Documentaries

Beuys (2017)
Andres Veiel
Germany
108′
For the German artist Joseph Beuys, art was used for provocation and he wanted to "provoke" discussions with his works. He was a sculptor, performer and draftsman.
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Ecuador (2012)
Jacques Sarasin
Ecuador
76′
In a world of one-way traffic, where the northern countries are exporting their economic and political model worldwide, one country in Latin America has undertaken a profound reform of these models to invent a new type of governance, both pragmatic and humanistic. The country in question is Ecuador. Rafael Correa, an established economist, who came to politics as a man on a mission, was elected President in 2006. Since coming to power, he has transformed a country with archaic structures into a social, independent, ecological and participative democracy. He has given Ecuadorians genuine reason to believe that the rigid structures of the past were no longer inevitable, that ordinary citizens had their word to say, and that, at long last, their voices would be heard. This film is intended for everyone, from rich and emerging countries alike. It suggests concrete perspectives to a new way of living the phenomenon of globalization. It shows that political, ecological and economic alternatives do exist. This film is not a film about Ecuador; rather, is about a political project, where utopia became reality. It is a film of ideas and reflections, suggesting solutions to the current crises besetting the globe. It proposes a real debate on the future of our society
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Fukushima - No Man's Zone (2012)
Toshi Fujiwara
Japan
103′
A man wanders through the 20-kilometre exclusion zone around the stricken nuclear reactors at Fukushima. The cherry trees are in bloom and the natural surroundings make an idyllic impression. Radiation is invisible, yet a gaping emptiness looms where the tsunami engulfed streets and houses. The man is wearing normal clothing, just like the people still toughing it out here, for the time being at least. He occa- sionally encounters white "ghosts" in protective clothing, performing strange tasks. As in Tarkovsky’s STALKER, the zone in Fujiwara Toshi’s NO MAN’S ZONE is both a place and a mental state. A gradual disintegration began long before the destruction and devastation, a process defied for the most part by the old people our "Stalker" encounters. A voice accom- panies the filmmaker’s wanderings, that of Armenian-Canadian actress Arsinée Khanjian, a voice from a place of exile, unfamiliar and sympathetic. NO MAN’S ZONE is a complex reflection on the relationship between images and fears, on being addicted to the apocalypse, on the ravaged relationship between man and nature. For the zone to be decontam- inated and returned to the people, nature itself will have to undergo an amputation.
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Golden Slumbers (2012)
Davy Chou
Cambodia
100′
A nocturnal drive along a rural highway into a city at dawn that is somehow moving in the wrong direction. It is only after a while that you notice that the vehicles are travelling backwards, receding back into the dusk of reality. This mysterious metaphor forms the starting point for a journey into the unknown history of Cambodian film. Nearly 400 films were made in Phnom Penh between 1960 and 1975, only 30 of which survive today. The Khmer Rouge burnt them or allowed them to decay along with many of the country’s studios and cinemas. Most of those involved in the film industry became victims of the genocide. Director Davy Chou, the grandson of one of the most important film producers of the Golden Age’ of Cambodian cinema, uses his film to reconstruct the country’s cinematographic legacy. He goes about his work like an archaeologist, recognising how impossi- ble it is to actually speak to survivors about a life’s work destroyed but not forgotten. LE SOMMEIL D’OR undertakes a painstaking search for fragments of memory in the present, whether in the form of lobby cards, songs on YouTube or a visit to a karaoke bar housed in what used to be a film studio, and gradually coalesces into a strikingly vibrant memorial.
