Film Archive

Sections (Film Archive)

24 Buckets, 7 Mice, 18 Years

Documentary Film
Romania
2012
30 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Pintilie Adina, Manekino Film
Iacob Marius
Marius Iacob
Marius Iacob, Vlad Voinescu
Marius Iacob
Vlad Voinescu
Numbers figure prominently in the lives of the Hungarian-Romanian charcoal burners Piroska and Imre – just like the wireless, the Caribbean and a booming poverty tourism industry. The young directors Iacob Marius and Vlad Voinescu mix these ingredients with a light touch and a sure sense of drama.
Imre and Piroska spend their summers in a forest in Transylvania piling up pyramids of wood that will travel to the whole of Europe as charcoal. Which means it travels further than the couple who live in a rundown railway car with no electricity and spend their evenings listening to radio features about distant countries and discussing the perfect lottery numbers. The world regularly visits them in the shape of tourists wheeled in on horse carts – how authentic! – and willing to pay a small consideration for permission to take pictures of real Eastern European poverty, preferably featuring themselves posing with the shovel. Piroska and Imre take it with a sense of humour and prefer to think about the problem of transforming 230 bags of coal into the lottery ticket that will take them to the beach of their dreams – one day.
A smart reflection on the allegedly documentary view, for the affluent citizen feels deliciously horrified, fills his memory card with photos and decamps. Left behind in their authentic filth, the others must continue to hope for a miracle – or the right number.

– Grit Lemke

A Story for the Modlins

Documentary Film
Spain
2012
26 minutes
subtitles: 
No
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Sergio Oksman, Documenta Films
Sergio Oksman
Sergei Rachmaninov
Migue Amoedo
Fernando Franco, Sergio Oksman
Carlos Muguiro, Emilio Tomé, Sergio Oksman
Carlos Bonmatí
Are you in the wrong film? Didn’t you expect to see a short documentary about the souvenirs of a deceased American couple? Why are they screening the opening credits of a Hollywood movie: Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby”?
Fiction and documentary reality keep clashing in this film. The hero is not Mia Farrow, but the bit player Elmer Modlin and his wife Margaret, a passionate painter. Based exclusively on found letters, photos and other documents, the director reconstructs these two people’s life stories. Having appeared in “Rosemary’s Baby” as an extra, Elmer left the States with his wife and son to move to Madrid, where they lived a reclusive life in a small flat for more than 30 years. Margret played the artist; Elmer worked as a television actor. What is left of them? An empty flat and a dustbin full of discarded souvenirs. Evidence of their lives, discovered by chance by the filmmaker on a walk through Madrid. It’s true that the most exciting stories are found in the street.

– Antje Stamer

Alppikatu 25 – Home to the Homeless

Documentary Film
Finland
2012
27 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Cilla Werning, Liisa Juntunen
Inka Achté, Marika Väisänen
Graham Hadfield
Sari Aaltonen, Daniel Lindholm, Tuomas Järvelä
Hannele Majaniemi
Alppikatu Street No. 25 has been the address of a shelter for the homeless in Helsinki since 1937. A place for men who have no place of their own. Men without a past? “Create your own memories”, says the motto on a piece of paper pinned to the wall. And yet the memories and traces of the lives of many people who have made a minimal home here, if only temporary, are stored in the monotonous architecture, whose long, bare corridors and narrow cells make one think of a prison. Five of them tell their stories. For a moment, the film delves into each of their interior worlds using only their voices, to which subtle sound collages are added. Visually, the men are never more than phantoms. Sometimes they are caught in the blurriness of the room, sometimes they seem near stagnation. Only the cigarette smoke appears to move. The room, on the other hand, offers no resistance to the exploring camera, as if it could really tell us something about its inhabitants. The abstract brushes shoulders with the concrete, time brushes the room.

Lars Meyer

Anger

Documentary Film
Spain
2014
24 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Sergi Casamitjana
Mireia Fontanals
Jordi París
Anna Serra
Eli Sort
Mireia Fontanals
Aleix Burgueño
Anita and Amadeu are still a couple, though age is definitely getting to them. They can’t escape their different habits, accomplishing everything with infinite slowness. Their only companions nowadays are the cats and the dog. She is still quick on her feet and keeps things going, while Amadeu just about manages, with effort and patience, to keep upright. Being dependent on each other, their tone gets sharper.
The whole drama of ageing is precisely sketched in a few scenes. The young filmmaker Mireia Fontanals keeps visiting the two over an extended period of time to document the same processes. Quite simple, in principle, because there are only a few locations left in the life of the couple: their home, the hospital ward, the nursing home. And there are only a few questions left open. This one for example: do you still love me?
Cornelia Klauß

