Film Archive

A Sister’s Song

Documentary Film
Canada,
Israel
2018
91 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Danae Elon, Paul Cadieux
Danae Elon
Peter Venne
Danae Elon, Itamar Mendes Flohr
Vincent Guignard, Alexandre Leblanc
Danae Elon
Benoît Dame
Marina and Tatiana moved from Russia to Israel with their family as children. Being immigrants, their arrival in the new country wasn’t easy. This back story resonates in their search for models and identity. The narrative focuses on Marina. As an adolescent her younger sister Tatiana followed her spiritual father to a strict Orthodox convent in Greece. That was twenty years ago. They last saw each other four years ago. Since then, Marina has more and more gained the impression that her sister is unhappy there, and she wants to get her back. But is she responsible for Tatiana’s happiness? How can you understand a close person’s decision that’s in conflict with your own position?

The Canada-based award-winning Israeli director and cinematographer Danae Elon returns once more to her home country for this film. Discretely and yet very much present, she watches the two sisters’ encounter, included only occasionally – but almost like an accomplice – in the protagonists’ conversation. Her tale of the sisters Marina and Tatiana is dramaturgically outstanding and innovative. “A Sister’s Song” – a film about love and loss and the art of following one’s inner voice.

Annina Wettstein

Architektur der Unendlichkeit

Documentary Film
Switzerland
2018
86 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Brigitte Hofer, Cornelia Seitler
Christoph Schaub
Jojo Mayer
Ramon Giger
Marina Wernli
William Crook
Christoph Schaub, Samuel Ammann
Jan Illing, Jacques Kieffer, Reto Stamm
In Japanese aesthetics, Wabi-Sabi describes a continuous cycle of becoming and passing away. Temporality and age are inherent in every object and creature and, depending on one’s outlook, may transcend to infinity. How can this be imagined? What goes beyond it? The filmmaker Christoph Schaub starts his very personal journey through time and space in his childhood, when his fascination with sacred buildings began – and his wonder at beginnings and ends.

Architecture helps separate the finite and the infinite. It offers protection from what is boundless, at the same time creating a sense of vastness, the narrator claims. Together with architects and artists he explores the magic of sacred spaces, defined here as far more than church buildings. The artist James Turrell, known, among other things, for his “Skyspaces”, reflects on who owns spirituality – fundamental for this film which follows “spiritual life” in architecture and the fine arts, but also in nature, and literally lifts it over and above the limits of thinking. A slightly floating camera immerses us in other-worldly, somnambulistic images, takes us on a sensual and sensing journey through vast spaces, and guides our eye towards the infinity of the starry sky and the depths of the ocean. Past and present, primeval times and light years, it’s all there.

Annina Wettstein

Charleroi, the Land of 60 Mountains

Documentary Film
Belgium
2018
126 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Cyril Bibas
Guy-Marc Hianant
Vincent Pinckaers
Simon Arazi
Dominique Goblet
Laszlo Umbreit
Charleroi, former centre of the Western European coal and steel industry. Once also a stronghold of plate glass production. For a long time this was a city on the sidelines, but now it has arrived in the middle of structural change, which, however, as the term suggests, is only provisional again. How is the spirit of community expressed today? Is it articulated on a temporal or spatial level? Horizontal or vertical? Is it athletic or rather artistic? Does it live in the built environment or in the faces and bodies of its inhabitants? Perhaps it’s just a complicated mixture? Or a complicated simplicity?

The Belgian writer, publisher, music producer and filmmaker Guy-Marc Hinant is a professed native “Carolorégien.” And he has set out to compose a complex portrait of his city. Poetic local knowledge with an enormous wingspan. Great events and tiny blind spots, and sometimes one in the other. All in all, an itinerary in the form of an essay along the director’s personal mythology.

Ralph Eue

Die Tage wie das Jahr

Documentary Film
Austria
2018
86 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Othmar Schmiderer
Othmar Schmiderer
Othmar Schmiderer
Arthur Summereder
Angela Summereder, Othmar Schmiderer
Angela Summereder, Arthur Summereder, Othmar Schmiderer
A steady-handed film: a year on an organic farm in the Waldviertel in Lower Austria. Filmed from neither too close nor too far away but at the exactly right distance, portraying life and its various activities and incidents between the house and the stables. There is the ewe that sounds almost human as it gives birth to its lamb. The delicate kids skipping over the straw as if it concealed red-hot stones. The front loader whose long thin arms drive into the hay bales and skewer them. Or watching Elfie, the farmer, prepare glass bottles for labels with a glue stick. In the meantime, her husband Gottfried is setting up a small market stand. And during milking goats as well as people are entertained by historic dance music. Being present at all these processes has a meditative quality, the special rhythm created by a strong but not hectic and very regular beat communicates itself to the viewer and generates enjoyment and hope.

