1 Building & 40 People Dancing
In the Israeli city of Bat-Yam, at a small square opposite the concert hall, there is a deteriorating public-housing building. Most of the time the square is deserted, only a few people sit outside between the palms, and sometimes a passer-by looks over to the house. In there, every now and then, someone walks up and down the stairs or smokes a cigarette in the corridor. On sabbat, we visit six of the elder inhabitants in their cramped flats. Silently, we observe how each of them handles the decay in his or her own way. Fascinated by this place the director, Miki Polonski, shot his thesis film about the relationship between these individuals, whose lives have happened to coincide here.
Israel 2015 | 48 min | DCP | OV with English subtitles
Director, Script: Miki Polonski; Cinematography: Naday Ben Zur; Editor: Katia Shepeliavaya; Production: Miki Polonski, Minshar For Art; Sound: Rotem Dror
There are many reasons to visit the village of Bama in Guangxi, a region in south-eastern China. The magnetic fields might take the poison out of your body, the air appears to be the cleanest in the world and gymnastics in the lush green will bring you sheer happiness. At least that’s what Chen Guo and his wife, both in their 80’s, came for. They hope to become one of the dozens of centenarians, whose remarkable wealth gives proof of their expectations. While following them around in their new home, filmmaker Deepti Rao gives a humorous and yet sensitive insight into their daily life.
China, India 2016 | 12 min | DCP | OV with English subtitles
Director, Script, Cinematography: Deepti Rao; Editor: Robert Gottman; Production: Michael Mellemløkken, Qing Chun Tang; Sound: Spacebot Entertainment
Committed Filmmaking - Masterclass with John Gianvito
Each year the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar nominates a new curator who’ll have the unique chance to select and present a comprehensive week-long film program. John Gianvito curated an explicit political selection in 2003 with the inconspicuous title “Witnessing the World”. „As the disparity between rich and poor exponentially widens, and the leveraging of concentrated power is placed in the hands of fewer and fewer people, the planet confronts a laundry list of perils the scale of which is apt to leave the most stalwart activist awestruck and mute. And, more parochially, the question arises – what is a filmmaker to do? (…) If John Dewey’s assessment was correct that ‚Politics is the shadow cast on society by big business‘, then these are films seeking to pierce the murk, sparking and splaying all kinds of interesting new light.” (seminar catalogue) Gianvito’s own films exemplify this activist approach combined with the awareness of a true cineaste. The cinematic form of his films is extracted from the thematic subject and not just a conventional envelope. In his masterclass, Gianvito presents several excerpts and his part of the collective project, FAR FROM AFGHANISTAN, and will fold up and discuss a spectrum of film aesthetics, which traces the history and spirit of committed filmmaking into the present.
John Gianvito is a filmmaker, curator and film critic. He studied at CalArts and MIT Boston and taught film production and –history at various universities. In 2001, he was made a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture. For five years he was the programmer at the Harvard Film Archive. 2009-13 he served on the board of the Flaherty Seminar and, up to now, on the advisory board. At present, he is a professor of film at Emerson College, Boston. He made his first feature film in 1983 (THE FLOWER OF PAIN), but soon turned to essay and documentary works. THE MAD SONGS OF FERNANDA HUSSEIN (2001) is an essayistic feature about America during the time period of the Persian Gulf War. In his shortest film, PROFIT MOTIVE AND THE WHISPERING WIND (2007, 58 min), he puts the audience face to face with numerous memorial plaques about historic revolts (and massacres) that stand against the loss of national memory. Then he worked for years on two expansive projects about the environmental and health damage that was caused by the US bases in the Philippines: VAPOR TRAIL (CLARK) (2010, 264 min) and WAKE: SUBIC (2016, 277 min). FAR FROM AFGHANISTAN (2012) is a collective work, in which Jon Jost, Soon-Mi Yoo, Minda Martin, Travis Wilkerson and Gianvito each realized their very own take on the war in Afghanistan and its meaning for the American people.
Who Is Your Grandfather?
