SWEET SALTY WIND

Some­where on the north­ern coast of Cuba, three chil­dren are swim­ming in the ocean, paint­ing seashells and are amused by a sea slug. As they roam through the city, a back­drop of aban­doned and dilap­i­dat­ed houses is revealed. Within these rem­nants of con­crete struc­tures, they find solace in each other´s com­pa­ny as they seek shel­ter from the rain, paint their hair and play hide and seek. They seem to be invis­i­ble to the rest of the world, tucked inside the cracks of the few con­crete pil­lars that still stand. The camera observes them close­ly and reveals their ges­tures and rela­tion­ships. As the sun sets over the ocean, cru­cial ques­tions about the island and its inhab­i­tants arise.

SWEET SALTY WIND weaves a strik­ing child­ish­ly rela­tion­ship with a darker reality.

Direc­tor, script: Laura Gabriela Gabay
Cin­e­matog­ra­phy: Mathilde Le Masson
Edit­ing: Emmanuel Peña
Sound: Vitor Coroa / Vitor Moraes
Con­tact: lauragabriela.gabay@gmail.com

The River, My Friend

The Lule River flows through a part of Sweden that has been pop­u­lat­ed pri­mar­i­ly by the Sami people for thou­sands of years. The 15 dams that make indus­tri­al use of the Lule pos­si­ble today are owned by the state energy com­pa­ny Vat­ten­fall. In order to build these dams, many Sami, who tra­di­tion­al­ly live from rein­deer herd­ing, were forcibly reset­tled. This is a story of loss: with the reset­tle­ment, more and more ances­tral Sami cus­toms have dis­ap­peared. What remains is their deep emo­tion­al bond with water, as shown in ÄLVEN MIN VÄN, which is a por­trait of four Sami women. “Every day, the river flows through me, look­ing for mem­o­ries,” says sto­ry­book writer Eva Stina San­dling. In won­der­ful images, direc­tor Hannah Ambühl cap­tures these mem­o­ries and the deep con­nec­tion of the women with the Lule River. At the same time, the film doc­u­ments the women’s chang­ing lives and tra­di­tions, as well as their last­ing feel­ings of belong­ing to Sami culture. 

The Memories of Things

Muse­ums are at the inter­sec­tion of public and pri­vate com­mem­o­ra­tive cul­ture. Their col­lec­tions are not only the sub­ject of debates regard­ing sci­en­tif­ic and cul­tur­al poli­cies; they also accom­mo­date per­son­al mem­o­ries as well. The video-instal­la­tion ERINNERUNGEN DER DINGE (Mem­o­ries of Objects) shows a del­e­ga­tion of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Tuparí people from Brazil as they visit eth­no­log­i­cal col­lec­tions in Europe in 2009. These images of the Tuparí’s encounter with the objects and doc­u­ments of their ances­tors in Euro­pean archives are con­trast­ed with images of their vil­lage. How can cul­ture be pre­served? What do objects mean to us? Who rep­re­sents them?

In the Devil’s Garden

The film sit­u­ates the viewer within the makeshift space of an animal market in Alge­ria. Drift­ing between feed­ing and wait­ing, one attunes to the bodies of goats and camels, two of the oldest com­pan­ions of people living in the Maghreb. As we move deeper into the desert, the site turns into a sac­ri­fice zone and reveals its dark geopo­lit­i­cal secrets: the sit­u­a­tion of Sahrawi refugees in the par­tial­ly recog­nised Sahrawi Arab Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic (SADR).
This sen­so­ry ethnog­ra­phy film encour­ages to ques­tion the banal­i­ty of dis­place­ment, con­fine­ment and exploita­tion in an out-of-sight territory.

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.

Gilda Brasileiro - Against Oblivion

Gilda Brasileiro is an Afro-Brazil­ian woman who only recent­ly moved to a vil­lage in the Atlantic rain forest. She is all the more out­raged that no one seems inter­est­ed in the his­to­ry of this place, where a secret slave route once passed through in the 19th cen­tu­ry. There is even an intact slave house still stand­ing, which is now used as a small museum. How­ev­er, the slaves are not men­tioned in the museum owner’s nar­ra­tive. Because vir­tu­al­ly no one wants to remem­ber this past, Gilda begins look­ing for evi­dence. In the São Paulo archives, she dis­cov­ers proof that, 50 years after Brazil left the transat­lantic slave trade in 1831, a Catholic priest earned good money sell­ing ille­gal work­ers to the plan­ta­tions. How­ev­er, since this doesn’t seem to bother anyone either, Gilda begins to doc­u­ment on film what she does not want to be for­got­ten. In the thick­et of the jungle, she and her cam­era­man begin look­ing for traces of past crimes.

