Film Archive

Arid Zone

Documentary Film
Brazil
2019
76 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Antônio Junior, Fernanda Pessoa
Fernanda Pessoa
Pedro Santiago
Rodrigo Levy
Germano de Oliveira, Mari Moraga
Fernanda Pessoa
Daniel Turini
Mesa, Arizona, east of Phoenix and about 200 kilometres from the Mexican border, is said to be the most conservative city in the U.S. In 2001, Fernanda Pessoa was an exchange student in Mesa. She was 15 years old at the time. 15 years later she returned, in the weeks before the presidential election won by Donald Trump. Starting with numerous photos of that earlier time, Pessoa searches out people she met as a teenager. She finds a new approach to the United States, is more aware of everything she experiences; after all, she has grown up in the meantime. She conducts an inner dialogue with her former self as she rediscovers this country whose inhabitants are so proud of the fact that it’s theirs: America. The land of firearms and peculiar sports, the land that invented the shopping mall and the Western movie.

Pessoa quotes the philosopher Baudrillard, to whom America seemed like a fiction. With her film, she turns it into an experience of reality that ultimately makes her understand more about her own country: “Our cultural colonialism came to collect the bill.” “Arid Zone” (Arizona) opposes that colonialism with the gentle resistance of precise observation.

Bert Rebhandl



Honorable Mention in the Next Masters Competition Long Documentary and Animated Film.

Army

Documentary Film
South Korea
2018
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Kelvin Kyung Kun Park, Junho Park
Kelvin Kyung Kun Park
Kelvin Kyung Kun Park, David Park
Kelvin Kyung Kun Park, Hein Seok
Paulo Vivacqua
Woochul’s face is running with sweat. Another one of those countless parades during which one is supposed to let the gun in one’s hand dance, following a strict choreography. Eternal drill. Permanent exercises. It’s hot and Woochul’s eyes flash with effort and nerves. The military training that’s compulsory for all young South Koreans lasts two years. Director Kelvin Kyung Kun Park himself is haunted until today by his traumatic time as a recruit. In his film, Woochul turns into an alter ego he uses to reflect on himself and Korean society, including the military system.

Ufos play a role, since these are seen with inordinate frequency by soldiers, a fact Park interprets as the expression of a specific mental state. Religion, too. In “Army”, a Christian K-Pop girl band performs no less than twice to frenetic cheering, calling upon their emotionally softened audience to write to them. How many men may actually do this and hope for an answer? Last, but not least, “Army” is about depression, from which both, director and protagonist, suffer in the course of their service. Kelvin Kyung Kun Park reports (and stays silent) in a basic tone of dry empathy. The film is dedicated to all those who lost their lives during military service.

Carolin Weidner
Next Masters Wettbewerb 2019
Deep Waters Alice Heit

An opulent film essay celebrating autonomous female sexuality. Its attitude and style playfully take up the feminist departure of the 1970s, but are firmly aimed at the present.

Deep Waters

Documentary Film
France
2019
53 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Alice Heit
Alice Heit
Alice Heit
Alice Heit
Alice Heit
Alice Heit
Alice Heit
Alice Heit
In the early 1970s, countless women in Western Europe and the U.S. fervently set out to explore their own bodies in self-help groups. Alice Heit’s film draws on this historic space of experience, opening on the sound level with personal reports of female sexuality affirming itself. Soon, a wide-ranging visual journey rich in associations develops, exploring and celebrating the physical phenomenon of female ejaculation suppressed in popular images of sexiness. Vulva-shaped sculptures and small statues of ancient mother goddesses lead the way to the spiritual emanations of the sexual and to creation myths in ancient India and Anatolia.

The shimmering Super 8 images, manually developed by the filmmaker (and looking beautifully homemade on all levels!) spread retro feelings on the formal level, too. Stop motion animations of crawling starfish evoke the surrealist film avant-garde. Other ingredients of this sex film of a different kind overflowing with motifs: lots of seawater. Dark snakes on pale skin. Trance-like chanting. And (with a title banner raised by two female divers underwater) perhaps the most poetic opening credits in the history of cinema.

