Great Britain, 2011
directed by: Gary Tarn
“The Prophet” is a new documentary venture by the author of the cult film “Black Sun.” Gary Tarn once again creates a fascinating visual essay inspired by the free camera of Dziga Vertov and famous documentaries of Chris Marker and Werner Herzog.
The film blends the visual documentary narrative together with the verses from the book “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran, an American poet, painter and philosopher of Lebanese origin. Written in the form of poetic orations addressing the great questions of life, the book became seminal soon after it was first published in 1923. The film consists of a series of short sequences that reflect the topics of each of these orations. This hybrid documentary conjures up an imaginary and unique 21st century city by combining footage shot around the world – in New York, Beirut, Milan, Belgrade and London. The visual study directly juxtaposes inhabitants of various cities, while the verses penetrate deep below the surface of the images.
This composite of different film and digital footage formats gives rise to an unusual vision of the modern world. Some of the first shots of this documentary were filmed in Belgrade – Gary Tarn documented various moments with his 16mm camera while being a guest at this very Festival. Gary Tarn again composes the soundtrack in a unique manner that he developed in his film “Black Sun”; this time he combines the voice of the famous British actress, Thandie Newton, and music performed on the cello, guitar, electronic instruments and by the orchestra.
An uninhibited eye observing the world through the lens of poetic wisdom.
Selector’s Word: Gary Tarn has this unique ability to make films that have a flow of images and words that can take you anywhere because you are carried by a tone or an atmosphere that makes you ready for surprises the whole way through the story. A true artist he is indeed.
Gary Tarn is a self-taught musician and filmmaker, born in 1962 in London, England. He started to play and compose music at the age of seven, was performing in a punk band by the time he was fourteen, and by his twenties was an accomplished music producer and multi-instrumentalist. He studied the music of Indonesia, Africa and India, as well as the work of European composers. He has been working as a composer for film, television and commercials since the early nineties. Growing up with punk rock as a teenager, he still lives by the same anything-is-possible aesthetic.
BLACK SUN, 2005
THE PROPHET, 2011
directed by: Miguel Gonçalves Mendes
This dynamic and modern documentary, which invites us to the intimate universe of the Nobel-laureate José Saramago, enjoyed immense success in Portugal during its five-month continuous run in theaters. In Brazil, it became the most watched Portuguese film of all times, having been screened in eleven cities. The film received the greatest cinematic honor of being elected as the official Portuguese contender for the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category, a privilege which all countries up until this year reserved strictly for fiction feature films.
An exciting journey that this lively, charming and emotional documentary takes us on is a worldwide travelogue of the famous writer, but it is also an unstoppable and constant movement of the spirit in search of answers as to what this world is exactly like and what we are like within it. His wife Pilar del Rio is always present by Saramago’s side as an inseparable companion and a woman who bestows inspiration and energy upon him. The film focuses on this deep and multilayered relationship that fills every bit of their rich lives.
A special treat for the viewers are certainly moments of conversation during various encounters in which José Saramago reveals his own views about the world, and his thoughts on quintessential topics related to life. It is particularly exciting that the film documents Saramago writing his last novel, “The Elephant’s Journey,” while Pilar del Rio simultaneously translates it into Spanish, in a dramatic race against time.
Impressive moments spent with one of the most important writers of our time.
Selector's Word: You should watch this film with your partner, wife, girl- or boyfriend. This is – apart from being a very good film – a true inspiration for keeping a love relationship intact.
Born on September 2, 1978 in Covilha, Portugal. Studied Anthropology for a year at the New University of Lisbon, and International Relations for two years at the Political and Social Sciences Superior Institute in Lisbon. At 20 years old he started to act and to produce theater plays. Graduated at Lisbon Film School with a degree in Editing in 2005. During his studies he created his film and theater producing company JumpCut. Directed and produced various short fiction and documentary films.
