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German Competition 2013
Verlorener Horizont Robert Bohrer, Emma Simon

Bolivia, a country without a sea-coast, prepares its navy for the final strike: a kind of toy army with lots of macho strutting. Hilarious and scary.

Verlorener Horizont

Documentary Film
69 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Eva Kemme, Tobias Siebert, Ansgar Frerich
Robert Bohrer, Emma Simon
Jan Maihorn
Emma Rosa Simon, Max Preiss
Kathrin Dietzel
Robert Bohrer, Emma Simon, Marian Kaiser
Florian Dietrich
“One day the sea died, from one coast to the other, folding up, shrinking, a coat that is taken away.” This lament intoned by the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral in her poem “The Death of the Sea”, this poeticised phantom pain, could just as well come from Bolivia. The country lost its access to the sea more than a hundred years ago – because of Chile. Unlike Mistral’s poem, however, they do not regard the sea as lost. It has survived as a lost horizon, a locus of national longing. One day Bolivia will return to the sea. This motto is repeated like a mantra, in schools, celebrating “Ocean Day”, in navy training. Yes, Bolivia allows itself the luxury of a navy in preparation of this glorious day, an “armada”, even if it’s navigating Lake Titicaca instead of the Pacific. The film delves deeply into the workings of this myth by following a group of conscripts through their naval training. Quite a few manoeuvres navigate the limits of absurdity, for example when the special divers’ unit leap into the lake with a bold “For Bolivia, goddam!”, or when the female soldiers wear fake high heels with their navy uniforms. Scenes that could have been captured by the wayside, between discipline and reverie, add to the panorama of a “maritime” country in the Andes that sticks to old ideals while taking tiny steps towards modernisation.

Lars Meyer
International Competition 2017
When the Bull Cried Karen Vázquez Guadarrama, Bart Goossens

A visually stunning excursion into the Bolivian Andes where miners are hoping for the big find. Perilous working conditions, archaic rituals and big dreams cheek by jowl.

When the Bull Cried

Documentary Film
66 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Tomas Leyers
Karen Vázquez Guadarrama, Bart Goossens
Bram Bosteels
Karen Vázquez Guadarrama
Tom Denoyette
Karen Vázquez Guadarrama, Bart Goossens
Bart Goossens
Giant fourthousanders rise majestically to the skies in the Bolivian Andes. Grey-blue craggy steep faces and white mountain clouds flow into each other. Mining is the sole industry here. People climb down into the stony bowels of the mountains and risk their lives to mine silver and other minerals. The freezing cold, dark mineshafts regularly collapse and bury the workers, many of them still children, alive. They say that the souls of those who die in the shaft must wander for three days, all the time pursued by “el tío”, the evil mountain god. They fight their fear with alcohol and coca; superstitions abound. The men especially live in a loop of work, alcohol and aggression, hoping every day for the big find and trying to propitiate the spirits with sacrifices. Archaic rituals are meant to appease Mother Earth, but a look into the people’s exhausted faces makes one suspect that their faith is shaken with every death.

A visually stunning film that manages to transport the viewer into the breathtaking Andean landscape without turning into a geography lesson. Haunting, alarming and moving – great cinema above the clouds.

Luc-Carolin Ziemann

Nominated for Healthy Workplaces Film Award