Film Archive

Sections (Film Archive)

11 Images of a Human

Documentary Film
Finland
2012
75 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Markku Lehmuskallio, Giron Filmi Oy
Markku Lehmuskallio, Anastasia Lapsui
Heikki Laitinen, Anna-Kaisa Liedes
Johannes Lehmuskallio, Markku Lehmuskallio
Anastasia Lapsui, Markku Lehmuskallio
Anastasia Lapsui, Markku Lehmuskallio
Martti Turunen
A poetic and reflective exploration of the surviving silhouettes marked on rocks sometimes thousands of years ago: Anastasia Lapsui and Markku Lehmuskallio regard the petroglyphs they sought out in many places of the world as captions meant to express our ancestors’ understanding of the world, or as mirrors in which they saw their own reflection. But most of all they regard them as phenomena charged with a magic aura: objectifications of human amazement. Stories are adapted and transformed. “Make a picture in which you can live forever”, says one of the narrators. Subject-object relations apparently set in stone are made liquid again by the magic. Frequently the images in the film speak, say “I” and talk to “US”. Because not only do we look at the figures on the rock, they look back at us. At one point these enchanted creatures, animated by the filmmakers’ visionary power, even detach themselves from the rocks, cross to the other bank of reality like shamans – and immerse themselves for a moment into the present day of a dance ritual before they return, ghost-like and thoroughly unconcerned, to their stony eternity.
– Ralph Eue

A Folk Troupe

Documentary Film
China
2013
62 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Gang Zhao, Cherelle Zheng
Gang Zhao
Qian Ge, Deng Gang
Luo Quan
Lin Yan
Liu Jian
It’s not exactly a life of ease for the travelling showmen. A theatre company of eleven move into a provisional domicile in a garage-like hall right next to a large construction site on the outskirts of Chengdu, a business centre in the southwest of China. Here a special tradition of the Beijing Opera, the Sichuan Opera, has developed over the years. The actors perform a different play every day. From childhood on, they have learned the secrets of the artfully stilted songs and the sophisticated choreographies of changing the elaborate masks for the three- to four-hour performances. Century-old tales are repeated again and again. But life on the road is far from romantic. They are stuck in Chengdu because they have no money for travelling on; bureaucrats are unwilling to issue permissions, the company is caught in internal disputes, and the mood is tense. The audience on their simple wooden chairs are worn-down figures whose furrowed faces indicate a life of deprivation. The contrast to the colourful productions on stage, whose titles, like “In the Land of Plenty”, hold magnificent promises, couldn’t be bigger. The audience may just about be able to afford this kind of travelling opera, but it’s an unmistakeable swan song. Another piece of cultural history about to get lost …

Cornelia Klauß



Prize of the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique 2013

Another Night on Earth

Documentary Film
Spain
2012
52 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
David Muñoz, Hibrida
David Muñoz
David Muñoz
David Muñoz, Alicia Medina
David Muñoz
David Muñoz
Cairo traffic can justifiably be called an experimental chaos. Streetlights seem to be regarded on principle as mere lighting consoles, erected to adorn the city but otherwise negligible. Taxis, however, are looked upon as halfway trustworthy ferries navigating this erratic stream of road users, all the more so when the whole city has been set in motion even more than usual. Produced between March and September 2011 during the blossoming of the Arab Revolution and recorded with the smallest available equipment, permanently installed in several taxis, “Otra noche en la tierra” is an exciting picture of Egyptian society during those months. Dozens of passengers share their concerns (frequently) or euphoria (sometimes), their expectations and fears in view of an uncertain future with us. The most interesting moment in a taxi ride, according to the Spanish director David Muñoz (who acted as cameraman, producer and editor), is the one when the taxi turns from a vehicle to an uncensored communication space, when this strange mix of anonymity and privacy becomes the catalyst for breathtaking moments of human bonding. One could even say when the human condition shows its many faces.

Ralph Eue



Prize of the Trade Union ver.di and Prize of the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique 2012

Are You listening!

