Centrul Astra Film

 

 

Astra Film Festival

Film catalogue

0-9 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

  • 99% Bucharest

    By means of a colourful patchwork of moving pictures dubbed by a dense narrated essay, this short film depicts present-day Bucharest as a city of contrasts. A European capital city combining Western ambitions with the laissez faire of the Balkans. ...

  • A Bar at the Victoria Station

    Marek and Piotrek are two friends in their late twenties. They live in Poland, and the prospect of turning thirty, without having a job, forces them to make critical decisions. After exhausting all possibilities to find jobs in their hometown, they turn their hopes towards England. Other people, even some of their friends have made it there, so why shouldn't they give it a try? Their dream is to open a bar at the Victoria station. This goal may be rather hard to attain, especially as neither of them speaks any English. After many efforts, they eventually arrive in London. What they find, however, is far from what they had expected. The two friends soon find themselves easy prey for the local racketeers. They even fall victim to their more experienced compatriots, who have lived in London for some years. The film explores, in an observational manner, the status of immigrants from former communist Western European countries. ...

  • A Kalahary Family: part 2 End of the Road

    In 1978, after a twenty year separation, John Marshall is reunited with Toma and !U's family. Like a majority of Ju/'hoansi, they have settled at Tsumkwe, an administrative post established by the South Africans who govern the territory of South West Africa. They came in search for water, employment and what they hoped would be an easier life. But in Tsumkwe, Ju/'hoansi survive on corn meal rations, while the few with money and jobs buy liquor. Drunkenness, violence and the diseases of poverty are rampant and painfully depicted in END OF THE ROAD. The new life also creates inequalities that the Ju/'hoansi never experienced. When the South African Defence Force begins recruiting Ju/'hoansi and paying the large salaries to fight the liberation forces of the South West African People's Organisation, called SWAPO, these disparities become chasms. Marshall and his colleague Claire Ritchie record the decline in the Ju/'hoan society in 1980-81 when Tsumkwe becomes known as “the place of death”. Hoping to re-establish a more stable way of life, the Ju/'hoansi start working with a development foundation founded by Marshall's father. The foundation assists them to begin farming and in 1981, Toma's family leaves Tsumkwe, heading back to their traditional waterhole at Gautcha with axes, shovels and cattle. End of The Road is the second part of the five-part series A Kalahari Family. ...

  • A Kalahary Family: part 3 The Real Water

    Throughout 1983 Ju/'hoan movement out to Tsumkwe gains momentum. Three farming communities are established and the people are busy milking and managing their cattle. However, the fledgling communities face a new threat. The department of Nature Conservation is planning to establish a game reserve on Ju/'hoan land where people will be forbidden to have livestock or plant crops. They will be encouraged to act like “Bushmen” - dress in skins, gather bush-foods, and hunt for the amusement of tourists. REAL WATER documents a decade of grassroot efforts by the Ju/'hoansi to stake a claim to their traditional lands. As conflict intensifies, John Marshall and the people decide to drill their own boreholes. With more water the reason people can establish more farms and strengthen their claim. Meanwhile, International pressure for South Africa to leave South West Africa escalates. Better relations between Ju/'hoansi and the government become possible. Tsamko, Toma's son leads a delegation to the capitol with a petition protesting the game reserve. Finally, the department of Nature Conservation announces that instead of game reserve, it will promote trophy hunting, definitely the lesser of two evils. Looking forward to a more democratic future, delegates from the farming communities meet for the first all - Ju/'hoansi convention to write down the laws by which they hope to govern their land. ...

  • A Kalahary Family: part 4 Standing Tall

    In 1989, after twelve decades of colonial rule, South West Africa is about to become independent Namibia. Twenty-eight Ju/'hoan farming communities have been established, but the people's legal claim to their traditional lands in Nyae Nyae remains in question. STANDING TALL documents the efforts of members of the Ju/'hoan farmers' co-op to find their relatives in white ranching districts and black ethnic homelands and help them return to Nyae Nyae and farm. The film depicts the desperate lives of the dispossessed Bushmen-poor, hungry, exploited - among whom the co-op members meet /Qui Chapman. /Qui, a highly skilled Ju/'hoan farmer, works for a white rancher and earns 120 Rand ($80 US) a month. Forced to buy his family needs from the rancher's store, essencially /Qui works for cornmeal. Political activity heats up as independence approaches. South West African People's Organization, or SWAPO, the Ju/`hoansi believe are most likely to support Ju/`hoan farming and they celebrate SWAPo's victory in the 1991 UN-sponsored national election. UN troops help relocate /Qui Chapman's family to a barehole in Nyae Nyae. With little more than a pump and few tools /Qui dances for joy as his family looks forward finally to farming their own land. ...

  • A Kalahary Family: part 5 Death by Myth

    By 1992, Namibian independence is attracting unprecedented levels of international aid for the Ju/'hoansi, but people complain that the development foundation no longer services theirs farms. DEATH BY MYTH documents the shift in policy from farming to wildlife management and cultural tourism. As John Marshall and the Ju/'hoansi attempt to rally support for farming, we witness the power of the "Bushman myth". This myth - a belief that Ju/'hoansi are born to hunt and uniquely capable of living in harmony with nature - denies Ju/'hoansi the humanity to change their economy and survive on their own. Ju/'hoansi endure their cattle being killed by lions and their water pumps destroyed by elephants. In 1994, Ju/'hoansi vote unanimously to dismiss the directors of the foundation, but their actions do little to stop natural resources development or the money pouring in to implement it. In 1996, with promises of great wealth, Ju/'hoansi vote to establish a nature conservancy. What did they really understand about the policy they were endorsing? The film ends in the year 2000 when the Ju/'hoansi conservancy members receive a meager 75 Namibian dollars (approximately $ 10.50 US) each - their profit from two years of trophy hunting. As more farms fail, many people are forced to return to the squalor and disease of Tsumkwe. ...

