Film Archive

International Programme 2012
Arbeit Heimat Opel Ulrike Franke, Michael Loeken

Apprentices in the Bochum Opel works accompanied over the period of their apprenticeship: drilling, swotting, giving everything, being “Opelaners” – in times of job cuts and plant closures.

Arbeit Heimat Opel

Documentary Film
Germany
2012
90 minutes
subtitles: 
No

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Ulrike Franke, Filmproduktion Loeken Franke
Ulrike Franke, Michael Loeken
Jörg Adams, Michael Loeken, Reinhard Köcher, Dieter Stürmer
Bert Schmidt
Ulrike Franke, Michael Loeken
Filipp Forberg, Axel Schmidt
The world trusts German cars; “Made in Germany” is regarded as a guarantee of solid craftsmanship. This has a lot to do with Germany’s unique system of apprentice training, which is based on centuries of tradition. But what’s it like to be an apprentice today, especially at one of the flagships of the German car industry?
Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken portray six 16- to 19-year-olds who started their apprenticeship as industrial mechanics at the Bochum Opel works in 2009, and their instructor. They are there when the boys pull on their Opel shirts for the first time, sweat at the drill and lathe, measure a piece for the hundredth time and despair when they fail once more to satisfy Mr. Kranz’s standards; when they boredly play with their mobile phones during boring union meetings and suddenly loose all coolness before a test. It’s still true that everyone has to start at the bottom of the ladder, but something is different: Loeken/Franke confront the images of the boys’ working life – filmed exclusively at the workplace – with news reports of imminent job cuts at Opel. Iron principles and pre-shaped identities – I am an “Opelaner” and Opel is part of Ruhr destrict like the Schalke football club – are destabilised by the ups and downs of the stock market. In this phase of transition from school and home to working life, each apprentice develops his own strategy to deal with that insecurity. Because everything could be over before it even started. Opel recently announced that intend to give up Bochum as a location in 2016 was announced.
– Grit Lemke

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

International Programme 2012
Der Große Irrtum Dirk Heth, Olaf Winkler

Eggesin and elsewhere: committed people who work – without an income. The concept of citizen work reflected in a thoughtful and multilayered essay.

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

International Programme 2012
Downeast

An entrepreneur and his employees try to get a fish factory running and fight the stranglehold of financial capital in a small US coastal town. A gripping story.

Downeast

Documentary Film
USA
2012
78 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Matthew Dougherty
David Redmon
David Redmon and Ashley Sabin
The region of Maine called “Down East” is also known as the “Lobster Coast” – and until the crisis reached it, the people there earned a good living by fishing and processing fish. But the last sardine cannery in the small town of Gouldsboro closed in 2010 and the workers – their proud average age 65 – have been unemployed ever since. Until the Italian-American businessman Antonio Bussone arrives in the coast town to make a new start with the core workforce in the old factory: “Live Lobster”. But while the eager and hopeful old ladies are putting on their white rubber aprons and stepping up to the assembly lines again, Antonio is faced not only with the narrow-mindedness and competitiveness of the town fathers, who are in the fishing business themselves. He is forced to rely more and more on the banks as he fights a losing battle for his “American Dream”.
David Redmon and Ashley Sabin lived among the people of Gouldsboro for one and a half years and became part of the process whose different actors they follow and grow close to. In the best American narrative tradition they develop a gripping story in which honest enterprise (“business is personal”) in alliance with the workers is fighting against faceless financial capital. The fight is not only about existences and a whole lot of money, but most of all about dignity. Down East is everywhere.
– Grit Lemke
International Programme 2012
Drivers Wanted

A small taxi company in Queens, its old boss and his drivers, daily routines and struggles for survival. Full of whacky Jewish humour – the common man’s Big Apple.

Drivers Wanted

Documentary Film
USA
2012
54 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Adam Crystal
Joshua Z Weinstein
Jean Tsien
The New York street system consists of 6174 miles of mostly asphalt roads and legend has it that a real Yellow Cab Driver knows this jungle like the back of his hand. The filmmakers Jean Tsien and Joshua Weinstein mixed with the colourful community of drivers, mechanics and office clerks working for a long-established taxi company in Queens to document that the original ideal of the common man’s Big Apple is still very much alive and present in this slightly seedy enterprise. They avoided the trap of producing a simple assertion of an idyllic or even paradisiacal situation, opting instead for a highly enjoyable demonstration of that unspectacular and delightful feeling described by Hemingway when he remembered an encounter with some craftsmen during a stay in Paris in the 1920s: “It was easier to think if I was walking and doing something or seeing people doing something that they understood.“ What’s left? The certainty that it can’t hurt to feel grateful for little things occasionally.
– Ralph Eue
International Programme 2012
Mama Illegal Ed Moschitz

A long-term observation of Moldavian women, illegal and without rights, working cleaning and nursing jobs in Western Europe, and their children, who grow up without their mothers. A tragedy.

