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Project Selection for This Year's Ex Oriente Film

We are pleased to announce the 13 documentary projects that have been selected for the yearlong 2012 Ex Oriente Film workshop. The first Ex Oriente Film session takes place June 18 - 23 in Roztoky u Prahy. Congratulations to the selected projects! We look forward to seeing you here in the Czech Republic in less than a month!


Further information about the workshop can be found here.


On the list there are projects representing Georgia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia/Estonia, Slovenia, Latvia, and a strong participation at the workshop will be secured by projects from Poland and Croatia. This year there could be several prevailing thematic tendencies traced among the majority of submitted projects.

It was mostly the following patterns:

- Projects with a strong relation to genius loci, stories tightly connected to some particular location.
- Projects where music, especially folk music, plays the central role
- Projects dealing with some aspects of funeral business in both serious or hyperbolic way.


Among the selected projects were those that could be generically sorted as documentary portraits, road movies or socially appealing documentaries. There was also a whole variety of styles the directors employ in their films - from  observational docs to partially staged pieces.


Selected projects (sorted alphabetically by countries):

Bulgaria:


A Classroom Story

Director: Djambazov David
Producer: Stoeva Anna
Production company: tanuki films

Edna uchilishtna istoriya , Bulgaria, 75 min, Digi Beta, DVD, Portrait, Social Issues, Society

In a small 18th century Balkan town of beautiful palazzos, birthplace of fairy-tale rich tradesmen and brave revolutionaries, two young women are looking for a 21st century fortune – bright young minds. But first they need to confront a real monster – institutionalized education. This is the story of Iva and Maria. Successful and idealistic, they volunteer for a 2-year full-time program at a school in a small Bulgarian town, joining the less than 5% of European teachers under the age of 30. Their students’ positive response despite adverse personal situations will inspire them. The harsh reality of the damage caused by years of neglect and disdain for the needs of young people will test their resourcefulness and emotions to the fullest. Do they stand a chance?


Steam and Faith

Producer: Manz Reinhard
Production company: Point de Vue Audiovisuelle Produktionen

Para i vyara , Bulgaria, 80 min, DCP, HD, Creative, Personal View

A chance meeting with an old Swiss diplomat (91), who grew up in Bulgaria, and especially with his book Memories, triggers my wish to investigate my family’s history. I decide to return to Bulgaria once more. My means of transport into my own past is to be the railroad. Railroad tracks, trains, and locomotives dominated my childhood and represent the image of the men in my family: my father and my grandfather both wore a railway uniform. I am going to see my mother in Plovdiv. I wish to speak with her about my family’s past. But above all, I want to speak with her about my brother’s death. This topic used to be taboo – as if hidden behind a veil. For 40 years, my mother kept silent about my brother. After my brother’s suicide, a sense of guilt and mutual accusations tore the family apart. Public pressure on my family was quite severe. My brother’s death embarrassed everyone because my father was a loyal supporter of the Communist Party and held a high position in the railroad company. The communist regime did not tolerate suicides. The press condemned my parents because of his suicide. Nobody wondered what private conflicts oppressed the young man. Father and son held different ideological convictions.My father was an idealist who, in the early 1950s, studied communist ideology in the Soviet Union and returned to Bulgaria with an engineering degree. But in 1968, his son, then still at school, got a taste of the Prague Spring. 



Croatia




Vitić Dances

Director: Bakal Boris
Producer: Živanović Isa

Vitić pleše , Croatia, 90 min, DCP, Digi Beta, DV, DVD, HD, Arts and Culture, Creative, Environmental, Personal View, Social Issues, Society

Community art project changed the life and destiny of 10-storey building in centre of Zagreb and its 256 inhabitants. Misunderstandings, funny events, unexpected encounters and oblique strategies brings inhabitants from hate and mistrust, from despair and dis-functionality to common vision and restoration of the community and the building itself.
 



Czech Republic


Kesaj Tchavé

Production company: Fresh Films, s.r.o., Czech TV

Czech Republic, 70 min, DCP, Music, Social Issues, Youth Documentary

A documentary roadmovie about Roma music and dance company from Eastern Slovakia that goes on tour to France. Most of the members are children form excluded families from the Roma settlements near Slovakian town Kezmarok. The film is about what the children dream that would happen in France and how they will live when they will grow up.
 