Carolin Weidner


Nominated for the Healthy Workplaces Film Award

I Had a Dream

Documentary Film
France,
Italy
2018
84 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Claudia Tosi, Nathalie Combe
Claudia Tosi
Daniele Rossi, Enrico Pasini
Claudia Tosi, Andrea Gioacchini
Marco Duretti
Claudia Tosi
Diego Schiavo
This film is flanked by two men: Silvio Berlusconi, who in 2008 became Italian Prime Minister for the fourth time, and Donald Trump, who was sworn in as president of the United States a little less than a decade later. Manuela, a member of the Italian Parliament, and Daniela, a local politician, see this period, marked as it is by men, as the epitome of political regression. Both have spent years fighting for more sexual equality, better laws to protect women from domestic violence and a more diverse body of political decision makers.

Is politics dead? This brutal question guides Claudia Tosi’s long-term observation of the developments of the past decade in Italy. With a loss of 6.7 % of the votes, the democrats were clearly defeated by the populist and Eurosceptic Five Star Movement. Neither Manuela nor Daniela ever thought that democracy, civil solidarity and the desire for progress would one day be challenged to such an extent or that Berlusconism, which they believed was overcome, would have such pervasive after-effects.

Lukas Stern



Awarded with a Golden Dove in the International Competition Long Film, with the Prize of the Interreligious Jury and with the FIPRESCI Prize

Keeping & Saving – Or How to Live

Documentary Film
Netherlands
2018
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Monique Busman, Michiel van Erp
Digna Sinke
Jan Wich
Albert Elings
Digna Sinke
Mark Wessner
An old box full of various treasures: a bracelet made of chicken bones, a small paper fan in which razor blades used to be concealed, a beer mat carrying the signature of a crush. And a notebook with a few brown stains: “Right, I had a nosebleed.”

Director Digna Sinke knows that she likes to collect lots of stuff. But: “We have to tidy up, is what I read everywhere. A tidy home is a tidy life.” She’s attached to objects to which she in turn attaches wishes, hopes, passions – in brief, everything that makes up a human life. And she is not the only one. She meets persons with similar leanings everywhere. But also those who decided to get rid of everything. The director begins to realise that she is caught in an interim time. On the one hand there’s the material past, full of bric-a-brac, tangible stuff, ballast. On the other there’s the digital future with its clouds, collective owners, impersonal things. Sinke weighs both options against each other, examines her own tendency, her own attachment and the freedom of others that she doesn’t quite seem to trust but addresses with an open mind.

Carolin Weidner

Letter to Theo

Documentary Film
Belgium
2018
63 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Isabelle Truc
Élodie Lélu
Tristan Galand
Philippe Boucq
Élodie Lélu
Félix Brume, Bruno Schweiguth
The Greek director Theodoros Angelopoulos died in January 2012 while shooting his last film. In “Letter to Theo”, Élodie Lélu, a close collaborator and friend of Angelopoulos, remembers his work, interweaving the Greece that the 76-year-old man knew at the time of his death with present-day Greece. Lélu’s film tells of both crises, the “Greek crisis” and the “refugee crisis”, interlacing them and letting Angelopoulos, that “filmmaker of migration”, speak, without abusing his words for her own visual piece.

Her thoughts rise and fall like waves, excerpts from the Greek director’s films are mixed with documentary footage by the Frenchwoman Lélu, who recognises strong reflections of Angelopoulos’s visions in the here and now. She says the director was a victim of the crisis – a melancholiac disappointed by the world. But in this renewed world of all things, where a multinational football team practices right next to the headquarters of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, Lélu believes she recognises elements that might have made the much-admired artist believe in politics again.

Carolin Weidner

No Obvious Signs

Documentary Film
Ukraine
2018
62 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Mariya Berlinska, Alina Gorlova
Alina Gorlova
Ptakh Jung
Oleksiy Kuchma
Alina Gorlova
Alina Gorlova
Vasyl Yavtushenko
A war that destabilises the country and traumatises its people has been simmering in the Ukraine since 2014. Reservists like circa 50-year-old Oksana, who left the army highly decorated after her term of service ended, are struggling with the psychological effects of their experiences. But when the body looks unharmed, psychological trauma often goes unnoticed – by doctors as well as by those affected.

Oksana suffers from anxiety and extreme panic attacks and is among the few Ukrainians who have access to medically supervised treatment of their post traumatic stress disorder. The film follows a strong, thinking woman on her way back to life and demonstrates impressively how indelibly war eats into life.