Documentary Film
Bangladesh
2012
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Sara Afreen, Beginning Production Ltd.
Kamar Ahmad Simon
Kamar Ahmad Simon
Saikat Sekhareshwar Ray
Kamar Ahmad Simon
Sukanta Majumdar
Let’s set the record straight: Bangladesh is a country whose CO2 contribution to climate change is negligible; at the same time it’s paying the highest price. In hundred years it will probably have ceased to exist, swallowed by rising sea levels. There are climate refugees already. On 27 May 2009, cyclone Aila hit the country’s coastline. The floods drove about a million people from their homes, including 100 families from Sutarkhali. When their village was flooded, the people fled to an old dyke nearby where they have endured for the past two years. Fed by international aid and somehow connected to the monetary economy of the interior they are growing impatient for the government to build the promised dyke to reclaim their lost land. Director Kamad Ahmad, a local, accompanied them on this journey for a while. With great persistence and heartfelt sympathy for their ludicrous situation right above the flood line, the filmmaker documents a life governed by money worries, unfair food distribution and broken promises, but also by the determination to return home one day. “Are You Listening” is a powerful visual narrative about that most fundamental human instinct – the will to survive, against all resistance and reason. At the same time, the dyke as a last refuge of humanity opens a disturbing outlook into a future we may all share.
– Matthias Heeder

CITIZENFOUR

Documentary Film
Germany,
USA
2014
114 minutes
subtitles: 
German
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Dirk Wilutzky, Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy
Laura Poitras
Laura Poitras, Kirsten Johnson, Katy Scoggin, Trevor Paglen
Mathilde Bonnefoy
In the last instalment of her post 9/11 “New American Century” trilogy, multiple award-winning director Laura Poitras shows how America’s so called “war on terror” is directed against the country’s own citizens, against everybody. It’s about surveillance – on the political, philosophical and psychological level. It’s about madness.
In January 2013, Poitras, who had already done some research on the subject and organised artistic interventions, was contacted by the then completely unknown Edward Snowden. In June, together with Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald, she published his material, followed by interviews with Snowden.
Poitras is interested in the point of intersection between politics and art. She designed “CITIZENFOUR” as a triptych of paranoia: from the pseudo-democratic statements of American politicians to the first whistleblowers, from panoramic shots of gigantic intelligence service headquarters to the claustrophobically small hotel room in Hong Kong where Snowden was waiting for the moment of exposure. Shooting continued almost until the film was released, depicting what Snowden set in motion.
Poitras’s artistic objective is to establish an emotional connection between us and the knowledge which is available and precisely not secret. “CITIZENFOUR” makes us experience almost physically what an authoritarian surveillance state is and that we are right in the middle of one, too. Not a pleasant feeling.

Grit Lemke



Film Prize "Leipziger Ring" 2014

Cloudy Mountains

Documentary Film
China
2012
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Han Lei, Documentary Channel, Shanghai Media Group (SMG)
Zhu Yu
Liu Zhifeng
Han Lei
Shen Hancun
When they sit together slurping noodles after work they like to joke around. They perform imaginary dances and take heart-warming care of an injured bird. The Chinese miners at Lop Nut get fairly good wages by local standards, but they pay a high price. Dust swirls up, turns into clouds that float over the landscape and at last settle on everything like an inch-thick woollen carpet. This asbestos mining region was largely depopulated. It looks like a smoking apocalyptic volcanic landscape. For years the material that is now banned in Europe but supplies an immense demand for housing space in in China has been mined here. While more and more people in China profit from the construction boom, the asbestos workers live in tents right on the grounds. In his debut film, director Zuh Yu precisely exposes the unspeakable conditions in which the workers earn their pay – cut off from the outside world to which they are connected only by mobile phones. The youngest among them has just turned 17. But his focus gradually shifts to the people themselves, their bawdy humour and tough, cool phrases. Their tenacity and determination to keep going turn “Cloudy Mountain” into a great statement, one that addresses the human condition.

