Centrul Astra Film

 

 

Astra Film Festival

Astra Film Festival 2002 - Films

  • A Minister Backtracks

    A Danish minister decides to give up her comfortable office and start a private pursuit of a war criminal from Bosnia. As the Minister for Refugees she had witnessed the exhuming of bodies from a mass grave in Bosnia in 1996. Haunted by these images, she decides to expose the massacre that had forced so many people to seek refuge in Western Europe. Her investigation reveals that the massacre was lead by the local school principal. In the summer of 1999, the Minister began an intense pursuit through former Yugoslavia for this man whose name is on the War Crimes Tribunal's secret list of war criminals. A camera team followed her journey, and captured the moment when, after fourteen days of search, she suddenly stood face to face with the man who had inflicted so much pain on so many people. She had been chasing the essence of evil, but when she met up with her nemesis, he turned out to be merely another politician. ...

  • A Student Village

    High on the Hengduan Mountain Range, in the western part of the Yunnan Province, there is a school village unknown and inaccessible to outsiders. The place is called Tian Deng, and it is the location of the only school in an area of over 160 square km of steep mountains terrain and abrupt roads. Thus, it is impossible for the children living in the region to go back and forth to school, so they must live in Tian Deng permanently. Since the school cannot afford to build dorms and a canteen for its students, their parents have made small wooden cabins around the school. In time, eighty such cabins crowded the area. These cabins are home for more than 300 children between six and fourteen years of age. After classes, they have to run their little households to make a fire, cook, wash clothes, and fetch water. No matter how young they are, they have to take care of themselves. From the day they arrive in the students' village, they are invested with the responsibilities of adults. ...

  • A Tale of Two Villages; Modernization and De-modernization of the Romanian Village

    The film looks at the extremes of communist interference in the lives of the inhabitants of two rural villages in Romania. In fifty years of totalitarian regime, rural society underwent dramatic changes. The film examines Nucsoara, a mountain village, whose inhabitants opposed the communist regime, and Scornicesti, a village in the plain, which was used as the emblem of collectivization. Nucsoara remained one of the few isles of private property in communist Romania in spite of the fact that many of the inhabitants were arrested, tortured and even executed due to their resistance. By comparison, those in Scornicesti, Ceausescu's birthplace, were subjected to absurd experiments of social engineering. The two villages are representative of the destiny of rural society in Romania. Do authentic peasants still exist? What is their life like in the aftermath of communism? This film follows the story of the two villages since 1946, in search of answers to these questions. ...

  • Alfred Melotu, the Funeral of a Paramount Chief

    This film is a testament to the life of Alfred Melotu, the Paramount Chief of the Papua speaking people of Fenoaloa, the largest of the Reef Islands, which belong to the Solomon Islands. In 1994, Danish anthropologist Jens Pinholt visited Fenoaloa , and during this visit, he and the Big Men of the Islands discussed future plans for documenting Kastom, the revival of traditional cultural elements among the people. This discussion resulted in a plan to make a film about the life of the Paramount Chief and his constant endeavor to preserve cultural traditions. Melotu's untimely death during the second visit of the film crew in 1996 changed these plans. What was to be an account on the life of a Paramount Chief became a film about his death and funeral. ...

  • Andre and Nandi

    Hungarian-born Andre Reinitz only discovered his Jewish heritage when he moved to Brussels at the age of ten. Since then, in spite of the silence of his parents, he has become involved in the Jewish community as a Klezmer musician. This film follows Andre, torn between Brussels and Budapest, as he tries to learn more about his cultural and familial roots. ...

  • At The Feet Of Castle Régéc

    This student film is an attempt to document the villagers' mental images and beliefs regarding an 18th century castle near the small village of Regéc in Northern Hungary. In the summer of 1999, a team of seven students from the Cultural and Visual Anthropology Department of Miskolc University embarked on a complex four year culture research project to excavate the castle. During that excavation, the usually insular, slightly suspicious locals started telling the stories of their grandparents and great-grandparents. This film records in moving pictures the sayings connected to their castle and the fairytale-like stories that occupy such an important place in the cultural memory of the people of Regéc. ...

  • Children, Kosovo 2000

    Albanian children in Kosovska Mitrovica confess the deepest pains they have experienced in their short lives to the camera. They witnessed how their parents were tortured or killed, and sometimes these children even had to bury a parent by themselves. It is terrifying to hear children relate such horror stories and it is even more terrifying to think that they have actually lived those nightmares. These gruesome stories are amplified by the many images of the area devastated by the war - deserted villages and completely ruined houses, in which some of the children must live. Overall, it is a picture of the absurdity of conflict and its most innocent victims. ...