JOSÉ AND PILAR (José e Pilar), 2010
Latvia, Georgia, 2011
Directed by: Audrius Stonys
One of the most important European filmmakers, Andrius Stonys from Lithuania, reveals with his piercing poetic style the vibrant world of Georgia, a world of mythical heroes and deeply rooted traditions. This is an exceptional documentary that is playful in its meticulous disentanglement of the layers of simple events in the hero’s everyday life. Ramin, an elderly champion in traditional wrestling, became a legend after defeating seven opponents in no more than fifty-five seconds. Stonys invites us into Ramin’s world without any introduction or explication, allowing the images to be testimonies in their own right.
At the beginning of the film, the viewers perceive the hero as an odd-looking old man, unusually dynamic and active, who allows the camera to discretely take part in all his activities. Important situations are interwoven with seemingly irrelevant ones and are always seen from Ramin’s point of view, but it is his presence and participation that reveals the full meaning of these events. Gradually and delicately, penetrating the depths of the world of the aged wrestling legend, the film comes to the emotional core of the story – a long forgotten love. “When I met Ramin for the fist time, his wrestler’s handshake nearly broke my hand,” recounts Stonys. “But when I heard his story about the girl he loved 50 years ago, it nearly broke my heart.” And that is where the new and unexpected adventure begins, that of a man who is determined to fight till the end.
Documentary virtuosity turns a simple story of an old champion into images that reflect the traditional world of Georgia.
Selector's Word: Stonys has this soft gaze at the world that gives so much warmth and heart to everything he does in films, and makes the small world big and interesting because he thinks in images and dares to let situations unfold in front of the camera. Ramin... you will never forget him!
Born on April 28, 1966 in Vilnius, Lithuania. Independent filmmaker and producer since 1989. Member of the European Film Academy and European Documentary Network. Made 19 films, most of which got many international film awards. The film “Earth of the Blind” received the European Film Academy award “FELIX” in 1992 as the Best European Documentary film of the Year. Received the Lithuanian National Prize in 2002. 2004-2005 Documentary teacher at European Film College, Denmark. Lectures and master classes in Calcutta, Tokyo, Belgrade, Barcelona, San Francisco. Retrospectives: Switzerland, Russia, France, Israel, Czech Rebublic, Germany, USA, Belgium, Spain, Turkey, Italy.
EARTH OF THE BLIND (Neregių žemė), 1992
ANTIGRAVITATION (Antigravitacija), 1995
FLYING OVER BLUE FIELD (Skrajojimai melynam lauke), 1996
510 SECONDS OF SILENCE (Skrydis per Lietuvą arba 510 sekundžiu tylos), 2000 (with Arunasom Matelisom)
UKU UKAI, 2006
THE BELL (Varpas), 2007
FOUR STEPS (Keturi žingsniai), 2008
directed by: Fernand Melgar
The story of unwanted asylum-seekers, which unfolds as a dramatic thriller, reveals the cruelty behind the supposed humanity of one of the world’s best-developed state systems.
People awaiting their definite deportation from the Swiss territory are jailed at the special administrative detention center. Even though some of them spent years in Switzerland, where they worked, paid taxes, and started families, they are ordered to leave the country as soon their application for asylum is rejected. Although the application consideration process may take up to two years, the deportation is announced without any warning and its implementation is imminent. Behind the closed prison doors, tension rises with every day that passes. Wardens trained to praise humanist values are on one side, and on the other are men at the end of their journey, defeated by fear and anxiety. Relations of friendship and hatred, respect and revolt are built up until the announcement of the deportation, which is experienced like a stab. This relationship ends mostly in distress and humiliation. Those who refuse to leave are handcuffed, tied up and forcibly put on a plane. In this extreme situation, despair has a name: special flight.
Wholeheartedly devoted to this topic, the director Fernand Meglar has earned great esteem with his previous films, especially with “The Fortress,” which won the “Golden Leopard” award in Locarno three years ago. Supported by the ARTE television network, Meglar currently develops “Special Flight” as a web documentary.
A film characterized by astonishing intensity and exquisite documentary virtuosity.