Silvia Hallensleben
Next Masters Wettbewerb 2019
Guaicurus Street João Borges

A red-light district in Belo Horizonte. The camera is admitted into a “running house”. Love for sale looks like a routine, dreary assembly line exercise here, sometimes almost like a comedy.

Guaicurus Street

Documentary Film
Brazil
2019
75 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

João Borges, Thais Mol (Yara Filmes), Mariana Andrade
João Borges
Lucas Oscilloid, Pedro Durães
Lucas Barbi
Fabian Remy
João Borges
Lucas Oscilloid, Marcel Dadalto, Pedro Durães, Victor Brandão
A red light district in Belo Horizonte. The brothels are soliciting customers in all the colours of the night. The windows here are usually open, there is at most a guy in a plastic chair sitting in front of the door. The camera is admitted into one of the “running houses”. We see a long shot, almost like on a surveillance monitor, of men in a stark corridor scurrying from woman to woman. But suddenly we’re really close to some negotiations (“3 positions for 25 Real”) and at some point there’s an “impossible” cut: a reverse shot from the other side of the door, out of the woman’s room. We see sex workers tidying up, hanging around, and gossiping. They talk about violence, of pretend and real orgasms. But we also see sex scenes, played by actors, in which love for sale sometimes looks like a practiced, dreary assembly line exercise, sometimes almost like a comedy.

If this film systematically blurs the boundaries between the documentary and the fictional gaze, it has to do with the wish to leave the women their dignity and to avoid all-too-familiar images of misery. But it also has to do with the fact that sex can never be separated from fictions and projections.

Lukas Foerster
Next Masters Wettbewerb 2019
Never Whistle Alone Marco Ferrari

A cool and therefore all the more breathtaking study of corruption and truth that presents courageous whistleblowers from the “back benches”. Political, abysmal, activating.

Never Whistle Alone

Documentary Film
Italy
2019
74 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

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Priscilla Robledo, Francesco Crespi
Marco Ferrari
Francesco Leali, Alessandro Branca
Stefano Govi
Neil Devetti
Syd Golding
Marco Ferrari
Vito Martinelli
Ever since Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden everyone knows what a whistleblower is. Betraying secrets for a good cause brings a lot of honour to those who dare expose criminal systems. But becoming a whistleblower also means you lose your (former) life, risk mobbing, persecution and exile.

Director Marco Ferrari talks to seven people from his home country Italy who took this decision, asking them about their motives and the consequences – on a personal level as well as with regard to the crimes they denounced. Even if each of the interviewees worked up the individual courage to denounce system failures, their stories are uncannily similar: Anyone who gets out and does the right thing is immediately faced with aggression, intimidation, corruption, harassment and isolation. The police and judiciary seem not even close to being able to protect whistleblowers adequately respectively deal with their information sensibly. Ferrari doesn’t emphasize the individual characteristics but shows, by means of deliberately exaggerated stagings, what universal patterns of intimidation, cover-ups and thoughtlessness corrupt organisations are founded on. An important, tense film, whose protagonists seem like a blueprint for more moral courage at the desk.

Luc-Carolin Ziemann
Next Masters Wettbewerb 2019
Night Has Come Peter Van Goethem

Film snippets from the Royal Belgian Film Archive – combined into a fascinating monologic discourse about individual and collective loss of memory and transience.

Night Has Come

Documentary Film
Belgium
2019
56 minutes
subtitles: 
No

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Peter Krüger
Peter Van Goethem
Guy Van Nueten
Peter Van Goethem
Peter Van Goethem, Peter Verhelst
Frederik Van de Moortel, Guy De Bièvre, Aiko Devriendt
According to recent medical findings, viruses can also cause a weakening or even loss of memory. Such an epidemic is the speculative narrative foundation of this film. The suspicion is uttered by the sonorous voice of an old man, who wakes up after having lost his memory in an unspecified incident and goes on a mental journey into his childhood. But the perspective soon widens to include collective life and conspiracy theories directed against the government – even questions about the last things.

