Erik Gandini (1967), Italian-born Swedish resident and award-winning director and co-founder of Atmo began his career with the internationally acclaimed Raja Sarajevo (1994). This portrayal of an almost normal life in besieged Sarajevo also announced Gandini's preoccupation with history, politics and global issues which drives all of his films. In Amerasians (1998), Gandini captures the culture shock and identity issues of Vietnamese who have come to the U.S. to live in their fathers' country. In Sacrificio - Who Betrayed Che Guevara? (2001, co-directed with Tarik Saleh), the man accused of causing Che Guevara's death tells his story to set history straight. Gandini set out to debunk some of the basic principles behind capitalism in Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers (2003). His persistent critique of the powers to be and their methods continued in Gitmo: The New Rules of War (2005, co-directed with Tarik Saleh), and also in his most recent Videocracy (2009), an exposé of Berlusconi's control over television media and the cultural fallout.
Don't miss a special screening of Videocracy (2009) and Q&A with Erik Gandini on Tuesday, October 25, at 9pm. The screening takes place at the Secondary Graphic Art School and is open to visitors with a valid industry or press pass.
Award-winning Polish filmmaker Marcin Koszalka has been at the forefront of Poland's documentary boom in the last decade. Born in 1970, the Krakow native is a cinematography graduate of the Katowice Film Academy. With some 20 camera credits to his name, he is best known as the director of unflinching, reflective documentaries that are preoccupied with family relationships and death. His documentary short Such a Nice Boy I Gave Birth To (1999), a portrait of Koszalka's parents and their constant conflicts, received Prix Europa. Koszalka turned the camera on ruptures in his own family again in Come What May (2004), and in his 2010 film Let's Run Away from Her that juxtaposes the director's conversation with his sister who attempts to ward off death with images of hospital patients. He has also examined places and people directly dealing in death (Dead Body, Existence, User-friendly Death), and peeked into private worlds haunted by delusions and insufficiencies - Till It Hurts (2008) investigates a co-dependent relationship of a middle-aged psychiatrist and his mother, while his latest The Declaration of Immortality (2010) follows an aging climber who desperately clings to the hope of staying on top.
One of Lithuania's most important filmmakers today, Audrius Stonys (1960) is the author of over 15 documentary films. In his 1992 documentary short Earth of the Blind that received the Felix Award for Best European Documentary Film, Stonys intuitively paints the inner world of the blind. Many other of his films discard conventional narrative for a meditative slant, trading language for silence (Uku Ukai, Flying Over Blue Field, Antigravitation, Alone, Harbour). Still others explore the impact of meaning and memory (Countdown, The Bell), a concern that extends to Stonys' ideas about film. Like with the semi-mythical bell that generates different stories and points beyond itself, he turns his attention to what is left of films once the story has been discredited or made irrelevant. Hope, faith and determination are among the themes highlighted in Ramin (2011) that follows the journey of a lonely old wrestler, as well as in I Walked Through Fire, You Were with Me (2011), the story of a young couple who have lost their home.
In 2008, Ramin was developed at the Ex Oriente Film worskhop and pitched at the East European Forum. In February 2011, Audrius Stonys attended editing & distribution sessions at Ex Oriente Film Babies. Ramin is nominated for the Silver Eye Award.
One of the most successful documentary filmmakers in Eastern Europe, Vitaly Manskiy (1963) chose to focus wholly on documentary filmmaking after the collapse of the Soviet regime. His films question the directions taken by Russian society, opposing totalitarian mindsets and the lack of civic action. After his 1990s films (e.g., Lenin's Body, Bliss, Private Chronicles: Monologue), Manskiy made portraits of three Russian presidents (Gorbachov. After the Empire; Putin. The Leap Year; Yeltsin. A Different Life). His critique of Russia's version of capitalism is voiced in TATU's Anatomy (2003), Nicholas's Hill (2009), and Virginity (2008) in which Manskiy points out that there is a price to be paid for the instant gratification of one's desires in the indifferent hell that is Moscow. Sunrise/Sunset: Dalai Lama XIV (2008), a glimpse at the person behind the title, was screened at DocuWeeks. The themes of Manskiy's 2005 film Our Motherland that reflects on the transformations of Russia through the eyes of the director's former schoolmates, reverberate in his latest documentary feature Motherland or Death (2011) that investigates the grim realities of life in Cuba.