  • Chimney - Sweep

    They know all the buildings in the city by their roofs. They can find their way to the chimney doors hidden in the attics. On the street, they cannot pass unnoticed, as people turn their heads to look at the top hats they wear as a sign of their trade. Chimney sweeps are proud of their work. It is a risky activity which requires fearlessness of heights, and which demands skills that very few possess. This film follows the daily routine of the chimney sweeps, as well as the superstitions related to their image as luck-bringers. Although they might seem out of time, there still is plenty of need for their profession. ...

  • Daughter from Yan' an

    In this film, we are introduced to the cruel atrocities the Chinese communist government committed against its citizens for the sake of achieving the Cultural Revolution. We see the pain caused by these acts through Haixia, a woman who lives in a rural village of Yan'an in the yellow highlands in China. She was abandoned at birth by her parents and goes on an emotional journey to find them. She wants to know why her parents, former Red Guards “sent down” from Beijing during the Cultural Revolution, gave birth to her only to abandon her. Haixia's passion to find them reveals the realities of those days and forces people of the Red Guard generation to confront their hated past. Huang Yuling, a former “sent youth”, helps Haixia find her father. His strong sympathy comes from his own painful experience of that period, when he had been accused and found guilty of counter-revolutionary activities. After thirty years, Haixia and Yuling set out on their journey for truth. ...

  • Duka's Dilemma

    Duka, a married woman and mother of five young children, lives in Hamar, Southern Ethiopia. Ever since her husband married a beautiful and young second wife, Duka has been in a state of emotional turmoil. Among the Hamar, who live with herds and cultivate small fields of sorghum in their remote, bush-covered country, men are allowed to marry more than one wife but only a few ever do so. Duka wonders why her husband married again. Did he find her too old? Was he disgusted by her chronic malaria? Confused, she doesn't know what to make of the new wife, who is silent and never expresses any feelings, except for rage. On top of everything, her mother-in-law keeps meddling and making trouble. This personal and intimate film follows this family crisis, which culminates with the birth of the new wife's first child. Duka, her husband, her mother-in-law and the second wife voice their different points of view as events proceed and the crisis comes to an end. ...

  • Freedom, I'll Wolf You Down

    Every year, the political and financial elite of the Roma minority in Romania come to a place near an orthodox monastery for what they claim to be the Day of the Roma all over the world. It is an opportunity to show off their luxury cars, heavy gold necklaces and piles of banknotes in a sort of competition. It is also an attempt to promote the image of the Roma ethnic group in the eyes of the majority. Still, most of the Roma live in Romania in extreme poverty and have little in common with these people who pretend to represent them. This outrageous gathering of the richest and most powerful Roma in the country arouses people's curiosity. Romanian politicians find it a good opportunity to collect the votes of the largest minority group in the country, while evangelists see it as a source of proselytes. From the interviews of the participants at the celebration, who are very willing and flattered to speak for the camera, it becomes clear that their perception of freedom is synonymous with wealth. It is their wealth that makes outsiders envious, and the film hints at this envy felt by many people throughout Romania. ...

  • Friends in High Places

    In Burma, where spirit worship has survived both the triumph of Buddhism and the vagaries of a military dictatorship, a lively cult peopled by talented spirit mediums, many of them homosexuals, makes life under one of the world's harshest regimes more bearable. Shot on film without a permit in Burma's capital, Yangon, “Friends in High Places” takes us on a journey into a cult and into the lives of several of these mediums. Guided by two lively Burmese women narrators in their early seventies, we enter an unknown world of moving stories, extravagant costumes, ecstatic music and flamboyant dance. Within this unchartered territory, we discover the unique role the spirit mediums play in Burmese society, acting as social workers and psychiatrists for people from all walks of life. ...

  • Going for Mackerel

    To avoid bad luck, Norwegian fishermen still rely on superstition in spite of the fact that they can count on science, technology and tactical skills for a successful fishing season. The film follows the crew of the Norwegian fishing vessel Havdron as they set out for a new season of mackerel fishing, which constitutes their main source of income. Fishing can be a difficult activity, because of the risks at sea and the instability of the prices on the market. In their attempt to control risk and uncertainty, people turn to magic. The film shows to what extent magical thinking is part of the life and work on board a fishing vessel. In a broader sense, this film challenges our own superstitious ideas and beliefs. ...