Czech Republic / Germany


Soilmania

Director: Kapralová Dora
Production company: Sleeping Tiger

Půda a posedlost , Czech Republic, Germany, 75 min, HD, Creative

A documentary road movie from Strmilov to Berlin. Earth is connected to soil, soil is connected with trees and these are linked to ancestors, to moving to other places and searching for one’s roots. Who are we and where are we going? What does native soil mean today? Does it mean anything? We have our roots in South Bohemia and live in Berlin. We don’t have much, just a car and questions. On our journey we meet people who are attached to their soil, who found their place. Every one of them will give us a little gift, an object we will take to Berlin and bury in Treptow Park. To what extent does a place, a native soil, define a person? At the same time we want to reveal bizarre and even ideologically dangerous tendencies of various sectarians, unhealthy ecological radicalism, or technocratic vandalism. This story is not only a story about a trip. It is also about our past, our central European roots.



Estonia / Russia


The New Silk Way

Producer: Kaat Marianna
Production company: Baltic Film Production

Шелковый путь , Russia, 52 min, DV, Social Issues

The film is about Chinese recruited Russian women in Vladivostok who weekly crosses the Chinese-Russian border as a duty free carriers. A short journey to nirvana and back.



Georgia / Estonia


See You In Chechnya

Production company: Lokokina Studio, DNU Film Ltd., Exitfilm

Georgia, 52 min, DCP, DVD, HD, Creative, Drama doc, Personal View, Philosophy, Portrait, Society

If you go to war, it will follow you home…When I was 22, I went to war, and took my camera.But I didn’t go to make my career.I went because I was in love. In Georgia in 1999, I met a photographer called Francoise who told me she was going to photograph the notoriously brutal conflict in neighbouring Chechnya. I decided I had to go with her, to protect her. I knew I could be kidnapped or killed, but desire outweighed fear. There I met war reporters for the first time: an exceptional tribe of idealists, battlefield veterans and adventurers who risk their lives and health to report the truth. The interconnected tales of six of these charismatic people, and my friendships with them, form the basis of this film.Ten years later, I made contact again, to find out how the experience affected their lives. Some of them had wanted to become star journalists. Others had wanted to expose human rights violations. One went to Chechnya because he believed that war was romantic. But there were consequences. One was kidnapped and later committed suicide. Others contracted serious illnesses. One was murdered. When going to war, they perhaps didn’t realise the conflict would return home with them. As I reflect on the motives which drove them, I offer an insight into the peculiar psychology of war reporters: contemporary heroes whose business is death and they face up their own mortality every time they go to work.



Hungary


Digged Glory

Director: Szőnyei David
Production company: Academy of Drama and Film

Őszinte részvétel , Hungary, 52 min, HD, Creative, Society

Indeed gravedigger is one of the oldest professions of mankind – the highest level of professionalism can be reached through working invisible and unrecognizable. Not everyone is able to cope with the responsibility of such an extreme and invisible work. But fortunately there is a tradition in Hungary, an event, which focuses only on them by emphasizing their abilities, professionalism and commitment, namely the national mortician and gravedigger competition held in every second year. There is a group of men, consisting of elderly and younger people, working together for years in a cemetery in western part of Hungary as gravediggers. Although they had already won the competition twice in a row they couldn’t challenge the last winner in 2010. According to the decision of the authorized institution the competition is temporary cancelled.Are they able to force out changes themselves? Then they should begin the preparation for the challenge. Or are they going to keep on living in the glorious past with the secure shadow of the memory of the former victories? Self-actualization, self-fulfillment, competitiveness and innovation?The daily obstacles of the current central-eastern european community: occasionally hurtful and grotesque.In this documentary we are following the re-organizing process of the competition, the preparation of the winner team and the challengers and the competition itself.
 
