FOCUS PROGRAMMES 2021
The five focus programmes in 2021, address love as a fundamental interpersonal feeling; family as the core of our social coexistence; our body as a factor of identity and social interface; the places we live in; and the effects social changes and global phenomena have on transformations on a local level. All of these are aspects of everyday life and coexistence, the value and importance of which we have felt again through the global Corona pandemic. But no worries: the virus and its concrete effects are not the issue here.
In a variety of interpersonal and human-animal relationships, AMOR FATI, Cláudia Varejão’s latest film, shows the importance of intimacy and togetherness in and for our society. A cinematic antithesis to social or physical distancing, which testifies to the fact that we strive for more than individualism in life. Lively, touching and disturbing, I LOVE YOU I MISS YOU I HOPE I SEE YOU BEFORE I DIE delves into the meaning of a young mother’s relationship with her children in socially and financially precarious circumstances. In MARANA we accompany young autistic people in their everyday lives and their need for partnership and sexuality. THE MARRIAGE PROJECT tells of a “medically prescribed” love between patients in a psychiatric institution in Iran and engages with the difficulties of institutionally steering love into controlled channels. MATHILDE AND THE LOVE ROOM deals with love and desire of people living in poverty. While others look away, Mathilde volunteers to offer the homeless a few hours of intimacy.
In A FISH TALE we experience the joys and sorrows of a family on the brink of returning to the old homeland Ghana from Israel. The film follows the African family for 10 years in their search for a better life. THE SILHOUETTES tells another migration story and its effects on a family exploring the question of what (lack of) opportunities second-generation Afghan refugees have in Iran. In two very different cinematic approaches, ROMAN’S CHILDHOOD and JETZT ODER MORGEN engage with families on the fringes of society. Roman, who grows up in poverty, experiences great freedom through the loving care and affection of his parents. In JETZT ODER MORGEN we accompany the everyday life of a young mother and welfare recipient in Vienna and get to know a family that supports each other but is also partly responsible for being stuck in the status quo without much hope for change. Finally, DER STILLE STURM highlights the importance of family cohesion in times of crisis, such as the Corona-related lockdown in Austria last year.
Through a sensory cinematic approach, LAPÜ provides insight into the meaning of mourning and saying goodbye in a ritual, social as well as familial context through engagement with the cosmological dimensions of traditional exhumations of family members in Wayuu communities, Colombia. In AN ELEGY TO FORGETTING, we experience another and equally haunting form of farewell from the innermost family perspective, where the filmmaker himself accompanies the progressive dementia and frailty of his father and reflects on the importance of memory. The three films ECSTASY, THRESHOLD and THE BODY WON’T CLOSE tell of very different aspects of our body as an interface between the individual and society. The BODY WON’T CLOSE deals with the reflection of mystical transfiguration and one’s own sexual orientation, which manifest themselves physically. THRESHOLD not only deals with the gender reassignment of the filmmaker’s daughter, but also with the emancipation of a new generation of young Brazilians against the background of the achievements of their grandparents’ generation’s struggle for equal rights. In the hybrid documentary ECSTASY, the filmmaker uses an alter ego to reflect on her own past, marked by an anorexia, in which social constraints and norms have constituted themselves.
What do places mean to people? How do we shape them and how do they shape us? VICTORIA uses seemingly bizarre images to tell the story of a failed urban development project in California that has become a home for the protagonist Lashay to escape his dark past in Los Angeles. BOSCO engages with the connections between the inhabitants of a remote and abandoned village in Italy and tells of the memories and stories that bring this aging place to life. THE LAST AUSTRIANS is a somewhat different homeland film. It shows how the last descendants of Austrians, who were relocated during the Habsburg Monarchy to the Ukrainian Carpathians, try to master their lives and traditions. KOMBINAT, set in a former glorious steel town in Russia, tells of the tristesse in which one can be trapped and how the inhabitants try to deal with the faded glory of earlier days. In HUNTSVILLE STATION, a bus terminal is the first place that released prisoners experience upon their release. In their experience, the bus station becomes a place of hope, turning a barely perceived non-place into a meaningful symbol and turning point of a new beginning. A place like no other is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which the film THERE IS NO OTHER PLACE approaches. What does this central place of the Christian faith mean for the people and for the different denominations who have to share it?
Social change is one of the world’s great constants and driving forces. From an ecological perspective, LIVING WATER looks at the increasing scarcity of groundwater in Jordan and how this looming catastrophe affects the relationship between the original inhabitants of Wadi Rum, the government and corporate interests. The village of Congo Mirador, built on a lake in Venezuela, is threatened by both political and ecological upheaval. ONCE UPON A TIME IN VENEZUELA tells the story of its inhabitants and how the village is endangered to sink into the lake and political chaos, respectively. EDEN TRIBAL accompanies the inhabitants of New Caledonia during the independence referendum, which would free the country not only from the colonial shackles of the former French colony, but also from entrenched gender roles and male supremacy. RIFT FINFINNE takes us to a divided Ethiopia, where different interests and social conflicts turn into a test of endurance for an emerging country. Elsewhere in Africa, in Lesotho, we see how the influx of Chinese economic migrants and their new economic ways of thinking come into conflict with traditional ways of life. DAYS OF CANNIBALISM illuminates this creeping social change in a haunting way.