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Ken Bugul (2015)
Silvia Voser
Senegal
62′
Ken Bugul is a Senegalese writer who lives in Africa, where her soul is anchored. She has had an exceptional life. Silvia Voser’s film shows her as an iconic figure of the female condition and of relationships between Africa and the West. Ken Bugul is considered one of the most brilliant writers in Senegalese and French of these past decades. Over the years, thanks to her great command of the French language and the uncompromising care she takes with the wording of the meaning of Wolof vocabulary, her mother tongue, her novels have become absolute references in the realm of linguistic studies. "What you read in French in my novels is how we think and speak in Wolof in my village". Ken Bugul’s personal story is overshadowed by Africa’s turbulent history. She was born in 1947 in an isolated village in Senegal, at that time a French colony. Her father was 85 years old and her mother left them before Ken turned five. This was a fundamental event in Ken Bugul’s life. In spite of lacking a mother’s love, she was full of energy and a yearning for freedom, and she received an exceptional education for a village girl of that time. In 1971, she left for Europe to go to university and there she met people from the upper middle class and discovered new ideologies and liberties, modern art, drugs, alcohol, loneliness, incomprehension and disdain, and prostitution to relieve her need for affection. As she says in "The Abandoned Baobab": "For twenty years all I had learned was their thoughts and their emotions. I thought I’d have fun with them, but I ended up even more frustrated. I identified with them, but they didn’t identify with me." She came back to Senegal, a broken, lonely and penniless young woman. People thought she was crazy and she was rejected by her family and society. For two years, she slept in the streets of Dakar, hanging out with outcasts, beggars, prostitutes and artists. Dirty, hungry, almost naked, she started writing her first novel, "The Abandoned Baobab". Worn out, she decided to go back to her family. And there, in her mother’s village, she found refuge with the Serigne (marabout), a wise and much respected man. He took her as his 28th wife, enabling her to re-enter society, and he supported her in her desire to write and to be free. He died in 1981, a year before the publication of her first novel, "The Abandoned Baobab", which was an immediate success. Ken Bugul was invited to present her book all over the world. She met a doctor from Benin, married him and moved to that country, where she gave birth to their daughter Yasmina. Her husband passed away four years later. For the past thirty years, novel after novel, Ken Bugul has painted a picture of her life as a woman, of her loves, of the relationship between her continent and the West. "To write", she says, "is to dazzle the senses, and the senses are colourless." Silvia Voser leads us gently into the secret, tormented world of an artist whose writings show an understanding of the world that is rarely achieved.
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My Name is Salt (2013)
Farida Pacha
India
92′
Year after year, for an endless eight months, thousands of families move to a desert in India to extract salt from the burning earth. Every monsoon their salt fields are washed away, as the desert turns into sea. And still they return, striving to make the whitest salt in the world. The desert extends endlessly - flat, grey, relentless. There is not a tree or blade of grass or rock. But there is one thing in abundance: salt. Salt is everywhere, lying just beneath the cracked, baked surface of the earth. This is the Little Rann of Kutch, 5000 sq kms of saline desert. And for eight months of the year, the salt people live here - laboriously extracting salt from this desolate landscape. They have been doing this for generations. Year after year, they migrate from their villages, 40,000 of them, to live on this bleak land without water, electricity or provisions. Arriving just after the monsoon, Sanabhai and his family will live here from September until April. Their nearest neighbour is a kilometre away. They communicate by flashing mirrors in the sunlight. Sanabhai’s wife Devuben walks across the bare, trackless desert to chop firewood. They buy the family’s water supply from a private tanker that comes once a week. Sanabhai has taken a large loan from the salt merchant in town as an advance on his salt harvest. He needs money to dig a well to reach the saline water 70 feet below ground, and to buy the diesel for the pump which draws the brine into the salt pans. Over the next few months, the only sound to break the silence of the desert is the mechanical drone of the pump’s engine. It takes eight months for the brine to crystallise into salt. Knee-deep in the brine pond, under the blinding glare of the sun, Sanabhai and his family trample the ground to prevent the salt from congealing. Once the brine has evaporated enough to allow the salt to be handled, they gather it with heavy wooden rakes until large crystals have formed. Their labor is rhythmic, a dance that mirrors the dance of the mirages on the burning horizon. The white crystals are as sharp as glass. Only two of them have rubber boots. Several times in a day Sanabhai inspects the quality of the salt crystals and keeps a close watch on the level of water in the salt pans. Two of Sanabhai’s children - a boy and a girl aged eleven and eight- go to a school recently opened by an NGO. Everyday at 11, after their morning’s work at the salt pans, they cycle off to school - just another hut in the vast emptiness of the desert, but with one difference: the children have planted paper flowers around it. In April, the salt merchant sends his man to inspect the salt. No good, he says: the crystals are small, not white enough. He cuts the price agreed with Sanabhai at the beginning of the season. Sanabhai is downcast, but he shrugs his shoulders: what can you do? The next salt season will certainly be better. Meanwhile, somewhere at the edge of the desert, mountains of salt lie next to the railway tracks waiting for transport to the city. The season is over and the monsoon is on its way: the heavy rains will soon wash the family’s salt fields away. The desert itself will not remain a desert anymore, but will turn into a sea. And the only way one can cross it is by boat.