  • Adam and Eve

    The film is shot in a remote Romanian mountain village. Here, the men, like biblical Adam, work hard in the field day after day. The women, like Eve, keep the house and have many children. Based on interviews, the film tells stories of the past and talks about hardships of the present. It alternates between splendid mountain scenery and moments in the daily life of the villagers. The filmmaker differentiates between the roles of men and women in village life. While men are observed working in the field, women are filmed in the setting of their homes, where they spend the largest part of their lives. This is a film with touching stories about people living in a dying rural world. ...

  • Agadez nomade FM

    Radio Nomad FM is a local radio station serving the Nigerian desert city of Agadez, and some 50 km beyond. The station broadcasts cultural and educational programs and news. Quite popular with the locals, it has some influence on people. Contrary to the title, the main focus of the film is not the radio station, but the people and their stories. Agadez used to be a major trade center. Blacks, Tuaregs, nomads and sedentaries, Muslims and animists have always lived together more or less peacefully. The result is an open-minded city, and a self-conscious community. In Agadez, there is competition between conservatism and adaptation. There is tradition and there is change. The film explores people's concerns related to social change, the role of women, religion, tradition and their relation to the modern world. The authors share with the viewer their personal experience in the process of getting to know the people of Agadez: "They seemed complete strangers to us at first, and then we found them to be quite close to us, having the same concerns as ourselves and our neighbours back home. Only the social rules are different." ...

  • All About Eve

    What can a woman do when she is desperate to have children, and it just does not happen? Artificial insemination could be an answer. From a medical point of view, artificial insemination it is a relatively simple procedure. Few people realize, though, what an immense pressure it puts on the couple, and especially on the prospective mother. The film is about a woman, who decides that having a baby would be the most important thing in her life. There are repeated unsuccessful attempts. There is hope, despair, and then hope again. The film offers quite an intimate view on the personal drama of the characters, as the couple in question are the director himself and his wife. Shot during an extensive period of time, the film follows all the stages of the medical procedure and its emotional implication. The director goes beyond his personal story to explore the differences between men and women's reactions to fertility treatments. ...

  • All that Glitters

    The small village Olympos on the Karpathos Island in Greece has been almost isolated from the rest of the world until a quarter of a century ago. Since construction of the road that crosses the island from north to south, the locals can travel more easily. At the same time, Olympos has become an accessible place for tourists, who are attracted by the archaic atmosphere. The film observes the impact on traditional life within the "opening to the world." Although preserved in its appearances - after all, tourists come to Olympos to experience the picturesque village life, and, take pictures of the local women wearing traditional costumes with heavy gold coin necklaces - the elders feel tradition is no longer preserved in spirit. Transmigrants, who return to their home village every summer for the great St. Mary Festival, also deplore the recent changes in the village life. For the villagers, tradition has always been a cultural pride, and more recently, a source of income. ...

  • Ambassadors

    The film explores the life of modern nomads: the diplomats, a tribe sharing common rituals, beliefs and even a common language. Following the routine of the Ambassador of Finland in New Delhi, the filmmaker reveals a glimpse of the diplomats and their families, which is unknown to the public. Beyond the glamorous parties and the official meetings, there is plenty of hard work, and worries. Encountering a new world and culture is also an issue, especially for the ambassador's children. Conflicts between India and Pakistan, merely news items for most of us, directly affect the every day life of this family. After years of anthropological field research with nomads in Siberia, in Tuva and in India, Jouko Aaltonen turns his camera towards Western "nomads" who are exposed to non-Western cultures. "For me" declares the filmmaker "it is a film about facing another culture. And about nomadism. After all, aren't we all a little bit nomad?" ...

  • Autumn on Ob River

    Near the Ob River mouth in northwest Siberia, the Khanty are struggling to make a living. The arctic climate is harsh. Their economic situation is unpredictable, due to the confusion of the post-Soviet era. The salaries are low, and payments are often delayed for months. Under such circumstances, the fishing brigade turns to the traditional arctic occupations: hunting and reindeer herding. The film follows the autumnal activities of a Khanty fisherman family. After the main fishing season ends, they move to the winter settlement, where they hunt and tend reindeer. The film tells the story of a Khanty family, who must balance between their work with the fishing brigade and their indigenous occupations in order to survive. ...

  • Blood Engagement

    The film follows the stories of two Ethiopian men, who are inmates in Israeli prisons. They have both been convicted of murder. One of them killed his mistress. The other stabbed his wife twelve times. 80% of the Ethiopian male immigrants in Israel are convicted for domestic violence against women. Tracing the stories of the convicts and the families of their victims, the film highlights the acute issues of immigration. The Israeli immigration policy has attracted large numbers of Ethiopians, who have brought along their own social and cultural norms. Unemployment, poverty, alienation and racism are not likely to make them feel better in their new environment. Consequently, the more the Ethiopian women taste the freedom offered by modern Israeli society, the more their men hold fast to their traditional privileges. The film explores the position of an immigrant cultural minority as opposed to the cultural background of the host country. ...

  • Cultivating Death

    It is common belief in Western culture that you have to “let go” when a loved one dies. The sooner the better, as you must return to “normal life”. Some people, though, are not willing to “let go” so easily. For them, the social relationship with the deceased does not stop with the funeral. Cemeteries are social spaces, where the living interacts among themselves and with the dead. The film, shot at a Victorian cemetery in London, explores the different ways in which people remember and commemorate their deceased family and friends. They tend their graves, bring flowers and presents, and talk to their dearly departed as if they were alive. The characters speak freely of their mourning, and about the critical moment in their lives when they had to part with a loved one, a moment we have all experienced or will experience sometime. ...

  • Dead presumed Missing ?

