Film Archive

A Strange New Beauty

Documentary Film
USA
2017
51 minutes
subtitles: 
No

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Shelly Silver
Shelly Silver
Shelly Silver
Shelly Silver
Shelly Silver
Shelly Silver
Shelly Silver, Mike Degen
Entering the comfort zone of a luxury estate in Silicon Valley, inhabited but empty. The first impression: an illusion of Arcadia. A painstakingly created and maintained claim. Though the travails that went into the magnificent appearance of the garden were masterfully concealed and silenced too. Only the things and plants that make up this Arcadia know of its violence. And they have the power to tell us about it! But only those who look and listen closely will hear their ghostly-real voices and the eerie noise behind the silence. From the mouths of ghosts … Thus we learn of the world behind the appearances. A world ruled by dominance and submission. By strategies to overcome fear. And by the antagonism between the “natural” pursuit of happiness of a very few and the collateral damages produced in the process. Because ultimately this film by Shelly Silver is a narrative of barbarianism and how, brilliantly refined, it manages to present itself as strangely new and beautiful – “a strange new beauty” indeed.

Ralph Eue

Call Me Tony

Documentary Film
Poland
2017
63 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Klaudiusz Chrostowski, Michał Łuka
Klaudiusz Chrostowski
Wojtek Frycz
Michał Łuka
Sebastian Mialik
Klaudiusz Chrostowski
Olga Pasternak
Al Pacino, Robert De Niro or Dustin Hoffmann – these are the eccentrics, the non-conformists, in Konrad’s opinion. Men with exceptional style and intellect, which is why people can’t help giving them their whole attention. The young Pole feels especially close to Tony Montana, Al Pacino’s character in “Scarface”. At the start of the film he shaves the typical scar into one of his eyebrows. And if he can’t afford a white suite for the closing night ball, he can at least wear a blue one. He also spoons up food supplements, because Konrad is preparing for a bodybuilding competition. He wants to show the world that he’s special, too, that he can do something that will not be lost in the crowd. Konrad wants to stand out and he has clear visions.

Just like Klaudiusz Chrostowski, who frames him with no fear of poses, makes abrupt cuts and by this blows Konrad up to big screen format. When his look over the shoulder after the competition meets the camera, when the bronze makeup runs from his muscles under the shower or when he stands in front of the coffee machine in his leather jacket we see larger-than-life images that Konrad knows how to fill, despite everything.

Carolin Weidner


Nominated for Young Eyes Film Award, MDR Film Prize

Das Kongo Tribunal

Documentary Film
Germany,
Switzerland
2017
100 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Arne Birkenstock, Olivier Zobrist, Sebastian Lemke
Milo Rau
Marcel Vaid
Thomas Schneider
Katja Dringenberg
Milo Rau
Marco Teufen, Jens Baudisch
For more than 20 years, the tortuous civil war in Congo has transformed an area the size of Western Europe into hell on earth. This permanent conflict, also called World War Three because of the direct or indirect involvement of all superpowers, has killed about six million people so far. Director Milo Rau managed, for the first time in the history of this war and in the middle of the combat zone, to hold a symbolic tribunal involving many of the participating parties. His recordings from remote villages and nearly inaccessible mining areas and his factual and focused observation of the trial in a courthouse built specifically for the shooting paint a complex portrait of this exemplary economic war. This documentary examination of a global conflict is not about winning or losing but about the question of what we are willing to pay for the wealth of the First World.

Ralph Eue



Honorary Mention in the International Competition;
Nominated for Goethe-Institut Documentary Film Prize, DEFA Sponsoring Prize

Gwendolyn

Documentary Film
Austria
2017
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Jürgen Karasek
Ruth Kaaserer
Serafin Spitzer
Joana Scrinzi
Ruth Kaaserer
Tong Zhang
Gwendolyn Leick is a master of countenance. It’s no coincidence that the retired anthropologist, writer and weight lifter quotes a passage from a poem by Gertrude Stein that refers to this: “If can in countenance to countenance a countenance as in as seen …” Gwen was born in Austria. She went to London in the mid-1970s to write her thesis on Babylonian curses. At the age of 52 the petite woman began to lift weights and has since won a number of international titles. While Gwen is preparing for the European Championship in Azerbaijan with her long-term coach Pat, she copes with unilateral facial paralysis and her third cancer operation.

After portraying female boxers in “Tough Cookies” in 2014, Ruth Kaaserer once more enters an athletic environment that has little to do with the familiar images of muscle building, grinding workouts and sweat. More restrained and graceful scenes were rarely scene at a gym. “Gwendolyn” pays the same direct attention to the everyday life of this unusual woman: visits to the doctor, life with her much younger husband Charlie, conversations with her son about what writing and sewing have in common. Sometimes there’s no choice – the seams must be unstitched.

