Film Archive

International Programme 2016
21 x New York Piotr Stasik

Scared and wide-awake, enlightened and confused, horny and satisfied: people in NYC. The A-train provides the narrative pattern for fast-paced image flows and meditative passages. A pop pearl.

21 x New York

Documentary Film
Poland
2016
70 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Agnieszka Wasiak
Piotr Stasik
Piotr Stasik
Dorota Wardęszkiewicz, Tomasz Wolski, Piotr Stasik
Michał Fojcik
Maybe 21 is a random number: portraits of 21 people who together are supposed to represent the totality of the more than eight million inhabitants of New York City? Not a valid number, every statistician would say, and be right. But cinema, thank God, is only marginally concerned with statistics – if at all.

“21 x New York” opens with a picture of the A-train approaching in a subway tunnel, thus creating the pattern for its own narrative by this confident allusion to one of the greatest pieces of 20th century jazz music. What we see next: scared and cheerful people, enlightened and confused ones, horny passers-by and satisfied couples. Extremely rapid switches between them, not so much contrasting as kaleidoscopic. The fast-paced flow of images is frequently interrupted by meditative passages and overlaid by some of the protagonists’ tales or reasoning, like voices from the memory of an artificial neural network, rising from this exciting bubble. It’s almost as if Baudelaire had risen again, changed time, place and medium and started a new series of lyrical tableaux. The result would not be the “Tableaux Parisiens” but “Tableaux New Yorkaises” – or “21 x New York”.

Ralph Eue


Nominated for MDR Film Prize

32 Souls

Documentary Film
Myanmar
2016
26 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Lindsey Merrison (Yangon Film School)
Say Naw Kham
Nay Linn Htun
Say Na Kham
Sai Naw Kham
Soe Arkar Htun
There’s a belief in Myanmar that every person has 32 souls, but that we must call them back time and again. This film is both the portrait of a woman nearing the end of her life who lives alone in a humble cabin in the forest, and an invocation of the spirits of the past of a country devastated by war and loss. The observant, poetic flow of images is frequently interrupted by a ghostlike subjective camera – representing the wandering souls.

Lars Meyer

A Hole in the Head

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Slovakia
2016
92 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Barbara Janišová Feglová
Robert Kirchhoff
Miroslav Tóth
Juraj Chlpík
Jan Daňhel
Robert Kirchhoff
Václav Flégl
A small art gallery somewhere in Serbia which exhibits only works by Roma. Is Clinton not Roma, too? The gallery owner isn’t certain. But Antonio Banderas is Roma, and Yul Brynner. They just don’t have the courage to admit it. This touching scene of cultural self-assurance is part of a narrative about the Roma Holocaust which has been almost completely erased from European memory and whose traces the director follows meticulously. A film against forgetting.

We meet people from France, Serbia, Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland who got caught up in the Nazi murder machine as children. Rita was less than three weeks old when SS doctors performed horrible experiments on her in a Würzburg hospital. Her twin sister died, she survived with a “hole in the head”. Raymond, 90 years old, an extremely alert Roma, reminds us that it was the French Gendarmerie who herded them together, not the Germans. Today, the same police enter his caravan without a search warrant to arrest three of his sons because they came to his aid. So what has changed? A question that arises at every stop of this commemorative journey and forces us to take a stand and get rid of ideological garbage.

Matthias Heeder


Nominated for MDR Film Prize
International Programme 2016
Ada for Mayor Pau Faus

Campaigning in Barcelona: political activist Ada is the left party’s top candidate and must learn to be glib and authentic at the same time. A balancing act and strenuous effort full of suspense and drive.

Ada for Mayor

Documentary Film
Spain
2016
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Ventura Durall
Pau Faus
Diego Pedragosa
Joan Manel Vilaseca, Àlex Garcia, Núria Campadabal
Pau Faus, Ventura Durall
Ada Colau is an activist of the movement for affordable rents in Barcelona. When the fragmented left of the city needs to be united to enter practical municipal politics and, ideally, supply the next head of the city, she qualifies as front-runner for the collective platform “Barcelona en Comú”.