Selector’s Word: Shocking it is this report from a place in Europe about the biggest question in modern Europe: How do we treat people who come to live in ”our” countries? This is shot in Switzerland but could be anywhere. It is amazing what the director has been able to catch in the name of humanity.
Born in 1961 in Tangier, Morocco, into a family of Spanish emigrants. His parents smuggled him in with them when, in 1963, they emigrated to Switzerland as seasonal laborers. In the early eighties, he cut short his business studies in order to establish, together with several friends, Le Cabaret Orwell in Lausanne, soon a mecca for French-speaking Switzerland’s underground culture. During 1983 he began putting together various experimental films and TV reports. In 1985 he joined Climage, a group of independent filmmakers producing films that deal with social, cultural and historical issues. Together with them he has made around a dozen internationally awarded documentaries, now considered to be benchmarks on the topics of immigration and identity. Works as independent film director, editor and producer.
FAMILY ALBUM (Album de famille), 1993
INDUCTION CLASS (Classe d’accueil), 1998
STORM IN A C-CUP (Remue-ménage), 2002
EXIT, The Right to Die (Exit, Le droit de mourir), 2005
THE FORTRESS (La forteresse), 2008
SPECIAL FLIGHT (Vol spécial), 2011
directed by: Gereon Wetzel
A process, undocumented as of yet, in the alchemic laboratory of the world’s most exclusive restaurant, and an encounter with passion and creativity of its creator, Ferran Adrià, one of the most famous and innovative chefs of today.
This is an exciting quest – from the initial experiments to the premiere of the finished dish. In the course of that process, various basic ingredients are examined in a completely new way. Taste and texture are systematically analyzed: by boiling, roasting, frying, steaming; by vacuumizing and freeze-drying; and finally, by tasting. Ideas emerge, are discussed and all the results, whether good or bad, are thoroughly documented – on a laptop beside the cooking spoon. And according to that extensive documentation, a grandiose finale is prepared – topped with the final touch of the great chef, incredible and marvelous bites are finally presented to the guests.
Ferran Adrià would ask himself in jest, "And what were they serving at El Bulli?" only to instantly answer: “Water!” That is a concept that is at the same time both complex and simple, just as is often the case with great ideas. Gereon Wetzel recognizes the multiple layers and importance of this simple creative process. With complete devotion, not letting a single detail escape him, he conveys the excitement of the alchemist who is once again about to examine and discover the world and nature.
A masterfully precise and sophisticated documentary approach, completely in line with the marvelous process it documents.
Selector's Word: Well, for someone who loves good food... you just sit and enjoy an artistic performance and feel lucky to be invited into a laboratory, where you constantly think, is that really necessary... of course it is, and even if most of us will not have the means to eat in a restaurant like El Bulli was, this is a truly inspirational journey.
Born in 1972 in Bonn, Germany. Earned M.A. in Prehistory and Archeology from Heidelberg University. Worked for a year as a language teacher in Barcelona, then as an archeologist in Girona, Spain. Studied from 2000 to 2006 at the Munich Film School (HFF München). Cofounder of the documentary label “DocCollection”. He lives and works as a filmmaker and lecturer in Munich.
THE REPRODUCTION CRISIS (Die Reproduktionskrise), 2007 (with Jörg Adolph)
HOW TO MAKE A BOOK WITH STEIDL, 2010 (with Jörg Adolph)
EL BULLI – COOKING IN PROGRESS, 2010
directed by: Marc Weymuller
Pause for a moment. Hold your breath. Open your eyes wide. A gem of modern documentary filmmaking lies in front of you. Invisible threads connect people’s inner worlds and mystic landscapes into a philosophical essay, characterized by sophisticated auteurist approach and spellbinding cinematography.
