Film Archive

Francofonia

Documentary Film
France,
Germany,
Netherlands
2015
87 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Pierre-Olivier Bardet, Thomas Kufus, Els Vandevorst
Alexander Sokurov
Murat Kabardokov
Bruno Delbonnel
Alexei Jankowski, Hansjörg Weissbrich
Alexander Sokurov
André Rigaut, Jac Vleeshouwer
His oeuvre is among the most original produced by the (Russian) cinema of the past decades. In “Francofonia”, the idiosyncrasies of the “grand auteur” Alexander Sokurov reach a new dimension. The result is an animated fictional documentary essay collage of historical archive and re-enacted material about the eventful history of the Louvre in Paris, complete with Skype-based container philosophy, a drone-driven bird’s eye view of the world today and a personally voiced (only slightly cryptic) comment on the eternal relationship between art and war, humanism and power and (cultural) heritage and ideology.

While Hitler is invading France (as seen in Ophül’s “Le Chagrin et la pitié”) and Franz Graf von Wolff-Metternich is collaborating with the Louvre’s director Jacques Jaujard to evacuate the cultural goods according to the “art protection law”, Mrs. Marianne or Mr. Bonaparte occasionally drop by from the hereafter … Or the two Russian immortals, Tolstoy and Chekhov, appear, though at the deathbed …

The great nations, their spirit (and ghosts), Europe and art, the world and its condition. Wild chains of associations are cast here, but Sokurov is in full control of his powers. Amazing enough when we consider the waves of opposition this contemplative artist faces today.

Barbara Wurm

Lampedusa in Winter

Documentary Film
Italy,
Austria,
Switzerland
2015
93 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Jakob Brossmann
Jakob Brossmann
Serafin Spitzer, Christian Flatzek
Nela Märki

When the flood of refugees began to cross the Mediterranean, the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa became a projection screen for paranoid xenophobes and a symbol of an inhumane asylum policy. In the winter of 2014, theatre artist and filmmaker Jakob Brossmann travelled to the island to find out what life there is really like. The tourists and media are gone and the inhabitants’ real problems come to the fore: the old ferry, essential for their survival, burnt down and was replaced by an even older one. That’s why the fishermen go on strike. A group of refugees who have been stuck on the island for months want to cross to the mainland. They are on strike in front of the church. Because there’s no ferry, waste is piling up and food is running out. In the midst of this tense situation two women, the mayor and a dedicated lawyer, are fighting for humane solutions out of deep personal conviction. Brossmann’s observations are unobtrusive and precise. He confidently guides us through the events of this crisis while introducing places and people that are linked to the immigrants’ fate. What’s remarkable is that the inhabitants and refugees refuse to be instrumentalised against each other. Both groups are victims of the same cynical policies. Showing this clearly is the great strength of the film. Matthias Heeder


The Event

Documentary Film
Belgium,
Netherlands
2015
74 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Sergei Loznitsa, Maria Choustova, Nicola Mazzanti
Sergei Loznitsa
Sergei Loznitsa, Danielius Kokanauskis
Sergei Loznitsa
Vladimir Golovnitski
As in earlier films, Sergei Loznitsa uses black and white archive material to reconstruct, if not construct, history. In this case images of the historic event that inaugurated the final collapse of the Soviet Union: the failed coup of 19 August 1991. People are standing in the streets of St. Petersburg, which was still called Leningrad then. The camera moves through the crowds, capturing faces whose expression is one of ignorance. They are all waiting, listening to the endless announcements.

Loznitsa’s ingenious artistic intervention happens on the soundtrack. During the three-day coup d’état, the national television of the USSR continuously broadcast – as usual in crisis situations – recordings of Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake”. The director takes up the musical motif and uses it to divide his film into chapters. Radio reports are another narrative element which Loznitsa turns into a quasi comment that underlines the state of insecurity, not knowing and non-information. This is not a re-interpretation of history, though, but rather an attempt to pierce the surface of reality and look for possible interpretations – in the hope of gaining insights into how insurgencies and changes of power work in general.

