Centrul Astra Film

                                                              

Astra Film Festival

Astra Film Festival 1998 - Films

  • A Godforsaken Place

    A community of over 1,800 gypsyes live in the outskirts of the small town Bocşa, not far from Timişoara. They do not speack the gypsy language anymore, these people have lost their ethnic identity. There are many children in the community, adults are unemployed and everybody is struggling to survive from day on nettles, wild fruit and mushrooms they can find in the forrest. ...

  • A Shepherder's Homecoming

    Mexican migrant worker Thomas Ballato, lives his job on a Nevada sheepranch after shearing, lambing and trailing his 2000 head flock to summer pasture and returns to his family in the steel industry town of Lazaro Cardenas. Michoacan, to recapture his years "lost" on the other side, that is in the USA. ...

  • Al Karamah - Human Dignity

    Much has been written and shown about Palestinians and Israelis. Yet, one part has been left out by media, as well as by anthropology, the Palestinian minority in Israel. Over 900,000 Palestin­ian-Arabs live in Israel as citizens of the Jewish State. This film throws light on their situation. The story is told by Samiyeh, a 20 years old Palestinian and her cousin Nidal. Like all young people in the Arab world, which has been bombarded by Western ideals and values, they have their own hopes and frustrations, sweet dreams and nightmares. However, the Is­raeli government intrudes into the minutest details of their lives. The Palestini­ans are prospering in Israel along with the rest of the society. But “money is not everything” as Samiyeh’s father puts it; money comes and goes. But “if al karamah (human dignity) goes, it can never come back”. ...

  • And We Shall Soon Reach Heaven

    The film approaches questions of religious and ethnic identity through the subject of the motorcycle taxi riders of Calabar, Nigeria. The far from mundane experience of a taxi ride provides a focus around which daily encounters with danger, risk-taking and the search for spiritual “protection” can be explored. ...

  • Auctioned Souls

    Antiquity shops in Bucharest are saturated with objects of art. You can find anything there, from paintings, clocks of Chinato pieces of jewlery. These places have an aesthetics of their own. Who brings in all these objects for sale and who buys them? In a changing society, there are parallel worlds living simultaneously. Some are dying out, others are just emerging. The film observes the transfer of objects of art from one world to another. ...

  • Awara soup

    The Awara Soup is a kind of stew containing all sorts of ingredients coming from the different cultures of Guyanese society. If you eat that dish on Easter, you are sure never to leave Guyana, they say. Using the cooking of this dish as a starting point, the film explores the different realities composing this French overseas region. American Indians, Europeans, Slave descendents, Laotians, Chinese, Brazilians, Surinamese, tell us how they’re bringing new flavours to the Guyanese stew of identities. ...

  • Burning Man 2020

    Somewhere in the desert between Mad Max and Woodstock a steadily increasing community creates a temporary autono­mous zone for a new millenium; a daring community experiment, a bizzare perform­ance, a vivid incarnation of the Internet, cyberspace in wasteland. Burning Man 2020 takes the viewer on a tour de force from San Francisco to the Black Rock De­sert, Nevada, where shameless rapture and stimulant overdose, creatively ignited, burst up in flames. ...

  • Christian End

    A young man finds out he has AIDS and commits suicide. As if the tragic loss were not enough, his family is confrunted with the refusal of the Orthodox Church to bury him in the Christian ritual. The suicide is denied forgiveness and the right to a "Christian end". The film attempts to analyse the conservative position of the Church in this matter. ...

  • Cinema, cinema

    Hundreds of people crowd at the gates of a film studio, to put their names on the audition list, hoping to get a part in a movie made by a famous Iranian director who uses non-professional actors. At first sight, "Cinema, Cinema" is a film about the making of a film. However, the viewer gradually discovers that some of the applicants are the main characters and learns what drives them so badly into filmmaking. A subtle analysis of Iranian society. ...

  • Conversation with Dundiwuy Wanambi

    This is a personal film about Dundiwuy Wanambi over the years that Ian Dunlop has known and worked with him. It is made up mainly of interviews filmed with Dundiwuy Wanambi at Yirrkala and at his Marrakulu clan centre at Gurka’wuy be­tween 1970 and 1982. It reveals something of the struggles of one man in the face of the huge changes brought about by the coming of the Nabalco bauxite mine and the mining town of Nhulunbuy to the Gove Peninsula. ...

