Portraits

Ask Dr. Ruth
Ryan White
United States
99′
A documentary portrait chronicling the incredible life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America's most famous sex therapist. As her 90th birthday approaches, Dr. Ruth revisits her painful past and her career at the forefront of the sexual revolution.
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The Quest For Tonewood
Hans Lukas Hansen
Norway
87′
A luthier is obsessed with the idea of crafting a violin, the sound of which is so exceptional that it will thrill the musician who plays it and caress the souls of those who hear it. This will require a special type of wood, cut from a hallowed tree that is only found in a Balkan forest. A musical quest that is as thrilling as a high-stakes treasure hunt.
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Pepe Mujica - El presidente
Heidi Specogna
Germany
93′
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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Citoyen Nobel
Stéphane Goël
Switzerland
89′
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry transforms Jacques Dubochet’s life. Passing from the shadows to the light, he is solicited from all sides. What can he do with this voice, which is now being heard by everyone? How to define the struggles to be fought? How to become a “Nobel Citizen”, with the objective of assuming responsibility as a researcher and member of the human community? A speech by Greta Thunberg turns everything upside down.
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Paul Nizon: Der Nagel im Kopf
Christoph Kühn
Switzerland
84′
The film tells of the radical life-search by the Swiss writer Paul Nizon, born 1929 in Bern, Switzerland, who became what “he was meant to be” in Paris. Now 90-year-old, Paul Nizon grants insights into his life and work in a self-ironic, direct manner. The intimate portrait of a great literary outsider emerges, for whom the risk of life and the risk of writing merge into one and the same work of art.
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Markus Raetz (2007)
Iwan Schumacher
Switzerland
75′
The Swiss artist Markus Raetz is an established figure in the international art world. For the film by Iwan Schumacher, the artist from Bern is for the first time giving a camera team an insight into his 40 years of work.
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The Prince of Nothingwood
Sonia Kronlund
France
86′
Director Sonia Kronlund accompanies the Afghan director, actor and screenwriter Salim Shaheen in her film Nothingwood. He is a well-known figure on the film scene in his home country, but hardly known abroad. About a hundred kilometers away from Kabul, Salim Shaheen comes to show some of his 110 films and to shoot the 111th in the process.
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Urs Fischer
Iwan Schumacher
Switzerland
102′
The 36-year-old Swiss artist Urs Fischer, who lives in New York, has been enjoying international fame for some years now. This documentary follows him during the preparation of his exclusive exhibition in an American museum and thus takes us into the daily life and work of an artist.
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Advocate
Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche
Israel
109′
Lea Tsemel, a Jewish-Israeli lawyer, defends Palestinians: from feminists to fundamentalists, from nonviolent demonstrators to armed militants. As far as most Israelis are concerned, she defends the indefensible. As far as Palestinians are concerned, she’s more than an attorney, she’s an ally. «Advocate» follows Tsemel in real time, including the trial of a 13-year-old boy — her youngest client to date.
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Amiet
Iwan Schumacher and Cornelia Strasse
Switzerland
52′
Cuno Amiet lived from 1868-1961, yet seen today many of his pictures have a contemporary edge. Amiet was a Swiss pioneer of modern painting along with Ferdinand Hodler and Giovanni Giacometti. The film visits three highly individual Amiet collectors in Dallas, Geneva and Studen, near Biel. Surrounded by Amiet’s works they tell us what part these paintings play in their lives.
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Paul Nizon: Un clou dans la tête
Christoph Kühn
Switzerland
81′
The film tells of the radical life-search by the Swiss writer Paul Nizon, born 1929 in Bern, Switzerland, who became what “he was meant to be” in Paris. Now 90-year-old, Paul Nizon grants insights into his life and work in a self-ironic, direct manner. The intimate portrait of a great literary outsider emerges, for whom the risk of life and the risk of writing merge into one and the same work of art.
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Beuys
Andres Veiel
Germany
107′
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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Citizenfour
Laura Poitras
United States
113′
CITIZENFOUR is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA).
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Citizenfour Version française
Laura Poitras
United States
113′
CITIZENFOUR is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA).
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Ken Bugul
Silvia Voser
Senegal
64′
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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Maria by Callas
Tom Volf
France
114′
Told through performances, TV interviews, home movies, family photographs, private letters and unpublished memoirs, the film reveals the essence of an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings in New York City to become a glamorous international superstar and one of the greatest artists of all time.
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Ask Dr. Ruth (French Version)
Ryan White
United States
100′
A documentary portrait chronicling the incredible life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America's most famous sex therapist. As her 90th birthday approaches, Dr. Ruth revisits her painful past and her career at the forefront of the sexual revolution.
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Searching for Sugar Man
Malik Bendjelloul
Sweden
86′
Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock 'n' roller, Rodriguez. The film won Best Documentary at the 85th Academy Awards.
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Chris the Swiss
Anja Kofmel
Switzerland
90′
Croatia, January 1992. In the midst of the Yugoslav Wars, Chris, a young Swiss journalist is found dead in mysterious circumstances. He was wearing the uniform of an international mercenary group. Anja Kofmel was his cousin. As a little girl, she used to admire this handsome young man; now a grown-up woman, she decides to investigate his story, trying to understand what really was the involvement of Chris in the conflict
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