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
In a deserted Macedonian village, Hatidze, a 50-something woman, checks her bee colonies nestled in the rocks. Serenading them with a secret chant, she gently maneuvers the honeycomb without netting or gloves. Back at her homestead, Hatidze tends to her handmade hives and her bedridden mother, occasionally heading to the capital to market her wares. One day, an itinerant family installs itself next door, and Hatidze’s peaceful kingdom gives way to roaring engines, seven shrieking children, and 150 cows. And soon Hussein, the family’s patriarch, makes a series of decisions that could destroy Hatidze’s way of life forever.
Tamara Kotevska, Ljubo Stefanov • Russia • 2019 • 85′
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′
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′