  • Exclusive suburb

    Ica, Laci, Pisti and Miklos live in a garden suburb of Budapest. They are homeless. They eat, they work, they have fun and sometimes they cry. They are, in short, alive! The camera follows them for eight months and documents their daily routine as well as some dramatic moments which bring changes in their lives. ...

  • Faces of Conflict

    Gideon is a 23 year old Israeli, living in Jerusalem. Wisam, a palestinian also 23 lives in the West Bank in Betlehem. Gideon was a soldier in the Westbank while Wisam was active in the Palestinian uprising. At first sight, they match the me­dia stereotypes of the Israeli soldier and the palestinian rockthrower. However, in the course of the film we get to know them as human beings, not just as anonymous violent opponents. Gideon tells us about his years as a soldier, when he tried hard to do his duty without losing his human dig­nity. Now he has a job in a restaurant and thinks about leaving Israel and finding a safer place for his unborn children. Wisam was in the Intifadah. His story is about clashes with israeli soldiers, prison and torture. Now he is a tourist guide and in his spare time he goes to meetings where palestinians and Israelis discuss about the conflict. "Faces of Conflict" is a strong and nuanced double-portrait counter­pointing the newsmedia stereotypes. ...

  • Father of the Goats

    The film focuses on life in the homestead of Baldambe, a Hamar elder in Southwest Ethiopia, who comments on the intricacies of herding goats, the division of labour and the moral obligations obtaining between the members of his family. The second part of the film deals with sacrifice and the ancient art of reading the entrails which are used in Hamar to cope with the physical and social threats of illness. ...

  • Father, Son and the Holy Torum

    Starting from a family drama, the film explores the collision of two entirely different worlds. One of them is conservative and traditional, the other flexible and adaptive. Father and Son. Shaman and Businessman. They both belong to a disappearing Siberian nation, the Khantys. The son works for a Russian oil company, which pumps millions of barrels of oil out of the Khantys' ancestral land. His job is to coerce his own people into selling their lands to the Russians. Shaman resists armed with his drum and bearhead. The Prodigal Son has two faces. Under the pressure of the consumer society, Torum, the most important Khanty God, has also become double-faced. ...

  • Forget the Races

    Throughout the centuries, some peoples have consdered themselves superior to the others. They founded their belief on military power, religion and threat. The first attempts to clasify human races scientifically were made only 200 years ago. But interpretations based on the concept of the survival of the fittest made some races look less fit than others, thus offering the justification to some to dispose of the "inferiour" human beings. The film highlights the contrast between this concept and the mistakes made by research in the past. ...

  • Future remembrance - Photography and image arts in Ghana

    In the small fishing towns of Ghana, the photographer’s studio is the place to go. To get “snapped” - wearing the latest fashion or posing with a long lost friend. Carrying the tools of your trade. For “future remembrance”, to show how that dress was so becoming, how durable the friendship, how you made your living. So that everybody will remember you. ...

  • Guard at the Fortress

    In the 12th century, Hungarian kings encouraged the settlement of German colonists in Transylvania to defend their eastern border. At the end of 20th century, most of the Transylvanian Germans have moved to Germany. Very few chose to stay and now they witness the rapid and dramatic changes occuring in their one prosperous villages. The film tells the story of a German family from the village Stolzenburg, who live in the old fortified church. Out of an well-organised community, they are the only ones left and have to cope with this situation. ...

  • Hadareni (1993-1997)

    Only a few days before the trial, some of the people involved in the conflict talk in front of the camera about what they feel and how the dreadful events have changed their lives. ...

  • Heart of the Country

    “Heart of the Country” is a documentary study about learning in Japan. It is the story of Shinichi Yasumoto, the extraordi­nary principal of a rural school in central Hokkaido, Japan who is driven by his vi­sion for learning and his passion for edu­cating the heart as well as the mind. Par­ents and elders of this once impoverished town embrace principal Yasumoto’s vi­sion, but not without wary glances back to the past as they strive to create a world that will offer their children wisdom, humanity and responsibility. “Heart of the Country” is the story of the families of Kanayama, a community bound together by love for its children and tempered by its journey through the cultural upheaval of postwar Japan. ...