During an annual Mossi people ritual, which takes place in Oueguedo in Burkina Faso, stories of the ancestors are told in drum language. “Who is your grandfather?” cries the master of the ceremony to the chief of the tribe and to all those present, after the ritual sacrifice of a beast. “Who is your grandfather?” In response, the ‘benda’ gives the names of ancestors and tells the anecdotes that relate to them, in rhythm. This is how the oral history is transmitted from generation to generation. Although the idea for the film was inspired by the writings and field studies of the Japanese anthropologist Junzo Kawada, the result is, surprisingly, scarcely academic. Playing with the image editing to find a shared form between the cinematographic gesture and the documented rite, here it is the sensorial experience that takes precedence over knowledge in a fusion of rhythm and words. We will not understand everything that happens on screen, and, how could we? Who is Your Grandfather? thus sounds like an anthropological film saying its goodbyes to scientific knowledge through the medium of cinema itself. (Visions du Réel: Mourad Moussa)
Germany 2017 | 24 min | DCP | OV with English subtitles
Director: Sunjah Kim, Rikisaburo Sato; Script, Editor: Sunjha Kim; Cinematography: Rikisaburo Sato; Production: Erwin Michelberger; Sound: Judith Nordbrock
These Objects, Those Memories
How can you keep your most precious memories, when everything is left behind? Working in Cape Town, South Africa, three migrant women from Zimbabwe found a keeper of their past in material culture, they brought with them: The baby blanket, a son back in Zimbabwe used to sleep on. The stove that was a present from father and brother back home. The first camera in the family. In a split screen, Roger Horn arranges the women's narrations of key moments in their lives with objects they connect with these memories. His unusual technique opens a space for associations and contemplation as well as a feeling of the past and an omnipresent longing for a return to Zimbabwe. “These Objects, Those Memories” is the center of Horn’s PhD research in Visual Anthropology at the University of Cape Town.
South Africa 2017 | 29 min | DCP | OV with English subtitles
Director, Script, Cinematographer, Editor, Producer: Roger Horn; Sound: Dylan Ford.
Letter from Korlai
In Letter from Korlai, grainy 16mm images and a voice reading a fictional letter unfold a phantasmagoric, indeterminate space. The images of the village of Korlai on India’s Konkan coast present themselves as a surface that is haptic rather than visual while the elegiac voiceover maps out an inner wold of remembrance and associations. Letter for Korlai ultimately creates a subjective vision and personal memory of Korlai in which the viewer can insert herself, can fade-in and out again, and let her own memories and visions surface.
India 2016 | 22 min | DCP | OV
Director, Script: Aman Wadhan; Cinematography: Niraj Samad; Editor: Nachiket Waikar; Production: Aman Wadhan, Film and Television Institute of India; Sound: Bhanu Dhande
Rattle Them Bars
Centered on a year of the production of a revolutionary East Texas prison radio show run by ex-convicts, Rattle Them Bars is an experimental documentary film creating a multi-vocal counter-conversation about the prison system and the prison experience. For over 40 years, the radio show has connected prisoners to people on the outside through voices, providing bits of lives, stories, connections and relationships. The film is an audiovisual montage of field footage, voices of families speaking to prisoners, and letters from prisoners in solitary confinement.
USA 2015 | 27 min | DCP | OV with English subtitles
Director, Script, Editor, Production, Photography, Sound: Nena Hedrick
I'm Not Leaving Eldon
The people in Eldon, Iowa, carry many names, none of them too flattering: Rednecks, Hillbillies, White Trash. Still, the struggle they share with vanishing jobs in agriculture and rising social insecurity unites them within these labels as a self-chosen affiliation. In Eldon, doors don’t have locks, but there is a gun under each bed. Jessica Bollag, a visual anthropologist from Bern, was accidentally invited to a wedding in the village of Eldon where she met her first protagonist. Four years later, she came back to create this film for her Master’s thesis.
USA, Switzerland 2015 | 49 min | DCP | OV with English subtitles
Director, Cinematography, Editor: Jessica Bollag; Script: Susanne Steffen; Production: Institute of Social Anthropology University Bern; Music: Jeff Jackson
Cities of Sleep
The film takes us into a heady world of insurgent sleepers’ communities as well as the infamous ‘sleep mafia’ in Delhi where just securing a safe sleeping spot often becomes a question of life and death for a large number of people. The film trails the lives of two individuals, Shakeel and Ranjeet. Shakeel, a renegade homeless sleeper has for the last 7 years slept in a diverse range of improvised places like subways, under park benches, parking lots, abandoned cars and lately, at areas controlled by the sleep mafia. The film follows his attempts to secure a safe sleeping space just around the time the infamous winter rains of Delhi are due. Ranjeet runs the ‘sleep-cinema’ community in Loha Pul in Delhi, a huge double-story iron bridge straddling the banks of the river Yamuna. A thin strip of land under Loha Pul houses shanty cinemas, where over 400 odd homeless come and sleep through the day for a nominal price. The flooding of the river Yamuna poses a threat to the people sleeping there every monsoon. The film looks at not only the tremendous social and political pressure that sleep exerts on the homeless in the city, but is also a philosophical exploration of sleep at large.
