Film Archive

Alppikatu 25 – Home to the Homeless

Documentary Film
Finland
2012
27 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Cilla Werning, Liisa Juntunen
Inka Achté, Marika Väisänen
Graham Hadfield
Sari Aaltonen, Daniel Lindholm, Tuomas Järvelä
Hannele Majaniemi
Alppikatu Street No. 25 has been the address of a shelter for the homeless in Helsinki since 1937. A place for men who have no place of their own. Men without a past? “Create your own memories”, says the motto on a piece of paper pinned to the wall. And yet the memories and traces of the lives of many people who have made a minimal home here, if only temporary, are stored in the monotonous architecture, whose long, bare corridors and narrow cells make one think of a prison. Five of them tell their stories. For a moment, the film delves into each of their interior worlds using only their voices, to which subtle sound collages are added. Visually, the men are never more than phantoms. Sometimes they are caught in the blurriness of the room, sometimes they seem near stagnation. Only the cigarette smoke appears to move. The room, on the other hand, offers no resistance to the exploring camera, as if it could really tell us something about its inhabitants. The abstract brushes shoulders with the concrete, time brushes the room.

Lars Meyer

Distance

Documentary Film
India
2013
38 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Ekta Mittal
Ekta Mittal, Yashaswini B. Raghunandan
Rahul Giri
Paromita Dhar, Amith Surendran
Abhro Banerjee
Ekta Mittal, Yashaswini B. Raghunandan
Abhro Banerjee, Christopher Burchell
Bangalore City, the realm of migrant workers. A realm that can be found right behind the station or on the other side of the railway, where the big scaffolds are, among which you see squat corrugated iron huts one might (and probably has to) call provisional, where people have built a few makeshift square metres to live in. When life itself has become a construction site, dreams fly away. Love is mainly a memory or desire, in other words, the past or the future. In the world of today it’s mostly a gap. So stories of love become all the more important. Told or heard directly or absorbed from Bollywood via tiny mobile phone screens and speakers, these stories also supply adaptable patterns in whose intricate plots the boys on the construction sites can easily imagine themselves as actors.
Yashaswini Raghunandan and Ekta Mittal show the same sure instinct and brilliant cinematic intuition they did in their first film as they follow the fleeting auras of people and places – last year, their film “Presence” was also screened in the Leipzig competition. And they once more un-fold (in the true sense of the word) realities that would otherwise remain inaccessible to us.

Ralph Eue



Golden Dove in the International Short Documentary Competition 2013

Emergency Calls

Documentary Film
Finland
2013
15 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Joonatan Portaankorva
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Joonatan Portaankorva
What is your emergency? The question that’s at the start of every call to an emergency centre is also at the start of this film. Excited, sometimes desperate people on the soundtrack. The emergencies: precipitate labour, a multiple car crash. But also a killing spree and the last radio message of the “Estonia”. The call marks the boundary between life and death which – perhaps – will be crossed. It also depends on those who take it: embodied here by white figures lacking any status-generating symbols such as clothing or hair. Reduced to the naked, pure human being everything depends on. Or are they the Erinyes who hold our fate in their hands?
There is no blood, no images of disasters. We see NASA footage of earth as seen from space instead, clouds, lightshows, radar signals, pointedly distorted. What is one man’s need in view of the infinity of the universe? – Everything, claims this film which, like all works by the directing duo Vartiainen/Veikkolainen, defies categorisation. It reminds us of the conjunctive which runs through our secure lives in the shape of the potential for the worst case. The writing on the wall that silently hovers above us. Would have. Could have. What is your emergency?

Grit Lemke

Everyday Everyday

Documentary Film
Syria
2013
26 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Maia Malas, Madalina Rosca
Reem Karssli
Reem Karssli
Reem Karssli
Reem Karssli
Impressions of a flat, only a few things are captured. A drive on the backseat of a car. One can only suspect that there is an outside. A shadow on the carpet that belongs to another flat. This place is safer. There is a balcony over whose balustrade one had better not look. The woman behind the camera is glimpsed in the reflections on the windowpane. Shots ring out frequently. They say a kiosk was bombed. No, two. They say the Free Syrian Army is building a barrier in front of the house one had to leave behind along with one’s past, dreams and hope. The fear grows “every day”. Everybody knew that Syria was free, would stay free and never accepted any dictatorship, the TV set announces.
In her video diary Reem Karssli paints the sensitive portrait of a family whose members must cope with reality in very individual ways “every day”, a reality “even harsher, uglier” than what the camera is able to capture. A rare document, powerful in its extreme immediacy, which only a miracle could have brought out of this flat.