  • Green Card

    The dream to obtain the Green Card at the visa lottery for emigration in the USA could be the hope of millions in any country in the Balkans. That aspiration keeps a small Bulgarian village in constant fever. This film explores the image these people hold of what they think life in the U.S. will bring, which provides a source of humor and amazement for the villagers, as compared to life as they know it in Bulgaria. It also explores some motives that drive people to apply for an emigration visa: to escape poverty and to have a comfortable life. Apart from pointing out the differences between the two cultures, the film investigates the emotional side of leaving one's home forever. While most of the villagers would do anything to get a visa, there is a woman who decided to stay, despite the fact that she has one of the coveted visas in her pocket. This film takes a hard look at the frenzy to escape, and the emotional impact of that departure on the people leaving and the people left behind. ...

  • Herdsmen

    Ting, this documentary tracks a Kazakh family in Xinjiang, China's most western province, over the course of a year. The Kazakhs are ethnically related to the people of Kazakhstan. They speak the same language, but whereas Kazakhstan was molded by the Soviets into a nation of farmers and workers, the Kazakhs of Xinjiang have retained their nomadic life, their bond with nature, and their love for animals and horses. The Kazakhs gentle by nature are a small minority among the tenacious people of Xinjiang. In order to survive, they headed off to the mountains and plateaus of the most remote and desolate area of China. The crew follows a typical nomad family with eleven children on their journey in search of grass for their animals. They are confronted with many difficulties, and sometimes they don't find anything to eat for days. Not just about hardships and struggles, there lives are also filled with entertainment and happiness, which underscores their strong and simple belief: grass will grow and so will their children. ...

  • Howrah Howrah

    An excellent observational documentary film shot in Howrah, the central station of Calcutta, one of the largest in Asia. More than an important hub for the transportation of cargo and people, the station is a world in itself. In a ceaseless chaotic movement directed by the megaphoned announcements, people come and go, drag their luggage, and crowd into trains. For others, the station is their home, where they attend a makeshift school and get health care from a mobile medical team. A vagrant dies and his body lies unnoticed on a platform. Out of the colorful tide, the film picks out meaningful details of daily routine and extreme contrasts, from which a condensed representation of the Indian metropolis emerges. ...

  • I Know How

    Boro Miranovic, a former actor, campaigns to be President of the small Republic of Montenegro. His electoral bid consists of cartoonish television spots of him dressed as a gladiator or a body builder giving simple-minded solutions to the pressing issues of the day. In order to remain on the ballot, he needed at least 2000 supporters; but as it turned out, only 200 of the 2000 signatures on his list were valid. This film takes a humorous look at the larger than life buffoonery of his presidential campaign, which is an example of the types of campaigns that happened in many Eastern European countries after the fall of communism. ...

  • Iagalo

    The protagonists of the film are the members of a Gypsy music band. People in the community call them Iagale, meaning fiery, because of their electrifying music. Their fame goes far beyond their village home. In the film, they speak proudly about their admirers, who include stars like Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis. But in spite of their international success and fame, they are not completely happy because at home they do not feel accepted as part of the majority. ...

  • Kusum

    Kusum is an ordinary, 14 years old indian girl. She lives in Delhi, where she goes to school and wonders about her future - she falls ill. She stops eating, isolates herself and suffers raving fits. Evil spirits have attacked the family, says Bhagat, an old healer. Kusum's family initially tries western medicine, but then opts fot traditional indian spiritual healing. It is long road, for spirits are not easy adversaries. Kusum is the toching story of a family's fight against bad luck, poor conditions and disease. ...

  • Letter to the Dead

    The approach of the year 2000 caused a whirlwind of concern in a small village in Papua New Guinea. Rumors about a possible computer catastrophe had reached this remote island, and even there the people worried about the security of their money made from selling palm oil that they keep in bank accounts. Moreover, there is a religious dispute going on, as representatives of several Christian missions try to attract the villagers to their church. While quarreling about the pros and cons, they pay less attention to the rituals that honor the dead. According to traditional belief, the dead help their living relatives, who in their turn must celebrate them by holding special ceremonies. As not much help has come from the dead ancestors lately, people tend to believe that they moved away because they felt neglected. Maybe they moved to a rich country, possibly the one from whence the filmmakers came, or perhaps they left for fear that the white people would put them to work. In exploring the reactions of the villagers caught between tradition and modernity, the film addresses the current issue of identity vs. globalization. ...

