MERRY CHRISTMAS, YIWU

Even though China does not cel­e­brate Christ­mas, there are over 600 Christ­mas-dec­o­ra­tion fac­to­ries in Yiwu, China. They are often run as a family busi­ness and man­u­fac­ture year round, employ­ing people from across the coun­try. This obser­va­tion­al doc­u­men­tary focus­es on sev­er­al of them, locat­ed in and around Yiwu. There are no high-tech machines, just people work­ing really hard putting glit­ter on baubles, pom poms on Christ­mas hats and assem­bling Father Christmases.
The camera trails the work­ers at the fac­to­ry and else­where – their con­ver­sa­tions, love issues, a game of pool, shop­ping and eating, and the calls home, far away from Yiwu’s pros­per­i­ty. People joke about child labour in China, com­plain about the heat, but basi­cal­ly every­one seems to accept this arti­fi­cial, sur­re­al soci­ety where your col­leagues are your new family and the fac­to­ry is home. A por­trait with­out voice-over of a place cre­at­ed where com­mu­nism and glob­al­ism inter­sect and trans­form one anoth­er. (IFFRot­ter­dam)

Best Doc­u­men­tary, Sara­je­vo Film Fes­ti­val 2020

Mladen Kovače­vić, born 1979. Ser­bian film­mak­er and founder of Horopter Film Pro­duc­tion. He stud­ied fic­tion film­mak­ing in London and Cape Town, but ded­i­cat­ed him­self to doc­u­men­taries in past years. His films UNPLUGGED (2013, about a musi­cal tra­di­tion of blow­ing on tree leaves) and WALL OF DEATH, AND ALL THAT (2016, about a nomadic fair­ground artist) were multi-award­ed in fes­ti­vals as Hot­Docs, CPH:DOX, FID­Mar­seille, DOK Leipzig. The essay­is­tic por­trait of a moun­taineer 4 YEARS IN 10 MINUTES (2018) received the Spe­cial Men­tion at Visions du Réel, Grand Prix at Bel­docs and was fea­tured at IDFA Best of Fests. Eurodoc alumni, his fourth film MERRY CHRISTMAS, YIWU was made in copro­duc­tion with ARTE and Doha Film Institute.

Direc­tor: Mladen Kovačević
Cin­e­matog­ra­phy: Marko Milovanović
Edit­ing: Jelena Maksimović
Com­pos­er: Olof Dreijer
Sound­de­sign: Patrik Strömdahl
Pro­duc­tion: Horopter Film Production
Dis­tri­b­u­tion: Deck­ert Dis­tri­b­u­tion, Hanne Bier­mann info@deckert-distribution.com

143 SAHARA STREET

A tiny café on the Trans-Saha­ran High­way, a counter, a table, win­dows, the open door. As if for a short per­for­mance, a wide vari­ety of trav­el­ers appear on this sparse stage, strangers and reg­u­lars, for a coffee on the side and some­times ambigu­ous con­ver­sa­tion. Only her cat keeps Malika, the oper­a­tor, con­stant com­pa­ny. Out­side, there is sand and heavy traf­fic thun­ders by; next door, a huge gas sta­tion is being built.
Actu­al­ly, the direc­tor wanted to make a road movie, but his film turned out to be the opposite.
With Malika, the world comes to a stand­still. She is the unshake­able rest­ing place where the guests from far away get strand­ed, rest for a moment, com­ment on every­day life, get into con­tem­pla­tion. Although cre­at­ed as a doc­u­men­tary, the chance encoun­ters seem staged. With the eye of the camera, we follow, spell­bound, a sus­pend­ed time between close­ness and strangeness.

Best emerg­ing direc­tor, Locarno Int. Film Fes­ti­val 2019 

Spe­cial jury mention, Mon­tréal Int. Doc­u­men­tary Fes­ti­val RIDM 2019 

Price of the city of Torino, Torino Film Fes­ti­val 2019 

Hassen Fer­hani, born 1986 in Algiers. Fer­hani became active in the cinema while still a teenag­er by work­ing with the ciné-club of the Alger­ian arts orga­ni­za­tion Asso­ci­a­tion Chrysalide. He worked as script trainee, assis­tant direc­tor and in 2008 he par­tic­i­pat­ed in work­shops at the FEMIS in Paris. His first short films LES BAIES D’ALGER (2006), AFRIC HOTEL (2011), TARZAN, DON QUICHOTTE ET NOUS (2013) were exhib­it­ed inter­na­tion­al­ly. His debut fea­ture film DANS MA TÊTE UN ROND-POINT (2015) has won acclaim at sev­er­al fes­ti­vals (Freiburg­er Film­fo­rum 2017).