  • Howling for God

    In Macedonia, former Yugoslavia, two Sheiks squabble for power in a Dervish brotherhood. In this fragile, unsteady soci­ety, far from God and traditional Sufism, their petty quarrel focusses on the issue of which group will pierce themselves at the Nervuz ceremony. Through the rivalry between these two characters who corre­spond to opposing archetypes of religious leaders, the documentary offers a living glimpse of spiritual experience at popular level, which, despite the humorous situa­tions and extraordinary images, may shock our sensitivity. The Dervishes practice a form of Islamic yoga consisting of rhyth­mic movements, repetitive chants and controlled breathing. During the cere­mony, the Dervishes pierce their face, neck or limbs with nails and spikes. In their state of trance no blood flows. But the mystical market-place is over-crowded. Each Sheik attempts to attract the greatest number of faithfuls and thus diminish the importance of his rival. ...

  • In the Arms of Buddha and the Drum

    The film is the story of the Kagai-ool family from Tuva. Tuva lies in Central Asia, in Siberia, not far from the Mongolian border. Mama and papa Kagai-ool live alone in a yurt, moving from the steppe to the forrest and back several times a year. They have one horse, some sheep, goats and cattle. The entire Kagai-ool family depends on them in the coming winter. Their son Alexei is a stone carver and lives in the city of Kyzil but many things keep him tied to his home village. He is the modern nomad. City life does not prevent him from hearing the voices of the spirits who live in the stones he carves. The Kagai-ools are "in the arms of Buddha and the drum". Buddhism and shamanism have survived here in spite of the attemptsof the communists to destroy people-s traditions and old beliefs. Buddha and the shaman are always present, even if the modern world has sometimes penetrated the traditional life stile. ...

  • Ioan

    Ioan is the priest of a mountain village in Transylvania. He is known as an exorciser. Strange things happen sometimes in the small village church, as Father Ioan has the power to unchain terrible forces. The film approaches this phenomenon with caution, leaving the viewer the freedom to judge whether it is just a fraud or a real insight into another world. ...

  • Keep it in Mind

    One night in 1940 in the village of Ip in Transylvania, the Hungarian army killed 157 local Romanians in a retaliatory action. Since the 70ies, the anniversary of the mass murder has gained greater importance. The question is whether in the course of history the traditional coexistence of the Romanian and the Hungarian communities in this village can ever be restored. ...

  • Lucy Castle - Hotea

    Lucy Castle, a young English woman came to the village Hoteni in Maramureş, in the north of Romania to do research for her PhD in ethnomusicology. There she ended up getting married to a local four years younger than herself with a rather poor education, Ion Hotea. People in the village are disappointed by Lucy's choice. They say Ion is a violent guy who drinks too much. Lucy was planning to settle down in her husband's village. Yet, the Castle-Hoteas are now in England. People in the village say Ion had had that in mind from the very beginning. ...

  • Mabo - Life of an Island man

    On June 3rd 1992, six months after Eddie "Koiki" Mabo's tragic death, the High Court upheld his claim that Murray Island­ers held native title to land in the Torres Strait. The legal fiction that Australia was empty when first occupied by white people had been laid to rest. The film tells the pri­vate and public stories of a man so pas­sionate about family and home that he fought an entire nation and its legal sys­tem. Though his greatest victory was won only after his death, it has forever ensured his place on Murray Island and in Austra­lian history. ...

  • Madame E

    The documentary "Madame E" paints an intimate and funny portrait of Eila Lemmela, also known as the Finnish eccentric Madame E. She is the colourful wife of a pig farmer and at the same time a passionate art collector. She feels equally at home among her pigs as on the parish council, she likes to sit for painters and sketchers and attend openings of art exhibitions. Eila's life revolves round art: artistic baking, artistic Christmas trees, artistic hats. Her life is full of surprises and may take her from the piggery where she watches over the newborn piglets straight to a poetry evening or a party at an art gallery. And yet, life would not be complete without a glimpse of its tragic side. ...

