East European Forum
The pitch sessions of the East European Forum include:
14 documentary projects that participate in the year-long Ex Oriente Film workshop, and
9 documentary projects that are selected for the Forum
14 Ex Oriente Film Projects:
THE LAST BLACK SEA PIRATES AND SIR NORMAN FOSTER
Director: Svetoslav Stoyanov
Co-author: Vanya Rainova
Producer: Anna Stoeva, AGITPROP Ltd.
The last Black Sea pirates live on a far-off beach under the whip and wing of their captain, Jack the Whale. They get by on questionable means in their world heavy with alcohol haze, testosterone and rugged tenderness. At the same time, in a London high-rise, a world-renowned architect sketches a large private marina where the pirates’ lone wooden boat now rests. With strong government backing, it seems that an exclusive green development will span thousands of hectares of what are now protected territories, replacing the pirates’ den. Two diametrically opposite civilizations are about to come head to head, and in their clash will emerge a contemporary story about the choices we make and the treasures we hunt.
Director: Marko Rukavina, Marko Prpić
Producer: Jana Śivak, Nukleus U.
Street art has transformed cities all over the world into large galleries that are open to everyone. But there is a problem. This art, often labeled as vandalism, is illegal. Artists use public space without the permission of city authorities, risking heavy fines or even imprisonment. At the same time, public space is littered with huge but meaningless billboards. Our film will show the relationship between city officials, advertising agencies, street artists and the public. It will point out double standards used towards artists and advertisers, different approaches towards the art among taggers. Above all, the film aims to show the beauty of street art changing cities around the world, countering commercial images. The film involves three artists who take the risk of using streets to communicate with wider audience. Although they share the same passion, each of them has a different goal.
FILTERING MY DESTINY
Director: Tereza Tara
Producer: Lubomír Konečný, endorfilm
Filtering My Destiny is a film about kidneys, based on personal experiences of the director herself, following her on the journey from sickness to health and well-being. It shows the physical, mental, symbolic and spiritual aspect of the disease with its sociological and historical implications and puts forward various ways of simple self-treatment inspired by traditional as well as complementary medicine. If there is any chance to heal ourselves without being dependent on pills, we have the right to know it! There are two main storylines in the film. One invloves the director as a modern woman, trying to find a way to cure her kidneys, seeing doctors, therapists, scientists, being curious about her body and its function. And then there is the story of her soul that starts to speak as the healing process continues.
KYTLICE, ZIMMER FREI
Director: Rozálie Kohoutová
Producer: Martina Knoblochová, FAMU, Hypermarket Film
The film tells the story of Kytlice, a village situated in the former Sudetenland. The German residents were forced to leave after WWII. The communists built a mental clinic here. But the film talks about the present life of the place. The elementary school has just closed down as there are no children in Kytlice. The glass maker Crystalex, the only legacy left after the Germans and a pride of the Czechs, was shut down due to the global economic crisis. Young people are moving to the city, locals are losing their jobs. The director's family has owned a house here since the 1950s, visiting every summer. Yet winters feel very different, as only a few locals and patients of the local mental clinic stay. Through the director's memories and the artwork of Luděk, an artist and a patient at the clinic, the film captures Kytlice in terms of art brut, as a place where nobody feels at home.
Director: Farid Eslam
Producer: Dana Wilson, Mortal Coil Media; Farid Eslam, Mind Riot Media
A documentary about the blooming cultural underground scene in the Middle East aimed to introduce different aspects of Arab culture and lifestyle unknown to most people in the Western World. Throughout the Middle East young artists start to emerge and develop new interesting projects in all different fields of culture (music, fashion, arts, etc). They challenge the differences between modern global youth culture and their traditional Arab culture and try to find a way to combine these differences. They not only have to struggle with certain conservative restrictions of their own society but also with prejudices and misinterpretations in the Western world, which leaves them often with a feeling of isolation and being stuck in the middle.
RESTAURANT BAKHMARO AND THOSE WHO WORK THERE
Director: Salome Jashi
Producer: Anna Dziapshipa, Nino Orjonikidze, Sakdoc Film
A three-story brick building in the provincial Georgian town of Chokhatauri houses a diverse mix of people. A Chinese man comes out to hang red lanterns in front of his shop. The dentist upstairs in her clean white room sterilizes her instruments. A refugee couple stares out of another window. But at the center of the building is a restaurant whose walls are bright green and orange and where tables are set waiting for customers who rarely come. The film is centered around three characters – the boss, an active waitress always complaining and another, quiet easily controlled waitress. This building is like a chaotic microcosm, a model of the country, with constant demonstrations and opposition rallies. On the backdrop of political events, somehow, all of life is here. Politics is never too far, affecting the isolated lives of those who live and work in the building.