Direc­tor, Cin­e­matog­ra­phy: Hassen Ferhani
Edit­ing: Nadia Ben Rachid, Hassen Fer­hani, Nina Khada, Stéphanie Sicard
Sound: Mohamed Ilyas Guetal
Sound­de­sign: Antoine Morin
With Malika, Chawki Amari, Samir Elhakim
Pro­duc­tion: Allers Retours Films
Dis­tri­b­u­tion: Pas­cale Ramon­da pascale@pascaleramonda.com

TENACE

It starts with sand, the basics of glass and con­crete, and unfolds into a med­i­ta­tion on urban infra­struc­ture, build­ings and sur­faces. Sur­re­al and sen­so­ry images are con­fronting us with a city´s com­po­nents. Although TENACE does not dis­play any life, it still talks about urban societies.

A calm cam­er­a­work and unique rhythm invite us to reflect upon our embed­ded­ness in the mate­ri­al­i­ty of cities and its impact on human experience.

When the city is ever final­ly built, cleared and cleansed of all forms of dis­tur­bance, what will be left?

Direc­tor, cin­e­matog­ra­phy, script, sound: Jean Bap­tiste Barra, Tim­o­th­ée Engasser
Edit­ing, sound: Théo Peruchon
Con­tact: t.engasser@hotmail.fr

Be’ Jam Be - the Never Ending Song

The Mutan tree, well we say tree, but orig­i­nal­ly it’s a liana that uses the tree to climb. And its grasp ends up killing the tree.” In Sarawak, one of the two Malaysian states on Borneo, the Penan who not that long ago were nomads, are among the first to be affect­ed by defor­esta­tion. The film, car­ried by the song of those who refuse to give in, cap­tures the dif­fer­ent ways of resis­tance of each one in this deadly fight. A doc­u­men­tary thriller, BE’JAM BE et cela n’aura pas de fin. is a tes­ta­ment to modern forest guer­ril­las fight­ing bull­doz­ers with blowpipes.

Makala

Emmanuel Gras says that the idea for his film was quite simple. Kab­wi­ta, his pro­tag­o­nist from Kol­wezi in the south of the Congo, makes a living from char­coal burn­ing. Nor­mal­ly, he sells the char­coal in his vil­lage, but because he wants to build a house for his family, he decides to sell a larger amount in the city. He there­fore cuts down a tree, turns the wood into char­coal, fills it into sacks, and then ties the sacks to a rick­ety bicy­cle, which he pushes for miles to the near­est larger town. The trans­port takes days.

While the idea may be simple – the film focus­es exclu­sive­ly on work – the imme­di­a­cy that Gras’ images are able to convey is extreme­ly impres­sive. His shots seem more rem­i­nis­cent of a staged nar­ra­tive than the obser­va­tion of a doc­u­men­tary. Only rarely does the camera leave the action. It always tries to stay close to Kab­wi­ta and shows how his dream of a better life helps to endure this back­break­ing work.

MAKALA is Emmanuel Gras’ second fea­ture-length film, and it won the Grand Prize of the Semaine de la Cri­tique in Cannes in 2017.

 

Filles du Feu

This is an excep­tion­al film about the con­flict in Syria. Far removed from typ­i­cal war report­ing, the anthro­pol­o­gist Stéphane Breton fol­lows Kur­dish women sol­diers, how­ev­er not in combat, but while patrolling, stand­ing guard, taking a break, and prepar­ing for battle. The actual war remains dis­tant but is still present in the hard­ship, dis­ci­pline, and con­cen­tra­tion of the women. There is no trace of maraud­ing male sol­diers – these female fight­ers seem to be doing a better job. Their com­po­sure and com­plete­ly equal con­duct along­side their broth­ers-in-arms against the back­drop of a world in ruins prompts our uneasy admiration.
The film abstains from a taking polit­i­cal sides. Breton’s soli­tary work address­es the rela­tion­ship between what the camera cap­tures and the person hold­ing it. His films are not ‘about’ some­thing, but rather focus on the theme of seeing and being seen.