 
 


Latvia


The Lost City


Zelta pilseta , ?, 52 min, DCP, HD, Arts and Culture, Social Issues

Having not found the obstacles placed by human being, nature conquers the world. It has absorbed radiation and proceeds with creating new forms of life. Like a biologic sponge, it has sucked up the Chernobyl civilization to create a new one - a preserve for nature and soul. It might become a shelter for the ones who cannot find a place for themselves in the turbulent modern world. We will try to demonstrate a kind of life, which would be possible after the end of the world, after the vast catastrophe triggering the destruction. The Chernobyl Zone of alienation presents a micro-model of such an end of the world. This is a story about a return to the pre-market model of the society when the notions of time, course of nature, work and human being embodied a more different, more universal meaning, when the relation between of human being and nature had a deeper meaning.The protagonists of the film will be people who never had homes or other bonds at the zone. They have sneaked in the territory illegally, as if it was a natural oasis where one could occupy good enough houses, scattered all over the vicinity. They are moving there to go in for fishing, picking mushrooms, and living.
 



Poland


On the Corner of Zielona and Gdanska Street

Director: Jadowska Anna
Producer: Golanska Agata
Production company: KOLEKTYW FILM

Na rogu Zielonej i Gdańskiej , Poland, 70 min, Digi Beta, DVD, HD, Creative

Three protagonists of different ages. Agnieszka – a teenager, Małgosia – a twenty-your-old mother of two, Basia – an eighty-year-old lady living with her sixty-year-old son.They are all connected through a place – Stare Polesie – the centre of Lodz, which does not bear any resemblance to the city centres of other large cities. This place stigmatises its inhabitants. It condemns them to a life in this quarter and deprives them of an idea that they could live somewhere else, in a different way. It doesn't offer them opportunities for development, it just keeps them in the state of passive 'non-existence'.



Whale from Lorino

Director: Cuske Maciej
Production company: Pokromski Studio

Wieloryb z Lorino , Poland, 52 min, HD, Anthropology, Society

Lorino is one of the coldest places on earth and the nearest city is a few hundred kilometers away. Despite the condtitions, there is a functioning school and a community center. The forty-year old electric plant is at its full blast. There are a few open shops that sell the most basic of products. A helicopter brings supplies if the conditions allow it.In the film we will take a close look at this place and its people from the perspective of a young boy. He likes to spend time with his grandfather, who remembers the days when there was nothing on the shore, but huts made from the giant bones of whales. The only inhabitants back then where Chukchi hunters. The grandfather’s wish is to pass as much of his dying knowledge as he can. His son never listened to him, and wanted to assimilate to Russians. Today he drinks. When winter gets milder, the villagers meet to prepare for whale hunt. They sail to the Island of Ytagran, a mysterious place where their ancestors prayed for successful hunts between thousand-year old whale remains. The hunt still looks very much like it did a few hundred years ago.The majority of the Lorino population are indigenous people, ruined and tired men, who have lost their jobs in now inactive mines. They sit and wait or try to learn some of their old traditions and bring them back to life and free themselves from the regional economy and Russia. True hunting skills must also be learned. They are returning to prayers and rituals too. 
 




Slovenia


Alone Voices

Director: Đogić Sabina
Producer: Videnović Viva
Production company: Nord Cross Production

Osameli glasovi , Slovenia, 75 min, HD, Arts and Culture, Creative, Music, Personal View, Philosophy, Portrait, Travel

Irena Tomažin is a 33 year old voice performer, dancer and philosopher. In Ljubljana, the city of absent genuine music scene, she develops a unique music stylebased on vocal variations, and manipulations of tape recordings. Her talent becomes widely recognized and she begins to collaborate with acclaimed artists of the avant-gard music scene from all over the globe: ChristofKurzmann (Austria, Argentina, Germany), Okkyung Lee (South Corea, USA), Tim Blechmann (Austria, Germany), TomažGrom (Slovenia), Ivan Palacky (Chechrepublick), Claus Filip (Austria), Liz Allbee (USA) etc..Her thoughts on human essence expressed by voice and singing, lead her to new directions of work with her voice. To answer questions that araise during her creative process, she leans on vocal music she was influenced by. It is music from traditional singing masters from Eastern Europe and Asia: NatalkaPolovynka (Ukraine), Svetlana Spajič (Serbia), Bogdana Herman (Slovenia), Hasmik Harutyunyan (Armenia), Masha and MarjanVahdat (Iran). After learning their songs by heart from their audio recordings, she meets them in person urging to become their apprentice. They not only reveal their approach to traditional music, but also the mysterious aura that surrounds it. On one side is the singing mission on the other the alienation of the human voice. 
 



Further articles:
FINALIZED: 1ST SESSION TUTORS OF EX ORIENTE 2012