Over a period of nine months, director Pau Faus observes a process that could be called a “basic democracy workshop”. Faus claims that it’s neither intentional nor coincidental that his film has also, to a large extent, become a participant observation of the top candidate’s life, but inevitable. He confidently avoids raising any suspicion that this is the finished, valid and undoubted image of a politician. Instead he reflects on how these images are produced while the engine is running. At the end of the film Ada Colau will have become a different person AND remained the same – an impossible feat she is forced to pull off by her character and the political ethics she feels bound to. The motto that Ada Colau had inscribed on the door of the council chamber as a universal reminder after she became mayor in May 2015 was: “Let us never forget who we are or why we are here.”

Ralph Eue

Appunti del passaggio

Documentary Film
Belgium,
Italy,
Switzerland
2016
44 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Maria Iorio, Le Souvenir du Présent
Maria Iorio, Raphaël Cuomo
Alessandra Eramo
Gilles Aubry
“I have no visual memory. I remember emotions.” In their remarkably artistically dense documentary Maria Iorio and Raphaël Cuomo combine various statements of contemporary witnesses into the personal report of an Italian who entered Switzerland in 1965 as a migrant labourer. At the core of this representative of many economic refugees from Southern Europe of the time lies the feeling that she is an “outlaw working body”. She feels humiliated and controlled by procedures at the “border health check”, by massive underpay, dangerous working conditions, psychological pressure in the factory and openly expressed, wounding resentment against the foreigners.

The film is a collage of memories given a voice by a female narrator and kept deliberately vague on the visual level. Vague, but extremely effective and openly sceptical about the reality promised by visual evidence. Besides distorted details and negatives of a few surviving photos it’s the restful contemporary video recordings, for example of an abandoned building with all the traces of use, which offer a suitable poetic space to the narrator’s audio report and a voice performance.

André Eckardt
International Programme 2016
Belle de nuit – Grisélidis Réal, Self Portraits Marie-Eve de Grave

Multifaceted reflections of Grisélidis Réal, prostitute, artist, writer and feminist pioneer, in personal writings and encounters. A revolutionary whore and a great work.

Belle de nuit – Grisélidis Réal, Self Portraits

Documentary Film
Belgium
2016
74 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Françoise Hoste
Marie-Eve de Grave
Pierre Avia
Jorge Piquer Rodríguez, Sébastien Koeppel
Simon Arazi
Ludovic Van Paschterbeke
Revolution, mind, body, dream. These are the dimensions between which the prostitute and artist Grisélidis Réal moved all her life. Radical in her desires and debased by the wounds of the night she started to write about herself and her experiences in the 1960s, creating a body of work that speaks from the perspective and understanding of a woman who knows no fear and is ready to take any risk.

Grisélidis Réal transformed prostitution into art; director Marie-Eve de Grave transformed her life into a documentary of narrative grandeur. Diary entries, literary sketches, drawings, an address book, archive material, photos, interviews with important companions like the French writer Jean-Luc Hennig form the structure of a dramaturgy in which the different facets of her life are observed as if through a prism and summed up in one word: indomitable. At the same time the film is a journey into a past in which the social debate of sexuality had only just started and anything seemed possible. In 2009, four years after she died, Grisélidis was granted an honorary grave in Geneva, approved by the municipality – right next to the god-fearing reformer Johannes Calvin. Belated satisfaction for a revolutionary whore.

Matthias Heeder
International Programme 2016
Blueberry Spirits Astra Zoldnere

The Latvian forest – it’s the time of the blueberry harvest. In other places the fruit with the perfect five point star are sacred because they serve as children’s food in times of draught.

Blueberry Spirits

Documentary Film
Latvia
2016
12 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Kaspars Braķis
Astra Zoldnere
Jan Schöwer
Kaspars Braķis
Astrīda Konstante
Ron Rosenberg
Anrijs Krenbergs
The Latvian forest – it’s the time of the blueberry harvest. In other places the fruit with the perfect five point star are sacred because they serve as children’s food in times of draught. For the extended family around Bruno, too, the blueberry harvest is existential. Price negotiations in Latvian and Romani are going on in the improvised camp. Among Roma, however, they tell tales of spirits in the forest that hardly anyone escapes. Family spirits are a fixed part of the history of the country.