  • Maramures

    Christmas time in a village in Maramures, Northern Romania: a time for family reunions. Those who have left the village come home for the winter vacation, particularly as old rituals and traditional celebrations go on ceaselessly from Christmas to New Year's Eve in the rural area. These people pride themselves on having preserved their identity; they have the self-consciousness of being the descendants of the free Dacians, as neither the Roman legions nor other intruders succeeded to conquer their territory. This does not prevent them from looking for a better life elsewhere. The neighboring city used to be their goal until 1989, when another more attractive destination became possible: Western Europe, where work is better paid. The film features a family which is emblematic for what Maramures is today. The elderly perceive city life with disbelief and ironic amusement. The young dream of the “promised land” whether it be in the city next door or in the West, although all they know of the West is based on television cliches and home videos. Some of those who have already left do plan to return after they've made enough money. In doing so, they will also bring their new experiences with them. How this will affect the life in rural Maramures, is hard to predict. After all, who in the village would have dreamed only a few years ago that they would use bulbs from a parade on the Champs Elysee as Christmas decorations? ...

  • Mary's City

    Once known as the City of Steel, San Nicholas has now become Ciudad de Maria, Mary's City, when word spread that Gladys Motta, a woman from a humble neighborhood, has visions of the Virgin Mary. The number of visitors who crowd at her gate begging her to deliver messages to the Virgin Mary grows at a constant and rapid rate. More and more pilgrims from all over the country pour into the city, encouraging the startup of an entire industry for fabricating and selling myths and miracles. From the individuals who sell writing paper and envelopes by Gladys's gate to the manufacturer of small-size replicas of Mary statues, the religious commerce is flourishing. Even the authorities seize the moment and try to sway this new industry to their benefit. The media transmits both real and fabricated happenings to the frenzied public. The fact that Gladys herself remains invisible in the midst of this sheer pandemonium endows her with an aura of mystery and thus, stimulating the public's ever-increasing appetite for more and more fantastic tales. ...

  • Masquerade

    The film offers various perspectives on the traditional winter rituals in Moldova, North Romania. From Christmas to New Year's Day, the rural villages are the stage for a series of rites and ceremonies. They start with the slaughter of the pigs and culminate with a masquerade where all community members are present as actors or spectators. Opening with a nostalgic view, based on his childhood memories, the filmmaker later introduces the rituals as they are performed today. He allows the actors and participants in the rituals to explain the meaning and origin as they know it from oral tradition, while he attempts to link the masks and characters to ancient Egypt, and Greek and Roman mythology. The film analyses tradition and innovation in rural customs, ceremonies and handicrafts, and explores their impact on the lives of the local people. ...

  • Miina!

    Who can fight EU regulations on farming and agriculture? Miina Akkijyrkka is a sculptor, but she is also a protector of Finncattle, the native Finnish dairy breed. She has never followed the mainstream and her courageous and strange actions have aroused a lot of controversy. Being and acting out of the ordinary, Miina is fervently hated by some, and admired and loved by others. This portrait-documentary follows Miina since the 80s to show the tensions and controversies in contemporary Finish society. Coming into conflict with the authorities and the EU directives, she also has controversies with animal protection organizations, gets arrested and her dogs are taken into custody. Meanwhile, she works at a huge statue made of parts of wrecked cars, which she calls The Holy Cow. “I have a big heart,” Miina describes herself, “and I love insanity, deviance and everything abnormal. What others see as trash.” ...

  • Miner's Tale

    Joaquim is a migrant worker from Mozambique, who works on the gold mines of South Africa. He straddles two worlds the modern, urban environment of the mine and the traditional, rural world of his family homestead across the border. He only went to South Africa to earn money, but time has flown and many years have passed before he can pay a visit to his family. In the mean time, he has taken a second wife in South Africa, who looks after him and helps him prepare his journey home. He arrives at his village loaded with presents, but after a warm welcome, he soon faces his family's reproach. His first wife is hurt by his long absence, his son has become an adult and the elders of the community urge him to do his traditional duty and have more children. But this is something Joaquim cannot do, because he is HIV positive. Confronted with the difference between the modern world of South Africa and the traditional life in Mozambique, he tries in vain to find a way to reconcile the two. ...

  • Missionary

    Padre Casimiro is a Polish Catholic missionary in the Bolivian Andes. His parish spans the mountains at an almost inaccessible height that often exceeds 5000 m altitude. He is the only one from the “civilized world” who ventures to reach the people who live in this remote and isolated area. For an entire year, filmmaker Wojciech Staron, accompanied only by his camera, followed the pilgrimage of this fascinating man. Padre Casimiro leads a lonely life, full of obstacles and dangerous trips to the distant corners of his parish. Happy and sad moments alternate in this poetical story of a stranger who tries to understand the world of the South American Indians, which practically has not changed much over the past five hundred years. But more than an incursion into their untamed world, the film is an intimate examination of the heart of the missionary. ...