Esther Buss

Licu, a Romanian Story

Documentary Film
Romania
2017
86 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Ana Dumitrescu, Jonathan Boissay
Ana Dumitrescu
Ana Dumitrescu
Ana Dumitrescu
Jonathan Boissay
At the age of 92, Liviu Canţer, called Licu, has lived through the extremes of the 20th century in his home country of Romania – as an alert eye witness of the World War, expulsions, Ceauşescu’s industrialisation and surveillance, the revolution of 1989 and the corrupt post-communism at the margins of the EU, he has a lot of stories to tell. But being one of the last survivors of his generation he lacks contemporaries with whom he can share his experiences. Director Ana Dumitrescu takes time for him and his recollections. She keeps visiting Licu with her camera over the seasons. She films him in his house, where the family history is always present. Slowly the two develop a relationship – in the course of the film she turns from invisible observer to a visitor for whom Licu cooks and whom he offers homemade schnapps. He displays his photo archive. The happy and sad days are fairly balanced, but a certain resignation is obvious.

Dumitrescu, who grew up as a Romanian in France, creates an epic space for the history of her native country, at the centre of which we find Licu: a personal fate representing the tide of history. The black and white images, shot with minimum equipment, reveal her sensitivity as a photo journalist, which enables us to immerse ourselves in this man’s world.

Sirkka Möller



Golden Dove International Competition (long);
Nominated for MDR Film Prize

Love Is Potatoes

Documentary Film
Netherlands
2017
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Frank van den Engel
Aliona van der Horst
Stefano Sasso
Aliona van der Horst, Maasja Ooms
Maasja Ooms, Ollie Huddleston, Aliona van der Horst
Simone Massi
Aliona van der Horst
Tim van Peppen
A cheerful woman exercises on the balcony. Paper is burnt in the snow. A whole room full of worn shoes. The house is bursting with souvenirs, details, whose meaning is elusive – or lost forever. One day the Dutch filmmaker Aliona van der Horst’s mother met a Dutch man, married him and left Russia. Only when van der Horst receives her inheritance – a dilapidated wooden house somewhere in Russia – does she take a closer look at her mother’s, and her mother’s mother’s background and that of the latter’s five daughters.

Intercut with Italian artist Simone Massi’s powerful animations, “Love Is Potatoes” brings a dark chapter of Soviet Russian history to life, faced in various ways by those affected. Dismissal and denial are among their strategies, but also a written approach by letters. This film is informed by great pain. Nonetheless, the director never yields to the temptation to turn it into a showpiece. In a well-composed and measured way she brings together elements that often seem like pieces of a puzzle.

Carolin Weidner



Honorary Mention in the International Competition
Prize of the Interreligious Jury

Pushkar Myths

Documentary Film
India,
USA
2017
104 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Vijay Pratap Singh
Kamal Swaroop
Ashok Meena, Kumar Avyaya
Shweta Rai
Radhamohini Prasad, Hansa Thapliyal
Kamal Swaroop
Kanishk Bhoklay, Manish Pal Singh, Gautam Nair
“All year one sensed a hidden tension, all year something was going on in preparation for those days, as if the ultimate purpose of the year was to home in on those three days.” (Roberto Calasso, “Ka: Stories of the Mind and Gods of India”)

Pushkar is a small town in the Federal State of Rajasthan in northwest India and one of the holiest places of Hinduism. Once a year, however, during the full moon in the autumn month of Kartik, the town and the desert surrounding it turn into a sprawling fun fair with Ferris wheels and carousels, music from folklore to rock and colourful dance performances. Thousands of people, Hindus and Muslims alike, pour in from villages in the whole region to trade camels, horses and cattle. The spectacle appears in the desert as suddenly as a Fata Morgana. And just as suddenly the colourful magic is over. Director Kamal Swaroop – who shot one of the (post-)modern classics of Indian cinema with “Om Dar-B-Dar” in 1988 – captures the exuberant goings-on with a precise eye for strong images and details, exploring the myths and gods of India as well as their political instrumentalisation.

Frederik Lang

Raw

Documentary Film
Portugal
2017
150 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Carlos Ruiz Carmona
Carlos Ruiz Carmona
Carlos Ruiz Carmona
Carlos Ruiz Carmona
Carlos Ruiz Carmona
Carlos Ruiz Carmona, Pedro Ribeiro
“Cru” means “rough”, “raw” or “sore”, all of which applies to this sequence of scenes by Carlos Ruiz Carmona – snapshots of the Portuguese city of Porto, collected over almost a decade. There are movie kisses and vigorously fucking bodies, trembling hands and sex for money. Communion wafers crack and teeth are knocked out. The images are anything but glamorous but highly charged: they show tense and often aggressive people. Carlos Ruiz Carmona’s Porto is a field of energy where tension keeps building and is discharged all over the place, where people are receivers or transmitters of those currents. The film seems both distant and intimate because its director, while renouncing all direct communication, is a penetrating observer. One who is most interested in the surfaces under which things are seething, ready to burst – be it in the shape of eczema, a blow or a birth.