Nadja Rademacher
International Programme 2016
Bring the Jews Home Eefje Blankevoort, Arnold van Bruggen

When all Jews have returned to Israel the Messiah will come again. At least that’s what the Dutch missionary in Ukraine, Koen, believes. Christian fundamentalism as a whacky psycho trip.

Bring the Jews Home

Documentary Film
Netherlands
2016
56 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Iris Lammertsma, Boudewijn Koole
Eefje Blankevoort, Arnold van Bruggen
Harry de Wit, Stan Verberkt
Ton Peters
Patrick Schonewille
Alex Tugushin, Mark Glynne
How long must Christians still wait for the Second Coming? How will the prophecy be fulfilled and by whom? For example by Koen Carlier. At least that’s what the Flemish activist firmly believes. After all, the bible supplies precise instructions: Bring the Jews back home and the Messiah will come. So for more than 20 years he has been working in Ukraine on behalf of the Dutch branch of “Christians for Israel” in order to enlighten all the Jews still living there about their right (their duty, actually) to emigrate to Israel. But his life is a rather unglamorous one which resembles that of a commercial traveller. On his tours through underdeveloped regions he meets hospitable but also sceptical people. Some plead high blood pressure; others would rather emigrate to Germany. Carlier keeps preaching with gentle severity and unshakeable enthusiasm: Nobody will be left behind in the Diaspora, whether they like it or not.

Maidan and the outbreak of the Ukrainian conflict constitute a final change in his eyes. All signs and symbols point to Armageddon. This is where the film, too, radically changes direction: from the portrait of a confused family man to a psycho trip, working its way into the dangerous thinking of Christian religious fundamentalism, full visual power ahead.

Lars Meyer
International Programme 2016
Bruder Jakob Elí Roland Sachs

The path of a young German who converts to Islam and gets more and more radical as an earnest search for spiritual support and a very personal dialogue between brothers.

Bruder Jakob

Documentary Film
Germany
2016
92 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Elí Roland Sachs
Elí Roland Sachs
Antonio de Luca
Elí Roland Sachs
Yana Höhnerbach
Elí Roland Sachs
Antonio de Luca
Jakob had his epiphany in the Moroccan mountains where he came across an English language edition of the Quran and converted to Islam. That day changed his relationship with his family, relatives and friends fundamentally. Especially the one with his brother, the director of this very personal film about an alienation. For two years he followed Jakob’s development as the latter quickly radicalised himself and considers himself a Salafist. His attitude became doctrinaire. Believing meant not doubting.

This transformation is hard to bear for the family. His wife in a full black veil causes an argument at a family meeting – one of the most exciting moments which condenses the lack of understanding for Jakob’s way in one cipher: the veil. The camera captures Jakob’s reaction, a mixture of disturbance and the helplessness of a little boy. But then a surprising turn of events opens a door and the brothers start a new dialogue. This very special relationship between the director and his protagonists allows rare insights into the inner world of a young man who is earnestly searching for spiritual support in this world.

Matthias Heeder


Nominated for Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize
International Programme 2016
Cabbage, Potatoes and Other Demons Șerban Georgescu

A ton of cabbage for 20 Euros: the peasants in the Romanian community of Lunguleţu underbid each other with the prices for their products. Is there a way out of this dead end?

Cabbage, Potatoes and Other Demons

Documentary Film
Germany,
Romania
2016
62 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Alex Iordăchescu, Șerban Georgescu, Heino Deckert
Șerban Georgescu
Vlad Blîndu
Bogdan Slăvescu
Șerban Georgescu
Șerban Georgescu
Alex Iosub
In the small town of Lunguleţu in Southern Romania there are around 1,000 farmers who own the same number of tractors and produce 100,000 tons of cabbage and potatoes per year. Every one of these thousand farmers will then stand on the local market square in summer after the potato harvest and in late autumn after the cabbage harvest, sacks of cabbage and potatoes piled up in huge pyramids as far as the eye can see. Any attempt to make a profit by selling the produce is, of course, in vain in view of this absurd overproduction. The diligent farmers underbid each other until they end up either losing money or ploughing the harvest under right away.