    About two thousand people dissapeared in Cyprus between 1963 and 1974. One third are Turks, and the remaining are Greek Cypriots. The issue of the missing persons in Cyprus has remained obscure to this day. The film investigates the destiny of the missing persons in both sides. Were they killed? When and under what circumstances? Where are their remains buried? Stories of the families of the missing persons are corroborated with statements of the officials. To this day, the fate and whereabouts of the missing persons on both sides has remained an official secret. By following the desperate attempts of two Greek Cypriot women to discover what happened to their loved ones, the film explores the significance of mortuary rituals, and the political lives of the dead bodies of both the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots. ...

  • Dhobighat

    The film focuses on an Indian institution, which, like many others, tends to be regarded with disbelief by Westerners. Dhobighats are the world’s largest open-air laundries. In many Indian cities, people do not wash their laundry at home. It is the job of the dhobi wallahs, i.e. the laundrymen. In Mumbay (formerly Bombay), four thousand dhobi wallahs wash, air, press and deliver the clothes of 15 million inhabitants. The dhobi wallahs have acquired certain fame, due to travel guides and tourist magazines accounts. Remarkably, their mysterious system allows them to identify every piece of clothing, in immense piles of laundry, and deliver it back to the right owner. The story goes that even the police sometimes use the dhobi marks in tracking down criminals. Still, the dhobi wallahs are considered low class citizens, and they are trapped in this hereditary occupation. Giorgio Garini’s film has the merit to go beyond the exotic and spectacular appearance, to tell the story of these people. ...

  • Dutch Light

    According to an ancient myth, the light in Holland is unique. Artists, who celebrated it in their work, discovered its special quality. Without it, Dutch art would not have been the same. German artist Joseph Beuys argues that the Dutch light lost its radiance around the middle of the 20th century. If this were true, it would mean the end of a unique visual culture. The film breaks new ground, examining the Dutch light phenomenon. Artists, art historians and scientists answer questions. Is the light in Holland really different from that in other parts of the world? What makes it so special? Has Dutch light really lost its radiance, as Beuys claims? Dutch Light is a visual experience. It is a film that makes you take your time and observe things closely. It draws the viewer into a hypnotic maelstrom of ideas, theories, colours, images, and landscapes. And light. ...

  • Earth in Your Hand

    The film explores the issue of the migration of Saxons, or Transylvanian Germans, to Germany. Before 1989, many Saxons living in Romania applied for migration. Very few, however, actually received the approval of the communist authorities. Some managed to flee across the border. Still, others waited long years simply to receive permission to visit their relatives in Germany. With the fall of communism, the borders finally opened, and the majority of the Saxon population decided to leave Romania. As a result, entire villages were depopulated. The ethnic configuration of the populatipn changed completely in just a few years. The film folloes the lives of some of the few Saxons still living, near Sibiu, in the village of Hammersdorf. ...

  • First Mass in Hagstedt

    The first mass celebrated by a newly ordained priest resembles a debut performance held in front of a scrutinizing parish. The film follows the frantic preparations of the community in Hagsted, a small town in a Catholic enclave in Lower Saxony for the first service of their new priest. The moment becomes a major event for the entire community, as the young cleric is one of their own townsman. The film is shot in a clean observational style, combining an intimate approach with well-dosed humor. The authors follow all the preparatory stages that develop according to the complicated rules of neighborhood organization. The story culminates on the very day of the service, when a “nice boy next door” becomes one of the community notables. ...

  • Heaven in a Garden

    After several years of research, Stephane Breton produces his second documentary on the people of a small valley in the New Guinea highlands. The filmmaker’s approach is personal and intimate. He believes neither in the objectivity of the camera, nor the non-intrusive presence of a researcher among the people he studies. He found it impossible to be simply a transparent observer, someone who can watch what is going on without becoming part of the show. The author focuses on his relationship with the local people rather than on ethnographic description. Political circumstances will soon prevent him from returning to the field regularly, as he once had. Heaven in a Garden is, therefore, his farewell to a research field, which had become his home, and to the people who had been his neighbors and friends for many years. ...

  • Hired to be Happy

    Romanian TV, in recent years, has been invaded by sitcoms. To the despair of some, and the delight of many, you come across them every day while changing the channels. So, whether you like it or not, you get to know the sitcom stars. The roars of laughter in the background also become familiar. But how often do you wonder about the source of these laughs? The film observes a group of extras hired to provide the laugh track for a well-rated sitcom, on a private Romanian TV channel. Most of these people have quite sad stories to tell. They are either unemployed or retired, and desperately need to add something to their low incomes. At the same time, because they need to keep busy, this occasional job offers them more than just money. It makes them feel useful, even special, as they take great pride in what they are doing. These people have found that laughter can be a solution to poverty and alienation. ...

  • In Between

    The film focuses on the effect of decades of violence, precipitated by internal armed conflict and drug trade, on the children of Colombia. Colegio Agropecuario is a boarding school in Pueblo Sanchez, on the eastern border of the Colombian Andes. It is a program developed by the local authorities with the help of international organizations, as part of a peace plan. It offers shelter and education to some 400 children, of diverse backgrounds, from different regions of the country. The film is built on interviews with one of the students of this program. John William speaks about his experience with a guerilla group, for whom he was forced to work on a coca plantation. At 15 years of age, he is familiar with weapons and the market rates for coca. He is also in the second grade, and, together with classmates half his age, has just begun learning to read and write. While the film tells troubling stories of children deprived of their childhood, it still gives a sense of hope in change for the better. ...

  • In Love Zone

    The film follows a Mansi family, living on the shore of the Pelym river in Western Siberia. Pelym is on the northern edge of the Urals, on the divide between Europe and Asia, and it used to be a location for some of the many remote penal colonies during Stalinist times. In the middle of the taiga, and among the remains of a deserted forestry area, people attempt to reinvent themselves in the midst of abandoned socialist infrastructure. We meet a teenager who has never seen a village or a town in his life, a blind man who sets traps to catch wild animals, and a mechanic who assembles spare parts into weird machineries. The documentary proposes an encounter with one of the many faces of Russia. ...