Director: Gergő Somogyvári
Producer: Sára László, Campfilm Ltd.
Disco Transit is about the friendship of two Palestinian refugees on the borderline to adulthood in a Hungarian refugee camp, framed by their preparations for the Saturday night disco. What does this curious western way of entertainment hold for these young men who arrived from a turbulent region and now live on the verge of Europe? A week lasts from Saturday to Saturday - disco to disco - in the Bicske Refugee Camp for the young refugees who wait for papers and employment opportunities. In the narrow interior of Building 10 of the camp, we observe the two friends as they get ready for the weekly event. During this time, we learn about their personalities, perceptions, goals and lifestyles. How do they cope together and with loneliness, with boredom and passivity? Why is it so important for them to go dancing every Saturday night?
LARGER THAN LIFE
Director: Gints Grube
Producer: Inese Boka, Mistrus Media Ltd.
A film about one of Europe’s best theatre directors, Latvian-born Alvis Hermanis, and his distinctive directing method, marked by the rejection of classic dramatic material and a search for points of contact between theatre, documentary art and life stories. In his work, Hermanis seeks possibilities for transforming life stories into theatre. Working in different European theatres, he encourages his actors to travel and meet with different people, in order to form a collective work—a play—from their stories. This documentary aims to show and record the secret of story creation: how life takes on its true meaning only in the context of a story. Everyone has a story that they believe characterizes their whole life. In order to illustrate the idea, the film will use the work of Alvis Hermanis and his actors as they develop three different performances in Riga, Moscow and Cologne that capture the process of story creation.
CAUGHT IN TRANSITION
Director: Goda Rupeikaite, Bram Crols
Producer: Goda Rupeikaite, Studija 2
Every change is a transitional momentum within time, caught between past and future. The present moment is there to be faced, with homage to the past, and respect for the future. The transition is eternal, time does not change people. It just unfolds them. Caught in Transition connects a few different stories, distinct, but nonetheless related, as all characters reflect the ‘state of change’, the constant balance between the capability and incapability of transformation. These stories combined create a panorama on the human attempts to handle the unnoticeable mysteries that are generated within every transition.
THE FIELD OF MAGIC
Director: Mindaugas Survila
Producer: Giedre Beinoriute, Jurga Gluskiniene, Studio Monoklis
The Field of Magic – that is what the dump people call the Kariotiškės dump. They work here, build houses, interact with friends, cook, celebrate, grieve, have fun. Theirs is a special subculture that has its own traditions, customs, lifestyle and philosophy. On March 15, 2008 the old dumping ground was closed, and no one is allowed to enter the new one that is surrounded by a tall fence of barbed wire. The struggle for survival begins. This is a long-term observation film that captures everyday existence of the dump people and changes in their lives brought about by the shutdown of the dumping ground. The Field of Magic is a docu-poem that portrays a unique vanishing community, speaking of humanity, human dignity and other values that are so rapidly dying in modern society. The shooting started a couple of months before the closing of the area and it is set to continue till the last person leaves the ground.
Director: Cecilia Felmeri
Producer: Róbert Lakatos, Argo Audiovisual Association
This film explores the myth of Dracula in Transylvania and Romania in general. This subject allows us to present Romanian reality of our time, unfolding in an ironic way the stereotypical image of Transylvania that is widespread throughout the world. The film approaches the Dracula myth through the personal stories of its protagonists whose lives have been influenced by the myth or the historical character known as Vlad Dracula. Using these personal stories, we would like to approach topics that reflect on issues concerning the transition of East European societies to market economy. Today, the myth is imported from Hollywookd back to Romania as it tries to adapt to capitalism. In the capitalist world, the Dracula brand means a lot of money. But in exchange of the possibility of exploring this myth, Romanians may be bartering away their history.
