Film Archive

Countries (Film Archive)

German Competition 2016
Ferne Söhne Andres Rump

Refugee minors in Germany: stories of war, flight, arrival and daily life in poetic, precisely framed black and white images that realign our perspective.

Ferne Söhne

Documentary Film
Germany
2016
88 minutes
subtitles: 
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Andres Rump Dokumentarfilm
Andres Rump
Andres Rump
Andres Rump
Andres Rump
Erik Wittbusch, Andres Rump, Ernst Wawra
At first glance, “Distant Sons” is a very poetic title for a film that deals with the situation of underage refugees. Or is the director trying to give us a hint about his narrative decision to not seek any superficial proximity to his protagonists but work with a certain distance instead? In other words: he establishes an independent visual level between the young people’s reports and the viewer. The film was shot in black and white, using long, precisely framed shots and almost no original sound. The refugees speak to us from off screen.

The reasons for their flight reflect the whole sad story of global asynchronicity: blood revenge, child soldiers, Taliban, civil war … While listening we see scenes from their life: Sory from Mali studies for school, Mahruf from Afghanistan works as a paperboy, Biran from Gambia huddles on his bed looking as lost as if he hadn’t even arrived yet. While we follow the various narratives told in their languages, Dari or Fula, an amazing thing happens. They all merge into a single voice that evokes the most basic of human rights: the right to build one’s own, self-determined life.

Matthias Heeder


Nominated for DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize, Young Eyes Film Award
German Competition 2016
Furusato Thorsten Trimpop

Radioactivity is invisible – but omnipresent around Fukushima. An activist fighting a losing battle, a Tepco engineer and a young horse breeder between normality and shock.

Furusato

Documentary Film
Germany,
USA
2016
94 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Tobias Büchner
Thorsten Trimpop
Benedikt Schiefer
Thorsten Trimpop
Stefan Oliveira-Pita, Daniel Mooney
Thorsten Trimpop
Björn Wiese
Radioactivity is invisible. And yet there is a fine black dust all around Fukushima that makes the Geiger counters go crazy. Men in white hazard suits comb the landscape to scratch it meticulously from the roadsides and fill it into small bags. Passers-by stop, worried. They had hoped to take up their former lives again. One by one not only the birds are returning to the town of Minamisōma, but the people, too. But the nuclear accident is a crack running through biographies and traditions, separating the old people who feared less for themselves than for their children from the next generations. All those who return must ask themselves daily what price they’re willing to pay for it. But while animals are perishing by the roadside, the new (old) ideology that home is more important than security is seeping into many people again.

“Furusato” takes an ancient cultural landscape as a framework to unfold the visually monumental panorama of a place where normality and shock are at war years after the accident. Its protagonists are, among others, an activist who wants to prevent a public children’s run, a proud young horse breeder who is determined to continue her family’s tradition, and a former Tepco security engineer. All of them have one thing in common: the human factor.

Lars Meyer



Golden Dove German Competition 2016;
Nominated for DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize 2016

German Competition 2016
Happy Carolin Genreith

How embarrassing when your father’s intended is no older than you and Thai to boot. A culture clash comedy about love, money and happiness. Deeply funny, courageous and touching.

Happy

Documentary Film
Germany
2016
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Erik Winker, Martin Roelly
Carolin Genreith
Fabian Saul, Raffael Triebel
Philipp Baben der Erde
Stefanie Kosik
Carolin Genreith
Michael Geck
When the almost retired father regularly flies to Thailand to enjoy the company of women his daughter’s age there, this is understandably embarrassing to the latter. But things are getting serious now: Dieter has been in a stable relationship for three years with Tukta, who calls long distance every morning to wake up the loner and passionate amateur farmer. The wedding is looming. Is this love, as Dieter has persuaded himself? Or more of a “trade”, as his daughter Carolin, the director, accuses him? With some courage she faces not only her father’s unfulfilled desires and fears of being lonely in old age but also her own ambivalent feelings.

Her debut film “Dancing With Bellies” told the story of how her mother found happiness after the divorce. Her father’s quest for happiness as a “sex tourist” is a rather different kind of personal challenge. The light and colourful touch she finds to visualise the father-daughter duel is all the more astonishing. Both are strong characters, demonstrated early on when they both tug at a bed sheet while folding laundry. But what connects them in their provincial home is bound to be put to the test in Thailand. Carolin suddenly finds herself as the member of a new family there, while Dieter is confronted with an entirely different concept of love.

Lars Meyer


Nominated for DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize
German Competition 2016
Hundesoldaten Lena Leonhardt

Observations in a boot camp for military dogs and their handlers. The goal: symbiosis. The path: training and drill. An essayistic look at what it means to be soldierly.