Bouchbennersch Otto

Documentary Film
Germany
2012
29 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln
Janina Jung
Janina Jung
Quimu Casalprim i Suárez
Janina Jung
Janina Jung u.a.
Villagers in the Westerwald remember one of their own, Bouchbennersch Otto. He was born Otto Müller in 1907, survived two world wars, learned to be a bookbinder and later became the beadle. Otto was known all over the village and in the surrounding villages. And he did stick out somewhat: unlike everyone else, someone who was different, had aberrant thoughts and feelings and spoke differently, also a man of extreme emotional intelligence, a gifted pub entertainer and most certainly a desperate man in the line of Woyzeck and Kaspar Hauser. Under Hitler Otto was sterilised by force; he died an alcoholic in a home in the early 1990s. Janina Jung has composed a beautifully modern “heimatfilm” with “Bouchbennersch Otto”, whose best moments offer us a flashing glimpse of how memories always shed a light on those who remember, too.

Ralph Eue



Golden Dove in the International Short Documentary Competition 2012

Distance

Documentary Film
India
2013
38 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Ekta Mittal
Ekta Mittal, Yashaswini B. Raghunandan
Rahul Giri
Paromita Dhar, Amith Surendran
Abhro Banerjee
Ekta Mittal, Yashaswini B. Raghunandan
Abhro Banerjee, Christopher Burchell
Bangalore City, the realm of migrant workers. A realm that can be found right behind the station or on the other side of the railway, where the big scaffolds are, among which you see squat corrugated iron huts one might (and probably has to) call provisional, where people have built a few makeshift square metres to live in. When life itself has become a construction site, dreams fly away. Love is mainly a memory or desire, in other words, the past or the future. In the world of today it’s mostly a gap. So stories of love become all the more important. Told or heard directly or absorbed from Bollywood via tiny mobile phone screens and speakers, these stories also supply adaptable patterns in whose intricate plots the boys on the construction sites can easily imagine themselves as actors.
Yashaswini Raghunandan and Ekta Mittal show the same sure instinct and brilliant cinematic intuition they did in their first film as they follow the fleeting auras of people and places – last year, their film “Presence” was also screened in the Leipzig competition. And they once more un-fold (in the true sense of the word) realities that would otherwise remain inaccessible to us.

Ralph Eue



Golden Dove in the International Short Documentary Competition 2013

Earth

Documentary Film
Belarus
2012
30 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Jaroslav Kamienski, Belsat TV
Victor Asliuk
Ivan Hancharuk
Victor Asliuk
Victor Asliuk
World War II – also known as the Great Patriotic War – is far from over, especially in the Soviet Union’s successor states, as the passion for grandiose “Victory Day” celebrations proves. Usually a whole album of mythological images is evoked, with the “heroic courage” motif so dominant that there is little room left for actual remembrance, compassion or coming to terms with the past. “Zemlya” takes the opposite path. With the persistence and visual intensity that made Victor Asliuk one of the outstanding documentarians of post-Soviet history, the Byelorussian focuses on the protracted search for buried soldiers’ bodies – palpable relics of the former battle fields. Volunteers from all corners of Russia, often whole families, search the forests for bone fragments. They dig them (the unburied) up to bury them again. A seemingly absurd, ghostly cycle, observed with stoic calm – which also rules when Asliuk casually interweaves these scenes with unique archival footage of the winter war. The nameless dead become eerily real – young men connected through the earth with their descendants, who are as young as they once were and confronted with death for the first time. Even if they sometimes play at war in the breaks, the dominant feeling is reverence. A film that connects the past of a lost future with the present.

– Barbara Wurm

Emergency Calls

Documentary Film
Finland
2013
15 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Joonatan Portaankorva
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen
Joonatan Portaankorva
What is your emergency? The question that’s at the start of every call to an emergency centre is also at the start of this film. Excited, sometimes desperate people on the soundtrack. The emergencies: precipitate labour, a multiple car crash. But also a killing spree and the last radio message of the “Estonia”. The call marks the boundary between life and death which – perhaps – will be crossed. It also depends on those who take it: embodied here by white figures lacking any status-generating symbols such as clothing or hair. Reduced to the naked, pure human being everything depends on. Or are they the Erinyes who hold our fate in their hands?
There is no blood, no images of disasters. We see NASA footage of earth as seen from space instead, clouds, lightshows, radar signals, pointedly distorted. What is one man’s need in view of the infinity of the universe? – Everything, claims this film which, like all works by the directing duo Vartiainen/Veikkolainen, defies categorisation. It reminds us of the conjunctive which runs through our secure lives in the shape of the potential for the worst case. The writing on the wall that silently hovers above us. Would have. Could have. What is your emergency?