The two direc­tors were so inspired by their protagonist’s per­sis­tence that they began con­duct­ing their own research. They dis­cov­ered his­tor­i­cal pho­tographs by Marc Ferrez, who cre­at­ed unique visual doc­u­ments of the Brazil­ian coffee plan­ta­tions in the 19. Century.

Köhlernächte

In Switzer­land, tra­di­tion­al char­coal burn­ing is still a trade. Each summer, smoke rises out of the char­coal piles, or kilns. The pro­ce­dure takes five weeks. The metic­u­lous stack­ing of the wood, work­ing with the fire, the poking and shov­el­ing, the hidden process in which the trans­for­ma­tion of wood into char­coal seems alchemistic – all of this still has an air of magic to this day.

The film­mak­er Robert Müller vis­it­ed the char­coal burn­ers in Entle­buch in Cen­tral Switzer­land for the last five years. He offers a glimpse of a hard but fas­ci­nat­ing world in this cap­ti­vat­ing film with fan­tas­tic images and pre­cise acoustics that match the accu­ra­cy of the work­ing method of making char­coal. Most impor­tant­ly, it is a well-round­ed por­trait of the dif­fer­ent people involved in this trade. There is much silence, but also laugh­ter, drink­ing, smok­ing, and cursing.

Robert Müller: “I learned about a way of living where family, pro­fes­sion, beliefs and, the world stay close­ly con­nect­ed: the intense labor in nature and the adven­ture that demands every­thing of you, phys­i­cal­ly and mentally.”

Best camera, Swiss Film Award 2018; Best direc­tor, Inner­schweiz­er Film­preis 2019; Jury Prize, Trento Film Fes­ti­val 2018

Cracks in the Mask

Over the last 100 years, the Torres Strait Islanders in far north Aus­tralia have been the sub­ject of many anthro­po­log­i­cal expe­di­tions. The result­ing deple­tion of their cul­tur­al arte­facts has left them with noth­ing but a his­to­ry of remem­bered loss. The only people in the Pacif­ic to make elab­o­rate turtle shell masks have none left; all their mate­r­i­al cul­ture now resides in for­eign museums.

In a quest to reclaim the past, Ephraim Bani, a wise and knowl­edge­able Torres Strait Islander, trav­els with his wife to the great muse­ums of Europe where his her­itage lies. Ephraim unbur­dens him­self to his diary in moments of poignant rev­e­la­tion: the arte­facts made by his ances­tors have under­gone a trans­for­ma­tion as museum dis­plays. When Ephraim asks for the return of some objects, the result­ing debate expos­es wider ques­tions about con­tem­po­rary museum cul­ture as well as the com­plex­i­ty of inter­na­tion­al and Indige­nous pol­i­tics. They thought it would be easy to talk to the cura­tors about the resti­tu­tion of some objects; but to his mind, muse­ums were in com­pe­ti­tion with each other to own the great­est treasures.

African Mirror

For decades, Swiss trav­eller and film­mak­er René Gardi (1909-2000) explained the African con­ti­nent and its inhab­i­tants to us. In books, tele­vi­sion pro­grams and films, he waxed poetic about the beau­ti­ful naked “sav­ages” and the pre-modern era in which they appar­ent­ly lived. This sup­pos­ed­ly idyl­lic world became Gardi’s par­adise, as Africa was trans­formed into a pro­jec­tion screen for the desires of the audi­ence back home.
The film AFRICAN MIRROR tells the story using mate­ri­als from Gardi’s recent­ly opened archive, whose ambiva­lent pic­tures mirror our Euro­pean self-con­cep­tion in myriad ways. The film reveals image pro­duc­tion as a form of colo­nial­ism and shows how we have refused to truly look into this mirror to this very day.