Carolin Weidner

Secret Nest

Documentary Film
France
2017
82 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Guillaume Poulet (Alter Ego Production)
Sophie Bredier
Hélène Breschand
Matthieu Chatellier
Catherine Rascon, Michaël Phelippeau
Nicolas Joly
The Château Bénouville in Normandy has an eventful history though it may look rather sleepy at the moment. In 1944, British soldiers landed in Hitler-occupied France only a few metres from here to start their first offensive. The castle served as a maternity hospital for unmarried mothers since 1929. In the 1940s, its director supported the Résistance. But the film is only marginally interested in these factual circumstances. It focuses on the experiences of mothers and children who, according to the respective views of institutional custody of the time, were helped here – and at the same time ostracised, at the mercy of others and stigmatised.

We see a wide variety of ways to cope with this “secret motherhood”. We understand the purpose, but also the horrors of suppression when things are carried into the next generation. But this film and its director not only make the protagonists and their descendants speak but act, even sing on camera, demonstrating a trust that goes far beyond “cooperation”. Sophie Bredier also frequently uses the tools of mystic-spectral narration: of huge empty rooms that fill with the stories of these people, of a birth castle that existed until 1985.

Leopold Grün

The Centaur’s Nostalgia

Documentary Film
Argentina
2017
70 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Nicolás Torchinsky
Nicolás Torchinsky
Pablo Butelman
Baltazar Torcasso
Ana Poliak
Nicolás Torchinsky
Sebastián González, Sofía Straface
Centaurs are mythical creatures. Half human, half horse. Gauchos resemble centaurs. Like the latter, they are a practically extinct species. Nor is there much left of their culture of nomadic cattle breeding. But there are still some survivors of the species left, especially in the north of Argentina.

Gauchos don’t do much. Nor do they talk much. They are! In the most intense fashion. Director Nicolás Torchinsky portrays an old couple’s companionship and conflicts. Which means that we, too, for the length of a film participate in this way of being in a world that seems to have been forgotten by time. We watch them like a nocturnal fire that will slowly die away in the morning if it’s not fed. Above the fire: the constellation of the Centaur, a prominent constellation in the southern sky. If it was up to the stars, the gaucho would surely still be a mythical hero. But in this world things aren’t up to the stars but to the will of people or, even more prosaic, to circumstances – and circumstances won’t have it so.

Ralph Eue
International Competition (from 2015) 2017
The Project Alejandro Alonso Estrella

The Citrus tristeza virus turns a once glowing vision of a cast-in-concrete future in Cuba into an otherworldly place, lethargically poised between the past and the future.

2017

The Project

Animadoc
Cuba
2017
60 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Yamila M. Montero
Alejandro Alonso Estrella
Rafael Ramírez
Alejandro Alonso Estrella
Emmanuel Peña
Andy F. Pérez
Jesús Bermúdez
Brilliant yellow protection suits with oxygen masks cautiously explore a withered orange plantation. Architectural elements float like loose space ship parts through the white void of a 3D visualisation. The camera investigates the ruined interior of an extensive building complex, the fading beauty of a glowing promise for the future, cast in concrete. In Cuba.

What looks like science fiction is actually the legacy of a utopia. The five-storied, elongated complex in the midst of orange plantations was once built as an agricultural school for 50,000 students. Attracted by the visionary project, people from other regions of the island republic settled here. Today they live like ghosts in the long corridors of a place that is lethargically floating between the past and the future because of the effects of the Citrus tristeza virus. The static shots of this film, however, don’t record decay but a quiet change. Alejandro Alonso Estrella and his team have created an aesthetically impressive haptic cinema of the smells and buzzing of the rooms – a gentle approach to an actual building, its inhabitants and the ideas behind it. Faced with this drawing board communism the film doubts its own visual recollections. The invisible censor is full of suspicion – and has other reasons, too.

André Eckardt



Prize of the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique 2017

When the Bull Cried

Documentary Film
Belgium,
Bolivia
2017
66 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Tomas Leyers
Karen Vázquez Guadarrama, Bart Goossens
Bram Bosteels
Karen Vázquez Guadarrama
Tom Denoyette
Karen Vázquez Guadarrama, Bart Goossens
Bart Goossens
Giant fourthousanders rise majestically to the skies in the Bolivian Andes. Grey-blue craggy steep faces and white mountain clouds flow into each other. Mining is the sole industry here. People climb down into the stony bowels of the mountains and risk their lives to mine silver and other minerals. The freezing cold, dark mineshafts regularly collapse and bury the workers, many of them still children, alive. They say that the souls of those who die in the shaft must wander for three days, all the time pursued by “el tío”, the evil mountain god. They fight their fear with alcohol and coca; superstitions abound. The men especially live in a loop of work, alcohol and aggression, hoping every day for the big find and trying to propitiate the spirits with sacrifices. Archaic rituals are meant to appease Mother Earth, but a look into the people’s exhausted faces makes one suspect that their faith is shaken with every death.

A visually stunning film that manages to transport the viewer into the breathtaking Andean landscape without turning into a geography lesson. Haunting, alarming and moving – great cinema above the clouds.

Luc-Carolin Ziemann


Nominated for Healthy Workplaces Film Award