FOCUS PROGRAMMES 2020
The Presence of what’s absent
With five films we direct our attention to what seems to be missing but yet accompanies our lives. In five different films we get to know people whose current life circumstances are determined by something that is not tangible, lies in the past or is of mystical and spiritual origin. This can be the nostalgic memories about a previously failed utopia – something the men in A Donkey called Geronimo once tried to achieve on a remote Baltic Sea island. Or Quicksilver Chronicles that deals with former dreams and youthful idealism. Kate, Kemp and Tom take us into their present life in a Californian ghost town still animated by its own heyday spirits.
Half Elf takes an intimate and mystical approach to the biography of the lighthouse keeper Trausti who, towards the end of his life, starts searching for his “inner elf”. It was lost in the course of Trausti’s life but has now recurred as a driving force. In Camp on the Wind’s Road it is the spirit of the deceased father whose present is still palpable. It shapes the lives of the bereaved, above all that of his daughter Belekmaa, until they can finally say goodbye. The same applies to family members in Mexico in search of their “disappeared”. They will only rest once they attain certainty about their loved ones’ fate and bury their remains. Persistence is an impressive and direct testimony to this gruelling uncertainty and valediction.
A Call to Perseverance
Sometimes you need hang in and stand it through. In the films of this focus programme we get to know the stories of people who are partly forced to wait, partly to resist. What they all have in common is that higher political powers shape their life situations: In A new Era, the inhabitants of an island in the Zhujiang River in Guangzhou, who have been resisting forced resettlement for more than ten years, are still endangered by new urban development projects.
Nimble Fingers addresses the powerlessness and dependence of female migrant labourers. They working under precarious conditions in the factories of large international technology corporations in order to feed their families and to lead a better life in a not yet foreseeable future. In Ghiaccio – Sweeping Lives we experience what it means for six refugees from Gambia and Sierra Leone to be condemned to waiting in Europe. But the men don’t want to put their lives on hold while waiting for a self-determined life involving work and a residene permits and instead start a curling team.
On the arduous path back to an orderly life, in A House in Pieces we accompany a family from Marawi on the Philippines who had to flee after an attack by the so-called IS and is now trying to rebuild a new old home in the ruins of a city destroyed in combat. 21 Days Inside tells a completely different aspect of being at somebody’s mercy. It is the story of a female Bedouin who is accused of murdering her son and is confronted with corrupt methods used by the male police officers during interrogations. How will she cope with the pressure of this Kafkaesque situation, marked by racist prejudices and patriarchal power ideas?
What is the meaning of family and what are family ties based on? In these five films we address the nucleus of society and experience love and fates that families have to go through. In the opening film Son of Fukushima, we witness family duties that are part of a daily life between tradition and the consequences of the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima. In a similarly moving way, Constructions dives into the relationship and unconditional love between a single father and his son in Argentina.
In Weiyena – The Long March Home, we, together with the filmmaker, explore the complex Chinese family history marked by questions of migration and identity but also by overcoming the past as a family. The film Songs that never End tells of a comparable fate regarding questions of belonging in which the Dayan family, who via detours fled from Iran to Houston in Texas, tries to come to terms with their new life situation and what they had to leave behind in their homeland. Finally, in Familienleben – Family Life we follow a family that remains together as a community of purpose. But tensions become palpable and all family members slowly realise that they cannot continue like this.
Sensory Encounters with the World
Film is more than “just” storytelling. Film makes foreign life worlds tangible and through the expressive or impressionistic power of images and sounds evokes and creates affects that go beyond what the eyes and ears perceive. In this focus programme we emphasise these qualities of sensory and poetic approaches to documentary film and present five examples of how films can touch our senses and our emotions through their cinematographic qualities.
Zagros takes us into the sensory dimensions of traditional carpet production. Through this approach the film vividly opens up the life world of the protagonists, the Bakhtiarians in Iran. The condensed poetry innate to the lives of the people who live on a Portuguese military base in Campo unfolds in the triangle between man, nature and cosmos. Thus, it creates a complex compendium of moods, imaginations and the mysticism of the landscape. Century of Smoke on the other hand focusses on sentiments and the orchestration of the ambiance. The social drama and the fateful hopelessness of the villagers are intensified by the shots of the foggy rainforest that surrounds everything. Stories from Cabo Corrientes puts its black-and-white images entirely into service of the protagonists’ mythical tales. It creates a mood that is as tense as it is atmospheric, where reality and lost worlds blur. In When the Persimmons grew, we follow the mind and the time of creation as we wrap ourselves in the wordless conversations of a mother and her son, both together and separately.