Luc-Carolin Ziemann


Awarded with the MDR Film Prize

Ojo Guareña

Documentary Film
Belgium,
Spain
2018
55 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Andrea Cinel
Edurne Rubio
Charo Calvo
Edurne Rubio, Sergi Gras, Alvaro Alonso de Armiño
Jan De Coster
Edurne Rubio
Hugo Fernandez, David Elchardus
There is a giant cave system with impressive subterranean rock galleries, lakes and crawls in Cantabria in northern Spain. Edurne Rubio responds to this place in truly cinematographic, sensual dimensions. She relies on the voices of the speleologists she accompanies and the light of their headlamps as she advances curiously into the unknown. In the great and impenetrable darkness she relies on distant dancing dots of light, light cones sliding tentatively over rock formations and the sounds of dripping that give the caves acoustic contours. Delicate, restless threads and pearls of water shine like silver on the walls and form an incredible starry sky deep underground. While Neil Armstrong saw only his own footprints on the moon in 1969, the young speleologists in Ojo Guareña come across 17,000 year old footprints – speleology is a journey through space and time after all. And the branching subterranean spaces also play an important role in their own biographies, the voices of the explorers of the deep report. If eyes (“ojos”) are the windows to the soul, this place revealed the human abyss of Spain’s recent history to them and at the same time offered them a refuge from a repressive life and a place to dream of the future.

André Eckardt

On the Water

Documentary Film
Croatia
2018
79 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Hrvoje Osvadić
Goran Dević
Damian Nenadić
Jan Klemsche, Vanja Siruček
Goran Dević
Martin Semenčić
Rivers may be simple geographical entities. But beyond that they are eloquent micro-milieus where history and stories have accumulated. The rivers Save, Kupa and Odra flow through the centre of the Croatian industrial town of Sisak. They were and are the lifelines of the city and the region. The rivers may appear like pastoral havens today, but the countless narratives of the past emerge more openly there than anywhere else.

Most of the river dwellers’ and users’ lives around which Goran Dević structures his film are linked to the events of the Yugoslavian civil war and its ethnic and social conflicts. Even though it was more than two and a half decades ago, this historic period seems like a parallel reality which throws its shadows over the protagonists like a permanent trauma. “On the Water” is a poetic and political study about the changeability and constancy of people and spaces in which the dividing line between the two is permanently blurred.

Ralph Eue


Honorable Mention in the International Competition Long Film

The Principal Wife

Documentary Film
Netherlands
2018
70 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Koert Davidse, Marc Thelosen
Hester Overmars
Diego van Uden
Jefrim Rothuizen
Ralf Verbeek
Hester Overmars
Diego van Uden
“The Principal Wife” is an impressive and moving demonstration of how to trace one’s family history even if no one is willing to talk about it. At its centre is the 38-year-old painter Marijke van der Meulen, whose mother Aagje left her and the family to join a Christian sect when her daughter was eight. Aagje became the wife of the sect leader, who manipulated his followers and was later convicted of child abuse. Marijke herself escaped the abuse but, without knowing exactly what really happened, is still haunted by traumatic memories of that time.

She comes up against a wall of silence with her questions. Family members and friends grudgingly agree to be interviewed but demand to remain anonymous. Marijke accepts. Henceforth the camera focuses only on her, showing emotions and fears, anger and sadness play over her face. Flanked by her artistic works, the creative stopgap becomes a cinematic godsend. Rarely has a film managed so intensely and thrillingly to be there when an individual recollects the story of her life and makes sense of what happened. At the end only one interview partner is left on Marijke’s list …

Luc-Carolin Ziemann

The Trial

Documentary Film
Netherlands
2018
127 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Sergei Loznitsa, Maria Choustova, Peter Warnier
Sergei Loznitsa
Danielius Kokanauskis
Sergei Loznitsa
Vladimir Golovnitski
The trial against the so-called “Industrial Party” took place in the fateful year of the USSR’s first five-year-plan, from 25 November to 7 December 1930. It was not the first show trial under Stalin but it was a crucial moment in history because the show worked and the political calculations paid off. While some of the accused at the Shakhty Trial in 1928 still denied their guilt, everybody involved here confessed, saw reason and showed remorse – completely, ardently, calling themselves “wreckers” and “saboteurs,” in short, “counter revolutionaries.” Consequently, “extreme measures” had to be taken – the thousands in court and the marchers in the streets agreed – for the purposes of “social security:” “death by firing squad.” That was the verdict after whose proclamation, to roaring applause, the crowds burst into tears of joy.

Every new film by Sergei Loznitsa makes one think that it doesn’t get eerier than that. And yet this time the horrors of Soviet rule crawl a bit further under the skin. The historical analyst of cinema combines his carefully researched and uncommented archival footage into a chamber play of rhetorical and directorial perfidiousness. And he reconstructs – necessarily brutal in its wealth of detail – the incident of an all-encompassing legal and political fabrication. An “Industrial Party” never existed …

Barbara Wurm