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Bread, Revenge?

Documentary Film
France,
Germany
2019
76 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Stefan Hayn (Stefan Hayn Filme und Malerei)
Stefan Hayn
Till Megerle
Stefan Hayn
Stefan Hayn
Klaus Barm
In 1944, the French resistance fighter Robert Antelme was captured by the Germans. He was taken to Gandersheim, a satellite camp of the Buchenwald concentration camp. In the last months of the Second World War, Antelme got to experience the whole extent of dehumanisation under National Socialist tyranny. Soon after his liberation he wrote the book “The Human Race” about it, which today is a classic of coming to terms with the past.

Stefan Hayn already dealt with Antelme in his film “Straub” (2014). Now he examines in more detail a series of texts which contributed to the post-war debate about how to deal with German guilt. Hayn calls his film a “lecture filmée” in the opening credits, a “filmed reading”. It is of crucial importance that the texts (including reflections on a theft of bread among prisoners) are present in the French original, even if recited by German native speakers. Different forms of “reading” that culminate in a sketch-like scenic re-enactment are interlaced with contemporary shots of memorial sites today to form a multi-layered film essay, historical-political in the best sense.

Bert Rebhandl
Young Cinema Competition 2013
Casa Daniela De Felice

This is where the family used to live: a house filled with objects and memories is cleared. A finely spun examination of the process of remembrance in delicate watercolours and sparingly animated.

Casa

Documentary Film
France
2013
54 minutes
subtitles: 
English
French

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Marc Faye, Gerald Leroux
Daniela De Felice
Matthieu Chatellier, Daniela De Felice
Alessandro Comodin, Daniela De Felice
Daniela De Felice
Daniela De Felice
Xavier Thibault
The house is crammed with objects of no great material value. Years after her father’s death, the director, her mother and brother clear the family home, once a promise of social advancement and now a place nobody wants to live in. The memories lie in the remains of everyday life and the junk of countless boxes of dusty entomological specimens. The mother tried to stop the passing of time by excessive collecting. And so the dialogues between the members of the family revolve around the big question of transience. Can memories be shared? What’s left of a life when the next generation attaches a different value to its objects? When memories disintegrate like the wings of the butterflies in their glass cases?
De Felice focuses on the process of remembrance and the question of what our memory retains. It’s not about the faces in the photographs, but the process of posing for the camera, filming and commenting. And the moments of silence while the camera is still running. And most of all the shape our memories assume. In this case, it’s the ink watercolours sketched by the director. Pared-down and delicate, sparingly animated from time to time, they do what only art can do: take us into the inner spaces where our families continue to live when all artefacts have long crumbled to dust.

Grit Lemke



Golden Dove Animated Documentary 2013

Young Cinema Competition 2014
Death of the Serpent God Damien Froidevaux

Deported from Paris, city girl Koumba finds herself in a village in Senegal. A rebellious heroine’s odyssey between desperate resistance and acquiescence.

Death of the Serpent God

Documentary Film
France
2014
91 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Xavier Pons
Damien Froidevaux
Ian Saboya
Damien Froidevaux
David Jungman
The back story sounds like a caustic fairytale but is a common practice in Europe. At the age of two, Koumba came to Paris from a Senegalese village with her parents. For 18 years, the French capital was all she knew until she ended up at a police station after a nocturnal fight and was deported within 48 hours.
She finds herself in the isolated village of her ancestors, among relatives she doesn’t know. The old legends in which snake kings rule the people’s fates are still alive here. The upheaval is a brutal shock. “White Koumba”, as she is called here – quite contemptuously – is now the mother of an illegitimate son and trapped. She reacts as she usually does: lashing out fearlessly and rebelliously, making demands and insulting her environment – including the filmmaker, whom she calls selfish. So at first the film is made against its protagonist’s desperate resistance. But Damien Froidevaux doesn’t give up, doesn’t abandon the rebellious girl. Over a period of five years he frequently returns from Paris to Senegal until he finally becomes part of a coping process. Koumba goes through a fascinating change of personality to become the heroine of her own odyssey, while always aware of the role of the camera.
Lars Meyer

