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′
“When I first began this work, I thought that when I treated someone at my camp, they wouldn’t have the right to relapse. But I’ve come to the conclusion that every person has the right to choose their way.” (Laila, the protagonist)
Elizabeth Mirzaei, Gulistan Mirzaei
Intuitive Pictures Inc. , Mirzaei Films Afghanistan
Gulistan was born in Afghanistan and spent much of his life as a refugee in Iran, returning in Kabul in 2001. He was a line producer for Voice of America and he co-directed documentaries for Al Jazeera’s Witness program. Laila at the Bridge is his most famous work so far.
Elizabeth moved to Kabul in 2007 as a volunteer. Together with Gulistan she co-directed films for Al Jazeera English, their latest being For Sardar: The Afghan Journalist. She was a cinematographer on the Emmy-nominated documentary, What Tomorrow Brings.
18.10.2019 – 16:00 Thalia 19.10.2019 – 17:00 Cinema Ion Besoiu – Sala Mica
After decades of domestic abuse Fiorella decides to separate from her husband of 40 years. Valentina, the couple’s youngest daughter, returns home to document her bid for freedom and capture her family’s reaction to her decision. However, Fiorella struggles with her decision, being hesitant to abandon her life’s work – the family residence – which in some ways becomes synonymous with her identity. What results is a poignant, personal and intimate debut documentary, in which Valentina is her mother’s ally, in an area where the parochial ways dictate that domestic violence is still tolerated. Moving beyond the personal story this becomes a relevant and timely video essay on family, communities and patriarchal societies. Valentina Primavera • Italia • 2019 • 80′
Growing up in Israel, Jane never conformed to her family’s patriarchal traditions; she refused to marry, choosing instead to join the army, and afterwards to study filmmaking. When at 38 she becomes pregnant, she returns in the midst of her family equipped with a camera, trying to address the years of silence and to understand her mother, herself and their strained relationship. Demonstrating spirit and fearlessness in confronting her family and exposing her life, Jane tackles her marked decisions to be an independent, professional woman and her family’s expectations for her to comply or at least accept their customs. While evidently disagreeing with her mother on all matter of topics, the film is also a chance to consider the other person’s perspective. Jane Bibi • Israel • 2018 • 73′
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′