  • Intercession of the Virgin Day of the Kiliny Family

    The film introduces the Kiliny family, focusing on the patriarchal figure of Anany Kleonovich Kilin, a philosopher, a writer, and the spiritual leader of one of the most viable communities of Old Believers in Russia. The Old Believers, also known as Old Ritualists, came into existence in the 17th century, when a part of the Russian population refused to adopt the imposed changes in the traditional Russian Orthodox practices. They were harshly persecuted under the tsars and later, and many of their communities lived in almost complete isolation for centuries. After several unsuccessful attempts, Anany Kleonovich finally found a place to settle with his family, in the suburbs of a southern city. In time, more and more relatives, and members of the old believers community joined them. The film shows them as they prepare and celebrate the feast of the Intercession of the Virgin, which coincides with Anany Kleonovich’s birthday. It is the portrait of a lively community gathered around a powerful and charismatic man, whose spirit has not been defeated by the crucibles in his life. ...

  • Kalahari Family, Part One: A Far Country

    Thus Oma Tsamkxao, a Ju/'hoan hunter of the Kalahari Desert, recalls his first encounter with the ethnographic filmmaker, John Marshall, in 1951. John, his sister, and their parents had come to the Kalahari to study the last independent hunter-gatherers in southern Africa. A FAR COUNTRY documents the lives of the Ju/'hoansi engaged in their ancient economy based on hunting game with poisoned arrows and gathering wild bush foods. The film also chronicles the early years of a relationship between the Marshall family and the Ju/'hoansi that would last for more than a half century. In their own words, ≠Oma, his wife !U, and members of their extended family relate their personal histories and describe Ju/'hoan society. ≠Oma recounts the tale of a days-long giraffe hunt. "Women do important things, just like men. It's we women who fed the people." And indeed, the Marshalls learn that bush-foods gathered by women and girls provided 80% of the Ju/'hoan diet. Ju/'hoansi were self-sufficient in the 1950s, but the old life was hard. "We were owners of thirst and owners of hunger," says ≠Oma. And as the film ends, many Ju/'hoansi are imagining a different life. ...

  • Landscape

    A provincial Russian town. A cold winter day. People waiting for the bus. The camera slowly pans over faces, while we hear scraps of conversations. Under the appearance of a candid-camera documentation, we discover a keen eye for relevant details which make up the picture of the miseries and worries of Russian every-day life. Landscape experiments with cinema language, using almost exclusively left-to-right long tracking shots cut to give the impression of a continuous camera movement. ...

  • Life in Fresh Air

    Today, the Yugoslavian wars may seem remote to most of the world. Since they were making the headlines, there have been so many conflicts and tragic events. The locals, however, still have to deal with the aftermath. It is one thing to discuss the complex issues of ethnic conflicts and refugees at round tables and in official meetings, yet it is completely different to deal with these issues in the field. The rural village of Djulovac in eastern Croatia is far removed from the political and administrative mainstream. Still, the local community is confronted with ethnic dissension. There are the native Serbs, who had rebelled in 1991, and the native Croats. There are also the Croat refugees from Kosovo, who are trying to make a fresh start. The film follows the stories of the people of Djulovac. It shows the strategies created and used by the community officials in their attempt to facilitate communication between all the present inhabitants of the village. ...

  • Living a Reel Life

    Bollywood is the center of the film industry in Tamil, on the southeast coast of India. The film industry provides a living for about one fifth of the local population. The film follows the lives of two women, who are both linked, in different ways, with the cinema production. Praveena is a film school student. The training she gets prepares her for a camerawoman job in the commercial film industry. However, she would rather work in documentary filmmaking. The other character is Suhasini. She is a famous actress, having starred in almost two hundred films, and film director. She can competently judge the internal mechanism of the film industry, as well as, the position of women in this male-dominated business. Insertions from popular films, produced in Kollywood, colour and highlight the reflections of the characters. ...

  • Living with Gods

    They say Chinese Gods enjoy the same things as humans. These things include theater performances, films and puppet shows. Mei-Hua and Zui-Pin work with the Chinese Local Opera, presenting shows of traditional Taiwanese theater for temple festivals. They perform for the Gods, and for the human audience, who eventually pays them. The shows were very popular some thirty years ago. Today, the temples cannot afford inviting theater troupes very often. While the human audience is in decline, the actors perform for the Gods alone. The film observes the two actresses as they struggle to keep their business running, in spite of various competitors. A rival troupe attempts to steal their contracts. Television, also has taken away a large part of their traditional audience. This is a realistic film about preserving tradition, not for the sake of tradition itself, but as a way to survive. ...

  • Magnitogorsk-Forging the New Man

    In the early thirties, the bare steppes of the Urals were transformed at breakneck speed into a blast-furnace complex, and a city was raised out of the ground - Magnitogorsk. Volunteers from Eastern and Western Europe were involved, but most of the work was done by forced labor. Magnitogorsk was the model project to demonstrate the energy of the first five-year plan of the Soviet economy. In 1932, Joris Ivens made a film about the building up of the Soviet Union. He chose Magnitogorsk as an example of how the new world and the new man were being forged. His film Song of the Heroes encapsulates the spirit of the prevailing ideology of the time. Five years after Ivens had completed his film, Viktor Kalnykov, the main character, a Labour Hero, was accused of contrarevolutionary activities and executed. Taking Ivens’ film as an inspiration, this documentary goes in search of the past and current life and ideals of the builders and residents of Magnitogorsk after more than seventy years. ...