When director Şerban Georgescu buys a ton of white cabbage for his mother for 20 Euros here, he begins to wonder and decides to spend a year in Lunguleţu and cultivate cabbage and potatoes himself. He investigates why the farmers voluntarily enter this economic dead end. Even though the mayor and a few villagers have some good ideas for finding a way out of this misery, a common solution is not in sight. The suspicion among them sits deep and the fear of any kind of cooperative is great – the memories of expropriation under Ceauşescu are still too fresh, potential success by competition seems too tempting, even if they are threatened by bankruptcy every day.

Lina Dinkla
International Programme 2016
Callshop Istanbul Sami Mermer, Hind Benchekroun

The phone booths of Istanbul link thousands of stranded refugees with home. Universal dramas in extremely confined quarters, vows of love, family disputes, and a global tragedy.

Callshop Istanbul

Documentary Film
Canada
2016
89 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Hind Benchekroun, Sami Mermer
Sami Mermer, Hind Benchekroun
Sami Mermer
Sami Mermer
With their flickering lights the narrow call shops look like light towers in the maze of alleyways. Foreigners from all over the world, most of them on the road to Europe, are stranded here. But for many of them the journey ends right here, in the mega metropolis of Istanbul. The film finds an equally simple and effective point of access to the situations of these displaced persons by listening to their phone conversations with the relatives from whom they are cut off. Burning worries over their safety in war zones like Syria or Iraq, shared plans for a better future, declarations of love and vows of fidelity are sent along the lines. Universal dramas play out at close quarters. After years of failure, a homeless Senegalese man finds the courage to contact his family for the first time and promises better times. Later he negotiates in vain with a human trafficker. His face is tired.

From the micro portraits in the phone booths the film moves into the streets to show the protests on Taksim Square and Turkey from the point of view of migrant parallel societies. Three men from Benin who scrape along by selling watches calculate – based on partial knowledge – the risk of a crossing to Greece and decide to turn back. Information is essential for survival. It’s not just in this instance that “Callshop Istanbul” offers a change of perspective in the debate around flight and migration.

Lars Meyer

Cells’ Amusement Park

Animated Film
China
2016
4 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Li Ang
Li Ang, Cai Caibei
Luo Keju
Li Ang, Cai Caibei
Luo Keju
An imaginary football match played by blue and red ink figures: attack – defence – goal. And one injured player. Caibei Cai and Ang Li draw us into their graphically fascinating sci-fi cosmos of the cellular tissue which serves as a football pitch for blood corpuscles and defence cells, visualised by microscopic negative shots of cells, insects and plant particles.

André Eckardt


Nominated for mephisto 97.6 Audience Award

Cheer Up

Documentary Film
Canada,
Finland
2016
82 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Liisa Juntunen
Christy Garland
Tom Third
Sari Aaltonen
Thor Ochsner, Graeme Ring
Try to cheer up! That’s what the girls get to hear even when one of their ingeniously constructed pyramids of bodies just collapsed and they lie on the floor, bleeding and injured. Cheerleading is the essence of the kind of motivation coaching that fills whole shelves of self-help books and always drives us to peak performances – since this is exactly what this sport is about. It’s just that the logic of the permanent drive to succeed doesn’t seem to work with the Arctic Circle Spirit Ice Queens in Rovaniemi near the Arctic Circle: they are Finland’s worst cheerleading team. But coach Miia is determined to change this. After a visit to the world’s top team in Dallas, Texas – which looks like brainwashing – she wants to make her flock “number one” by means of a “yes you can” strategy. But the flock have other worries: after the death of her mother Patu must cope with her father’s new partner; Aino is drawn into the wild party life and jeopardises her position in the team. Add first love and moving out from home. And Miia, too, realises that the American credo of “everything is possible” may be seen in a completely different light …

Christy Garland confidently mixes the narrative traditions of the classic sports film with those of the coming-of-age drama while staying close to her protagonists. Falling and getting up again. Sounds easier than it is.

Grit Lemke


Nominated for Young Eyes Film Award
International Programme 2016
Child Mother Ronen Zaretzky, Yael Kipper

As girls they were forced to marry considerably older men, now they talk about it with their adult children. About living with wounds that never heal.