Director: Laura Capatana Juller
Producer: Alexandru Solomon, Hifilm Productions
In Romania nearly 350,000 children of migrant workers have been living separated from their parents for years. Most of them grow up with relatives, some in shelters, others all by themselves. They suffer severe emotional poverty. Lonesome Springtime sheds a different light on the phenomenon of migration. Over 3 million Romanians have left to work abroad since the country joined the EU. It shows the consequences of migration and globalization on adolescents. The protagonists of Lonesome Springtime are from the Romanian county of Maramuresh where the migration rate is very high. Approximately one half of the teenagers at the local school are left behind by their parents. Though the teens get a lot of modern clothes, money and cell phones, they get to see their parents only during the holidays.
DRAGAN WENDE – WEST BERLIN
Director: Vuk Maksimovič & Lena Müller
Author: Dragan Petrović
Producer: Lena Müller, von.müller.film
Once he was King, now he is invisible. In the 1970s and 80s, Dragan Wende had money, girls, champagne, drugs – and a Yugoslav passport. While orchestrating West-Berlin’s buzzing nightlife, he could deal and smuggle across the Berlin Wall. But 20 years after its fall, for Dragan this Wall is now higher than ever.
In this documentary, Dragan’s nephew Vuk, a young Slovako-Serbian filmmaker, sets out to film his legendary uncle and tell an underground family tale in a still-divided city. He discovers and confronts his uncle's bizarre and tragicomic world of veteran Yugo-immigrants, fallen millionaires, thieves and hookers. Exploring a time-capsuled West Berlin beamed straight from the 1980s, Vuk is both fascinated and repulsed by this microcosm of underdogs. But will he inevitably get sucked into Dragan Wende's grotesque universe? And will Dragan's own Iron Curtains finally be lifted again?
RUN FOR LIFE
Director: Mladen Matičević
Producer: Mladen Matičević, Starhill d.o.o.
Run for Life is a story about three Ethiopian athletes who had participated at Podgorica half-marathon in November 2007 and afterwards decided to stay in Serbia and applied for political asylum. When Zoran Molović, a former Yugoslav athletic champion found out about their situation, he took them from the refugee camp, found them accommodation in the village of Pambukovica and became their coach. There the athlets train, wait for Serbian citizenship and hope that one day they will run for Serbia at world competitions. Should they return to Ethiopia, they would face poverty, war, and even jail. This is a film about their expectations, hopes, about their struggle with the situation, sorrow for their families but also about how Serbia will accept them.
9 East European Forum Projects:
Director: Raphael Barth
Producer: Arash T. Riahi
The Nicobars are a small archipelago in the Indian Ocean, where one of the last indigenous people lived almost like in a time capsule for 900 years. When the tsunami struck them in 2004, the islands not only lost one-third of their population but they were also thrown into a modern world as countless aid and relief organizations arrived on their shores. This aftermath proved to be a greater tragedy for their culture than the tsunami. Along with humanitarian aid, new “ritual objects”, such as cell phones and television, and new social rules were introduced. Today, as the organizations spend the last funds and begin to leave, the Nicobaris embark on the search for a new identity.
Director: Vesela Kazakova, Mina Mileva
Producer: Vesela Kazakova, Mina Mileva
The story of a girl, who grew up behind the Iron Curtain and fled to the West, sums up the lives of many people who lived “the experiment”. This girl is a fictional character, played and narrated by an actor and she appears in an animated sequence interspersed throughout the film. She is chased by a cartoon character called the Beast. The Beast is a graphic metaphor of all common ideas and clichés about communism, whether positive or negative. The real live characters in our film are two groups who are involved in a debate over the ideology. We meet people who lived under Communist governments – Cubans, Bulgarians, Russians or Hungarians. The opposite perspective is presented by British and German protagonists who prefer to romanticize communism. Indeed, what is communism - an inspiring idea or a menacing ideology?
Director: Karel Vachek
Producer: Radim Procházka
A feature-length film about politics, economics and social relationships, with a view to other cultures in the Czech Republic - the study of old-fashioned phenomena such as dowsing; parallel worlds and gates to other universes; time machines; involuntary spontaneous invisibility; colour therapy; living and dead water; hibernation; magic mushrooms; UFOs, etc. Life in the Czech Republic, within the broader context of globalization, is seen through the crooked mirror of non-rational and expanded perception of reality: psychics and mediums contribute to the film and draw connections to social reality.