Claudia Lehmann

Mom

Documentary Film
Russia
2013
28 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Lidiya Sheynina
Lidiya Sheynina
Lidiya Sheynina
Lidiya Sheynina
Lidiya Sheynina
Lidiya Sheynina
Lidiya Sheynina points her calm and distant camera at her mother’s body and face, often angled from below. Over the years, the mother has evolved the physiognomy of a turtle plodding along comfortably. Life is hard, the flat is cramped, but she makes the best of it – on and on. She has taken care of her aged mother for decades, the grey-haired, graceful Grande dame of this student film treasure, who sometimes exercises (jumping jack in a wheelchair), sometimes calls old friends (if they haven’t died yet), sometimes does the dishes (even the Teflon frying pans she’s not supposed to) but usually only sits and eats, or drinks from a beautiful old cup that has “babushka” written on it. The grandmother, who has forgotten how old she is (“What? 96? Impossible.”), that she has had no husband for the past 17 years (“Really?”) and hasn’t left the flat in 20 years (“That’s precisely why I’d like to go out again.”), has turned into a child, the daughter into a mama. The radio talks of the wonderful independence of old age; life is different. Together every day and every night. And yet Mama happily sways back and forth to the morning music and looks out of the window with her mother. Waiting for spring. Such tender metaphors turn “Mama”, a film of small gestures, into great cinema.

Barbara Wurm



Honorary Mention in the International Short Documentary Competition 2013

Notes on Blindness: Rainfall

Documentary Film
Australia,
UK
2013
4 minutes
subtitles: 
No

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Peter Middleton
Peter Middleton, James Spinney
James Ewers, Michael Murray
Gerry Floyd
Justine Angus
Rain changes our perception of space. It gives us a coordinate system of specific sounds in which we can locate and experience ourselves. Rain helped John Hull rediscover the world with his other senses after he had lost his sight. In 1983, he started to record his self-observations on tape. His original recordings form the centre of this film that opens a new visual space of experience to the audience. Precisely framed images shift the boundary of perception from the exterior to the interior world, from physical space to the space of memory and imagination – a poetic experiment. “Rainfal” is the first part of a series based on John Hull’s acoustic diary.

Lars Meyer

Rougarouing

Documentary Film
USA
2013
11 minutes
subtitles: 
No

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Michael Palmieri, Donal Mosher, Patrick Bresnan, Ivete Lucas
Michael Palmieri, Donal Mosher
Michael Palmieri
Michael Palmieri
Donal Mosher, Michael Palmieri
Rougarous are leprechaun-like mythical creatures that often take the shape of werewolves. Their home is the US state of Louisiana and they are an integral part of Cajun folklore. Like Vampires, who celebrate their resurrection at a certain hour of the night, people dressed up as Rougarous meet at certain times of the year to celebrate extravagant rituals of obsession and transformation. The Brockhaus encyclopaedia doesn’t seem to think much of these creatures. At any rate, their description betrays a distant contempt: “The Rougarou has rotten teeth, worm-eaten skin and bloodshot eyes. After transformation his appearance resembles that of an undead person.” Quite unlike Michael Palmieri's and Donal Mosher's sympathetic observation of this American version of extreme carnival. A hyper-active camera and montage strategy hurl the audience without protection into the ritual mud-battle that is Rougarouring. A warning at the end: anyone (perhaps slightly scared) who looks for an emergency exit from this eleven-minute-bacchanal will search in vain.

Ralph Eue

Sirs and Misters

Documentary Film
Ukraine
2013
35 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Yulia Serdyukova
Olexandr Techynskyy
Olexandr Techynskyy, Oleksiy Solodunov
Marina Maykovskaya
Olexandr Techynskyy, Yulia Serdyukova
Oleg Golovoshkin
Uman is a Ukrainian city with a population of less than 90,000. Once a year people from all over the country gather here, playing cards, smoking, and waiting … Is this a trading point for Hi-fi systems or tents? Perhaps both. In any case, for many Ukrainians the arrival of the first coach from Israel heralds the most profitable time of the year as the Jewish pilgrims travel to the tomb of Rabbi Nachman to celebrate the traditional new year’s day of Rosh Hashanah there. Luggage is taken away – for money, of course –, homes are sold, people trade and barter. Rarely has a film captured wheeling and dealing with so much loving attention to detail. We get to experience the lively goings-on between cultures and religions from a very special perspective which turns our attention to the margins of the actual spectacle. Absurdly enough, everything here – despite tough negotiations – seems to be working the way one would wish for or have wished for in other places and at other times. “Mister God knows what he’s doing …”