Grit Lemke

Escort

Documentary Film
Netherlands
2013
19 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Zinzy Nimako, Jonne Roos
Guido Hendrikx
Lucas Malec
Emo Weemhoff
Lot Rossmark
Guido Hendrikx
Tijn Hazen, Taco Drijfhout
How do you lift someone lying shackled on the floor? How do you carry him or her when they resist? How do you fasten a body? How do you push it up a gangway? What do you do when they scream? And how do you manage to deport a desperate person, who may be leaving a family behind, to a country where nothing but insecurity, poverty or persecution awaits them? These are the questions that young recruits of the Dutch federal police must face as they are completing a special training course in escorting rejected asylum seekers on their deportation flights.
Guido Hendrikx gives us, comprised in a few scenes, a tightly composed Direct Cinema insight into a practice that is common but mostly invisible to the public. While he avoids outright emotionalisation, he manages to disturb us nonetheless. Because we can’t evade this question either: what is humane? (and asking ourselves with some trepidation what we would do if an “escort” and his passenger were sitting behind us on a plane).

Grit Lemke



Golden Dove in the International Short Documentary Competition 2014

Everyday Everyday

Documentary Film
Syria
2013
26 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Maia Malas, Madalina Rosca
Reem Karssli
Reem Karssli
Reem Karssli
Reem Karssli
Impressions of a flat, only a few things are captured. A drive on the backseat of a car. One can only suspect that there is an outside. A shadow on the carpet that belongs to another flat. This place is safer. There is a balcony over whose balustrade one had better not look. The woman behind the camera is glimpsed in the reflections on the windowpane. Shots ring out frequently. They say a kiosk was bombed. No, two. They say the Free Syrian Army is building a barrier in front of the house one had to leave behind along with one’s past, dreams and hope. The fear grows “every day”. Everybody knew that Syria was free, would stay free and never accepted any dictatorship, the TV set announces.
In her video diary Reem Karssli paints the sensitive portrait of a family whose members must cope with reality in very individual ways “every day”, a reality “even harsher, uglier” than what the camera is able to capture. A rare document, powerful in its extreme immediacy, which only a miracle could have brought out of this flat.

Claudia Lehmann

Hotel 22

Documentary Film
USA
2014
8 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Elizabeth Lo
Elizabeth Lo
Jonathan Zalben
Elizabeth Lo
Elizabeth Lo
Elizabeth Lo
Christopher Giamo
The end of the line, Palo Alto, California. Bus No. 22 ceaselessly drives passengers through wealthy Silicone Valley. An ordinary urban bus during the day, it leads an unglamorous double life at night. When darkness falls, the poor, the homeless, figures in the shadow of wealth, gather at the bus stop. Silently and cumbrously they climb the bus which turns into a rolling dormitory. For one night they are jarred to the bones, exposed to arguments and racism and showered with instructions for order that suggest that everything here is still fine and in control: “If you’re tired, put your head up against the window.” In a little less than eight minutes the film captures the mood swings of this ride through the night which has become part of their daily life for many, and at the same time draws a sketch for a large-scale portrait of society.
Lars Meyer

Kiran

Documentary Film
Germany
2012
30 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Bettina Timm, Alexander Riedel, Pelle Film
Bettina Timm, Alexander Riedel
Antun Opic
Philip Vogt
Frank Müller
Bettina Timm, Alexander Riedel
Hannes Ullmann
Parents decide, sure. When to go to bed and whether you’re allowed candy before, but also your religion and the type of school you attend – where would we be without this?
Kiran for his part would like to have a say in the choice of school. The 8-year-old French boy lives with his mother in a yurt in the forest. He knows which plants are edible and where there are bales of straw to play on. A sheltered life, at one with nature, full of love and freedom. No angry words, no junk food. But no washing machine either, no electric light, no computer. In the free school the children pray to the elements and play the flute.
But Kiran longs for dissonance instead of harmony, a little trouble instead of eternal goodwill. He wants to eat hot dogs with ketchup and go to a school where Pokémon cards are permitted and children are taught to read – even if his mother thinks that’s overrated. And Kiran is resourceful...
Bettina Timm and Alexander Riedel’s account is full of gentle humour, but never discrediting. They create magic moments when the boy seems to be one with his environment. But they also find images for his gradual detachment from this world as he starts to walk his own path – on the trails of Max and Moritz or Tom Sawyer.

– Grit Lemke

Lisa, Go Home!

Documentary Film
Estonia,
Lithuania
2012
27 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Uljana Kim, Studio Uljana Kim
Oksana Buraja
Kristina Sereikaite
Oksana Buraja
Oksana Buraja
Giedrius Aleknavicius
Liza has a secret. It will be there, that place somewhere high above where nobody hurts anybody, where everything is beautiful. “That’s where we will live, my family and I.” Liza whispers to herself when she expresses her feelings, which are the focus of Oksana Buraja’s fairly provocative film. Her mother “counts to three”, then the tears must be wiped off and “commands to be merry” are issued. “Standing in the corner” is also part of the daily routine. The girl regularly runs away from home, away from this world of subalterns which is depicted as so deficient, disgusting and horrible that it feels like more than borderline voyeurism. But the focus is always on Liza. We watch her mother and a friend on their tipsy, smoky dancing parties (with men who are barely good enough for partying) from her perspective. Her child’s eyes create idyllic counter-worlds – from the Virgin Mary to a babbling brook. Liza walks barefoot, Liza sings. Liza whispers. Pure innocence. A child. It’s almost a miracle (but then again perhaps not) that she wants to have her family with her “up there” where it’s so nice.