The images illustrating this narrative were made between 1927 and 1998 and are now restored digital copies in the holdings of the Royal Belgian Film Archive. They cover a spectrum from home movies on the beach to the central iconic events of Brussels history, for example the Nazi deportations or the big fire in the “À l’innovation” department store in 1967. But art films, science films and documents of industrial history are also interwoven – with film aesthetics so homogenised that they are, out of their original contexts, convincingly integrated into the suggestively proposed new narrative logic, while always referencing the past, too.

Silvia Hallensleben
Next Masters Wettbewerb 2019
Nothing to Be Afraid Of Silva Khnkanosian

Ever since the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, the still disputed territory is contaminated by landmines. This cautious documentary follows five female de-miners on their risky job.

Nothing to Be Afraid Of

Documentary Film
Armenia,
France
2019
72 minutes
subtitles: 
English

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Stéphane Jourdain
Silva Khnkanosian
Vahagn Ter-Habobyan
Justine Hiriart
Paruyr Baghyan
Five women plod their way through a steep forest: They are defusing landmines for an NGO. Ever since the war in Nagorno-Karabakh at the beginning of the 1990s, the still disputed region is contaminated. Care and patience are imperative in this work, the effects of habituation their enemy. Speed would be a category with fatal consequences here: Every booby trap they overlook can cost a human life.

This observational documentary adapts its narrative rhythm to the slowness and meticulousness of the risky job. The women’s eyes are directed to the ground where they patiently search every square inch and dig up suspicious spots. The camera observes their activities with the same attention, frequently focusing on details. Gradually, the systematics of the processes are revealed. Only the beeping of the metal detectors and an occasional whistle disturb the silence. The forest seems silent after the long years of war. But then we are startled by the controlled detonation of a detected mine. What a relief for everyone to spend the evening in their shared accommodation in a relaxed atmosphere! Cooking and eating together brings some ease. The ever-present fear is left behind in the forest for a moment.

Annina Wettstein
Next Masters Wettbewerb 2019
Sicherheit123 Julia Gutweniger, Florian Kofler

The Alps are covered by a nearly invisible security system that’s supposed to protect humans from natural disasters. A breathtaking narrative of the measuring of a landscape.

Sicherheit123

Documentary Film
Austria,
Italy
2019
72 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Julia Gutweniger, Florian Kofler
Julia Gutweniger, Florian Kofler
Edgars Rubenis
Julia Gutweniger
Julia Gutweniger, Florian Kofler
Florian Kofler
The Alps. Nowadays there’s hardly a mountain left untouched. We have long conquered the lofty peaks and developed even the high mountain ranges as recreational landscapes. The fact that there is practically no limit to exploiting the Alps should not be taken for granted: The whole region is covered by a nearly invisible safety system. Well-camouflaged protective precautions against falling rocks and avalanches are there to ensure accessibility and habitability without fear. On the other hand, concrete fortifications around isolated farms or sculptural curved walls on the slopes to secure a whole village look conspicuous and almost surreal.

“Safety123” captures these constructions and the work that’s usually done in the background in breathtaking images. Quiet sequences show impressively how many-layered this safety system is: The landscape is ceaselessly surveyed and emergencies are simulated, whether in computer models, test facilities or large-scale disaster exercises. This observational documentary attentively follows the sometimes mysterious-looking activities and preparations to portray the human struggle against the forces of nature which are unstoppable despite precision technology.

Annina Wettstein



Awarded with a Golden Dove in the Next Masters Competition Long Documentary and Animated Film.