  • New Year's Eve Cancelled

    ...

  • Oh, Jezera, My village by the Sea

    The village of Jezera is on the Murter Island in northern Dalmatia. Everything about this village is connected to the sea: its history, the folklore and people's thoughts. Almost all the local songs are about the sea and the loved ones who are out there in their boats. On the shore, women take care of the light-house, so that their men can find the way back home. ...

  • Pomak Portraits II: Old Man Ibrahim

    Under socialist conditions of full-employ­ment, the poorly educated Roma enjoyed a modest degree of well-being. During the present transition period, the vast majority of the Roma have lost their jobs and many have fallen into extreme poverty. In this context of discrimination and despair, evangelism seems to be a ray of hope. During the month of June 1997, a visual anthropology workshop took place in the town of Sliven, Bulgaria. The initial goal of the project was to train a small number of young Roma into anthropological video techniques. Following the training period the each of the Roma students made a video exercise on a topic at their own choice. The workshop aimed to help the young Roma address a wide audience and tell their stories about life in their marginal community. It was further expected that native video recorders would express in their work a much higher degree of sensi­tivity to cultural meaning than an outsider could do. ...

  • Radio Jebel

    It all began when a radio transmitter appeared at the Mental Healthcare Hospital in Jebel, 24 km away from Timisoara. Though confronted with prejudice and bureaucracy, the patiens decide to start their own radio station right there, in the hospital. The inmates get ready to act as news reporters, interviewess, singers and technicians. A licence is hard to get, but still Radio Jebel is broadcasting these people"s craving communication. ...

  • Roma Portraits

    Under socialist conditions of fullemployament, the poorly educated Roma enjoyed a modest degree of well-being. During the present transition period, the vast minority of Roma have lost their jobs and many have fallen into extreme poverty. In this context of discrimination and despair, evangelism seems to be a ray of hope. During the month of June 997, a visual anthropology workshop took place in the town of Sliven, Bulgaria. The initial goal of the project was to train a small number of young Roma into anthropological video techniques. Following the training period, each of the roma students made a video exercice on a topic at their own choice. The workshop aimed to help the young Roma adress a wide audience and tell their stories about life in their marginal community. It was further expected that native video recorders would express in their work a much higher degree of sensitivity to cultural meaning that an outsider could do. ...

  • Saint George Give us Strenght

    Saint George is one of the greatest holi­days for the Gypsies living in the town of Kyustendil. Based on the stories told by the elders and with the help of young "in­tellectuals" the community is trying to re­store the forgotten tradition. Everyday life is hard for them, but during the celebration the rapture and happiness particular to the Gypsy spirit will prevail. ...

  • The Banished

    A colourful documentary about the strug­gle for survival of neighbourhood youth in Helsinki over a period of one year. In at­tempt to keep the youngsters in Vesala off the streets, Timi, a 30-year old gypsy, has founded a multicultural indoor bandy team. The main characters of the film, Krisse and Ville, both play in the team. Krisse’s and Ville’s families are joined together by friendship and a common life­style. Continuous clashes with the police, alienation from society and despair lock them into a path that is sure to lead no­where. The future seems to hold no promise for Krisse and Ville. ...

  • The courtyard

    Dark corridors and shabby appartments make up the setting of the film. Hard to believe as it may be, the location is heart of Bucharest. The rooms offer too little privacy so that people can tell you everything about their neighbours. Their sordid life is coloured by cheap conflicts and some real dramatic events. The apartements look into a dirty courtyard surrounded by high buildings. But those who look high enough can see a patch of blue. ...

  • The crucified church

    The village Sviniţa had to be evacuated and flooded when a dam was built on the Danube. But even before that, the communists destroyed the village church. People have buile themselves new houses, but they have not abandoned the old church. All religious celebrations take place on the lake shore, where they can see the ruined walls rise from the water. ...