India 2015 | 74 min | HD Videofile | OV with English subtitles
Director: Shaunak Sen; Cinematography: Salim Khan, Shaunak Sen; Editors: Sreya Chatterjee, Shaunak Sen: Sound: Aman Mann, Sahil Dhingra; Music: Ritwik De; Production: Virender Kundu
"My birthday is the brightest day of my life. My birthday always starts at the cemetery". This is the autobiographical film about the perceiving intertwining meanings of life and death that I started to experience from the very beginning of my life – from a day of my birthday. The day that I always started at the grave of my grandpa who worked for KGB. I was lucky (or not) to be born on May 9th – Ukrainian national commemoration day of the WWII. Oblivion and memory, obeying the tradition and wish to celebrate the life – all things had mixed on that graveyard. But once I received a chance to escape from there. (cinedoc)
Ukraine, The Netherlands 2015 | 8 min | DCP | OV with English subtitles
Director, Script: Mariia Ponomarova; Cinematography: Oleksii Kuchma, Mikko Keskiivari, Mariia Ponomarova; Editor: Pedro Collantes; Production: Perfectionist Media Production & Nederlandse Filmacademie; Sound: Sergio Gonzalez Cuervo
"Self-portrait. In 1998 our family came under armed attack. We were able to escape and we fled Grozny. We have been silent about it since". Vladlena Sandu tells an incisive and dignified story about herself, her mother and grandmother, the physical and psychological trauma and the ordinary existence of a refugee, including dog food, homelessness and intensive care. On New Year’s Day Putin pays tribute to the soldiers who are fighting terrorism. (IFFR)
Russia 2017 | 25 min | DCP | OV with English subtitles
Director, Script, Cinematography: Vladlena Sandu; Editor: Victoria Levitova, Alexandra Bezhenar; Production: Alexei Uchitel, Kira Saksaganskaya, Rock Films LLC; Sound: Dmitry Boyarintsev
Home Is Not A Place
"But there was a choice: my parents or my children." Through personal film recordings and narrated pieces of memory, the film tells the story of a forced migratory voyage of a Czechoslovakian family to India, Kenya and Austria. The combination of 8mm film fragments and oral recollections of family members not only show a piece of political history through a personal story; the fragile images of a lifetime condensed into a few minutes also tell a story about the act of looking back, about the passing of time and about life itself: home is not a place but a passage.
Germany, Austria 2015 | 14 min | DCP | OV with English subtitles
Director: Clara Trischler; Script: Clara Trischler, Sarah-Christin Peter; Cinematography: Anton Hrabovec, Clara Trischler; Editor: Sarah-Christin Peter; Production: Clara Trischler, Norman Dickfeld, Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf & rbb
“Am I pretty?” When asked online, this banal question opens up a loop of found- footage videos uploaded by teenagers all over the world on the internet. Though the identical dramaturgy of dozens of these videos put together seems amusing at first sight, it intensifies the impression of a deeply alienated mode of self-exposition defined by the specific aesthetics of tutorials, online diaries and confessional videos. While repetitive in genre codes, this mash-up is no longer the representation of individual stories, but gives a condensed picture of current practices of self-exposition, juvenile insecurity and the need for permanent recognition in the Web 2.0.
Spain 2015 | 14 min | DCP | OV
Director, Script, Editing, Production: Florencia Aliberti
At five in the morning, before any professor or student enters the building of the well-established SAOS University in London, a lot of work needs to be done: Cleaning toilets, corridors, desks and even the streets outside. But those who prepare the working places of thousands of Londoners, mostly stay invisible earning 2£ less than the living average of 7.20£ in London. They come from different Latin American countries, but their determination to fight labor exploitation derives from the common experience of discrimination within a country that needs their work, but does not want to value it. When an empowering resistance grows, the prestigious university, well known for championing in human rights, must take sides. But instead of showing solidarity with the workers, the university impairs the conflict. After moving from Cuba to London seven years ago, Fernando Mitjáns studied postcolonial culture and global policy. He felt the need to portray the huge gap between expectations and reality of migration from Latin-American countries and found himself in the middle of this worker’s struggle.
Screened together with AN INJURY TO ONE – see page
United Kingdom 2015 | 39 min | DCP | OV Director, Script, Editor, Production: Fernando Mitjáns; Cinematography: Fernando Mitjáns, Grant Allen; Sound: Pet Grotesque