Hundesoldaten

Documentary Film
Germany
2016
69 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Peter Kuczinski
Lena Leonhardt
John Gürtler, Jan Miserre, Lars Voges
Sebastian Bäumler
Timm Kröger
Lena Leonhardt
Alexander Rubin, Christoph Schilling, Simon Peter, Udo Steinhauser
Somewhere deep in the German forests strange things are going on: young soldiers are taking robust dogs out on short leashes. The recruits are trained to become army dog handlers within a year, a period in which man and animal are supposed to learn that they need each other to become what they are or should soon be: not only a functioning unit but actually a symbiosis.

Step by step the playful relations between man and animal turn into purposeful training and tough drill. Even scenarios that seemed rather vague a moment ago come more and more to resemble real emergencies. A reality long known to another protagonist: at the same time, in the same training camp, a traumatised Kosovo veteran is to be rehabilitated with the help of a therapy dog. Gradually Lena Leonhardt’s film turns into an equally concentrated and wide-ranging narrative of what it means to be a soldier – and the doubts about the meaning of this meaning.

Ralph Eue


Nominated for DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize
German Competition 2016
Kokolampy Hajo Schomerus

A painstaking search through archives and collections for the elephant bird’s egg collected by a German adventurer in Madagascar. A thriller combining exoticism, colonialism and biopiracy.

Kokolampy

Documentary Film
Germany
2016
83 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Marcelo Busse
Hajo Schomerus
Hajo Schomerus
Sandra Brandl, Rudi Heinen
Hajo Schomerus
Shinya Kitamura, Ralf Weber, Marcelo Busse
It begins quite harmlessly with the filmmaker’s memories of his great uncle Menko, who lived in Madagascar for many years and told enchanting stories of myths, magicians and crocodile spirits. The strangest thing, however, was the elephant bird’s egg he brought home which has disappeared. It’s the occasion of an elaborate research around the globe, into the cellars and storehouses of auctioneers, archives and natural history collections.

Hajo Schomerus is almost magically attracted to these unspectacular looking places. They are both memory and mystery, trigger reflections and speculations. The film walks the thin line between crime story and construction, sending out feelers into grey zones like biopiracy or diamond smuggling. The fact remains: Madagascar is a very special island with many plants and animals that are found only there. How naive, negligent or calculated are the actions of the adventurer, businessman and amateur botanist really? Where is the borderline between ethnography and colonial conduct? And where does the egg of the legendary extinct elephant bird which was of impressive size but couldn’t fly come in? Questions upon questions, raised casually and intelligently by the film from one clue to the next, in an examination of the fundamental relationship between Europe and Africa in the past century.

Cornelia Klauß


Nominated for DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize
German Competition 2016
Moschee DE Mina Salehpour, Michał Honnens

A mosque under construction in Berlin, embittered protests and their main advocates in staged dialogues: old residents of the East and new Swabian arrivals, a priest, an imam and a convert. Complex.

Moschee DE

Documentary Film
Germany
2016
61 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Michał Honnens, Robert Thalheim, Matthias Miegel
Mina Salehpour, Michał Honnens
Felix Kahlo
Jan Soldat
Robert Thalheim, Kolja Mensing
Dirk Austen, Hagen Wächter
Johanna Bantzer, Rainer Frank, Mathias Max Herrmann, Aljoscha Stadelmann, Sandro Tajouri
The opening of the first newly-built mosque in the new Federal Lands by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Berlin-Pankow had been preceded by protests, demonstrations and embittered disputes. Almost ten years later, after Isis terror, “refugee crisis”, Pegida and right-wing election triumphs, the clash of cultures seems to have reached its climax – and the community are planning new buildings in Leipzig and Erfurt, which calls forth the inevitable citizens’ groups …

Based on minutes of conversations that took place in 2006, already adapted by Kolja Mensing and Robert Thalheim for their eponymous play which premiered in 2010, Michał Honnens and Mina Salehpour condense the conflict through editing. The authors have created fictitious personae based on the original texts, their characteristics and presentation clearly exaggerated and distorted almost to caricatures. The characters: the Imam flown in from Pakistan, the politically super-correct new Berlin resident from the south of Germany, the former GDR citizen and president of the citizens’ group, the protest-savvy priest, and a German convert. The film creates what has long seemed impossible in reality: a dialogue, ranging from personal motives and backgrounds to the headscarf issue and other principles. Categories of “the good ones” and “the bad ones” gradually dissolve in this construction and give way to a complexity we will have to bear.

Grit Lemke


Nominated for DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize
German Competition 2016
Neben den Gleisen Dieter Schumann

A station kiosk pub in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The regulars meet refugees who change trains here. Surprising insights into provincial Germany in 2016, warm-hearted and direct.

