Film Archive

Das Forum

Documentary Film
Germany,
Switzerland
2019
116 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Christian Beetz, Georg Tschurtschenthaler, Karin Koch, Marcus Vetter
Marcus Vetter
Marcel Vaid
Georg Zengerling
Marcus Vetter, Ana Fernandez Rocha, Michele Gentile
Christian Beetz
Melanie Westphal, Dieter Meyer, Marco Teufen, Jonathan Schorr, Marcus Vetter
Every year in January, the Swiss village of Davos provides the backdrop for the World Economic Forum (WEF). This conference is a meeting of the global economic and political elites. It’s true, the public debates and press conferences have been streamed on the WEF website for a while now, in the spirit of a transparent, albeit suspiciously semi-official, audiovisual protocol – but never in the now 49 years of the WEF’s history was an independent filmmaker allowed any insight into the machinery of the event or behind the facades of the institution.

Over a period of three years, director Marcus Vetter observed the workings of this machinery. He cast a few but highly concentrated looks at the history of the Forum, founded in 1971 by Klaus Schwab, and now very confidently combines individual biographies, historical moments, logical connections and matters flitting about at the periphery to form the complex picture of a global fabric. Klaus Schwab, 79 today, is pleased with the fabric metaphor, since he himself has repeatedly said that the threads of the world may be coming together at “his” WEF, but that its knots acquire meaning and purpose only when the threads are later redistributed responsibly. This film is about no less than those threads and thus the meaning and purpose of the WEF.

Ralph Eue

Exemplary Behaviour

Documentary Film
Bulgaria,
Italy,
Lithuania,
Slovenia
2019
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Rasa Miškinytė, Martichka Bozhilova, Igor Pediček, Edoardo Fracchia
Audrius Mickevičius, Nerijus Milerius
Marjan Šijanec
Audrius Kemezys, Valdas Jarutis, Julius Žalnierukynas, Audrius Mickevičius
Ema Konstantinova, Armas Rudaitis
Rimas Sakalauskas
Audrius Mickevičius, Georgi Tenev
Saulius Urbanavičius
Audrius Mickevičius puts the horribly disfigured face of his murdered brother at the start of his film. He’s interested in the question of how someone atones for such an act. With regard to this particular crime one could say: far too short, because the murderer is released after only five years on the grounds that he proved himself to be an exemplary prisoner. Mickevičius doesn’t confine himself to this individual case, though, but raises his film to a more general level: “Exemplary Behaviour” is almost a meditation about the question whether a final act like murder can be atoned for in a temporal order – and whether the passing of time allows the victim’s family to forgive.

Mickevičius uses the example of two lifers (one of them gets married and wants to have children, the other pours his whole passion into an idea of craftsmanship) and a philosopher with prison experience (Bernhard Stiegler) to make that strange state of suspended life comprehensible. The elegiac undertone is finally reinforced by the information that Audrius Mickevičius fell ill and died during the production of “Exemplary Behaviour”. The film was completed by Nerijus Milerius.

Bert Rebhandl



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

Family Relations

Documentary Film
Iran
2019
77 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Nasser Zamiri
Nasser Zamiri
Nasser Zamiri
Nasser Zamiri, Neda Asadi
More than fifty relatives gather on a narrow terrace for a family photo. Right at the start, the director asks those who don’t want to be part of the film to go. Half of them leave the picture. Those who stay have therefore given their consent. What follows is the tragicomic retelling of an Iranian family saga in which everything revolves around the head of the family: “Haji Baba”, the father. They say he’s malicious and interfering. His children and his wife, who left him, raise serious charges, submit a complaint against him. As is so often the case, it is a matter of inheritance. Haji Baba denies everything. But who is right?

In his filmic family constellation, the filmmaker tries to keep his bearings in a jungle of conflicting statements. He does not arrange a direct confrontation between the factions, but gives every family member a stage, using surprising tools and lots of humour. He lovingly presents the outcast, who has a poem to recite or a romantic song to sing for every occasion. Secretly, Haji Baba dreams of fame, which this film will hopefully bring him.

Annina Wettstein

In Bed with a Writer

Documentary Film
Estonia
2019
63 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Marju Lepp
Manfred Vainokivi
Manfred Vainokivi
Kersti Miilen
Manfred Vainokivi, Peeter Sauter
Horret Kuus
A friendly, beer-bellied gentleman in boxer shorts and glasses slouches on a couch behind a big shop window in the busy historic city centre of Tallinn. He greets the puzzled, giggling passers-by, along with a simple cardboard sign in the corner of the window that says “Begging for Love”. This nice man next door is the Estonian writer Peeter Sauter. And when he writes, he’s not nice, he provokes with coarse language. He feels close to Charles Bukowski, but as an Estonian writer he’s enough of an outsider.

