A documentary essay that examines the strict structures that dictate the behaviour of people in a small industrial Russian town. With an eye for visual composition, Ksenia Okhapkina’s film constructs a discourse on state propaganda through the subtle observations of innocuous, everyday situations, for example scenes of young girls learning about discipline at a ballet school or young boys training for the army shown in juxtaposition with snowy landscapes and the rigorous coordination of operations at the local factory. By being omnipresent and at the same time inconspicuous in people’s lives, from an early age, ideology becomes dangerous. Forgoing narration Okhapkina manages to construct a potent observation of the precariousness of free will in the face of state propaganda. Ksenia Okhapkina • Estonia • 2019 • 61′
“You know, there is a jellyfish that lives forever. It is constantly evolving. From small it becomes mature and then old. But it doesn’t die, it evolves in reverse. […] And lives forever. Immortal.” (teenager)
Robert Jurjendal, Arian Levin
OU Vesilind, VFS Films
Ksenia graduated from the St. Petersburg State University of Film and TV in 2012. Her first documentary Come Back Free won IDFA Special Jury Award for Mid-Length Documentary in 2016. Immortal is her newest project.
17.10.2019 – 16:30 Thalia 18.10.2019 – 21:30 Gong
Waad al-Kateab was a student in 2011 when the civil war in Syria started and she became an activist and citizen journalist reporting for international media. For Sama is a video diary, told in a first-person voice, addressed to al-Kateab’s infant daughter that documents five years of Waad’s life, as she falls in love, gets married and has a child, while the traumatic effects of the conflict make life unliveable for everyone around her. Struggling between her desire to fight for her ideals and the safety of her family, Waad and her husband eventually decide to flee the conflict-ridden zone. What results is a powerful statement from a young filmmaker, whose simple act of witnessing transforms the humanitarian crisis into one of the most compelling documentaries on the subject.
Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts • Great Britain • 2019 • 99′
Is it possible that in the era of social media and virtual communities we are more disconnected than ever? A third of the population of a small town in Poland emigrated to Iceland for work, leaving the older generations behind. Using creativity to produce an intimate study of homesickness and familial affection, with projections of Skype conversations on unconventional spaces, Pawel Ziemilski underlines the ephemerality of human contact. As images of Icelandic landscape are projected on the walls of a gymnasium or families “sharing” a meal despite thousands of kilometers separating them, the film highlights how even when in touch people are disconnected.
Pawel Ziemilski • Poland • 2019 • 63′
Former child bride Laila Haidari, who had witnessed her brother’s long battle with drug addiction, devotes her life to helping the men and women in Kabul struggling with one of the deadliest problems in Afghanistan: heroin addiction. Determined and courageous, Laila takes initiative and fights to pull as many of the city’s addicts from their seedy environments and bring them to the treatment centre that she runs together with her brother. As financial aid dries up after the departure of the foreign troops from Afghanistan, leaving behind a corrupt government and a chaotic society, the centre survives through funds generated by a local restaurant that she runs, where the waiters are recovering drug addicts. Laila’s efforts are presented directly, as an observational documentary, with the camera unobtrusively following her on her journey to save some of these men and women. Elizabeth Mirzaei, Gulistan Mirzaei • Canada • 2018 • 97′