Neben den Gleisen

Documentary Film
Germany
2016
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Fritz Hartthaler
Dieter Schumann
Bernhard Kübel
Michael Kockot
Bernhard Kübel
Dieter Schumann, Michael Kockot
Joao Paulo da Silva
Barbara Denz, Birgit Müller (NDR)
In “Wadans’ World” (DOK Leipzig 2010), Dieter Schuman re-measured the old frontlines of capitalism by the example of a Wismar shipyard. Workers against the invisible forces of global financial speculation. No need to mention who lost the fight. In his new film he once more addresses his protagonists’ experience of powerlessness in view of events that shatter their old view of the world. This story is set in and around a kiosk pub near Boizenburg train station in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Every day shift workers, pensioners, people on the dole and unemployed youngsters come here. Pub talk. Sometimes close to the limit. At the same time he observes the refugees who walk past the kiosk and its regulars every day.

The narrative candidly depicts the meeting of these two worlds. Stories of flight set against the stereotype of the Syrian rapist. Stories of relatives killed by the bombings set against the rumour that migrants eat children – really, it was on Facebook. Nonetheless, despite the insecurity and the vague fears of being pushed even lower on the social scale by the refugees, there are moments when empathy for the others’ fate dominates. Which offers a little hope, despite the regulars’ inclination towards right-wing solutions. And that’s the great quality of this film.

Matthias Heeder



Honorary Mention in the German Competition 2016;
Nominated for DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize

German Competition 2016
Neo Rauch – Gefährten und Begleiter Nicola Graef

The Leipzig-based star of the international art scene and his millionaire collectors. Life at the studio, observations on art, surprising insights and an approach to an enigma.

Neo Rauch – Gefährten und Begleiter

Documentary Film
Germany
2016
105 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Susanne Brand, Nicola Graef (Lonamedia)
Nicola Graef
George Kochbeck, Lucas Kochbeck
Felix Greif, Alexander Rott
Kai Minierski
Nicola Graef
René Jugold, Carsten Kramer, Pierre Gaulke, Martin Ehleben, Thomas Preisser
Priming, designing, discarding and always trying to establish a certain distance. This is how the dramaturgic concept of this portrait could be described. Consequently, the first shots show Neo Rauch, the Leipzig-based star of the international art world, in his workshop. His success is predicated on the enigmatic and cryptic quality of his large-format paintings. In muted colours he designs arrangements of melancholy figures gliding across time, space and history. Palimpsests filled with references and quotes that lead back as far as Renaissance painting. Filmmaker Nicola Graef makes no attempt at exegesis – Neo Rauch remains as remote as his creations. Instead she lets others talk: collectors of his million dollar paintings which have made it to the hyper-designed dining rooms of New York art lovers and the bedrooms of Italian villas.

Does Neo Rauch, the exotic specimen with East German roots who keeps tackling the Teutonic and authoritarian, paint only what’s expected of him today? In his thoughtful way, he invariably comes up with surprising answers. A ponderer, without doubt, to whom the film offers a stage he refuses to enter. He knows the stereotypes and classifications that he sees as dressing. The film’s strength derives precisely from these opposing movements.

Cornelia Klauß


Nominated for DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize


The Screening on 2 November is a Special Screening supported by MDR.
German Competition 2016
Oderland. Fontane Bernhard Sallmann

The Oderbruch, a cultivated landscape of paradisiac beauty, as described by German novelist Theodor Fontane. A contemplative stream of images and reflections about nature, man, and the relationship between them.

Oderland. Fontane

Documentary Film
Germany
2016
72 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Bernhard Sallmann
Bernhard Sallmann
Bernhard Sallmann
Christoph Krüger
Bernhard Sallmann
Klaus Barm
Judica Albrecht
Bernhard Sallman’s films are solitaires. They elude all conventions, formats and practices. You must open yourself to them. It’s clear from the first image: this is a kind of cinema that has other virtues than narrative and entertainment. The enjoyment comes from concentration and contemplation. The images, arranged as still lives, are rigorously framed and composed so that subtle movements become visible only after long contemplation – sometimes a cloud, sometimes the trembling of leaves. After his Lusatian trilogy the Berlin-based Austrian was drawn to Brandenburg once again: to the Oderbruch, an edenic but treacherous landscape. It’s a cultivated landscape, created by man in the 18th century.

Sallmann found a fellow spirit in the novelist Theodor Fontane. Only their tools are different. What he captures with the camera was recorded with a quill by the hiker and writer in the penultimate century. He wrote about draining the country, settling colonists there, and Albrecht Daniel Thaer’s theory of crop rotation. Anyone who believes that all this is far away is wrong. Translated to today these are the global issues of agrarian policy: emigration and monocropping. Judica Albrecht’s artful narration merges text and images in finely chiselled fashion. Sallman’s film has many messages and one of them is: read Fontane and learn to see!