Zaza Rusadze



Award winner of the Film Prize "Leipziger Ring"

The Longest Run

Documentary Film
Greece
2015
77 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Spiros Mavrogenis, Rachel Manoukian, Daphne Panopoulos
Marianna Economou
Nikos Portokaloglou
Chronis Pechlivanidis, Giannis Misouridis
Chronis Theoharis
Marianna Economou
Chronis Pechlivanidis, Giannis Misouridis
Yasim and Alsaleh are underage refugees in a Greek prison. Coming from Syria and Iraq they were captured at the Turkish-Greek border as “illegals” and are now waiting for their trial. The charges against them are compounded by an additional serious accusation, that of having been human traffickers themselves. They were forced by threats of violence to guide a group of refugees across the border, while the smugglers stayed quietly in the background. If Yasim and Alsaleh are found guilty, they will face long prison sentences, the duration of which will be decided by the court.

Yasim is still virtually a child. He looks around with big, innocent eyes and literally understands nothing of what is happening to him. Alsaleh acts as his “big brother” and frequently helps him survive. Marianna Economou confidently weaves this narrative of two individual dramas into a universal phenomenon. Her film releases understanding and sympathy – inasmuch as after the hardships they suffered on their flight anyway you wish these boys only one thing: not to end up broken by a stone-hearted officer of justice. “The Longest Run” activates our hearts and minds – neither one without the other!

Ralph Eue



Honorary Mention in the International Competition 2015 and awarded with the Prize of the United Services Trade Union ver.di 2015

The Magic Mountain

Animadoc
France,
Poland,
Romania
2015
87 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Anca Damian, Guillaume de Seille, Joanna Ronnikier
Anca Damian
Alexander Balanescu
Ion Ioachim Stroe
Theodore Ushev, Sergiu Negulici, Raluca Popa, Dan Panaitescu and Tomek Ducki
Anca Damian, Anna Winkler
Frédéric Théry, Sebastian Wlodarczyk

“Sometimes I feel I wasn’t made for these times.” This laconic statement of the protagonist of Anca Damian’s second animated documentary defines his position early in the narrative: somehow off kilter. Adam Jacek Winkler, Polish photographer, anti-communist dissident, mountain climber and artist, is a restless spirit, always on the lookout for the noble cause worth fighting and dying for. A modern Don Quixote, whose obsession takes him to Afghanistan where he joins the Mujahidin’s fight against the Red Army. It’s a romantic and torn hero the director portrays here, combining material from Winkler’s personal archive (photos, sketches, videos) with the stylistic wealth of artistic animation, including collages, graphically distorted film and photo material, drawings, plasticine animations or simply painted paper folded into mountains. The various techniques address the various situations, managing to translate the protagonist’s emotional world into a highly original filmic reality, sometimes surreal, sometimes absurd and bitter. “The Magic Mountain” is the second part of a planned trilogy about modern heroes whose third and last instalment this cinematic experience gives us every reason to look forward to. Mattias Heeder





MDR Film Prize 2015


The Other Side

Documentary Film
France,
Italy
2015
92 minutes
subtitles: 
No

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Muriel Meynard, Paolo Benzi, Dario Zonta
Roberto Minervini
Diego Romero Suarez-Llanos
Marie-Hélène Dozo
Bernat Fortiana Chico
Once more, Roberto Minervini travels the American South, this time Louisiana. Life and the people here are rough, the images, however, are dazzlingly beautiful, almost tender. The ambivalence is deliberate. It’s the tenderness of “I love you, bitch”, spoken while high on drugs. The sultriness of a summer of quick sex in the trailer, alcohol and crystal meth. A physicality bordering on intimacy determines the poor whites’ life in this film. All that’s left of the American Dream are drugs, racist slogans and slurs on Obama.

Even if this world of the underdogs is uncomfortable – it’s there and has a ghostlike existence in the shadow of American history. Like the protagonist Mark, whom Minervini shows in a dream sequence, naked on a country road as if he was already on the other side. But then he allows this Louisiana ghost, who is supplying his family, girl friend and friends with homemade drugs while on the run from a prison sentence, to become a human being of flesh and blood.