Sensitive, honest and delicately staged, Manfred Vainokivi encounters this man in his late fifties and in the middle of a writer’s and life crisis in his film. Sauter still sees himself as a little boy, but after a divorce his concern now is which woman could be interested in an old, fat man. He philosophises in the nude, sitting in front of the washing machine with a bottle of beer. The artistic provocateur reveals a deep romantic longing. He exposes himself to comic and irritating role-playing games to reach new horizons of experiences: sleeping on his parents’ grave, learning striptease and modelling for a racist photographer and his terrible motifs. In all his melancholy, Peeter Sauter still walks towards life: “Do you know anyone, who’s gotten anywhere just by thinking?”

André Eckardt

It Takes a Family

Documentary Film
Denmark
2019
59 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Ulrik Gutkin (Copenhagen Film Company Short & Doc.)
Susanne Kovács
Povl Kristian
Casper Høyberg, Susanne Kovács
Marion Tuor
Susanne Kovács
Claus Lynge
Susanne Kovács knows that her paternal grandparents survived the Holocaust and fled to Denmark to begin a new life. That’s all she knows. The Hungarian couple kept their own story under lock and key throughout their lives and focused on immersing themselves into Danish everyday life as quickly as possible. A picture book life, seen from outside. To escape the memory of death, they smiled and remained silent. If no one sees the darkness, they hoped, normality becomes possible. But the unsaid did not fade but grew and finally began to darken the present.

Even as a child, Susanne felt that indefinable mix of fear, pain and rage that was bubbling under the surface. Long before she was able to put these feelings into words, they were in the room. But when, as a young woman, she decides to ask questions, she meets only rejection. May she dig up times against her grandmother’s will that are haunted by so many ghosts? Isn’t it better to remain silent after all this time? Who is allowed to speak and with whom? Which version of the truth is right? A courageous investigation of her own family story that makes it clear that at some point it’s no longer about guild, but about forgiveness.

Luc-Carolin Ziemann

My English Cousin

Documentary Film
Qatar,
Switzerland
2019
82 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Joëlle Bertossa, Flavia Zanon
Karim Sayad
Patrick Tresch
Naïma Bachiri
Miguel Antunes Dias
Fahed wants to change his life. It’s been almost twenty years that he left Algeria. At the time he was full of hope when he arrived at the British seaport of Grimsby, which was long past its heyday. His dream of prosperity evaporated. In order to survive financially he works two jobs in a 50 hour week. It’s true that he now has a residence permit and leads a well-integrated life in a workers’ flat share, but now, at middle age, he longs to go back to his Algerian home, in order to be closer to his mother. And he has marriage plans! But will Fahed manage to settle back in there and find his role after such a long absence? His family don’t quite believe his intentions to return and tease him because his engagement remains a mystery. He has probably gotten too used to the British mentality, an aunt assumes.

So where is Fahed’s home now? Unprejudiced and with an eye for humorous details, Karim Sayad follows his taciturn cousin’s dithering back and forth. A film about personal and not least social turning points, because in the background the two countries England and Algeria are moving towards political upheavals.

Annina Wettstein

Noodle Kid

Documentary Film
China
2019
107 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Han Lei
Huo Ning
Huo Ning, Zhang Jiahao
Huo Ning, Han Lei, Shih Gary
Shen Hancun
Ma Xiang is fourteen years old and lives with his family in Hualong in the Chinese province of Quinghai. They belong to the so-called Hui Chinese who, unlike the Han Chinese majority of the country, consider themselves Muslims. At school Ma Xiang recites the Koran and visits the mosque. But in order to work off his father’s debts, he is sent to a far away city he doesn’t know, where his uncle Ma Yusuf operates several noodle restaurants. He is to be trained as a noodle puller. Life and work in the strange city are hard, Ma Xiang is badly paid and Islam is frowned upon. He is forced not only to take off his takke, his traditional hat, but also his glasses, because Ma Yusuf thinks that wearing glasses and making noodles are incompatible.

Huo Ning follows Ma Xiang’s journey which is also a journey to adulthood. The important thing is to find one’s place within an extremely patriarchal system and at the same time preserve one’s independence. Because Ma Xiang, whom we already got to know as a sensitive boy at the beginning of “Noodle Kid”, isn’t easily dominated. Too unbroken is his self-awareness, which also includes the desire to make contact with his mother who left Ma Xiang’s family many years ago.

Carolin Weidner

Robolove

Documentary Film
Austria
2019
76 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Michael Kitzberger, Wolfgang Widerhofer, Markus Glaser, Nikolaus Geyrhalter
Maria Arlamovsky
Andreas Hamza, Boris Hauf
Sebastian Arlamovsky
Emily Artmann, Maria Arlamovsky, Alexander Gugitscher, Sebastian Arlamovsky
Maria Arlamovsky
Andreas Hamza
A few decades ago robots still looked like moving toolboxes. This has changed radically. Today’s humanoids not only look like people, they can roll their eyes and wink, too. In this film, they come mainly from Japan, Korea and the U.S. Ishiguro Hiroshi is a pioneer in the construction of such artificial humans. He even built himself a twin. But most of these new creatures are female and, in line with their creators’ fantasies, endowed with the attributes desired in a patriarchal society: “It’s going to be a woman, so the smile is important,” one of the developers instructs his assistant. Almost all the androids have a dollface bearing a none-too-intelligent and submissive expression, saucer eyes and a slightly opened mouth. Only at the Terasem company in Vermont a talking woman’s bust of more mature age called “BINA 48” is supposed to mimic human behaviour emotionally, too.

