Film Archive

11 Images of a Human

Documentary Film
Finland
2012
75 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Markku Lehmuskallio, Giron Filmi Oy
Markku Lehmuskallio, Anastasia Lapsui
Heikki Laitinen, Anna-Kaisa Liedes
Johannes Lehmuskallio, Markku Lehmuskallio
Anastasia Lapsui, Markku Lehmuskallio
Anastasia Lapsui, Markku Lehmuskallio
Martti Turunen
A poetic and reflective exploration of the surviving silhouettes marked on rocks sometimes thousands of years ago: Anastasia Lapsui and Markku Lehmuskallio regard the petroglyphs they sought out in many places of the world as captions meant to express our ancestors’ understanding of the world, or as mirrors in which they saw their own reflection. But most of all they regard them as phenomena charged with a magic aura: objectifications of human amazement. Stories are adapted and transformed. “Make a picture in which you can live forever”, says one of the narrators. Subject-object relations apparently set in stone are made liquid again by the magic. Frequently the images in the film speak, say “I” and talk to “US”. Because not only do we look at the figures on the rock, they look back at us. At one point these enchanted creatures, animated by the filmmakers’ visionary power, even detach themselves from the rocks, cross to the other bank of reality like shamans – and immerse themselves for a moment into the present day of a dance ritual before they return, ghost-like and thoroughly unconcerned, to their stony eternity.
– Ralph Eue

Another Night on Earth

Documentary Film
Spain
2012
52 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

David Muñoz, Hibrida
David Muñoz
David Muñoz
David Muñoz, Alicia Medina
David Muñoz
David Muñoz
Cairo traffic can justifiably be called an experimental chaos. Streetlights seem to be regarded on principle as mere lighting consoles, erected to adorn the city but otherwise negligible. Taxis, however, are looked upon as halfway trustworthy ferries navigating this erratic stream of road users, all the more so when the whole city has been set in motion even more than usual. Produced between March and September 2011 during the blossoming of the Arab Revolution and recorded with the smallest available equipment, permanently installed in several taxis, “Otra noche en la tierra” is an exciting picture of Egyptian society during those months. Dozens of passengers share their concerns (frequently) or euphoria (sometimes), their expectations and fears in view of an uncertain future with us. The most interesting moment in a taxi ride, according to the Spanish director David Muñoz (who acted as cameraman, producer and editor), is the one when the taxi turns from a vehicle to an uncensored communication space, when this strange mix of anonymity and privacy becomes the catalyst for breathtaking moments of human bonding. One could even say when the human condition shows its many faces.

Ralph Eue



Prize of the Trade Union ver.di and Prize of the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique 2012

Are You listening!

Documentary Film
Bangladesh
2012
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Sara Afreen, Beginning Production Ltd.
Kamar Ahmad Simon
Kamar Ahmad Simon
Saikat Sekhareshwar Ray
Kamar Ahmad Simon
Sukanta Majumdar
Let’s set the record straight: Bangladesh is a country whose CO2 contribution to climate change is negligible; at the same time it’s paying the highest price. In hundred years it will probably have ceased to exist, swallowed by rising sea levels. There are climate refugees already. On 27 May 2009, cyclone Aila hit the country’s coastline. The floods drove about a million people from their homes, including 100 families from Sutarkhali. When their village was flooded, the people fled to an old dyke nearby where they have endured for the past two years. Fed by international aid and somehow connected to the monetary economy of the interior they are growing impatient for the government to build the promised dyke to reclaim their lost land. Director Kamad Ahmad, a local, accompanied them on this journey for a while. With great persistence and heartfelt sympathy for their ludicrous situation right above the flood line, the filmmaker documents a life governed by money worries, unfair food distribution and broken promises, but also by the determination to return home one day. “Are You Listening” is a powerful visual narrative about that most fundamental human instinct – the will to survive, against all resistance and reason. At the same time, the dyke as a last refuge of humanity opens a disturbing outlook into a future we may all share.
– Matthias Heeder