Cornelia Klauß



Honorary Mention in the International Competition Documentary Film 2012

Colombianos

Documentary Film
Sweden
2012
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Antonio Russo Merenda, Hysteria Film AB
Tora Mårtens
Andreas Unge
Erik Vallsten
Tora Mårtens
The two Colombian brothers Pablo and Fernando are around 20 and couldn’t be more different. Pablo lives in Colombia, has clear goals and realises them with determination. Fernando, only a few years younger, is hanging out in Stockholm. A junkie with no direction, about to crash. And a therapy in Colombia supervised by Pablo is supposed to help? Tora Mårten’s film follows the unequal brothers and Olga, their mother, whose role in Fernando’s misery emerges more clearly the longer we observe them, over a period of one and a half years. Pablo has his share of the responsibility, too. He calls his younger brother Ferdi and treats him accordingly: he plans the therapy, demands, organises. They both love him, and that’s Fernando’s problem. How to escape this loving attention that bears down on him like lead? “Colombianos” displays a great sense of situations, quiet nuances and silent observations in this tale of a family whose balance of relationships is being re-arranged. In a reversal of his status as the baby of the family, Fernando forms the centre of gravity around which old family ties are dissolving to re-emerge on a new, cleansed level. Olga attends a self-help group to analyse her own behaviour. Pablo increases the pressure and throws off the responsibility for his brother, who finally prevails and returns to Sweden alone. Cut. A year later. Life sometimes does have happy endings. Just like the movies.

Matthias Heeder



Golden Dove in the International Competition Documentary Film 2012

Devil's Rope

Documentary Film
Belgium
2014
88 minutes
subtitles: 
French
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Marc-Antoine Roudil
Sophie Bruneau
Fiona Braillon, Rémon Fromont
Philippe Boucq
Félix Blume
As in her previous film, “Trees”, Sophie Bruneau needs only one object to describe a whole world. In this case it’s barbed wire that tells a parallel history of the settlement of America. What started out as a useful tool to fence in animals leads to the staking of claims and the large-scale privatisation of land and ultimately to the sealing of the Mexican border against economic refugees. The former myth of the Wild West and the still popular phrase “God’s own Country” are taken ad absurdum in the face of the forest of private property signs and the gating frenzy. After all, individualisation and industrialisation come at a price. The land has long ceased to be a landscape and turned into mere arable territory. These facts are not devoid of a certain humour, which Sophie Bruneau brings out calmly in “Devil's Rope”. With gusto and a few surprising twists she depicts the origin and rich variety of this simple wire in grand tableaux. The references implied in the images to the original American movie genre, the Western, add to our enjoyment.
Cornelia Klauß

Die Trasse

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Germany,
Russia
2013
121 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Natalia Manskaya, Filip Remunda, Vít Klusák, Simone Baumann
Vitaly Mansky
Alexandra Ivanova
Pavel Mendel-Ponamarev
Vitaly Mansky
Dmitry Nazarov
It was – as the “IG Erdgastrasse” (IG Natural Gas Pipeline) claims on a website still designed in the German-Soviet friendship style – the “construction of the century”. It started with the ground-breaking ceremony on 6 June 1966 in near-arctic West Siberia, took on real transcontinental form in the pre-Perestroika years (to Reagan’s horror) and today supplies, among other things, the raw material for one of the major ritual events in Western Europe: the Rheingas-fuelled Rose Monday Parade in Cologne. The “Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod Pipeline” stretches from the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug to the Gulf of Biscay, as unnoticeable as everything else to do with our energy supply. But in terms of geo-politics, -ecologics and -economics, it’s a massive goldmine – with quite noticeable consequences (dependencies, blind faith in technology, environmental damage).
Vitaly Mansky, who last travelled through Cuba in “Motherland or Death”, now explores our own unfamiliar home along this subterranean trail. The politically obstinate documentary maestro is interested in the lives of those who live near and above the pipeline, though not necessarily off it (no money, no gas): indigenous ice fishers, Orthodox Church processions, Putin-supporting tuba players, Gorbachev-critical veterans, angry Roma, cursing Polish men and Virgin Mary-adoring Polish women. He flirts with stereotypes while adroitly avoiding them. Big screen cinema, visually powerful and with great sound design.