Fascinated by the timelessness of scenes and people on the documentary photographs from the remote yet alluring Portuguese region of Barroso, the French documentary filmmaker Marc Weymulle was further intrigued when he discovered landscapes that these photographs left out like a carefully hidden secret. The book where he found these images has a paradoxical title “Negrões - White Memory”. That is the point at which he starts this surprisingly metaphysical journey through the intertwined layers of time. These layers are impressed upon the hazy and mystical landscapes, cobbled streets, dark interiors, and faces that are sculpted by their destinies; it is a journey into the deeply buried thoughts and memories. The life there is shaped by the alternation of rain, snow, blossoming and ripening, and by the rhythm of the herds that leave in the morning and return at dusk. “Barroso is a remarkable region: with respect to its history and the questions it raises; questions that are simple yet essential,” noted Marc Weymuller. “The landscapes serve as a mirror. In reminding us of what we used to be, they warn us about what we have become.”
A film that truly pushes the boundaries of documentary filmmaking. Extraordinary visual imagery is complemented by a complex composition offering profound insights into what is hidden and contemplative.
Selector’s Word: The director has said it himself in a beautiful way that explains it all – this is a film about memory, what we were once and what we have become. It is from a place in Portugal, far away from the so-called modern world, but it is also a film about a state of mind.
Born in 1965 in Marseille, France. Since 1989 he has been working as film director and sound recordist. He has written and made fiction and documentary films dealing with absence and forms of existence of those who are marginalized, disappeared and lost.
DESPITE THE NIGHT (Malgré la nuit), 2004
FOUR WALLS AND THE WORLD (Quatre murs et le monde), 2009
LIFE, A LONG WAY AWAY (La vie au loin), 2011
directed by: Michael Glawogger
Disturbing as much as it is fascinating, the latest film of one of the founders of the modern theatrical documentary is a revealing triptych about the phenomenon of prostitution recounted through images form Thailand, Bangladesh and Mexico.
The stories of three different worlds, three different cultures and three different religions are driven by the idea of drastic visual and thematic contracts. Thailand’s shiny “Aquarium” that we encounter at the beginning is a metaphor for a developed hi-tech world in which everything has an alluring facade of order and control. Replacing the glitter of the affluent world, Glawogger juxtaposes it directly with the oriental vibrancy of the murky and impoverished district in Faridpur, Bangladesh, inviting us into the world of the “City of Joy”. The camera, pressed against the walls of long, narrow and dark hallways, documents on the one hand the constant movement of girls, who are sometimes no older than children, in vivid clothing and grotesque make up, and on the other hand women in various situations, which are either encounters and business arrangements or incidents. With the final story set in Mexico, in a small town on the border next to the Rio Grande, the film plummets into gloomy spaces filled with threats and dangers. The night and void are interrupted by occasional flashes of long forgotten humanity.
Michael Glawogger continuously aims to provoke the audience radically with staggering images of cruel reality that are documented in masterful cinematography, with Wolfgang Thaler’s camera that turns the silver screen into fantastic murals of impressive colors. It is this unique combination in Glawogger’s documentaries that enables us to observe the world with uninterrupted astonishment even when we would rather like to close our eyes shut. The music from different parts of the world, such that of the band Coco Rosie and the singer P. J. Harvey, forms new and unexpected connections, intensifying the experience that a documentary can indeed connect the entire planet into a consistent whole.
A marvelous theatrical experience.
Selector's Word: Glawogger is one of the most important documentarians of our time. He makes films that go close to the characters, and also in this case I think he succeeds to keep the necessary distance in a film that could have been sentimentalising the oldest profession in the world. It is sometimes a very rough film to watch, sometimes you smile, because a scene or situation is absurd, you learn a lot about the business side of prostitution, and sometimes you get touched and angry at the same time.
Born on December 3, 1959 in Graz, Austria. Studied at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1981 to 1982. Studied at the Vienna Film Academy from 1983 to 1989. Film director, screenwriter and cinematographer.
WAR IN VIENNA (Krieg in Wien), 1989
MOVIES IN THE MIND (Kino im Kopf), 1996
FRANCE, HERE WE COME! (Frankreich, wir kommen), 2000
WORKINGMAN’S DEATH, 2005
WHORES’ GLORY, 2011