fiction as seen through the eyes of a non-participant observer, this drama presents the life of the fisherman Maldonado. After his wife Celia leaves him, we watch his lonely life in a series of cyclical everyday activities as we listen to Celia’s voiceover. Although it tends to repeat itself, it reveals something new every day. We always observe a different part of the daily work of a fisherman, or see it from a different angle. This sense of conflict is heightened by contradictory motifs on-screen and in the voiceover. Words clash with images, the everyday with the extraordinary, space with time. “Maldonado is a fisherman of the Paraná River. Modern times leave him on a threshold: a way of inhabiting that no longer finds its possibilities. That frailty that cracks into his world is what we intent to film.”

The New Day

Gustavo Fontán
Argentina / 2016 / 62 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
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
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
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
Wind Shaped Rocks
What starts out as a calm, observational record from an excursion boat filled with Taiwanese tourists admiring glaciers, soon turns into a frenzied – in places almost hallucinogenic – series of bizarre events after a black hole appears in the sky. Shots of the tourists alternate with views of horses grazing in a snowy landscape, a couple in a hotel room, and a group of young people digging film strips out of a garbage can. From the start, the viewer searches for the key to this random sequence of wordless scenes, trying to keep pace with the rapid, sometimes even stroboscopic montage of juxtaposed shots, which is slowed down with contemplative views of monstrous icebergs. "Glaciers exist before/after human time-space. History is obsolete since self-representation democratized. This is a love story between users of a cybernetic system. Life is nonlinear inside a rhizome." E. Makoszay

Wind Shaped Rocks

Eduardo Makoszay
Mexico / 2017 / 44 min.
section: Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Machine Gun or Typewriter
A solitary man broadcasts a programme intended for a single listener on a pirate radio station. He is searching for his lost love, who disappeared without a trace. Images of the city, disappearing buildings and crumbling social structure all reflect his growing sense of loss. His anger intensifies; it threatens to explode. The ambient nature of the duel between recitation and static images crystallises into a radical exercise in meditation, in which intimacy decomposes into fundamental societal elements. A collage presenting the guilty conscience of one American and all of America charts the topography of memory of place and relationship. Wilkerson artfully blends fact with fiction, and intimate autobiographical details with ostentatious exaggeration in a genre he calls “punk-agit-noir”.DETAIL:I’m just sitting in the living room, watching the tv, trying to calm down… You walk out of the bedroom and you’re holding book I gave you… And you start to read: ‘Adapting a position in theory implies putting it into practice.’ ‘Fuck you,’ you say. And you slam the door and leave.

Machine Gun or Typewriter

Travis Wilkerson
United States / 2015 / 71 min.
section: Opus Bonum
Central European 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
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
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