Cloudy Mountains

Documentary Film
China
2012
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Han Lei, Documentary Channel, Shanghai Media Group (SMG)
Zhu Yu
Liu Zhifeng
Han Lei
Shen Hancun
When they sit together slurping noodles after work they like to joke around. They perform imaginary dances and take heart-warming care of an injured bird. The Chinese miners at Lop Nut get fairly good wages by local standards, but they pay a high price. Dust swirls up, turns into clouds that float over the landscape and at last settle on everything like an inch-thick woollen carpet. This asbestos mining region was largely depopulated. It looks like a smoking apocalyptic volcanic landscape. For years the material that is now banned in Europe but supplies an immense demand for housing space in in China has been mined here. While more and more people in China profit from the construction boom, the asbestos workers live in tents right on the grounds. In his debut film, director Zuh Yu precisely exposes the unspeakable conditions in which the workers earn their pay – cut off from the outside world to which they are connected only by mobile phones. The youngest among them has just turned 17. But his focus gradually shifts to the people themselves, their bawdy humour and tough, cool phrases. Their tenacity and determination to keep going turn “Cloudy Mountain” into a great statement, one that addresses the human condition.

Cornelia Klauß



Honorary Mention in the International Competition Documentary Film 2012

Colombianos

Documentary Film
Sweden
2012
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Antonio Russo Merenda, Hysteria Film AB
Tora Mårtens
Andreas Unge
Erik Vallsten
Tora Mårtens
The two Colombian brothers Pablo and Fernando are around 20 and couldn’t be more different. Pablo lives in Colombia, has clear goals and realises them with determination. Fernando, only a few years younger, is hanging out in Stockholm. A junkie with no direction, about to crash. And a therapy in Colombia supervised by Pablo is supposed to help? Tora Mårten’s film follows the unequal brothers and Olga, their mother, whose role in Fernando’s misery emerges more clearly the longer we observe them, over a period of one and a half years. Pablo has his share of the responsibility, too. He calls his younger brother Ferdi and treats him accordingly: he plans the therapy, demands, organises. They both love him, and that’s Fernando’s problem. How to escape this loving attention that bears down on him like lead? “Colombianos” displays a great sense of situations, quiet nuances and silent observations in this tale of a family whose balance of relationships is being re-arranged. In a reversal of his status as the baby of the family, Fernando forms the centre of gravity around which old family ties are dissolving to re-emerge on a new, cleansed level. Olga attends a self-help group to analyse her own behaviour. Pablo increases the pressure and throws off the responsibility for his brother, who finally prevails and returns to Sweden alone. Cut. A year later. Life sometimes does have happy endings. Just like the movies.

Matthias Heeder



Golden Dove in the International Competition Documentary Film 2012

Documentarian

Documentary Film
Latvia
2012
82 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Aija Berzina, VFS FILMS
Ivars Zviedris, Inese Kļava
Ivars Zviedris
Inese Kļava
Ivars Zviedris, Inese Kļava, Inga Ābele
Aivars Riekstiņš
Dziga Vertov himself regarded “life caught in the act”, “life as it is” as the ultimate goal of the documentary. He and his kinoki used every means, even hidden cameras, and no one got mad because the cinematograph was a sensation people wanted to be part of. Almost 100 years later, the two young directors Ivars Zviedris and Inese Kļava take their camera to the moorlands of Kemeri near Riga to explore the life of a hillbilly named Inta. This rustic eccentric with the impressive voice may not own a TV set, but she knows the rules of mass media (including the nuances separating docu-soap and reality show) only too well, especially concerning her worth and rights with regard to the “paparazzi”. She takes command from the start, showering directors, cameramen and producers with curses whose violence makes ordinary mortals blush. Inta says things like “You’re shitting into my soul, you fucking bastard, with your damned camera!” and is not averse to taking up a metal stick to “smash Ivar’s head” or hand him to the “pederasts”. She won’t accept money, but those who “get rich on her poverty” ought to pay nonetheless. Later she’ll cry... while the film has long since become a tragicomic relationship movie, like a meta-commentary about the “documentarian’s” existence in the age of radical moral abandonment. (aka: authenticity).
– Barbara Wurm