Mama Illegal

Documentary Film
Austria
2011
95 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Ed Moschitz
Gailute Miksyste
Sandra Merseburger
Alexandra Löwy
Ed Moschitz
Lenka Mikulova
Dirty clothes are scattered along the railway tracks, thrown there by those who stowed away under freight trains to escape the poverty of Moldavia. The unemployment rate is 80 percent, a third of the population have already left the country. Today it’s mostly the women who leave to work as illegal cleaners or caregivers in the West, with no health insurance and no rights. The smugglers are expensive and the risk of being caught is high, so they stay away for years. They do the jobs no one else wants to do and earn little money. But the plan doesn’t work because once abroad they change; want to live like the people whose homes they are cleaning while their children are waiting at home and the fathers are baking the bread. Ed Moschitz accompanied three of those women for seven years. This remarkably long period of time, which the film fought for, enables us to look at all angles. The children’s alienation from mothers they only know through Skype, the men’s disappointment when their wives mock their housekeeping, and the conflict of the guest workers who have no documents in the West and can’t find their way back home. The film is a passionate appeal to politicians to create a legal framework for these realities. The look at a classroom in a Moldavian village school, where almost all the children are “motherless”, ought to be motivation enough.
– Cornelia Klauß

Pablo's Winter

Documentary Film
UK
2012
76 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Juan Alberto Navazo
Julian Schwanitz
Nick Gibbon
A “story of nicotine and mercury” is what Chico Pereira calls this film in which he portrays the end of a working life and a region. For 2000 years, mercury was mined underground in the Spanish city of Almadén, the director’s hometown. Then, in 2011, a EU-wide ban on the resource marked the end of a proud culture of miners. The pensioner and chain smoker Pablo was one of them. Now he spends his days watching television, grumbling to his wife and producing billows of smoke. What’s left when the jobs are gone, the doctor forbids one to smoke on top of that and one has no idea what to make of the lifetime gained? When all that’s left in the end is a name in a yellowing file and a notebook full of memories of heroic labour disputes, fretwork classes in the pensioners’ club or a dance on Valentine’s Day just won’t do the trick. Carefully framed and arranged like a feature film and yet deeply authentic, the black and white scenes (camera: Julian Schwanitz, Golden Dove Short Film 2011), tell the story of a new beginning in the midst of decline with some cautious humour. There is an element of utopia in the old man’s almost fairytale-like encounter with the boy Jaime. At the end the miners’ choir appeals to their patron saint, Barbara. But she is no longer responsible for Almadén. Only Pablo is left to hold the fort – and smoke.

Grit Lemke



Awarded with a Honorary Mention in the Young Cinema Competition and the Healthy Workplaces Film Award 2012

International Programme 2012
San Agustin - Ebbe im Plastikmeer Alexander Hick, Gudrun Gruber, Michael Schmitt

Almería, the biggest fruit and vegetable production area in the world. Water shortages, illegal workers, the cucumber crisis and the destruction of nature in an instructive tragedy.

San Agustin - Ebbe im Plastikmeer

Documentary Film
Germany
2012
72 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Alexander Hick, Gudrun Gruber, Michael Schmitt
Alexander Hick, Gudrun Gruber, Michael Schmitt
Calexico, Pink Martini
Aline László
Nina Ergang
San Agustin is an island without a beach: the small Andalusian village lies in the midst of a wide sea of plastic awnings. No field, no meadow, no tree. Just white foil as far as the eye can see. Here, in Almería in southern Spain, lies Europe’s fruit and vegetable garden, where 90 percent of the aubergines and 80 percent of the peppers consumed in Europe are grown. It’s also the largest vegetable cultivation area on earth. But the fruit and vegetables leave an aftertaste, because water is scarce, pricing pressure extreme and the plants are threatened by bacteria.
In nine chapters three film students explore the diverse aspects of this place and its inhabitants. Their subjects range from the destruction of the landscape to the cucumber crisis to illegal undocumented workers, sometimes accompanied by an ironic voice-over, sometimes juxtaposed with images of mass tourism along the coast of Southern Spain.
One of the most haunting scenes comes when the vegetable farmer and plant lover José strenuously pulls courgette plants out of the ground on his family farm. It’s a horrifying act for him, but there is no more profit in growing them.
– Antje Stamer

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


White Night

Documentary Film
Israel
2012
48 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Daniel Gal
Yuval Orr
Irit Gal
They are up in their kitchens before daybreak, straighten their sleeping children’s blankets and are ready to depart between two and three in the morning. Every night, Palestinian women living in a refugee camp near Jerusalem go on a difficult journey. Irit Gal accompanies Fatma, Jamila and the others, including Fayek, the only man, on their way across rough ground, mountains and forests, rubble and debris. When they reach the border to Israel they crawl through narrow holes in the barbed wire to run to safety from the army then. In the city, the hunted turn into modern women in high heels and without Hijabs who merge with the crowds. When they are cleaning Israeli homes it looks as if they were leading a normal life for a moment.
Under cover of darkness – which is no real protection after all – the women confide their fears, dreams and longings to the camera. The film moves only in the no man’s land between the borders, like its protagonists, who are marginalised by two societies: their own, where women are supposed to stay at home (even while they are forced to feed their families by illegal means) and Israel, which refuses them work permits and thus a life in dignity. One would like to invite those responsible to take part in this hellish night-time journey just once.
– Grit Lemke