27th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Translucent Being: Lionel Rogosin

Lionel Rogosin (1924–2000) was an American independent documentary filmmaker for whom filmmaking became part of a broader concept of political activism. In New York, he ran the Bleecker Street Cinema and was a founding and active member of the New American Cinema movement alongside the likes of Jonas Mekas. We are honored to present the best of his documentary filmmaking along with a film made by his son - Michael Rogosin.

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Arab-Israeli Dialogue
A Palestinian poet, Rashed Hussein and an Israeli journalist, Amos Kenan met in the basement of Rogosin’s Bleecker Street Cinema – old friends and representatives of two nations that in the 1970s set off on a long journey to mutual understanding and co-habitation on a shared territory, a journey which remains unfinished even today. To recall their remote homeland, inaccessible to Hussein, who emigrated, Rogosin edits in the iconic scenes of the discussed locations and people. Similarly riven is the dialogue between the two intellectuals who fundamentally refuse the role of each other’s enemy that is forced on them.“It was a very simple film, very crude, but very honest and very different from what was being made at the time. It was criticized by extremists on both sides, yet many people liked it because it was different.” (Lionel Rogosin)---Source: https://festival.ilcinemaritrovato.it/film/arab-israeli-dialogue/
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Arab-Israeli Dialogue

Lionel Rogosin
United States / 1974 / 40 min.
section: Translucent Being: Lionel Rogosin
Czech Premiere
Black Roots
At the turn of the 1970s, racial segregation in the United States was still fresh in many people's heads. At that time, African-American pop musicians were among the strongest voices on racial discrimination and social violence and would speak out to the public. This intimate and impressionable documentary, which links the personal accounts of musicians and their music with footage from African-American communities, takes us behind the scenes of popular country and blues production. The title Black Roots not only refers to the skin color of the African-American community but also metaphorically expresses the nature of the experience from which the life of the minority grows.“Black Roots gets a group of five African Americans talking around a café table: among family memories, observations about the present, and the desire to reverse injustices emerges a powerful picture of black pride, anger, discouragement, mirth, combativeness, and beauty.”---Source: https://festival.ilcinemaritrovato.it/en/film/black-roots/
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Black Roots

Lionel Rogosin
United States / 1970 / 60 min.
section: Translucent Being: Lionel Rogosin
Czech Premiere
Come Back, Africa
The film, which blurs the lines between fiction and documentary, tells the story of a young Zulu black man by the name of Zachariah who journeys to Johannesburg to find work. In the late 1950s during South Africa's unforgiving apartheid era, this meant not only exposing himself to the prevailing racism of the time but also him having to overcome the complicated bureaucracy that reduced his life to that of a serf. Although the film is based on a fictional narrative and considered a work of docufiction, there are non-actors featured in typecast roles, and the creators mainly aimed to incorporate into the film the most pressing problems of a racially segregated society: narrowminded perspectives and narrowminded thinking.“The film’s exploration of social and economic injustice experienced by Africans under apartheid, and the recurring juxtaposition of white South Africa with the vibrant township life in South Africa in the 1950s, makes Come Back, Africa a groundbreaking film in regards to the representation of Africans on film and the use of cinema as a tool for political discourse on the continent.”---Source: https://www.cinemaescapist.com/2018/04/come-back-africa-apartheid-time-capsule/
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Come Back, Africa

Lionel Rogosin
United States, South Africa / 1959 / 95 min.
section: Translucent Being: Lionel Rogosin
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Good Times, Wonderful Times
Almost twenty years after the end of the war, an ordinary cocktail party in London brings together a subset of wealthy, and mostly young, individuals. Behind the rhythm of rock music, war-related topics such as nuclear disaster, life in the army, and killing the enemy, occasionally flicker in and out of the conversation. While the small talk continues unimpeded, the director sees these moments as signals for visualizing specific, jarring images depicting the subject matter of speech perceived at face value. Rogosin splices stock footage into the film that he himself found primarily in film archives in England, Japan, Hungary, and Poland.“Armed with letters of introduction from Bertrand Russell, Rogosin and his crew embarked on a several-year journey across Western Europe, the Soviet Bloc, and Asia to acquire newsreel, military, and other war footage from numerous (often uncooperative) government archives to be paired with their semi-documentary staging of a posh cocktail party.”---Source: https://uniondocs.org/event/2016-01-28-good-times-wonderful-times/
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Good Times, Wonderful Times

Lionel Rogosin
United States / 1965 / 70 min.
section: Translucent Being: Lionel Rogosin
Czech Premiere
Imagine Peace
Almost 50 years after Lionel Rogosin made Arab-Israeli Dialogue, his son revisits the same topic. Following his father’s footsteps, his first journey leads to friends and co-workers of the participants in this unusual shooting. His second journey guides him to places where the historical and contemporary disputes, discussed in the film, took place. Here the director tries to document the development of the complex situation since Amos Kenan’s and Rashed Hussein’s discussion in New York, and find out if their bold words about peace and friendship between the two nations sharing one state became the reality.“Lionel Rogosin was clearly inspired by American optimism and the belief that all conflicts can be resolved. His son Michael follows in his father’s footsteps, and tries to understand if something like that is possible nowadays.” (Hillel Schenker) ---Source: https://festival.ilcinemaritrovato.it/en/film/imagine-peace/
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Imagine Peace

Michael Rogosin
United States / 2019 / 79 min.
section: Translucent Being: Lionel Rogosin
Czech Premiere
On the Bowery
Every morning in New York’s Bowery, homeless men lounge around in the streets, slowly emerging from their hangovers and setting out on their daily pilgrimage to a miserable job and a drink. The social situation of people on the fringes of affluent 1950s American society became the subject of Lionel Rogosin’s first feature film. Exceptional in its day, the format of docufiction combines staged footage with social actors and situational scenes from the streets, dive bars, and charitable institutions. The titular neighborhood transforms into a stage for absurd everyday dramas of repeated mistakes and the inability to leave a place where few people actually want to live.“Making On the Bowery taught me a method of molding reality into a form that could touch the imagination of others.” (Lionel Rogosin)---Source: https://www.splittoothmedia.com/on-the-bowery/
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On the Bowery

Lionel Rogosin
United States / 1956 / 65 min.
section: Translucent Being: Lionel Rogosin
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Woodcutters of the Deep South
Rogosin’s last feature documentary deals with a seemingly peripheral issue – problems of founding trade unions of workers in the woodcutting industry in the American Deep South. Nevertheless, two topics concur in this film, so typical of Rogosin’s entire body of work: an interest in marginalized groups of people subjected to the pressure of government institutions, economic corporations and the legacy of cases of historic injustice. Yet social status of hired woodcutters, no matter if black or white ones, in a remote area of the US, thanks to common interests, opens up a possibility of spanning the wide gap of racially conditioned prejudices.“In 1972 I heard a vague rumor from Francis Walters about a unique group that had sprung up near Montgomery, Alabama. It was an organization of black and white sharecroppers who also cut down white pine trees for the paper companies on a freelance basis. Although historically antagonistic to each other they somehow joined together to form a cooperative.”---Source: https://festival.ilcinemaritrovato.it/en/film/woodcutters-of-the-deep-south/
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Woodcutters of the Deep South

Lionel Rogosin
United States / 1973 / 85 min.
section: Translucent Being: Lionel Rogosin
Czech Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
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