Film Archive

Sections (Film Archive)

German Competition
Art War Marco Wilms

Art as a weapon! Graffiti on Cairo’s walls as a medium of rebellion, Egyptian underground artists as the chroniclers of events. A frenzied trip through colours and rhythms.

Art War

Documentary Film
Germany
2013
87 minutes
subtitles: 
German
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Marlen Burghardt, Marco Wilms
Marco Wilms
Ramy Essam, Bosaina and Wetrobots, Tonbüro Berlin
Marco Wilms, Abdelrhman Zin Eldin, Emanuele Ira, Bashir Mohamed Wagih, Ali Khaled
Stephan Talneau
Mohamed Khaled
Marco Wilms
Art is a weapon! This motto still holds true in Cairo. After 30 years of autocracy, President Mubarak was swept away by his people. Now the street belongs to them, the young rebels and artists. Graffiti sprayers and painters make the walls speak. They recount the days of fighting in blood-smeared portraits, the time of anarchy in wild collages, the attempts of liberation from a suppressed sexuality in obscene pictures. Walls become a chronicle of the rush of events; electro pop and rap supply a thrilling soundtrack. Euphoria is followed by overpainting and destruction. Snipers are at work, aiming at the protesters’ eyes. The revolution is no more romantic than this underground art, whose aim is to provoke and take risks, is accommodating.
In one episode, director Marco Wilms draws a line back to the historic murals of the age of the Pharaohs. In a country with a high illiteracy rate, such traditions become a tried and tested medium of revolt. In a wild tour de force through the past two years of permanent and radical upheavals, “Art War” shows the dangerous dance on the volcano as a trip driven forward by the colours and rhythms of the Egyptian painters and musicians.

Cornelia Klauß



Honorary Mention in the German Competition Documentary Film 2013

German Competition
Café Waldluft Matthias Koßmehl

Now that the Italian tourists no longer come refugees live in this hotel in the idyllic Bavarian Alps. Their lives intersect, sometimes as comedy, sometimes as tragedy. A different kind of “Heimatfilm”.

Café Waldluft

Documentary Film
Germany
2015
79 minutes
subtitles: 
German
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Matthias Koßmehl
Matthias Koßmehl
André Feldhaus
Bastian Esser
Andreas Nicolai
Matthias Koßmehl
Till Wollenweber
Tourists used to come by the busload for their place in the sun at the beautiful Café Waldluft, at least during their well-earned holidays. For the past two years, though, the long-established hotel in Berchtesgaden with its view of the “fateful mountain” of the Germans, the Watzmann and its foothills, has accommodated guests from other regions of the world: they came from Syria, Afghanistan or Sierra Leone and have certainly not chosen this alpine idyll freely. Their stay as asylum seekers consists of endless waiting, tiring visits to administrative offices, being homesick and worrying about relatives.

The dynamics in the small town have also changed. But if Matthias Koßmehl opens his film with a traditional Bavarian costume parade in slow motion his only motive is to eliminate the expectations raised by this stereotype. Instead he takes a sober but open-hearted look at the encounters that actually happen in this strange place. There is Mama Flora, the owner, who trusts in God and takes care of each of her protégés, and there is the East German cook who has found her elective home here. Chance encounters with regulars or hikers and the everyday coexistence at the house match a whole range of intersecting lives. The Watzmann, covered in clouds or clearly visible, is always on the horizon. A documentary “Heimatfilm” in which the term home has many facets.