Czech Republic / Iceland
ICELAND: A BANKRUPT NATION
Director: Sigurður Hallmar Magnússon
Producer: Veronika Janatková
In October 2008, the three main banks in Iceland collapsed. The collapse of the banks drove the country towards bankruptcy causing thousands of people to lose their jobs, their personal savings and hope. Once among the richest countries in the world with a solid reputation, Iceland is now facing a dark era of both political and moral uncertainties. Iceland: A Bankrupt Nation is a portrait of a country and its people who are going through very hard times. Not intended as an economic analysis, the crash of Iceland's economy provides a mere pretext to portray a nation that used to rank among the richest and most developed countries in the world. How does Iceland react to the economic collapse? Who is to blame for the collapse of the banking system? Or could the failure of capitalist values possibly be the best thing that could have happened to Iceland?
THE NEW WORLD
Director: Jaan Tootsen
Producer: Jaak Kilmi
How to create an urban living space that is meant for good people? How to change the world? This film is about the New World Society, a citizen initiative in Tallinn, Estonia. A film about good intentions and about a place where everyone fights everyone else. What happens if the activists for a better world no longer have support and have to confront those they actually fight for? And what happens in a revolution when the revolutionaries get tired? The film follows the main characters and the dynamics of their revolution over the course of four years. A lot has changed since the early days of the organization. The activists - who now have families and have given up their day jobs - have learnt the art of compromise and use terms such as "project", "agreement" and "professionality". But as it sometimes happens, tension starts builiding up among the protagonists. How to unite people who no longer have common interests? How to find the lost New World?
LEAPING OVER THE DRAGON'S GATE
Director: Mika Mattila
Producer: Markku Niska
A story of five destinies set in the Chinese contemporary art scene. A young artist struggling with his first steps into the professional scene; an established “Master” taggling a new project, free from financial concerns; a collector transforming his precious collection into a lasting legacy; an aspiring gallery owner looking for new talents from the provinces; an American artist moves to Beijing from New York with high hopes of reviving his career; a new cultural centre rising from a seeming cultural void in the middle of Inner Mongolian desert. The film captures the unique atmosphere prevailing in China’s art scene in its moment of emergence as a truly international player. Through these unique individual stories it cuts through the exciting world of China's art community, revealing the often baffling dynamics shaping it. Through the mosaic of these destinies it takes the audience into a new world where everything seems possible and nothing seems to be too much.
THE GLASS CAGE
Director: Csaba Szekeres
Producer: Szabolcs Győrffy
A historical feature documentary using experimental animation technique. From 1942 to 1945 in Hungary, more than 60 thousand Jews people were rescued by a Swiss diplomat and the Hungarian Zionist Movement in a glass factory, the Glass House. In 1941, about 184,000 Jews lived in Budapest, Hungary. During the German occupation, the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross Party came to power and carried out violent attacks against the Jews. Tens of thousands of Jews died on death marches from Budapest to Austria. Our film focuses on two protagonists. David Gur, a member of the Hungarian Zionist Movement, was a master document forger. Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz cooperated with the movement, setting up the Glass House, issuing documents to thousands of Jewish residents and using his diplomatic immunity to protect houses across the city. The story of two men who employed different tools to achieve the same goal.
Director: Gyula Nemes
Producer: Gyula Nemes
Our film reveals the immoderation of the consumer society and warns of the dangers of this huge and growing amount of trash. We follow the way of the consumer products from their origins and use, until the destruction and storage of non-recyclable products. Recycling represents industrial production as a huge organism in continuous circulation. We show how we can be in connection through the production and consumption without noticing each other. The way of the consumer goods, produced every day in shocking quantities, comes to light through expressive images and industrial poetry.
Director: Hrvoje Mabić
Producer: Magdalena Petrović
The film reveals the background of the tabloid story about Ana Dragičević, who was locked up in the Lopača Psychiatric Hospital from the age of 16 to 21 because of her homosexuality.
In 2002, the first public gay event Gay Pride takes place in Zagreb and is met with the general disapproval of a large part of the Croatian public and political parties under the common denominator that all of this is sick. Ana meets her first love Natja that same year and her intolerant parents see the only solution for the shame of her sexual orientation in sending her away for treatment.
The director of the Lopača Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Mirjana Vulin, admits her to the hospital where Ana experiences horror in a ‘jail system’ atmosphere and torture for every act of disobedience.