From My Syrian Room

Documentary Film
France,
Germany,
Lebanon,
Syria
2014
70 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Nathalie Combe, Heino Deckert, Georges Schoucair, Myriam Sassine, Hazem Alhamwi
Hazem Alhamwi
Sivan
Hazem Alhamwi, Ghassan Katlabi
Florence Jacquet
Hazem Alhamwi
Nuzha Al Nazer, Frédéric Maury
A feeling of oppression creeps in. Hazem Alhamwi’s nib scratches over a black and white sketch worthy of Hieronymus Bosch. Apocalyptic motives and mordant satire are his speciality and were his salvation. In a country like Syria, where everything, even breathing – as someone bitterly comments – was controlled, havens were needed. Art that resigns itself to being non-public, can be one. This film was made when the protests following the Arab Spring raised hopes that something might change: saying out loud at last what was suppressed and would have lead to long prison sentences for decades. The director talks to friends and relatives to find causes and origins, beginning with childhood experiences of propaganda and personality cults, adaptation and fear. Today, when events happen so fast, we are in the age of fast media. Alhamwi’s nuanced tones, associative motives and trips into the visual worlds of childhood have a hard time keeping up in a present in which Syria is crushed between religious and ethnic interests as well as those of foreign countries. The voices from Alhamwi’s room are echoes of a time when people demanded democratisation and freedom. The film records those short moments when the opposition tried to form and articulate itself. The time allotted to the idealists was very short.
Cornelia Klauß
Late Harvest 2019
Marona’s Fantastic Tale Anca Damian

Marona-Sara-Ana-the-Ninth is of noble descent, but not a princess. She was given her names by her master and mistress. The modern fairytale about a dog raises questions of identity.

Marona’s Fantastic Tale

Animated Film
Belgium,
France,
Romania
2019
92 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Anca Damian
Anca Damian
Pablo Pico
Brecht Evens, Gina Thorstensen, Sarah Mazetti
Boubkar Benzabat
Dan Panaitescu, Chloé Roux, Hefang Wei, Mathieu Labaye, Claudia Ilea
Anghel Damian
Clément Badin
Marona-Sara-Ana-the-Ninth may be of noble descent from her father’s side, graceful and beautiful, but she is no princess. She braves many an adventure in her short life: She learns acrobatics and magic tricks, temporarily ends up on the streets and even becomes a saviour in need. She is a bitch. Her names were given to her by a number of masters and mistresses. Anca Damian tells a touching story with imagination and humour.

An original, surrealist and childlike aesthetics, the combination of different animation techniques, strong stylisation and the gay colour palette make the protagonists particularly expressive. The striking backgrounds resemble witty and artistic wimmelbook pictures. The unusual angles make us discover the urban hustle and bustle from many perspectives simultaneously – with all senses. At the heart of the film, a realistic and critical portrait of urban society emerges that does not shy away from questioning our relationship to animals and thus to our values. Joy and sadness, farewells and beginnings are mutually dependent – even death is sensitively addressed. Damian’s modern fairytale is about identity and belonging. Full of musical and visual poetry and philosophical esprit, it celebrates – equally simply and extravagantly – the complexity of existence and the simplicity of happiness.

Nadja Rademacher
Young Cinema Competition 2014
National Diploma Dieudo Hamadi

If you can’t pay your tuition fees in the Congo you’re relegated. A group of adolescents organise their own school, up to the final exams … An African High School film with a wild finale.

National Diploma

Documentary Film
DR Congo,
France
2014
92 minutes
subtitles: 
English
French

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Marie Balducchi
Dieudo Hamadi
Dieudo Hamadi
Rodolphe Molla
Dieudo Hamadi
Dieudo Hamadi
“Lord, give me a diploma!” are the not so silent prayers of Congolese high school students just before their final exams. Instead of the Mercedes Benz of Janis Joplin’s American version a graduation diploma is considered to be the key to happiness. Getting it, however, is nothing short of a miracle, because the school system is part of the institutionalised corruption: if you can’t pay the “teachers’ fee”, you’re expelled.
A group of students in Kisangani, however, refuse to put up with this any longer – among them Joël, who can’t scrape the necessary money together even though he works hard every day carrying crates on the market. They take the initiative and move into an empty house to prepare for the exams, self-organised and with the aid of “little tricks”. They have two months left, two months in which they will live, discuss, pray and sing together.
Dieudo Hamadi manages to be always at the centre of things with his camera and to show the group’s dynamics from inside. His tale of the fragile democracy in the Congo is told not with resignation but with a touch of utopia that makes real democratic participation seem possible – and with an explosive finale. You’ve never seen a real graduation party until you’ve seen this film, though he doesn’t conceal either that the students don’t escape the logic of the system after all.
Lars Meyer

