Film Archive

Sections (Film Archive)

CITIZENFOUR

Documentary Film
Germany,
USA
2014
114 minutes
subtitles: 
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Dirk Wilutzky, Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy
Laura Poitras
Laura Poitras, Kirsten Johnson, Katy Scoggin, Trevor Paglen
Mathilde Bonnefoy
In the last instalment of her post 9/11 “New American Century” trilogy, multiple award-winning director Laura Poitras shows how America’s so called “war on terror” is directed against the country’s own citizens, against everybody. It’s about surveillance – on the political, philosophical and psychological level. It’s about madness.
In January 2013, Poitras, who had already done some research on the subject and organised artistic interventions, was contacted by the then completely unknown Edward Snowden. In June, together with Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald, she published his material, followed by interviews with Snowden.
Poitras is interested in the point of intersection between politics and art. She designed “CITIZENFOUR” as a triptych of paranoia: from the pseudo-democratic statements of American politicians to the first whistleblowers, from panoramic shots of gigantic intelligence service headquarters to the claustrophobically small hotel room in Hong Kong where Snowden was waiting for the moment of exposure. Shooting continued almost until the film was released, depicting what Snowden set in motion.
Poitras’s artistic objective is to establish an emotional connection between us and the knowledge which is available and precisely not secret. “CITIZENFOUR” makes us experience almost physically what an authoritarian surveillance state is and that we are right in the middle of one, too. Not a pleasant feeling.

Grit Lemke



Film Prize "Leipziger Ring" 2014

Die Trasse

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Germany,
Russia
2013
121 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Natalia Manskaya, Filip Remunda, Vít Klusák, Simone Baumann
Vitaly Mansky
Alexandra Ivanova
Pavel Mendel-Ponamarev
Vitaly Mansky
Dmitry Nazarov
It was – as the “IG Erdgastrasse” (IG Natural Gas Pipeline) claims on a website still designed in the German-Soviet friendship style – the “construction of the century”. It started with the ground-breaking ceremony on 6 June 1966 in near-arctic West Siberia, took on real transcontinental form in the pre-Perestroika years (to Reagan’s horror) and today supplies, among other things, the raw material for one of the major ritual events in Western Europe: the Rheingas-fuelled Rose Monday Parade in Cologne. The “Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod Pipeline” stretches from the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug to the Gulf of Biscay, as unnoticeable as everything else to do with our energy supply. But in terms of geo-politics, -ecologics and -economics, it’s a massive goldmine – with quite noticeable consequences (dependencies, blind faith in technology, environmental damage).
Vitaly Mansky, who last travelled through Cuba in “Motherland or Death”, now explores our own unfamiliar home along this subterranean trail. The politically obstinate documentary maestro is interested in the lives of those who live near and above the pipeline, though not necessarily off it (no money, no gas): indigenous ice fishers, Orthodox Church processions, Putin-supporting tuba players, Gorbachev-critical veterans, angry Roma, cursing Polish men and Virgin Mary-adoring Polish women. He flirts with stereotypes while adroitly avoiding them. Big screen cinema, visually powerful and with great sound design.

Barbara Wurm



MDR Film Prize 2013

In Sarmatien

Documentary Film
Germany
2013
120 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Volker Koepp
Volker Koepp
Rainer Böhm
Thomas Plenert
Beatrice Babin
Thomas Huber
There are two contrasting ways to describe Sarmatia: as a region on the edge of the known world – that’s how the old Greeks saw it –, or as the part of Europe where the once carefully measured geographical centre of the continent is. However, you will probably look in vain for Sarmatia in your school atlas, it doesn’t exist as an administrative unit, and Google Maps won’t help either. Yet Sarmatia is not a chimera.
Volker Koepp travelled there for his new film, generously allowing us to share his impressions and encounters in a both unknown and nearby region between Lithuania and Belarus, the Ukraine and Poland, which borders on the Baltic in the North and the Black Sea in the South. This historic landscape has long made frequent appearances in his work, at least since 1972, when he made “Grüße aus Sarmatien für den Dichter Johannes Bobrowski” (Greetings from Sarmatia for the Poet Johannes Bobrowski”). Like Bobrowski, Volker Koepp recognises it as “that dreamland where all nations and religious would find their place if history had not ploughed it all up over and over again”. The rifts left by all this, especially in the people who live there, and how these people still manage to shine from inside, is beautifully depicted here.

Ralph Eue

Sofia's Last Ambulance

Documentary Film
Bulgaria,
Croatia,
Germany
2012
75 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Ingmar Trost, Sutor Kolonko Filmproduktion,Siniša Juričić, Nukleus film d.o.o., Dimitar Gotchev, SIA Ltd, Ilian Metev
Ilian Metev
Ilian Metev
Betina Ip, Ilian Metev
Ilian Metev
Tom Kirk
The ambulance carries us on its bumpy ride through the streets of the Bulgarian capital. Dr. Krassimir Yordanov chain-smokes by the window. Sister Mila, who affectionately calls him Krassi and is as fond of nicotine as he is, sits between him and the friendly driver Pramen. This is the wonderful cast we follow to their various patients in Sofia. Heart attacks, junkies, abortion attempts and drunks, they’re all there. But the Bulgarian health system is as rotten as the streets of Sofia – there are exactly 13 ambulances servicing the city’s 1.2 million inhabitants. It’s easy to imagine what an exhausting and gruelling job this is. And it doesn’t make any difference that Mila stays calm even with the most difficult patients and calls everyone “darling” or “honey”.
The film follows a consistent narrative format. During the rides the camera is mounted on the dashboard, observing only the three protagonists or the street. Even in the patients’ homes, with worried relatives surrounding the rescue team, we glimpse a leg or the back of a patient’s head at best. No interviews, no voice-over, only live sound – a documentary film in its purest form. The director won the 2008 DOK Leipzig Talent Award and used the prize money to realise this film.

Antje Stamer



Silver Dove in the International Competition Documentary Film 2012


The Last Station

Documentary Film
Chile,
Germany
2012
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Catalina Vergara, Catalina Vergara Films/Globo Rojo; Co-Producer: Philip Gröning/Philip Gröning Filmproduktion
Cristian Soto, Catalina Vergara
The older you get the smaller your radius of movement, the slower everything you do. Time seems to crawl. Every errand is an effort and a tiny last rebellion against a leaden and inexorable death settling on the landscape in autumn colours. Mortality is concealed in everything you do: there are fewer and fewer names in your address book, the body sets new limits with each new operation and even the television programme only makes you sleepy. And yet this loss brings a benefit: everything becomes meaningful. It could be the last time. The two young Chilean filmmakers Christian Soto and Catalina Vergara portray the inhabitants of the Padre Hurtado retirement home from up close and with great empathy. They choreograph this floating existence between life and death in picturesque dark tableaux vivants and fluid lighting. Their images insist on the moment of pause, of immersion, taking up the rhythm of slowness and transforming it into poetry. They have the courage to take a step back from reality and construct a third place in the tradition of magic realism which tells us what it’s like to be not quite here and not yet there. There is a lot of beauty in that, and the recognition that it can relieve our fear of death for a moment.
– Cornelia Klauß