Cornelia Klauß


Nominated for DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize
German Competition 2016
The Others Ayşe Polat

Villagers in the east Anatolian region of Van, once the peaceful home of Armenians, Kurds and Turks, talk about the repressed history of a genocide and a complex conflict.

The Others

Documentary Film
Germany,
Turkey
2016
66 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Mehmet Aktaş, Said Nur Akkuş, Ayşe Polat
Ayşe Polat
Meryem Yavuz, Armin Dierolf
Eyüp Zana Ekinci
Ayşe Polat
Mustafa Baydemir, Oktay Çağla
Of course reality is more complicated, but the director uses a clever narrative ploy to introduce us to the past of the former Armenian province of Van in Eastern Anatolia. It’s the only place where the Van cat is found, an almost mythical animal and a cultural symbol that unites Armenians, Kurds and Turks alike. It’s via this historical code that the film depicts the sorrowful events of 1915: the Armenian genocide. They are still present today in the memory of the Kurds who took over the villages of the deported – traces the director follows like an archaeologist who uncovers a painful, difficult and suppressed history layer by layer.

What’s left of the days when the people here lived together as neighbours and not as witnesses of ethnic deviation? Dilapidated Armenian churches, pilgrimage sites, and the intricate family stories of survivors assimilated by force. Their descendants still shy from public avowals of their ancestry. Even worse: the Armenians are labelled “the others” even if they are part of one’s own biography, one’s genetic heritage. Factual in style, with quiet, observant camerawork and without pointing the finger at anyone, Ayşe Polat manages to take an authentic look at an open-ended historical conflict with “The Others”.

Matthias Heeder


Nominated for DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize
German Competition 2016
Trockenschwimmen Susanne Kim

Learning to swim is learning to live: senior citizens’ swimming lessons, post war biographies, and how to make your dreams come true – complete with panic attacks, wit, „grandezza“ and a leafy bathing cap.

Trockenschwimmen

Documentary Film
Germany
2016
77 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Holm Taddiken
Susanne Kim
Manuel G. Richter, Rafael Klitzing, Luise Pop
Emma Rosa Simon
Marion Tuor
Susanne Kim
Daniel Fischer
Jumping in at the deep end, being left high and dry, swimming with sharks – our metaphors keep taking us back to the element we came from but which now scares us. Or, as Monika puts it: “Learning to swim is learning to live.” She is one of the participants of a senior citizens’ swimming class portrayed by Leipzig-based director Susanne Kim who is carefully probing the biographical and historical shallows of the link between water and life.

She looks at a generation who were born during the war and grew up in post war Germany (East and West). Their fathers fighting on the front lines, their mothers busy trying to survive; then a society that expected everyone to do their duty in its unconditional determination to reconstruct the country. It’s mainly the women whose lives were shaped by putting others first and who dare to ask themselves only now at the age of seventy or over what they really wanted from life. And more – who set out to realise it and face their fears.

It’s a delicate mesh interweaving observations, conversations, home movie and film flashbacks, imaginative dream sequences and dance scenes (created by renowned choreographer Heike Hennig). They talk about old age, desire and about the fact that it’s never too late to fight for one’s dreams – complete with panic attacks, wit, “grandezza” and a leafy bathing cap.

Grit Lemke


Nominated for DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize
German Competition 2016
Zwischen den Stühlen Jakob Schmidt

Three trainee teachers caught between idealism and desperation, educating and being educated, theory and practice. A tense and emotional look at a system from inside.

Zwischen den Stühlen

Documentary Film
Germany
2016
102 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Marie-Luise Scharf
Jakob Schmidt
Andreas Bick
David Schittek, Evgeny Revvo, Jakob Schmidt
Julia Wiedwald
Jakob Schmidt
Malte Eiben, Angelo Fonfara
The mainly theoretic university teacher training has for decades been followed with bureaucratic regularity by two years of student teaching, the practical part of the training. It’s comparable to a leap into icy water when prospective teachers work for two years in the field of tension between grading and being graded. They must educate and are educated themselves. From day one they are forced to play conflicting roles. It’s a permanent test, always caught between two stools.

Student teachers must discipline classes and be disciplined by their tutors. They must distribute grades while they panic before their own test lessons. And they are always both student and teacher. Some start out with idealism and passion, others for lack of alternatives, others see themselves as future professionals in solid employment. Step by step they become – willy-nilly – the representatives of a system that has shaped each of us. “To Be a Teacher” follows three very different characters on this tension-filled path.

Ralph Eue



Award winner of DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize, Prize of the United Services Trade Union ver.di and the Healthy Workplaces Film Award 2016;
Nominated for Young Eyes Film Award 2016