Silence Radio

Documentary Film
Belgium,
France
2012
52 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Isabelle Mathy, Delphine Schmit, Denis Delcampe
Valéry Rosier
Olivier Vanaschen, Mathieu Cauville
Nicolas Rumpl, Didier Vandewattyne
Valéry Rosier
Arnaud Calvar, Guilhem Donzel
Life is a chanson. Alain Resnais is not the only one who knows this; so do the operators of the “Puisaleine” community radio in rural Picardie. We see for the most part elderly people at the controls, struggling with the computer (occasionally the wrong song will be played), accepting music requests, telling jokes and giggling hysterically into the microphone, or dispensing esoteric to hands-on life counselling (“Leave the house!”). Their listeners sit in interiors that will soon be history, filmed with sociological precision: heart-shaped cushions, pictures of cats, teddy bears, artificial flowers, tassels and baroque curlicues. They sit alone on fully automated beds in rooms that are far too big for them and in which only the photos on the windowsill recall the families that once existed. And they listen to the radio: the song about the white roses, or the one about the love that lasted fifty years. We learn a story with every song, about nights of bombings and burning airplanes, about great love, or the child who died before the parents. And at some point they start to sing.
The elegant arrangements and meaningful montage of this tender film, imbued with loss and loneliness, but also with a quiet kind of humour, keep it firmly on the thin line between kitsch and great drama. A film for the heart, whose needs cannot be overestimated.

Grit Lemke



Honorary Mention in the Young Cinema Competition 2013

Stop-Over

Documentary Film
France,
Switzerland
2013
100 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Heinz Dill, Elisabeth Garbar, Sophie Germain, Olivier Charvet
Kaveh Bakhtiari
Kaveh Bakhtiari
Kaveh Bakhtiari, Charlotte Tourres, Sou Abadi
What is a human being without a passport? The question B. Traven discussed in his classic novel “The Death Ship” is still disturbingly topical. The death ship that director Kaveh Bakhtiari finds is called Athens. This is where he happens to run into his Iranian cousin Mohsen. But while he himself has had a Swiss passport from childhood, is able to move freely and cross borders, Mohsen is an illegal immigrant. He spent three months in prison for this and is now stuck in Athens – like thousands of others for whom Greece was to be no more than a stop-over. He shares a flat with curtained windows with other “illegals”. Kaveh decides to move in and share their life.
For almost a year he accompanies their daily life, which looks like the life in an ordinary flat-share only at first glance but is essentially marked by fear, claustrophobia and deprivation. The days move past the curtains like a shadow-play, while every day people risk their lives for their hopes, put themselves at the mercy of smugglers or wait years for fake passports. The film registers directly how their hopes crumble – an intense experience for the audience, who are “locked up” with the protagonists at least for the duration of the film. A courageous film that brings to light what is otherwise concealed by the shadow of the European crisis.

Lars Meyer



Talent Dove in the Young Cinema Competition 2013

Tiny Souls

Documentary Film
France,
Jordan,
Lebanon,
Qatar
2019
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Dina Naser
Dina Naser
Ronald Heu
Dina Naser, Hasan Abu Hammad
Najwa Khachimi, Qutaiba Barhamji
Dina Naser
Antonin Dalmasso
They and all the others will continue to inspire life, Dina Naser writes at the end of her film about three children of war in Syria. They grow up in a refugee camp in Jordan: Marwa is the eldest, then there’s her sister Ayah and finally Mahmoud, the youngest. They have seven other siblings, but the family was torn apart when one brother in Syria no longer wanted to serve in the army and thus the dictator Assad. Marwa is the heroine of the film. She will soon be grown-up or at least considered almost of marriageable age by her parents. Her mother and father now make sure she doesn’t go out any more. But she already has a boyfriend.

Dina Naser follows the three children’s fate and everyday life over an extended period of time, starting in 2014. The filmmaker even hands the camera temporarily over to her protagonists – for the time when she can’t be with them. This can and should be compared to the situation of Palestinian refugees in 1948, among them Dina Naser’s father, whose experiences are referenced by the director. This opens up a larger context for this story which is profoundly and universally human but at the same time linked closely to the complicated Syria and Middle East conflict by its wealth of detail.