  • The Underground Orchestra

    A Venezuelan harp player, a violonist from Sarajevo, an Argentinean piano player, a Malayan singer and a Romanian zither player are the miscellaneous leading characters in this documentary. Although, the film is called "The Underground Orchestra" and initially seems to deal with people who make a living by playing music in the passages of the Parisian subway, the scene of the action gradually shifts to the life above - ground. On the one hand, because shooting a film in the Parisian subway is forbidden since a series of bomb attaks occurred there. On the other hand, an underground world also seems to exist at the surface: many of the musicians who are portrayed have left their native countries for political reasons and are currently living in France as illegal aliens. Their dwellings are tiny "chambres de bonne" under the roofs of the Parisian houses, or overpriced but shabby hotel rooms. Little by little, their musical activities are streamlined. They can be found in the recording studios and concert halls. They have also joined forces in a real "underground orchestra" , that playes underneath the arcades near the Place des Vosges. ...

  • Unto the Fold

    A film about the Gaddis, a transhumant tribe of shepherds who live in the Himalayas. Their life is a continuous journey shaped by the change of seasons. The film captures this rhythm exploring Movement and Rest, Journey and Home, Meetings and Separations.Gods and Goddesses, rituals, songs, festivals and legends emerge as they move their flocks over snow-covered mountains. Their stories are wry, humorous, sad or bitter comments on a society who tries to make them give up their traditional life-style, offering very little in return. ...

  • Vision Man

    Utuniarsuak is an old (87) Inuit hunter who has lived through the transition of his people’s 4000 year old culture into a Western equivalent - literally in his own lifetime. He had always been a part of his arctic world, physically dependent and emotionally attached; but the young peo­ple of his village no longer seem to have this need. This powerful and moving story shares with the viewer the insights of a humorous and contemplative old man who relates how his natural world always was - not only the centre of his existence - but also responsible for shaping who and what he actually is. ...

  • Waiting

    Povilas Jurkstas is an amateur ethnographer. He is an old man, living alone surrounded by piles of things he has collected in a lifetime. He is waiting for tomorrow, the day when he hopes everything is meaningful. ...

  • Way home

    Ancient Russian chronicles mention a glo­rious tribe, the Kumandinians, who fought against the Slav princes. Today, a small community of no more than 1,000 people live in the Altai Republic. They are the descendants of the famous warriors. Svet­lana and Vladimir are Kumandinians. She is a historian, he is a driver. According to Christian kinship, they are cousins, but in the Kumandinian tradition he is her uncle. They have both left their native village, but are strongly tied to the Kumandinian heritage. Coming back home means the happiness of meeting their mothers, the sadness of having lost someone dear and nostalgia for their childhood. In the vil­lage of Sankinail, the kumandinians try to survive as a distinct community. Will there be any Kumandinians in the future? Svet­lana and Vladimir's return to their roots is trying to give an answer. ...

  • Weekend

    The summer weekend brings crowds of day-trippers to the Transylvanian resort of Ocna Sibiului. They are keen to sunbathe, cover themselves with mud, play games, eat ice cream, have sex or simply float in the salted lakes. These people are determined to have a good time in spite of the lack of toilets. This film is an intriguing study of an extraordinary East-European resort. ...

  • White Masks of Putnikovich

    Vido Bagur is a Croatian folklorist and ethnographer. He has done field research in Dalmatian towns and villages for decades, studying traditional songs, dances and customs. During the past few years, he was involved in a programme proposed by the communities themselves: the revitalisation in situ of disappearing customs. The film is about one of the projects, the carnival of the white masks in the village of Putnikovici, in a peninsula in south Dalmatia. To bring forgotten customs back to life is a delicate and responsible process. The basic question the film raises is how truthful such a process can be. The genuine desire of the community to get their cultural identity back is one possible answer. ...

  • YCP 1997

    Built between 1865 and 1876, Yerwada Central Prison (YCP) Pune is one of the oldest prisons in India, with over 2,500 inmates. In this film, six poets and artists of the YCP talk about their work and their lives. Through their poems and musings, the film explores the ways in which they creatively cope with the pain and stigma of incarceration, analysing themselves, the barriers raised by society between "us" and "them", between "normal" and "deviant". ...

  • Yukhagir Stories

    The Yukhagirs are one of the small indigenous peoples of Northern Siberia. The film-maker went to the village of Nelemnoye to explore what it means to be a Yukhagir. ...