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Nostalgia de la luz (2010)
Patricio Guzmán
Chile
94′
In his documentary essay film, Chilean Patricio Guzmán takes a double look at the past: On the one hand there are the astronomers who look up to the sky in the Atacama Desert and explore the origin of the universe, on the other there are the women who search in the desert sand around the observatories for the mortal remains of their loved ones who have become victims of the military dictatorship. A journey into the light.
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Ohne diese Welt (2017)
Nora Fingscheidt
Germany
Argentina in 2016: in a remote region in the north of the country live about 700 Mennonites from Germany as in the 18th century. They speak old German and live from agriculture and cattle breeding. But is it really possible to refuse development?
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Pepe Mujica - El presidente (2014)
Heidi Specogna
Germany
94′
A former resistance fighter who is elected president of Uruguay and donates almost 90 percent of his salary to social projects: Pepe Mujica, one of Latin America's most charismatic personalities, has become known as "the poorest president in the world". He has always remained true to his ideals, having spent many years in prison for political reasons. His modest lifestyle - he lives in a small finca instead of a government palace - and his unconventional appearance underpin his credibility with young and old. Pepe Mujica represents his concerns with humour, intellect and passion, and his political commitment to a more just society attracts international attention and encouragement. Filmmaker Heidi Specogna and her cameraman Rainer Hoffmann often visited Pepe Mujica and his wife Lucía Topolansky and accompanied them with their cameras. This is how the portrait of an extraordinary person was created, who, at almost 80 years of age, has retained his courage, his wit, his humanity and his strong hope for change. "Pepe Mujica - el presidente" is an optimistic and moving film that inspires courage.
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Soul Power (2008)
Jeffrey Levy-Hinte
Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa)
89′
Jeffrey Levy-Hinte has brought the disparate and unedited film of Zaire '74 together into one coherent form for the first time. The rainchild of South African musician Hugh Masekela and American record producer Stewart Levine, Zaire '74 was a three-day music festival that took place in Kinshasa in 1974. The event assembled America's biggest rhythm and blues talents – including James Brown and the Mighty JBs, Bill Withers, B.B. King, and the Spinners – along with top African acts such as Miriam Makeba and Afrisa. The festival was held in conjunction with the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman known as the "Rumble in the Jungle." Most of the American performers, emboldened by the civil rights movement, were visiting Africa for the first time, exploring their roots and somewhat naive beliefs about the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. The promoters hired a team of esteemed documentary cameramen to film everything, including street life in Kinshasa and behind-the-scenes footage of the show being assembled. The crew masterfully recorded classic numbers such as Makeba's "The Click Song," King's "The Thrill Is Gone," and of course, Brown's "Soul Power." And then the footage sat unedited for over thirty years, until now. DHE MUSIC *************** SOUL POWER Written by James Brown Performed by James Brown & the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Crited Music, Inc. (BMI) BAKOBOSANA Written by Lita Bembo Performed by Lita Bembo & Les Stukas All rights reserved - Tous droits réservés I'LL NEVER LET YOU BREAK MY HEART AGAIN Written by Fred Wesley, Charles Bobbit, Reggie Bryan Performed by “Sweet" Charles Sherrell and the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI) ONE OF A KIND (LOVE AFFAIR) Written by Joseph B. Jefferson Performed by The Spinners Under License from Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI) SIMBA NKONI Written by François “Franco” Luambo Makiadi Performed by OK Jazz featuring Franco All rights reserved - Tous droits réservés HOPE SHE’LL BE HAPPIER Written by Bill Withers Performed by Bill Withers Under license from Songs of Universal, Inc. on behalf of Interior Music Corp. (BMI) THE CLICK SONG Written by The Manhattan Brothers Performed by Miriam Makeba Under license from Makeba Music Company ON AND ON Written by Curtis Mayfield Performed by Sister Sledge Under License from Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. on behalf of Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. and Todd Mayfield Publishing (BMI) THRILL IS GONE Written by Rick Ravon Darnell and Roy Hawkins Performed by B.B. King Under license from Universal Music-Careers (BMI) PUT IT WHERE YOU WANT IT Written by Joe