  • No One Is Immortal

    The ancient Saint Peter's Church is hemmed between motorways and office blocks on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Outside the Sunday masses, the church also serves as the town's cultural center. A bar has been installed, and during the week drinking parties take place. Every Monday is bridge night, and a popular music choir also shares the space. The Church houses the graves of many generations, and but for the immortal rights addressed to these old graves in ancient days, the St. Peter church would have been demolished long ago. Today, the old graves are cared for by families, and occasionally given back to the church, to be so sold and re-used by the many who lineup for one of the limited number of burial plots. The film tells the story of how some people prepare for final rest, and at the same time examines the church's need to adapt to the modern world, and the secularization of sacred, historic Christian sites in the Netherlands. ...

  • Northlands

    Northlands is an ethnographic document of contemporary charcoal-burning and lime-burning in the north woods of Hungary near the village Répáshuta. The film investigates some aspects of Slovakian and German cultural that the charcoal burners and lime burners still keep alive. ...

  • Penitentiary

    Shot in a maximum-security prison in Romania, the film explores the world of the inmates sentenced to life inprisonment. Rather than focusing on the crimes for which they were convicted, the filmmaker inquires about their perception of freedom, punishment and God. Their stories depict prison life and its set of unwritten rules, and how survival is directly related to knowing and observing them. They describe their first day in prison and the twisted hierarchy they have to respect. Their accounts devulge the wrath of informers, the indignities of over-crowded conditions, and the use of self-inflicted illnesses to escape for a few days in the hospital. The friendships that are formed are based on the need for companionship and survival rather than on true affinity. Although an impossibility, they all hope to get out some day, which is the only thing that keeps them going. ...

  • Ravens

    The film tells the story of Dusan Vukovic, a father who decided to refuse the medal awarded to his dead son. Alexander was killed during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and the Slobodan Milosevic regime decorated him for bravery in defending his country. The father's decision to return the medal caused public disputes as well as domestic ones. For Alexander's parents, his death is pointless. They do not see it as the sacrifice of a hero, but rather as a tragic waste. His grandfather, on the other hand, belongs to the generation that had been indoctrinated in the communist spirit. His grandson died defending the nation and he is proud of him. This family, unable to reconcile, is the microcosm of the Yugoslavian society, where people fail to look beyond their own interpretation of the truth. ...

  • Returning Home - Revival of a Bosnian Village

    Filmed between 1999 and 2001, RETURNING HOME documents the return of the internally displaced Muslims and Bosniaks to their homes seven years after being expelled from an ethnically mixed (Bosniak/Croat) village in central Bosnia. The film is a sequel to WE ARE ALL NEIGHBORS, produced in 1993 by Granada Television in co-operation with Tone Bringa. The earlier film chronicled the breakdown in personal relationships between Muslims and Croats; the expulsion of the Muslim population; and the destruction of their homes by Croat (HVO) forces as war overtook the village of Dolina. RETURNING HOME shows how the dream of getting back to their village was a constant, burning desire of the refugees. Moreover, surprisingly we see how the Bosniak refugees find common understanding with the Croat refugees who took over their homes due to their shared experiences. ...

  • Rituals

    In a cinematic essay on life in an isolated village in the Baragan plain, the film explores the indefinite border between reality and myth, revealing the spiritual meanings the villagers assign to the most common things surrounding them. ...

  • River Voices

    Exploring such themes as fatalism and the rebuilding of a community during and after a disaster, RIVER VOICES takes the viewer on a journey of strength, resilience and heroism, as the city faced its most difficult challenge, fresh on the heels of the Great Depression. This documentary chronicles the story of how the community of Portsmouth, Ohio battled the devastating 1937 flood of the Ohio River. Although Portsmouth had a massive floodwall and extensive flood control system that protected the city for 24 years, the technology of man was no match for the river in 1937. Two-thirds of the city was covered in water and more than 34,000 people were left homeless. Told from the point of view of actual flood survivors, the documentary depicts a town with a remarkably strong sense of community, which enabled it to rebuild itself after such a devastating event. Through interviews, personal stories, historical photos, diaries and archival 16mm film footage, RIVER VOICES paints a fascinating portrait of history, culture, and way of life that extends beyond the story of Portsmouth: a snapshot of America as it was after the Great Depression and prior to World War II. ...