Next Masters Wettbewerb 2019
The Diviners Roman Bordun

A kaleidoscopic portrait of contemporary Ukraine, built from documentary facets of life in Kiev, in Odessa, in Lviv. A portrait that really depicts us all.

The Diviners

Documentary Film
Ukraine
2019
58 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Roman Bordun
Roman Bordun
Roman Bordun
Roman Bordun
Roman Bordun
Daryna Rudokvas
A kaleidoscopic portrait of contemporary Ukraine. Documentary facets of the life of city dwellers in Kiev, Odessa and Lviv. Symmetrical image associations of the finds in the editing: yellow, yellow, yellow. Pink pipes, spheres and circles. Parade and catwalk. Forms and plays with colours and, in between, deadly serious, the current political conflicts of Ukraine in the people’s voice: should the Russians be squashed like flies? Who has the power? Adolescent drinking games degenerate into ugly brawls. Girls are silly and playful. Young couples kissing mechanically while guarding their mobile phones. Naked people on the beach have crosses on their thighs. Dogs are abused with affection.

The tableau is of life itself, in its “humanity and cruelty, charity and indifference”. A portrait of all of us: “the righteous, the merciless, the funny, the naïve, the honest”. The director has dedicated his film to his Russian colleague Aleksandr Rastorguyev, who died in the Central African Republic during investigative research into a corrupt Russian military corporation.

Saskia Walker
Next Masters Wettbewerb 2019
The Ebb Tide Renu Savant

Men, fish and a dying occupation at the coast of India. The director explores her homeland and portrays the village of Mirya in documentary and re-staged close-up and long-distance views.

The Ebb Tide

Documentary Film
India
2019
60 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Public Service Broadcasting Trust
Renu Savant
Sunayana Singh
Rikhav Desai
Renu Savant
Ved Madesia, Sidardh Ramesh
Even in the Indian coastal town of Mirya, about 300 kilometres south of Mumbai, fishing is a dying occupation. The younger fishermen have high school diplomas but can’t find work – blame it on Prime Minister Modi. Buying a boat is being considered, even though the marine animals are becoming increasingly scarce. The big market is far away and selling locally is hardly worthwhile because prices are too high. A young woman follows a man, committed despite everything to catching crabs, into the dark and swampy mangrove forest.

“The Ebb Tide” is an exploration of home and the second film about her village by the young director Renu Savant who studied at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. Savant stages the residents on the waterfront by the bay. She makes the documentary abstract, has them read texts and people play roles that are close to their lives. With this hybrid approach she also reflects on her position as a director: close-ups and long shots of a familiar region that allows itself to be captured quite openly and in all its aspects. The mysterious imagery of this film, shot during the 2018 monsoon season, opens the viewers’ eyes to an unknown life and feeds them intellectually with knowledge about the multi-layered nature of the present.

Saskia Walker

Under the Skin

Documentary Film
Switzerland
2019
84 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Britta Rindelaub
Robin Harsch
Le Bruit.
Robin Harsch
Ana Acosta
Igor Marlot
Three transgender teenagers undergo radical physical changes caused by hormone therapy and surgery: This is the external metamorphosis that finally brings their appearance into line with their long-felt gender identity. Behind them lie desperate years in which they had to struggle not only with themselves but also with their family and school environments. This continuous experience of rejection and harassment has made them vulnerable. They long for the day when they don’t have to explain themselves all the time.

The curious and frank questions of the director, who is also the cinematographer, produce a very intimate relationship between him and those he films. What becomes clear is how difficult, complicated and all-encompassing the path of transformation is not only for the teenagers but also for their parents. What does it mean to a mother when her child, born as a girl, becomes a boy? A counselling centre supports the teenagers and their families in everything, helps them with psychological and legal issues, accompanies them to talks with teachers and medical professionals. This support is essential to give everyone concerned some orientation. And it enables the adolescents to finally arrive in their bodies, their selves.

Annina Wettstein