Sample Performed by the Crusaders Under license from Chrysalis Songs (BMI) QUIMBARA Written by Junior Cepeda Performed by Celia Cruz and the Fania All Stars Under license from Universal –Musica Unica Publishing on behalf of Fania Music (BMI) PONTE DURO Written by Johnny Pacheco Performed by the Fania All Stars Under license from Universal - Musica Unica Publishing on behalf of Fania Music (BMI) BONJOUR L’AFRIQUE Written by Big Black Performed by Big Black Published by Jokot SELI-JA Written by Tabu Ley Rochereau Performed by Tabu Ley Rochereau & L’Afrisa International Under License from EMI Blackwood Music, Inc. PAYBACK Written by James Brown, John H. Starks, and Fred Wesley Performed by James Brown & the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI) COLD SWEAT Written by James Brown and Alfred James Ellis Performed by James Brown & the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI) I CAN’T STAND MYSELF (WHEN YOU TOUCH ME) Written by James Brown Performed by James Brown & the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI) SAY IT LOUD (I’M BLACK AND I’M PROUD) Written by James Brown and Alfred James Ellis Performed by James Brown & the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI) . SAME BEAT Written by James Brown Performed by Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI)
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Storia probabile di un Angelo - Fernando Birri (2017)
Paolo Taggi Domenico Lucchini
Italy
77′
A journey into the world and the work of the great master of the South American cinema, Fernando Birri. As Birri said, it’s his "spiritual kino last will".
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Take Off (2013)
Bruno Moll
Ghana
93′
Ghana is considered a model country in West Africa - democratic, open, ambitious. Ghana's government is proud and likes to refer to good governance: to the best rule of law in West Africa and above all to stable economic growth - despite the global financial crisis. The government is determined to achieve faster socio-economic development, especially by expanding the industrial sector. Ebenezer Mireku comes from a Ghanaian jungle village. He made some detours to obtain his doctorate at the University of St. Gallen in 1988 and then returned to his home country to apply the knowledge he had acquired as an entrepreneur. For several years he has been passionately fighting for the realisation of his major project: the construction of a new section of the Ghanaian railway. The railway line is intended to stimulate the development of the entire region. His future-oriented, gigantic railway project was at the centre of the film project and is the leitmotif of Bruno Moll's film Take Off. The film narrative follows Ebenezer Mirekus' biography and experiences with the railway project, documenting encounters with Ghanaians. Questions about development, growth and progress are of specific interest.
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Tomorrow (2015)
Mélanie Laurent, Cyril Dion
France
120′
Instead of stressing the imagination of disaster, French actress Mélanie Laurent and activist Cyril Dion try to show scientific solutions to the ideological fallacies of modern industrialism and mass consumerism.
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Une ville à Chandigarh (1965)
Alain Tanner
India
53′
When, in 1947, a portion of Punjab province was assigned to the newly created Pakistani State, Albert Mayer began planning a new capital for the portion which remained in the possession of India. Le Corbusier had been responsible since the 1950s for general planning and, more particularly, for large-scale buildings typical of the governmental sector. A year after the death of Le Corbusier, Alain Tanner began shooting his film in a city still partially under construction, or even, in certain places, at the planning stage. The inhabitants of the metropolis, however, already numbered some 120,000. Among the most modern of cities architecturally, Chandigarh was archaically constructed by hand. Impressions of this green horizontal city-brick not permitting vertical development-are captured in long static shots and numerous traveling shots. John Berger's commentary inscribes the visual beauty of that reality within a larger reflection: climate did strongly influence the decisions of the planners, whereas the new city did not succeed in breaking the old social rules with a single blow. These rules continue to determine the level of education and income, and it is not even possible for these workers who are in the process of constructing Chandigarh to live in it themselves. However, the film partakes of Le Corbusier's optimism in its appreciation of architecture as an instrument aiding men to clarify their visions, to exercise their powers of discernment and to establish new relations, even if the results will only make themselves felt in the long term.
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