Child Mother

Documentary Film
Israel
2016
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Yael Kipper, Ronen Zaretzky
Ronen Zaretzky, Yael Kipper
Shiran Karni, Adi Forti, Oren Rot
Ronen Zaretzky
Tor Ben Mayor
Ronen Zaretzky, Yael Kipper
Aviv Aldema, Db Studios
Esther’s, Naomi’s and Hanna’s memories are testimony to the cruelty of a both archaic and brutal tradition in human trafficking: the forced marriage of young girls to considerably older men for “Mohar” (nuptial money). The women, who come from Morocco and Yemen and are now grown old, have their say today in a dialogue with their daughters and sons who grew up in Israel. Their subjects are hushing up the age difference, repeated miscarriages and very early motherhood, being forced to work in spite of the babies at home, legendary escape attempts, self-empowerment by literacy, and always the constellation of raising kids in spite of the unfathomable trauma of having been sold by their parents. The film is most controversial when wounds meet wounds. “Did you never think about the fact that I would grow up without a father?” Avi asks, who became a half-orphan at the age of six.

With great empathy and stoicism the filmmakers manage to open an intimate space in which, of course, there is also dancing, joking and singing. And when the inexpressible manifests itself in pure emotion, there is always the women’s silence – carrying every facet of anger, shame, the longing to be dead, pride and will power.

Nadja Rademacher
International Programme 2016
Cinema Futures Michael Palm

Cinema’s leap into the digital age and vanquishing of the analogue – a promise of salvation. An opulent essay about the visions and losses brought by a dubious departure.

Cinema Futures

Documentary Film
Austria
2016
126 minutes
subtitles: 
German

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Ralph Wieser
Michael Palm
Michael Palm
Joerg Burger
Michael Palm
Michael Palm
Hjalti Bager-Jonathansson
The “digital revolution” reached cinema at a fairly late date. It was almost universally regarded as a cause of joy since people believed its promise that it would make everything better, bigger, more beautiful and, above all, easier. To compound matters, this revolution was staged, celebrated and economically enforced as the greatest technological advance since the arrival of sound film. Who wanted to be left behind as an eternal reactionary or dull fault-finder in this heady air of departure?

From a distance of several years, “Cinema Futures” now explores the field between the specific cultural technique of analogue film and the promise of salvation brought by the alleged eternal life of bits and bytes. On one side there is the vision of the digital age as the final victory over transience. On the other side there is the threatening idea that our present is needlessly turned into a “dark age” not much of which will survive. Because, firstly, film as a physical object and, secondly, cinema as a techno-social infrastructure have become obsolete and, thirdly, no man and no machine will be able to read the howsoever “immortal” data.

Ralph Eue


Nominated for Healthy Workplaces Film Award
International Programme 2016
Cities of Sleep Shaunak Sen

Sleepless in Delhi: the never-ending search for a place to rest under bridges and in shelters that are marketed for high prices, mafia-style. A science fiction-like dystopia in feverish images.

Cities of Sleep

Documentary Film
India
2015
74 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Virender Kundu
Shaunak Sen
Ritwik De
Salim Khan, Shaunak Sen
Sreya Chatterjee, Shaunak Sen
Aman Mann, Sahil Dhingra
No charter in the world lists sleep as a human right. Least of all in Delhi, a city where it’s a precious commodity and insomnia the fate of those who can’t afford a shelter for the night. This is about survival pure and simple, for the darkness brings the mosquitoes that carry the deadly dengue fever. “Cities of Sleep” is about the restless search for a place to sleep, be it under a car, a bridge or in barracks that are crowded and unsafe. Night after night. Sleeping well has its price.

The film’s rhythm adopts the fretful delirium of the sleepless who are called “djinns” because they haunt the streets like ghosts. The camera follows them on their endless walks attended by humiliations they have to endure. The images radiate a feverish, nervous quality. People huddle everywhere; the smallest niche is used for shelter, lights flicker, bustling activity everywhere. There is no orientation; everything merges in an inferno of noise and dirt. It would seem almost like a science fiction film if this dystopia hadn’t long ago become part of contemporary life.

Cornelia Klauß