Fidaï

Documentary Film
Algeria,
China,
France
2012
83 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Mathieu Mullier, Kafard Films
Damien Ounouri
Matthieu Laclau
Mary Stephen
Damien Ounouri, Linda Amiri
Li Dan-Feng
When the Algerian War for Independence broke out in 1954, El Hadi, the protagonist of this cleverly constructed film about killing in times of war, had just turned 14. Six years later he was a Fidai, a fighter for the Algerian National Liberation Front FLN by whose orders he assassinated two people in Paris. El Hadi was a volunteer, his motive was simple: colonialism is intolerable. 50 years later director Damien Ounouri takes up his uncle El Hadi’s story again and together they embark on a journey into his past. Much has been buried, but the memories begin to return when they visit the sites of the Paris assassinations, where the director presses a gun into his uncle’s hand: I am your target. Show me how you shot him. El Hadi takes the pistol, which at first feels as alien as his memories, loads it and once more lives through the pivotal moments. Follow the victim, hold the pistol to his head, pull the trigger, run away. In this moment he is not aiming at his nephew but at the traitor who was sentenced to death by his superior officers. The situation may be contrived, El Hadi’s feelings aren’t. This filmic method works like a time machine which prepares the ground for the essential question: did you do the right thing then? Damien Ounouri respectfully follows up on this question posed to his uncle, embedded in the historic context of the anti-colonial movement of the 1960s and its countless victims. There is not even a hint of accusation or justification. Only the serious work of remembrance.

Matthias Heeder

Like Stone Lions at the Gateway Into Night

Documentary Film
France,
Greece,
Switzerland
2012
87 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Pierre-Alain Meier, prince Film SA
Olivier Zuchuat
Olivier Zuchuat
Olivier Zuchuat
Olivier Zuchuat, Eleni Gioti
Aris Athanassopoulos
The slow travelling shot along a stone wall through whose openings we get only occasional glimpses of the azure sea suggests an antique excavation. But appearances are deceptive, for this is 1948. The world is still under the shock of the World War when old frontlines re-emerge in Greece and a violent civil war begins. The Communist Party and the National Liberation Front, who just fought the Fascists in a gruelling partisan war, are banned and 80,000 Greeks are deported to barren islands like Makronisos. The crackling loudspeakers broadcast perfidious prohibitions and the mantra of the ten commandments which demand that people renounce communism and join the patriotic fight for “God, country and freedom”. Their goal: re-education. In reality this is psychological terror, combined with harassment and torture. But the walls of Makronisos aren’t silent. Their cracks used to hide poems by many poets like Yannis Ritsos, Tassos Livaditis and Mikis Theodorakis, who were interned here. Their yearning metaphors and powerful poetry are an attempt to stand up to the crude propaganda permanently broadcast throughout the tent camp. The Swiss director Oliver Zuchuat lets the texts clash and speak for themselves in a strict and consistent composition.

Cornelia Klauß



Preis der Ökumenischen Jury 2012

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 End of Time

Documentary Film
Canada,
Switzerland
2012
114 minutes
subtitles: 
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Cornelia Seitler, Maximage GmbH
Peter Mettler
Gabriel Scotti, Vincent Hänni, Richie Hawtin, Robert Henke, Autechre, Thomas Koner, Costanza Francavilla, Christos Hatzis, Bruno Degazio
Peter Mettler, Camille Budin, Nick De Pencier
Peter Mettler, Roland Schlimme
Peter Mettler
Peter Bräker
What is time? Three words forming a question that we will never be able to answer conclusively. Peter Mettler goes on a journey through space and time which lasts 114 minutes.
A NASA pilot rises 10,000 metres above the Alps with a helium balloon to drop back to earth. Where does time end? Scientists at the Swiss CERN try to study the Big Bang. Can time exist without space? When matter destroys all life, earth will revert to its original state. Are there places outside time? A big city where human civilisation is history. Is time a never-ending cycle? In the face of death, life at last – in the here and now. That is the only life, inexorably.
Peter Mettler frees the documentary from its narrative corset and takes us along on a cinematographic free fall experiment. He tackles time, expands and accelerates it, immerses us in breathtaking tableaux, edits voices, images and thought fragments to a space-time-vortex whose suggestive power you can only reject or succumb to. That’s presumptuous, tainted with the risk of failure. That’s great cinema.
– Claas Danielsen

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