Bert Rebhandl

Village of Women

Documentary Film
Armenia,
France
2019
92 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Stéphane Jourdain (La Huit), Tsovinar Soghomonyan (Hayk Studio), Thierry Barbedette (TV 78)
Tamara Stepanyan
Nils Økland, Sigbjørn Apeland, Narine Harutyunyan, Grigor Narekatsi, Cynthia Zaven, Edouard Mirzoyan
Robin Fresson, Tamara Stepanyan
Olivier Ferrari, William Wojda
Harutyun Mangasaryan, Tamara Stepanyan, Jean-Marc Schick
It’s the women who rule this Armenian village. They plough, harvest, and drive the tractors. They cook, eat together, laugh and sing. Life runs in a smooth rhythm, although melancholy seems to overshadow many conversations. The absence of men in the village is borne like a phenomenon of nature. The women have learned to adapt, solving problems together. All male villagers, except for a few old men, spend nine months of every year in Russia to work there. There are no jobs in Armenia. The families are complete only in winter. As soon as autumn begins to fade, the mood in the village begins to change. The return of the men brings excitement and joy, but also insecurity and changes. After the exuberant welcome celebrations, a new daily routine begins where couples are suddenly together again, children play with their fathers and the women finally know that a part of their workload is in other hands. But responsibilities must be redistributed every year.

Director Tamara Stepanyan has achieved a warm-hearted, stylistically assured portrait of a female community of fate who bear their difficult circumstances with lots of humour, warmth and a generous measure of lived feminism.

Luc-Carolin Ziemann
Young Cinema Competition 2013
What a Fuck Am I Doing on This Battlefield Nico Peletier, Julien Fezans

Avantgarde musician Matt Elliott talks in disturbing clarity and expressive black and white about God, the world, and his demons. A precisely understated music film.

What a Fuck Am I Doing on This Battlefield

Documentary Film
France
2013
53 minutes
subtitles: 
No

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Nico Peletier, Julien Fezans
Nico Peletier, Julien Fezans
Elliott Matt
Nico Peletier
Nico Peletier, Julien Fezans
Nico Peletier, Julien Fezans
Julien Fezans
A record of various encounters with musician Matt Elliott before and after a number of concerts, filmed in expressive black and white. A fascinating simultaneity of absolute directness and extreme stylisation in the tradition of the legendary conversations recorded in Andy Warhol’s “Interview”. A music film, certainly, but working with precise understatement to resist the temptations of becoming a mere product sales channel. Matt Elliott’s works are usually defined as somewhere between dark folk and melancholic-electric avant-garde. His albums are appropriately entitled “Howling Songs” or “The Broken Man”. Obviously trusting the two filmmakers Julien Fezans and Nico Peltier completely, the musician opens up and talks in disturbing clarity about God, the world, the role nightmares and episodes of depression play for his creativity, his sympathetic refusal to play the Angry Young Man in everyday life, and his hatred of political manipulation and despotism. By the way: the central chapter of this film bears the allusive title “The Howl”, which suggests associations with literature. We have good reasons to assume that some poses and gestures explicitly refer to Edvard Munch’s expressionist painting “The Scream”.

Ralph Eue
International Programme 2019
Words of Bandits Jean Boiron Lajous

There is a resistant community in the foggy gorges of the Italian-French border region. A film about arriving, progressing, and approaching each other.

Words of Bandits

Documentary Film
France
2019
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Loïc Legrand
Jean Boiron Lajous
Raphael Hénard, N’dembo Ziavoula
Jean Boiron Lajous
Myriam Ayçager
Christine Dancausse, Aurélien Marsais, Hadrien Basch
Without solidarity, hope would long since have died. The borders in the Italian-French Roya valley have been closed since 2015. Countless refugees try in vain to leave the Italian town of Ventimiglia for France and are sent back again and again. But the liberal inhabitants of this stubborn region refuse to settle for this. Together they oppose the law, shelter young migrants, provide them with bread behind the backs of the police – plainly doing everything to give these people a future. So in the foggy gorges far from the great European metropolises there is a community that stands together and just wants to help, resists – out of love of their homeland, out of human kindness, out of the shared belief in a world where we can live together peacefully and which is worth fighting for. “Words of Bandits” shows an oasis of hope. A film about arriving, progressing and approaching each other.

Julia Weigl
Retrospective 2019
Wundkanal Thomas Harlan

Fiction or document? Perhaps both, or something monstrous in-between. An old man is kidnapped and interrogated by his kidnappers. The old man is the actor who plays the mass murderer he is himself.

Wundkanal

Documentary Film
France,
FRG
1984
103 minutes
subtitles: 
No

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Quasar Film, Reass Films
Thomas Harlan
Bob Wade
Henri Alekan
Patricia Mazuy
Yvette Biro, Thomas Harlan
Fiction or document? Perhaps both, or something monstrous in-between. An old man is kidnapped and interrogated by his kidnappers. The old man is the actor who plays the mass murderer he is himself. The film not only lays bare the protagonist’s biography but weaves connections from National Socialism to the death of the RAF prisoners in Stammheim. Contagious in every respect!

Ralph Eue