It’s not surprising that the developers attribute all kinds of world-improving qualities to their creatures and spurn potential criticism in advance. Or are human beings just machines anyway, as Ishiguro claims? This closely observing film without comments by Maria Arlamovsky offers deep insights into this Brave New World, allowing us to form our own judgement.

Silvia Hallensleben



Awarded with the Gedanken Aufschluss Prize.

Siddhartha

Documentary Film
Italy
2019
79 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Eleonora Savi, Damiano Giacomelli
Damiano Giacomelli, Lorenzo Raponi
Damiano Giacomelli, Lorenzo Raponi
Aline Hervé, Enrico Giovannone
Diego Schiavo
One nut alone doesn’t make a sound when you carry it in your pocket. But many nuts clatter. And so the small community where nine-year-old Siddharta lives with his 65-year-old father Fabrizio calls itself “Noci Sonanti”, the “Ringing Nuts”. The two of them live without electricity or any of the comforts of civilisation in a house situated in a remote Italian region. Occasionally people arrive who become part of the tribe for a while before they move on. Like Erica, who we sometimes see absorbed in meditation with Fabrizio. But Siddharta and Fabrizio aren’t completely isolated. There’s a change every month when Siddharta moves in with his mother Sofia and her new family. The boy also maintains a friendship with a girl from the village, near his father’s house, where he gets in contact with things Fabrizio has ruled out a long time ago: highly sweetened ice tea, for example. Or remedies for lice.

Damiano Giacomelli and Lorenzo Raponi observe the life of the “Noci Sonanti” over one summer marked by sun-drenched days and newborn cats. The directors eschew any pointed judgement, but still skilfully edit together the different models of life between which Siddharta moves and quite often mediates.

Carolin Weidner

The Royal Train

Documentary Film
Austria,
Romania
2019
92 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Johannes Rosenberger, Constantin Wulff, Johannes Holzhausen (Navigator Film), Ada Solomon, Diana Păroiu (HiFilm)
Johannes Holzhausen
Joerg Burger
Dieter Pichler
Johannes Holzhausen, Constantin Wulff
Andreas Hamza, Vlad Voinescu
A lost monarchy is represented by a princess whose steadfast mission is to restore to her dynasty real political and economic responsibility in contemporary Romania. With great energy, sometimes funny slips, too, but mostly with the appropriate royalist seriousness, Princess Margareta of Romania plays her role as the subject and object of her own campaign. The performance is of the tale of new wine in old wineskins. Surrounded by her courtly entourage, Margareta travels through “her” country in the same old royal train, on the same royal route, in which her father, King Michael the First already sought contact with his subjects. It goes without saying that the red carpet as the most obvious symbol of monarchist grandeur must be immaculate even at the tiniest stop – though this isn’t always achieved perfectly.

Director Johannes Holzhausen observes the bustle around this backwards journey with a distanced and wide-eyed curiosity. After all, it reveals a telling (a-)simultaneity of the ancient k.u.k. ceremonial and current marketing visions.

Ralph Eue

Village of Women

Documentary Film
Armenia,
France
2019
92 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Stéphane Jourdain (La Huit), Tsovinar Soghomonyan (Hayk Studio), Thierry Barbedette (TV 78)
Tamara Stepanyan
Nils Økland, Sigbjørn Apeland, Narine Harutyunyan, Grigor Narekatsi, Cynthia Zaven, Edouard Mirzoyan
Robin Fresson, Tamara Stepanyan
Olivier Ferrari, William Wojda
Harutyun Mangasaryan, Tamara Stepanyan, Jean-Marc Schick
It’s the women who rule this Armenian village. They plough, harvest, and drive the tractors. They cook, eat together, laugh and sing. Life runs in a smooth rhythm, although melancholy seems to overshadow many conversations. The absence of men in the village is borne like a phenomenon of nature. The women have learned to adapt, solving problems together. All male villagers, except for a few old men, spend nine months of every year in Russia to work there. There are no jobs in Armenia. The families are complete only in winter. As soon as autumn begins to fade, the mood in the village begins to change. The return of the men brings excitement and joy, but also insecurity and changes. After the exuberant welcome celebrations, a new daily routine begins where couples are suddenly together again, children play with their fathers and the women finally know that a part of their workload is in other hands. But responsibilities must be redistributed every year.

Director Tamara Stepanyan has achieved a warm-hearted, stylistically assured portrait of a female community of fate who bear their difficult circumstances with lots of humour, warmth and a generous measure of lived feminism.

Luc-Carolin Ziemann