  • Manu

    The film examines the foster care system in Romania through the case of Manuela, or Manu, an abandoned Gypsy girl. The policy of placing abandoned children into the care of foster families, rather than institutionalising them, is relatively new in Romania. Generally, low-income families apply for this task. The allowance they receive for each foster child, although relatively small, is meaningful to the family budget. This observational documentary follows Manu’s everyday life at the farm of her temporary family. Each day brings new discoveries and new hardships for her. Nevertheless, Manu is happy because, even in her provisional environment, she feels loved and protected. Her natural mother has not made any attempt, for two years, to contact her. Accordingly, she has been officially declared an abandoned child and put on the adoption list. Manu’s deepest concern is that her life could change at any moment. ...

  • Maramures

    The film depicts the colorful world of Maramures, in north Romania. In this one locale, there exist diverse ethnic communities of Romanians, Hungarians, Jews, and, Ukrainians. Though each community speaks its own language, together their histories define the common chronicle of this place. The film gives them each a voice to tell stories of dramatic moments in their history. One such account recalls the deportation of the Jews, and their current struggle against poverty. This is a film about tradition as well as the present. It captures the pace of their lives, and keeps the rhythm of the spectacular scenery of the place. ...

  • Masters and Slaves

    The story takes place in the present time, in the immense semi-desert of the Sahel region of Niger. It presents a world governed by rules inconceivable by Western culture. Slavery is supposed to belong to the remote past, and yet in Sahel it is still a way of life. This state of affairs is made possible by two perpetual principles: the immutability of the social position and the loyalty to an extremely rigorous form of Islam. The film is built around two human adventures. Tumajet is 26. She has just run away from the Tuareg master to whom she was enslaved since early childhood. Her daughter though has remained in her former master’s servitude. Boulboulou is 20 and she has fled the cruelty of her Arab master two years ago, but she still fears his revenge. Both women are black. They share the courage of having rebelled against slavery. Timidria, a local alliance, will help them confront their former masters. The film follows the camel trails across the desert to enter the heart of an unknown world: the world of slavery and of the complex relationships between masters and slaves. ...

  • Mr. Cool

    Dao Yaodong, a young Huayao Dai (Thai), lives in a village in Xinping County, in China’s Yunnan Province. Television and DVDs, and the infrastructure built for the workers of the sugar cane factory nearby, have turned him into a great fan of commercial movies and city life amenities. He has adopted a new look to pass with his new expectations: he wears sunglasses and leather jackets, as he attempts to imitate his favorite movie stars. While the elders recall past virtues, Dao, alias Mr. Cool prepares to follow his elder brother. He wishes to leave behind his farmer’s life, and move to the city. Based on observation and interviews, the film explores the impact of modernization and the media on traditional village life. ...

  • Muslim Labyrinths

    The village Breznitsa, in southwestern Bulgaria, is a multiethnic locality. The film focuses on the Pomak community, a Bulgarian-speaking Muslim population who considers itself of Turkish origin. Although submitted to assimilation during the socialist period, these people have preserved, to a great extent, their cultural and religious identity. Since the downfall of communism, the Pomak enjoy more civil and cultural liberties. A public revival of Islam, related to Turkish identity, is clearly visible. While many families in Breznitsa still keep traditional forms of living, everyone faces the pressures of change brought about by democracy. This film is a result of the cooperation between Canadian anthropologist Asen Balkci and Bulgarian film director Antonii Donchev. Cameraman Ibrahim Djunin is a young local who was trained in ethnographic video methods, through a visual anthropology seminar organized in Breznitsa, ten years ago. The film describes changes that have occurred in the Pomak villages since the early 1990s. It makes use of film material from 1995, as well as, contemporary material. ...

  • My Lost Russia

    The film was shot in the small town Efremov, where Pasternak’s camera identified a variety of characters whose stories are brought together to reconstruct today’s Russia: the ruined farmer writing letters to President Putin in his quest for justice, the priest who can finally inaugurate the new church after years of struggle, the striptease dancers who dream to become school teachers, the old pessimist who declares that Efremov is the worst place on earth, the young soldiers on their way to Chechnya. The filmmaker explores the life of the town in a non-intrusive way, to give a sometimes nostalgic and sometimes humorous insight into the stories of common people. Putting all their stories together, the viewer eventually understands what has changed, what is in the process of changing and what will never change in Efemov and in Russia. ...

  • Oath

    The film is an accurate ethnographic description of a traditional custom of the Yuruks, a Turkish ethnic group living in southeast Macedonia. The Yuruks were nomadic tribes who migrated from Anatolia to the Balkans about five centuries ago. Since their settlement, they have lived in closed communities, preserving their cultural identity. The custom described in the film reproduces a wedding where the bride is a little girl. The ritual, an oath to the Almighty, is meant to ensure the welfare of the family. The camera carefully observes the participants throughout all stages of the ritual and includes reactions of both actors and spectators. ...

  • Piter

    “Piter” is a nickname for Sankt Petersburg, a city as spectacular as the chronicle of its creation. The filmmakers explore the city following the every-day lives of seven St. Petersburg residents. Alexander Ivanov, once a senior party official, now runs a floristry empire. Anatoli, formerly an editor with a local newspaper, is unemployed and survives on charity and from collecting recyclable bottles. Elena Yakovlevna is a great Stalin fan. She is 87, and believes that life was much better under his regime. The people portrayed in the film are not connected directly, but they live in the same transitional milieu. They must now adapt and create new expectations of the future, fifteen years after Gorbachev’s perestroika. ...

  • Pittsburg Police Series: After the Game

    Police search for drugs in a house where they arrest a group of boys who return from from a basketball game and are accused of having a loud party and sniffing glue. ...

  • Pittsburg Police Series: The 4th and the 5th and the Exclusionary Rule

    This film consists of sequences from the Pittsburgh Police footage intercut with a panel discussion moderated by Professor James Vorenberg of Harvard Law School. Community organizers, police, students and lawyers discussed the issues raised by four sequences, including the implications of the 4th and 5th Constitutional amendments, and the Exclusionary Rule of Evidence for search, seizure, and interrogation procedures. The film demonstrates the multiplicity of roles in police work, and examines the conflicts between how the police define their duties and what the public expects of them. ...