Some shoot up, others shoot: paramilitary groups train in the forest for the worst case, to save America from its own authorities. What seems like a film within a film is united by the slogan: “To protect our families, our freedom.” But which families, which freedom?

Lars Meyer

Under the Sun

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Germany,
North Korea,
Russia
2015
110 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Natalya Manskaya, Simone Baumann, Filip Remunda
Vitaly Mansky
Kārlis Auzāns
Alexandra Ivanova, Mikhail Gorobchuk
Andrej Paperny
Vitaly Mansky
Evgeniya Lachina, Anrijs Krenbergs
North Korea wants to be the best of all possible worlds. Everything and everyone is taken care off. Pyongyang is a clean, modern metropolis. 8-year-old Zin-mi, who is at the centre of this film, takes us through the stations of a happy childhood: becoming a member of the pioneer organisation, brisk flag ceremonies, enough food and always a song in praise of the Great Leader Kim Jong-un on her lips.

Russian-Ukrainian director Vitaly Mansky got the official permission to document the ordinary life of the city and country for one year. He knows that he is being instrumentalised and simply turns the tables by exposing how the presentations and arrangements are fabricated. His official minder proves to be a real “co-director”. So it’s the apparent details and minor matters Mansky asks us to discover. They offer insights into a well-trained and dulled society. Though we feel like we’re in “1984”, Mansky has come neither as a voyeur nor as a cynic. His camera is looking for the human element behind the mask of the official bulletins: a yawn or a moment of insecurity in this land of the ever-rising sun.

Cornelia Klauß

Wie die anderen

Documentary Film
Austria
2015
86 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Johannes Rosenberger
Constantin Wulff
Johannes Hammel
Dieter Pichler
Constantin Wulff
Claus Benischke, Andreas Hamza, Klaus Kellermann
Once psychiatric institutions were regarded as the marginal zones of civilisation where the “deranged” people were excluded (or locked away) from the community of the “healthy”. Today this is considered an untenable stereotype, at least in theory. However, there is a lack of images suitable for internalising such assumptions in practice and permanently. Constantin Wulff, a dedicated representative of Direct Cinema, and his cinematographer Johannes Hammel spent one and a half years at the child and adolescent psychiatry of the hospital of Tulln in Lower Austria, observing the human and institutional processes set in motion when children and adolescents suddenly get off track. How does anyone end up in such an institution? How does one become a “case”? Even if such a “case” can only be worked out in any meaningful way when people look beyond the process and re-focus on the human being.

With admirable confidence Wulff balances his film between rash chumminess and cheap distance – always trying to do justice to the very complex interactions playing out in before his lens. Also at the focus: institutional work as a permanent balancing act between gentleness and pressure, routine and emotional involvement, regulations and improvisations.

Ralph Eue

With or Without You

Documentary Film
South Korea
2015
92 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Kyung-soo Han, Eva Rink
Hyuck-jee Park
Kwang-min Kim
Hyuck-jee Park
Hyuck-jee Park
Hyuck-jee Park
Eun-kyoung Park
Park Hyuck-jee lets us discover two women’s complex world in slow and unobtrusively observed images. Step by step we are introduced into the daily life of a house in southern Korea under whose roof Magg-i and Chun-hee have lived together for 45 years. Until 1960 it was the custom in South Korea to bring a surrogate mother into the family when the wife was unable to have children. That’s how Chun-hee came into Magg-i’s family. She gave birth to a daughter for her and stayed … The years passed, the husband died long ago. Patiently and leniently, smoking constantly and with tired but sharp eyes Magg-i watches over Chun-hee’s life – after all, the younger woman is considered mentally handicapped. Magg-i is worried about who will take care of Chun-hee after her death and tries to prepare her for an independent life.

The extraordinary relationship between the two women is characterised by mutual dependencies, power and responsibility. A clear constellation whose foundations, however, are shaken at the end of the film by ingeniously deployed images that introduce a second level to that of human relationships: the level of material conditions which define our place even in our private environment.

Zaza Rusadze