Barbara Wurm



MDR Film Prize 2013

DNA Dreams

Documentary Film
Netherlands
2012
54 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Brigit Dopheide
Bregtje van der Haak
Jean Counet, Hai Hong, Maarten Kramer
Patrick Minks, Maasja Ooms
Joris van Ballegoijen, Sander den Broeder
They are young and highly motivated, have studied abroad and speak fluent English. The employees of the Chinese BGI Ark Biotechnology company study the relation between the human DNA code and IQ. Between their cell-like workplaces and sterile labs, dreaming is still allowed because this is where our future is shaped. Which baby would you like? On the backdrop of China’s one-child policy it’s only natural that it should be perfect. So one day we will be able to assemble our ideal child by character, intelligence and looks, like in a department store. Of course, genes that guarantee a long life are particularly valued.
This company, which accepts only the blood samples of the very best, sees itself as a saviour of humanity in the vein of Noah’s Ark. Director Bregtje van der Haak was given generous access to the company premises where the young scientists talk freely about their visions. You can literally sense their excitement at “playing God”. But what if the results of their research are translated into a Western business model? As the director includes apparently peripheral details into her visual world, she manages to open a space for reflection that brings home the contemporaneity and monstrosity of these horror scenarios.

Cornelia Klauß

Documentarian

Documentary Film
Latvia
2012
82 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Aija Berzina, VFS FILMS
Ivars Zviedris, Inese Kļava
Ivars Zviedris
Inese Kļava
Ivars Zviedris, Inese Kļava, Inga Ābele
Aivars Riekstiņš
Dziga Vertov himself regarded “life caught in the act”, “life as it is” as the ultimate goal of the documentary. He and his kinoki used every means, even hidden cameras, and no one got mad because the cinematograph was a sensation people wanted to be part of. Almost 100 years later, the two young directors Ivars Zviedris and Inese Kļava take their camera to the moorlands of Kemeri near Riga to explore the life of a hillbilly named Inta. This rustic eccentric with the impressive voice may not own a TV set, but she knows the rules of mass media (including the nuances separating docu-soap and reality show) only too well, especially concerning her worth and rights with regard to the “paparazzi”. She takes command from the start, showering directors, cameramen and producers with curses whose violence makes ordinary mortals blush. Inta says things like “You’re shitting into my soul, you fucking bastard, with your damned camera!” and is not averse to taking up a metal stick to “smash Ivar’s head” or hand him to the “pederasts”. She won’t accept money, but those who “get rich on her poverty” ought to pay nonetheless. Later she’ll cry... while the film has long since become a tragicomic relationship movie, like a meta-commentary about the “documentarian’s” existence in the age of radical moral abandonment. (aka: authenticity).
– Barbara Wurm

Fidaï

Documentary Film
Algeria,
China,
France
2012
83 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Mathieu Mullier, Kafard Films
Damien Ounouri
Matthieu Laclau
Mary Stephen
Damien Ounouri, Linda Amiri
Li Dan-Feng
When the Algerian War for Independence broke out in 1954, El Hadi, the protagonist of this cleverly constructed film about killing in times of war, had just turned 14. Six years later he was a Fidai, a fighter for the Algerian National Liberation Front FLN by whose orders he assassinated two people in Paris. El Hadi was a volunteer, his motive was simple: colonialism is intolerable. 50 years later director Damien Ounouri takes up his uncle El Hadi’s story again and together they embark on a journey into his past. Much has been buried, but the memories begin to return when they visit the sites of the Paris assassinations, where the director presses a gun into his uncle’s hand: I am your target. Show me how you shot him. El Hadi takes the pistol, which at first feels as alien as his memories, loads it and once more lives through the pivotal moments. Follow the victim, hold the pistol to his head, pull the trigger, run away. In this moment he is not aiming at his nephew but at the traitor who was sentenced to death by his superior officers. The situation may be contrived, El Hadi’s feelings aren’t. This filmic method works like a time machine which prepares the ground for the essential question: did you do the right thing then? Damien Ounouri respectfully follows up on this question posed to his uncle, embedded in the historic context of the anti-colonial movement of the 1960s and its countless victims. There is not even a hint of accusation or justification. Only the serious work of remembrance.