– Barbara Wurm

Little Afghanistan

Documentary Film
Afghanistan
2011
28 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Stéphane Jourdain, La Huit Production
Basir Seerat
Basir Seerat
Laurence Attali
Nasim Karawan, Reza Sahel, Mirwais Wahja, Zahra Sadat, Taj Mohammad Bakhtari
Afghanistan, the never-ending story? Tired of embedded reports about the hardships of the allied professional soldiers’ mission in treacherous enemy country? If the answer is yes, have a look at Qala-e Wahid Street in Kabul – a microcosm that reflects all the misery of this tormented country. Supported by the French Atelier Varant film school, which provides funding for young filmmakers to delve deeply into the social life of their country, Afghan director Basir Seerat observes the daily hardships suffered by ordinary people – in this case the coachmen of the last horse-drawn carriages in Kabul. They are fighting on many fronts: against the growing flood of cars; against shop owners who are sick and tired of the smell of horse piss; against pedestrians, stray dogs, idle local politicians, frequently against each other, and all together against the potholes yawning everywhere. For Qala-e Wahid can only be called a street because it runs between two rows of houses. In reality it’s a rough unpaved dust track in summer and a sludgy mud path in winter. Basir Seerat takes an ambivalent look at this busy Little Afghanistan so ill-suited to the Western modernity prescribed from above: on the one hand there is a great sympathy for the people, their worries, occasionally filthy jokes and rough manners. On the other hand we feel a deep melancholy at the barbarisation of a country whose social structures have dissolved in the chaos left by the war. Afghanistan, so we hear, is standing there with its pants down and its neighbour is a thief. Its people – embedded in permanent crisis.

– Matthias Heeder

Metaphor or Sadness Inside Out

Documentary Film
Portugal,
UK
2013
32 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Catarina Vasconcelos
Catarina Vasconcelos
Lucie Troger
Catarina Vasconcelos
Catarina Vasconcelos
Catarina Vasconcelos
Mike Wyeld
A young man from Lisbon writes to his sister, a filmmaker living in London. He confesses that, nine years after their mother died, he feels an emptiness in his life. Her answer is a film intended to fill that gap. The brother describes his nostalgia for a time when he wasn’t even born yet, a past that seems lost. It is their mother’s past, the time of the Portuguese revolution, which reconciled a country that was internally fractured. Today, that feeling of freedom is hard to grasp for a post-revolutionary generation living through the euro crisis. Can you film yourself backwards in time?
The grainy Super 8 material bridges the gap between the present and the past. The camera visits the places of three generations of a family that have felt halved. The sea, which the grandfather once called a metaphor for the world, is one of them. The lyrical dialogue between brother and sister keeps returning to that feeling of halfness, while the visual level is a search for the missing half, not without a subtle irony that offsets the melancholy undertone. After all, a metaphor will be a metaphor. A self-reflexive, poetic picture puzzle in which the personal always transcends itself.
Lars Meyer

Mom

Documentary Film
Russia
2013
28 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Lidiya Sheynina
Lidiya Sheynina
Lidiya Sheynina
Lidiya Sheynina
Lidiya Sheynina
Lidiya Sheynina
Lidiya Sheynina points her calm and distant camera at her mother’s body and face, often angled from below. Over the years, the mother has evolved the physiognomy of a turtle plodding along comfortably. Life is hard, the flat is cramped, but she makes the best of it – on and on. She has taken care of her aged mother for decades, the grey-haired, graceful Grande dame of this student film treasure, who sometimes exercises (jumping jack in a wheelchair), sometimes calls old friends (if they haven’t died yet), sometimes does the dishes (even the Teflon frying pans she’s not supposed to) but usually only sits and eats, or drinks from a beautiful old cup that has “babushka” written on it. The grandmother, who has forgotten how old she is (“What? 96? Impossible.”), that she has had no husband for the past 17 years (“Really?”) and hasn’t left the flat in 20 years (“That’s precisely why I’d like to go out again.”), has turned into a child, the daughter into a mama. The radio talks of the wonderful independence of old age; life is different. Together every day and every night. And yet Mama happily sways back and forth to the morning music and looks out of the window with her mother. Waiting for spring. Such tender metaphors turn “Mama”, a film of small gestures, into great cinema.

Barbara Wurm



Honorary Mention in the International Short Documentary Competition 2013