  • Pittsburg Police Series: Three Domestics

    This film shows Pittsburgh police intervening in three domestic situations: (1) A woman wants the police to remove the man she has been living with in common law. They arrange for his arrest on an assault and battery charge; (2) A woman accuses her boyfriend of beating her and the man accuses her of lying. The police remove the man with some difficulty; (3) A boisterous and drunken father is removed from his house to spend the night in jail at the insistence of his wife and older son. Throughout the sequence, the father is cared for by his younger son. ...

  • Pittsburg Police Series: Vagrant Woman

    An unemployed woman who has been living in her car is questioned by police. They offer her advice and take her to the Salvation Army. ...

  • Pittsburg Police Series: Youth and the Man of Property

    A suburban couple calls the police to intervene after being harassed by a youth ...

  • Pretty Dyana

    The story is about Kosovo refugees. They live in improvised shelters in a Belgrade suburb. They are Gypsies. At this point, we all expect to see the tragedy of these people’s miserable lives. Instead, we are drawn into a bizarre setting, where we soon learn that spare parts of old Citroen cars can be used for virtually anything. They are shown building vehicles with a SF appearance, even using the car battery as a private power plant. It is not an eccentric hobby, it is a way to survive. The film follows them throughout Belgrade in search of abandoned 2 CV and Dyana Citroens. We see them negotiating with owners of wrecked cars. We also find them interacting with police, who are not exactly fans of their recycled vehicles. The filmmaker introduces his characters with humor and empathy, revealing their ingenuity and adaptive skills. ...

  • Smell the Roses

    In 1971, a group of young people took over an abandoned military area in the middle of Copenhagen. Here, they founded Christiania, an autonomous community based on communal living and freedom. Initially, the authorities were reluctant about the project, but eventually they accepted the existence of this community as a “social experiment”. Over the years, there have been recurrent attempts to close Christiania down, but the community has always managed to survive. Today, urban redevelopment plans threaten their existence once more. This ethnographic film examines issues like community power and personal freedom. Some of the key residents of Christiania are introduced, and their social and political convictions are explored. ...

  • Sweet Life and all that Goes with it

    Rosi Muller and her father Michael are among the very few Saxons, or Transylvanian Germans, who still live in Alzen, a village in south Transylvania. Fifteen years ago, a dramatic change occured in the life of German towns and villages all over Transylvania. With the fall of communism, the quasi-total Saxon population migrated to Germany. After centuries during which they had maintained a strong sense of their cultural identity, the German communities disintegrated in only a few years. The film looks into issues like identity, migration, and the sense of belonging, following Rosi and Michael in their every day life. The people who live in the village today belong to a different culture. Alzen, like other Transylvanian German villages and towns, still remains " home" for the Saxons. This is for those who stayed, and for those who left. ...

  • The Baker

    For the past seven years, Lars has been working the night shift in a bakery. While following his nightly routine, we hear him speak about what he misses most. He is longing for simple things, like watching TV in the evening, sleeping when it’s dark, and feeling the sunshine on his face. An accomplished short film about a man whose occupation, while not extraordinary, prevents him from living an ordinary life. ...

  • The Belovs

    A dusty country road, much vodka, or tea, Russian steam baths, cattle, dogs running about. The filmmaker takes us into the life of the Belov family. Anna Feodorovna is twice a widow, still regrets not having married her first love. Her brother, Mikhail, spends his days drinking, cursing his sister, and presenting his philosophical and political solutions to the world’s misery. There are also two more brothers, who, from time to time, come to visit Anna and Mikhail. “You shouldn’t film us.” says one of the Belovs. “We’re common people, living where the river begins.” Yet, Kossakovski did film them. He tells, in his unique style, a touching and sincere story about the life, joys and sorrows of a peasant family living in a Russian province. The Belovs is considered to be one of the masterpieces of post soviet Russian documentary cinema. It was produced by the St. Petersburg Documentary Film Studio, and Kossakowski regards himself as a disciple of the famous generation of St. Petersburg documentarists of the 1960s. This film has been shown in the most prestigeous film festivals all over the world, and it is a must see film in the curricula of most film academies in Europe. ...

  • The Bond

    Dharavi in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is Asia's largest slum. Squeezed between the skyscrapers of a business district and a classy suburb, one million people live in shanties crowding on a surface less than two hundred hectars wide. For many, the district is merely a reminder that, despite impressive economic growth in recent years, India remains a very poor country. But for its residents, Dharavi is more than that. It is an affordable place to live, and to work. The film explores the work of two social activists using western European methods in dealing with conflict resolutions in the neighbourhood peace committees, juxtaposing their direct experience of Dharavi with the traditional middle class perceptions of slums in general and of Dharavi in particular as a hotbed for crime and filth. The multilayered structure of the film is a challenge to a critical and active viewership. ...

  • The Country Where The Soil Lived

    Shot in a village, in the Maramures region, in northwestern Romania, the film explores the mutations that have recently occurred in rural life. Until not very long ago, the villagers have kept the slow pace of past centuries. They have worked the land without mechanized help, manually pulled water from wells, and, ordered their life according to centuries-old secular and religious rituals. Today, their minds are oriented towards modernization, change, and the European Union. The film intimately observes the impact of change on the life of one family in the village. Undoubtedly, the old world will eventually disappear, to be replaced by a more comfortable modern life. What the latter will bring about, and what price the people will have to pay for the advantages of modernization, is difficult to predict. ...