Matthias Heeder

Hilton! – Here For Life

Documentary Film
Finland
2013
75 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Markku Tuurna
Virpi Suutari
Matti Pentikäinen, Arto Tuunela
Heikki Färm
Jussi Rautaniemi
Virpi Suutari
The future? A bullet in the head. At least that’s what it feels like when you’re stranded at the “Hilton” council estate, a derelict new development in Helsinki. The people who live here aren’t 30 yet but have seen everything. They feel anger and a sadness that refuses to come out as grief but must be vented. By hitting one’s head against a wooden beam again and again. By hurting oneself or simply stopping to go out and getting used to it. People here sleep with a knife under their pillow because they have never learnt anything else, and tear up bills because it doesn’t make a difference anyway.
Virpi Suutari, emerging from the magic school of Finnish documentary cinema, doesn’t see welfare cases but individuals: Janne, Toni, Mira, Pete, and Make. While their stories, which almost inevitable lead downwards, are told, they begin to shine. The visuals are rough, nothing polished, the montage as impulsive as the protagonists’ emotions or the flash-like mobile phone images they shot themselves. Not a whiff of social romanticism, and yet the camera finds moments of purity, restfulness and warmth, a community that redefines the middle-class idea of the family. A child is born. It’s mostly owing to the power of Suutari’s narrative that this story ends in hope.

Grit Lemke



Prize of the Trade Union ver.di 2013

Im Keller

Documentary Film
Austria
2014
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Ulrich Seidl
Ulrich Seidl
Martin Gschlacht
Christoph Brunner
Ulrich Seidl, Veronika Franz
Ekkehart Baumung
This is a film about people and basements and about what people are up to in their basements. It’s about brass bands and opera arias, about expensive fixtures and cheap off-colour jokes. About dust and cleanliness, sexuality and trigger-happiness, fitness and fascism, whippings and dolls.
“In Austria”, Ulrich Seidl says, “the basement is a place of leisure and privacy. Many Austrians spend more time in the basement of their detached home than in the living room, which is often purely representational. It’s in the basement where they pursue their real needs, their hobbies, passions and obsessions.”
The traditional reflexes of agreement and disagreement won’t get you far in this film, which stages the most diverse basement moments with confident restraint and arranges them in masterly and grotesque tableaus.
Let no one believe that the grotesque is a minor genre! Among the arts, it is probably what the basement of a house is in architecture. In his writings, the great Russian cultural philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin wove the most beautiful garlands to the grotesque, including this passage: “Classical realism represents reality as it should be according to the norms of cultural order; grotesque realism shows reality as it exists in spite of this order.”
Ralph Eue

In Sarmatien

Documentary Film
Germany
2013
120 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Volker Koepp
Volker Koepp
Rainer Böhm
Thomas Plenert
Beatrice Babin
Thomas Huber
There are two contrasting ways to describe Sarmatia: as a region on the edge of the known world – that’s how the old Greeks saw it –, or as the part of Europe where the once carefully measured geographical centre of the continent is. However, you will probably look in vain for Sarmatia in your school atlas, it doesn’t exist as an administrative unit, and Google Maps won’t help either. Yet Sarmatia is not a chimera.
Volker Koepp travelled there for his new film, generously allowing us to share his impressions and encounters in a both unknown and nearby region between Lithuania and Belarus, the Ukraine and Poland, which borders on the Baltic in the North and the Black Sea in the South. This historic landscape has long made frequent appearances in his work, at least since 1972, when he made “Grüße aus Sarmatien für den Dichter Johannes Bobrowski” (Greetings from Sarmatia for the Poet Johannes Bobrowski”). Like Bobrowski, Volker Koepp recognises it as “that dreamland where all nations and religious would find their place if history had not ploughed it all up over and over again”. The rifts left by all this, especially in the people who live there, and how these people still manage to shine from inside, is beautifully depicted here.

Ralph Eue

Joanna

Documentary Film
Poland
2013
45 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Adam Ślesicki
Aneta Kopacz
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek
Łukasz Żal
Aneta Kopacz, Paweł Laskowski, Rafał Samborski
Aneta Kopacz, Tomasz Średniawa
Michał Kawiak
Joanna’s hand lovingly strokes her son’s back. They are lying in the grass, listening to the meadow dwellers and the sounds of nature. Jaś says he has a “divine time” with his mom, and Joanna, too, loves to spend time with her boy. But this time is limited. Joanna says she is not afraid of dying, but of leaving behind her little family.
Aneta Kopacz’s narrative is remarkably subtle, preserving the tender moments of the remaining days in expressive images. Through its searching vision, which always finds closeness from the distance, its suggestive associations, over which the voices of memory are superimposed and which dissolve time, the film makes the interior state of the young woman visible. What remains are moments of great emotional power and at last a plea: to do everything with love and devotion. Then you could leave something unique to the people you love. Like Joanna did.

Claudia Lehmann



Prize of the Youth Jury 2013