Claudia Lehmann

The Love Agency

Documentary Film
Sweden
2013
27 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Martina Carlstedt
Martina Carlstedt
Eirik Røland, Olle Markensten
Martina Carlstedt
Alexandra Litén
Johan Embring
In an age when even the KGB returns to typing machines there’s even less cause to rely on the Internet in matters of love. In Arkhangelsk, not far from the Arctic Circle, things are still organised on an analogue basis, with a folder of pictures. All those who described what they are yearning for to the “Yevgeniya” marriage agency (or is it really a love agency?) go in there. Upon which Svetlana picks up the phone – everything is top priority! – to boldly bring together what didn’t come together in life.
What happens next, though, can end either way. Like Anna, for example, who talks honestly about her life while Alexey is only interested in the meat and gravy. Or the veritable coup de foudre of Svetlana and her Vladimir, who in the course of an evening soaked in cognac and Russian poetry becomes first Volodya and then Volodichka. Amor’s arrows shoot like steel missiles through the bar, and like the make-up on the faces of the old girls who are a little the worse for wear, everything is always a little too much, too sweet, too greasy. Is it fake? But who knows what real love is?
Once more Martina Carlstedt’s very original style of documentary mise en scène yields a masterstroke, a melancholy etude in loneliness – even if at the end of the evening Svetlana and Vladimir are definitely determined to get married.

Grit Lemke

Vegas

Documentary Film
UK
2013
24 minutes
subtitles: 
No

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Lukasz Konopa
Lukasz Konopa
Sarah Warne
Paweł Chorzępa
Paulo Pandolpho
Lukasz Konopa
Nikola Medic
Las Vegas stubbornly defends its myth of being the capital of entertainment and superlatives. Where, if not here, can you make a quick dollar or a career straight up to show business heaven? Millions of fortune seekers come here every year. Some of them stare at the movements of their chips; others hope to work in one of the temples of entertainment – or anywhere. Still, nobody will be surprised to hear that there are a lot of losers in this city of illusions. And more so since the recession has reached this oasis in the middle of the Nevada desert. Director Lukasz Konopa, who was born in Poland and lives in England, found symbolic images, protagonists and situations that stand for the crumbling American dream above and beyond Las Vegas. A performance at Caesar’s Palace is replaced by an old people’s home with its deaf residents, who do not really appreciate the rising star’s singing. Houses are sealed because their inhabitants are bankrupt. New homes are found in sewer pipes. Konopa juxtaposes his quiet tale of life at the margins of the city with the loud, glittering and feverish metropolis that looks like a distant, artificial backdrop. He lets the losers tell their stories, giving them the space in his film that they never found – maybe never could have found – in Las Vegas. Gradually, the portrait of a city that is absent and disappears in the flickering neon light somewhere on the horizon emerges.

Cornelia Klauß

When I Am a Bird

Documentary Film
Poland
2013
30 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Katarzyna Ślesicka
Monika Pawluczuk
Paweł Chorzępa
Marcin Latanik
Monika Pawluczuk
Dariusz Wancerz
She would like to return as a little bird in the next life, small enough to hide. Right now she still lives in a bird cage, at the mercy of the whims of a fate that transported her and her family from Myanmar to a refugee village in the Thai jungle. The rain drums ceaselessly on the roof. The torrential river in front of the house is as powerful as the suppressed feelings of a woman who gave birth to 12 children and lost some of them. She hasn’t chosen her husband; moreover, he sometimes flies away. Now she only hopes that her daughter will follow. Bad connections often thwart attempts to contact her by phone or receive messages via the wireless. From the outside the members of the Kayan tribe, especially the women with their heavy necklaces, look like rare specimens of a dying species you can admire in tourist show villages. But the film reveals a world no tourist ever sees. In a clear visual language that is both atmospheric and symbolic it carefully approaches the interior reality of the protagonist, withholding any prerogative interpretation. Who can look into a person’s soul, after all? And yet the strength, courage – and magic – that it takes to live this life emerge clearly.

Lars Meyer

With Open Eyes

Documentary Film
Sweden
2013
14 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Erik Bäfving
Erik Bäfving
Gustav Wall
Erik Bäfving
Martin Hennel
One day, without a warning, the father jumps to his death from his office window. The son finds a message: “I hope you will like me again one day.” This film, made 25 years after the event, is dedicated to that sentence. It kept haunting the former boy, Erik Bäfving. Can you love a father who simply vanishes without giving you any chance to ask why? As a child Erik Bäfving retired into the world of his drawings. Now he meticulously analyses the family photos. He turns them back and forth to search for clues and signs in the faces, gestures and group arrangements. Negatives are turned into positives and vice versa. But it’s advisable to mistrust the arrangements, for the family chronicle turns more and more into the writing on the wall no generation can escape. The photos lose their familiar chronological position, whirling around until they find new reference points that suggest dependencies and fears.
“With Open Eyes” is part of a trilogy. In his previous films, “Boogie Woogie Daddy” (DOK Leipzig Golden Dove in 2002) and “Inbetweener”, the director was already seeking reconciliation with the past – a process that will never end, because he will always miss his father.

Cornelia Klauß