  • The Curse

    More than thirty years ago, in a village in north Romania’s Maramures region, a young family was having their first child. Everyone was happy, as the infant was a healthy boy. Soon, the baby developed a mysterious disease, which deformed and paralyzed his limbs. He was also showing signs of mental disorder. The doctors diagnosed muscular dystrophy, paralysis, and mental retardation. The second child came, and shortly afterward, the same symptoms appeared. The couple did not give up hope to have a healthy child. However, their third son suffered the same unfortunate fate as his brothers. The film goes beyond the shocking image of three disabled brothers. It analyzes the traditional beliefs, on which the villagers base their comments, regarding the tragic destiny of this family. ...

  • The Curse Of The Hedgehog

    The film follows the life of an extended Roma family for a whrole year. They belong to the "Baiesi "group of Roma, who live in extreme poverty. The filmmaker accompanied them on the way from their dwelling place in the mountain to the lowland villages, where they try to trade handmade goods for food or money. These winter tours are survival trips for them, as they have no other income whatsoever. However, the film is more than the story of their struggle to survive. During the 100 minutes, we come to understand why they refuse to work the land, and how they relate to the Romania shepherds, and to the rich Baesi from their village they call "businessmen", who make large fortunes from selling fake rings abroad. We discover how mythological thinking is activated in their everyday life, along with their Christian Orthodox religiousness. By watching this film, we achieve a better understanding of the absurdities and the pain that fill the lives of these people living on the edge of society, and we come to admire the wit, and the humour, which help them to come through. ...

  • The Day I Will Never Forget

    The film explores the practice of female circumcision within different Kenyan and Somali communities. The practice is part of female initiation ceremonies and varies from relatively minor surgery to the complete removal of the clitoris, and the sewing up of the vagina. To Western culture this is mutilation. For the locals, it is an ancient tradition that should by no means be abandoned. The world, however, is changing and new generations begin to question tradition and rebel against circumcision. Meanwhile, the older women in the community praise circumcision as a way to purity and health. A female doctor attempts to achieve a compromise and open people's minds to accepting safer and less painful medical procedures. The film follows the stories of young girls who are caught between loyalty to their parents, the desire to rebel against old customs, and the fear that in doing so they will be rejected by their community. An extreme situation is that of a young girl who takes her own parents to court to stop them from having her circumcised. This event has historic implications for the entire cultural group. The confrontation between tradition and change is not yet over. ...

  • The Ghost On TV

    In February 2004, a ritual exhumation in the village of Celaru, in south Romania, was news on every Romanian TV channel. Reporters invaded the village and interviewed the local people. This attention served to re-open the controversy between pagan rituals and Christian norms. According to ancient beliefs, the “evil dead” become ghosts and remain, in this world, to haunt the living. The only remedy is to open the grave and perform certain rituals. This usually involves stabbing the heart of the deceased. The film investigates various opinions, of the local people, concerning this ancient custom. Further, it analyzes their reactions to the presence of the TV crews. ...

  • The Land is Waiting

    The film explores the life of an extremely poor family, living in a village in northeast Romania. The parents have made incredible efforts to send all ten of their children to school. Five of them have even made it to the university in the city. The film focuses on Mihai, one of their sons. After less than one year of study, Mihai had to give up Theological School. He chose to return to the village and help his family work the tiny plot of land they own. We follow him as he copes with the hardships of everyday rural life. Because he plans to return to the university next year, he uses every spare moment to study for his exams. He talks about his short experience in the city, and about the marginalization of the students of rural origin. Daily routine is interrupted by the occasional conflicts with his overworked mother. However, there are also the little joys of the household, such as when a calf is born or the goslings hatch. The filmmaker maintains an objective yet intimate approach, of the destiny of a young man who is caught between two worlds. ...

  • The Last Peasants: Part 3 - A Good Wife

    Angus Macqueen's three-part series follows the human stories of three Romanian families torn apart by the realities of migration. The remote village of Budesti in Northern Romania is a world of of the past, filled with horses and carts, and medieval beliefs. But the young villagers see no romance in their existence. Their eyes are turned to the modern world of the West. In Budesti, every family has an illegal immigrant abroad. After exploring in Journeys the realities facing the immigrants, Temptation observes the clash of cultures, and the expectations of different generations in rural Romania. Finally, A Good Wife focuses on the impact of migration on the local community. Observational, up-close, and touching, the film looks at the changes imposed on the local community by the collapse of Communism and the new relationship with Western Europe. At the same time, The Last Peasants depicts the agony of the peasant culture that has survived two World Wars and half a century of communism, but is threatened with extinction after just a decade of democracy. ...

  • The Last Peasants:Part 1 - Journeys

    Angus Macqueen's three-part series follows the human stories of three Romanian families torn apart by the realities of migration. The remote village of Budesti in Northern Romania is a world of of the past, filled with horses and carts, and medieval beliefs. But the young villagers see no romance in their existence. Their eyes are turned to the modern world of the West. In Budesti, every family has an illegal immigrant abroad. After exploring in Journeys the realities facing the immigrants, Temptation observes the clash of cultures, and the expectations of different generations in rural Romania. Finally, A Good Wife focuses on the impact of migration on the local community. Observational, up-close, and touching, the film looks at the changes imposed on the local community by the collapse of Communism and the new relationship with Western Europe. At the same time, The Last Peasants depicts the agony of the peasant culture that has survived two World Wars and half a century of communism, but is threatened with extinction after just a decade of democracy. ...

  • The Last Peasants:Part 2 - Temptation

    Angus Macqueen's three-part series follows the human stories of three Romanian families torn apart by the realities of migration. The remote village of Budesti in Northern Romania is a world of of the past, filled with horses and carts, and medieval beliefs. But the young villagers see no romance in their existence. Their eyes are turned to the modern world of the West. In Budesti, every family has an illegal immigrant abroad. After exploring in Journeys the realities facing the immigrants, Temptation observes the clash of cultures, and the expectations of different generations in rural Romania. Finally, A Good Wife focuses on the impact of migration on the local community. Observational, up-close, and touching, the film looks at the changes imposed on the local community by the collapse of Communism and the new relationship with Western Europe. At the same time, The Last Peasants depicts the agony of the peasant culture that has survived two World Wars and half a century of communism, but is threatened with extinction after just a decade of democracy. ...