Lars Meyer



Award winner of the DEFA Sponsoring Prize 2015

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

Der Große Irrtum

Documentary Film
Germany
2012
105 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Dirk Heth, Olaf Winkler
Dirk Heth, Olaf Winkler
Melanie Barth, Wolfgang Adams
Dirk Heth
Dirk Heth, Olaf Winkler
Olaf Winkler
Raimund von Scheibner
How do you determine the value of a human being? In our society the answer seems obvious: through the market. But Olaf Winkler and Dirk Heth are interested in “how to be happy without a market value”. They return to the shrinking town of Eggesin, which they filmed once before in 2002, to find an unemployment rate of 20 percent and dedicated people who work without earning a real income: Marion who has her own business but is still dependent on welfare. The single mother Diana who scratches along on “job creation schemes”. The one-Euro jobber Irina who may be lucky enough to rise to 1.50 Euros per hour or a part-time job. Mrs. Westholm and her “Heimatstube” volunteers. The concept of citizen work, promoted by politician Rainer Bomba on the state and federal levels, seems to be a solution. In Eggesin the mayor is launching a time bank project. The film never uses these people as props but sees their biographies and constraints and takes them seriously. At the same time, the first person narrator – a cameraman in letters to his children – becomes one of them, because the market doesn’t need him anymore, either.
The filmmakers and their protagonists both see how the “ruthless paradigm of unconditional marketability threatened to swallow an intact city.” They discover ideas and commitment that seem to go nowhere. Caught between hope and a growing feeling of impotence, they ask questions that must be heard.

Grit Lemke



Film Prize "Leipziger Ring" 2012

German Competition
Der Kuaför aus der Keupstraße Andreas Maus

The NSU nail bomb attack that injured 22 people in Cologne in 2004, where only the victims were suspected later. Complex reconstruction of a scandal.

Der Kuaför aus der Keupstraße

Documentary Film
Germany
2015
92 minutes
subtitles: 
German
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Herbert Schwering, Christine Kiauk
Andreas Maus
Maciej Sledziecki
Hajo Schomerus
Rolf Mertler
Maik Baumgärtner, Andreas Maus
Ralf Weber
Wednesday afternoon was deliberately chosen. There were a lot of customers in front of and in the brothers Özcan and Hasan Yildirim’s barbershop on 9 June 2004, when 700 three-inch carpenters’ nails turned into projectiles with a 250 metre range. 22 people were injured. The attack was infamous; the course of the investigations was equally scandalous: the victims were suspected. CCTV material was not analysed and Federal Minister of the Interior Otto Schily decisively ruled out a right wing background. It was only in 2001 that this crime was solved in the course of the revelations concerning the right wing extremist terrorist “National Socialist Underground” group. The trial continues until the present day.

Ten years after the Cologne nail bomb attack, director Andreas Maus focuses on giving a voice to those whom nobody wanted to hear for a long time. He deploys narrative strategies to establish a distance in order to expose how systematically matters were hushed up, suppressed and denied. Documentary and re-enacted material are interwoven, actors perform next to affected persons, spaces are reconstructed. Maus overwrites the hackneyed televised images with his own visual inventions. The camera stops, the look at the audience freezes. One is tempted to ask what exactly is supposed to come after the “culture of welcome”?

Cornelia Klauß

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

No Land's Song

Documentary Film
France,
Germany
2014
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Gunter Hanfgarn, Rouven Rech, Teresa Renn, Anne Grange
Ayat Najafi
Koohyar Kalari, Sarah Blum
Julia Wiedwald, Schokofeh Kamiz
Ayat Najafi
Sasan Nakhai, Dana Farzanehpour, Julien Brossier
“The female voice is fading away.” Iranian composer Sara Najafi’s statement must be taken literally, for the Islamic revolution of 1979 banned female singers from appearing in public in Iran. They are not allowed to perform solo any more, unless to an exclusively female audience. Recordings of former female icons can only be bought on the black market. What a grievous loss. But Sara is determined to refresh the cultural memory by roaming Teheran in the footsteps of famous singers of the 1920s and 60s and is about to revive the female voices in the present: she courageously plans an evening of Iranian and French soloists to rebuild shattered cultural bridges.
A concert that’s not allowed to take place. For two and a half years, director Ayat Najafi, who lives in Berlin today and shows a flair for the right scene, follows the preparations between Teheran and Paris that are always touch and go. What’s still possible, what goes too far? Sara’s regular audiences at the Ministry of Culture shed light on the interior logic and arbitrariness of the system, though they can only be heard (always to a black screen). Can intercultural solidarity and the revolutionary power of music accomplish anything here? A political thriller and at the same time a musical journey, this film never loses sight of its real centre: the female voice.

Lars Meyer



Prize of the Youth Jury 2014