  • The Miracle Man

    The film is an intimate portrait of an extraordinary character. Many years ago, Ioan Mates chose to live in solitude. Without any special training or education, he was able to manufacture all sorts of firearms. For this reason people called him “the miracle man”. His weapons had been the passion of his life, and he was devastated when the authorities confiscated them. Now he is completely alone, living in a world of his own, reading old books and talking in rhymes. The miracle man lives at the twilight between reality and illusion. ...

  • The New Boys

    The social dynamics of the group is the focus of this film on life in a school dormitory, the latest in MacDougall’s long-term study of childhood and adolescence at the Doon School in northern India. The school is India’s foremost boarding school for boys, and this film provides unique insights into the values and training of the Indian middle class and postcolonial elites more generally. Within the group are boys of varied personalities and backgrounds—some natural leaders, some subject to teasing and bullying, some argumentative, some peace-makers. An important feature of the film is the inclusion of conversations among the boys about the causes of aggression and warfare, homesickness, restaurant food, and how to speak to a ghost. This film is part of the Doon school series, an extensive video project started in 1997, which has resulted in five films focusing on various aspects of childhood and adolescence, masculinity, the social aesthetics of institutions, postcoloniality, and the training of South Asian elites. ...

  • The Opinionator

    The film touches in a very subtile way the issue of Russian citizens living in former Soviet Union countries outside the present Russian Federation borders. To 68 year-old Esja Sur, a Russian citizen residing in Estonia, retirement is anything but boring. She is a natural born agitator who finds plenty of issues to fight for. On the background of today's Estonian reality, the filmmaker chronicles the efforts of this woman. Putting together different groups and associations, she is also seen organizing protests, meetings and demonstrations. The fact that most of her events are mere mockeries of the grandiose Soviet parades of the past, with barely more than a dozen people attending, does not seem to discourage her. The filmmaker achieves a slightly ironic, yet honest, approach to an extraordinary character. With that same view, he depicts the colorful people and absurd situations of the transition period in an ex-Soviet country. ...

  • The Rule of Vera

    n the 50s, the Communist Party honored Vera Rybatchek with the Labor Hero Golden Star. She received this award for achieving record production in the dairy where she worked. She later received praise as the exemplary mother of many children. Vera was one of the faces of communist propaganda, used to promote the model of the new Soviet woman. Today, few remember, and even less care about, her honors. There are also some, in the village, who contest the veracity of her record productions. Vera and her large family must now struggle to survive. The film combines newsreels of Soviet history with glimpses into Vera’s present life. There are interviews with her, her family, and, people in the village. These glimpses portray a hard-working, good-hearted woman. She is someone who, once used by the Soviet propaganda machine, and now lives forgotten in a remote Russian village. In the meantime, the Golden Star medal had to be exchanged for a sack of sugar. ...

  • The Tv and Me

    Alexa is addicted to television shows. By day, she works as a post woman, sorting and delivering letters. After hours, however, she is a completely different person. Her whole life is focused on TV shows and TV stars. In the past ten years, she has been in the audience of hundreds of television shows. She has surrounded herself with posters, photo albums, and relics. She even goes on “pilgrimages” to visit the hometowns of her idols. The film portrays a woman who lives happily in her illusory world. It also investigates the powerful influence television and its fabricated stars can have on a person’s life. ...

  • Tibetan Portraits

    About 18,000 Tibetans live in exile in Kathmandu, Nepal. Most of them know of Tibet only from their parents’ stories. Anthropologist Berit Madsen presents a series of three films, each focusing on the individual experience of young Tibetan exiles. I live in the White Monastery is the portrait of a 12-year old monk, who tells the story of his escape from Tibet and reflects on his life at the monastery. The story of My Father’s Prayer Room, features an 18-year old girl, who lives in a boarding school in India. She returns to Kathmandu to celebrate the Tibetan New Year together with her family, and explains the daily Tibetan religious rituals. The Day of Hundred Thousand Lamps brings to light the preparations for the celebration of an important Tibetan Buddhist God. 100,000 butterlamps must be placed throughout the stupa, which is the monument housing Buddhist relics. The children, who distribute these lamps, clearly take great pride in their work. Beyond the individual experiences, the three portraits tell a single story about exile, Tibetan identity, and human nature. ...

  • Trip to Romania

    French jazz composer and trumpet player Michel Marre, an admirer of Romanian traditional music, decided to make a research trip to Romania. Shot and edited in an informal style, the film follows his journey. His experiences are used as a pretext to reveal subjective impressions and experiences of the Western musician meeting his Romanian colleagues in their own environment. ...

  • We Are Living on the Edge

    Long shots of a village by the river, a man milks his cow in the sunset, a drunkard stumbles through the junk scattered in a back yard. This extremely well-accomplished short documentary sketches in impressive sequences every day life in an isolated Belorussian village. The film culminates with the dramatic scene showing a herd of cows being driven, by the villagers, across the river. ...

  • Yuri Vella's World

    Liivo Niglas has performed extensive research work with the Nenets in Siberia. This film is about a writer and social activist, Yuri Vella, who has left his home village ten years ago to live the life of a nomad reindeer herder in the west Siberian taiga. Indigenous people in Siberia live under the threat of alcoholism and unemployment. Yuri Vella strives to build his own world, where these afflictions do not exist. He even sets up an elementary school in his winter camp, where his grandchildren are given a proper education, and learn the skills of a good reindeer herder. Unfortunately, Yuri Vella’s world is but an oasis of traditional lifestyle in the middle of Russia’s largest oil fields. The film is built around Yuri Vella, a powerful character who finds the resources to accomplish his dream. ...