  • Runaway

    This film is set in a refuge for girls in Teheran and follows the stories of five girls who come here. These girls, in leaving situation that has become intolerable, show incredible courage and resourcefulness. The film explores their expirience of male authority, their longing for respect and freedom, and their hopes for a brighter future. The centre is run by the dynamic and charismatic Mrs. Shirazi, who protects the girls from their relantionships. The film shows how iranian women are learning to challenge the old rules, and how rapidly their country is changing, ...

  • Shocking Truth

    24-old Lisa has chosen pornography as a theme for her undergraduate university paper. She directs her research towards the porn industry, attempting to analyze both the producers, the real face of porn stars and the consumers that keep the industry working. Her investigation focuses on the destiny of a particular movie star named Cookie, whose experience in the industry of pornographic filmmaking reveals how people like her are subjected to violent, inhuman treatment. In a parallel story, 24-old Mikko, an ex-prostitute, talks about his own experience. The two stories converge in an analysis of what pornography can do to young people, who must live the rest of their lives with scars that never heal. SHOCKING TRUTH is a challenging film that confronts the viewer sometimes by means of extremely violent scenes with the issue of pornography as part of the sexual liberalism in Western societies. This film was first screened for the Swedish and Polish Parliament when they were discussing a law regarding pornography and its negative effects. ...

  • Sleeping Rough

    Homeless men and women in downtown Hamburg were filmed over a six-month period of ethnographic fieldwork. While homeless are often represented as outcasts of society, this film shows the construction of intricate social networks, with alliances and sanctions, not unlike those of the working and consuming public that occupies Hamburg's central business district during daytime. The camera offers a privileged, often candid view of daily routines and work, as well as leisure time which is spent socializing on a public square equipped with a container for luggage. Intimately, and with sometimes disenchanted frankness the protagonists reflect on the circumstances of their situation between romance and tragedy, past disappointments and future ambitions. ...

  • Slices of Time

    Slice of time is a documentary about two grandmothers who were born during World War I, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed and a new state, Yugoslavia was established. They lived in different cultural and religious regions of Yugoslavia: one in Bosnia (mostly Moslem), and the other in Slovenia (mostly Catholic). The two women never met, yet they are connected through their children and grandchildren. ...

  • Staroverii. The Old Belivers

    In Russian, Staroveri means believers of old faith. Their story began as early as the 16th century, when the Patriarch of the Russian Church, with the support of the Czar, imposed religious reforms in Russia. Those who repelled them were brutally persecuted and forced to seek refuge in Siberia or further. Many fled to Europe and some even as far as China, Japan or America, and the community of the old Russians in Romania is among the largest. This film explores the extraordinary power of this community to preserve their language, customs and beliefs, finding in their Christian faith the source for their resistance. ...

  • The Apaches

    In the south of Kosovo, in a valley close to the border with Macedonia, there is a Serb enclave of twelve villages. Two of them are somewhat protected by their central position, while the others do not enjoy the same privilege. Their exposure became more evident with the civil war and its effects on the ethnic relationships. Since 1999, the inhabitants of these villages live in almost complete isolation. All the roads connecting them with the outside world cross Kosovar territory, and are therefore dangerous and not safe for Serbs. Thus, a simple journey becomes an adventure, as they must travel in convoys, under the protection of KFOR armed forces. The film presents another type of victim of the Kosovo war, and scrutinizes the absurdities brought by ethnic conflicts into people's lives. ...

  • The Brigade

    The documentary was filmed on the Yamal Peninsula in West Siberia, where the Nenets have been herding reindeer for centuries. During the Soviet times, they were organized into brigades, and much of that same system still remains today. The filmmaker followed one of the brigades, which looks after several hundred thousand reindeer. In any given year, this brigade will travel several thousand kilometers. The busiest and most arduous time is the calving season, called ty nintch. During this season, the herders must ensure that the new-born calves manage to keep up with the group. No time for sentiment, the runts of the litter are immediately killed for fear they will slow down the journey. It's a race against time as the brigade moves the immense herd across the river before the ice melts. ...

  • The Key

    In a village in the Galilean Mountains, there are two Israeli inhabitants and they are at war. The object of their never-ending dispute is the key to the ancient synagogue. Each of them claims to have the right to keep it, invoking complicated and intricate family ties. Projected on the background of the endless Middle East conflict, their quarrel is a tragicomedy of human nature. What causes people to fight each other? Why is reconciliation practically impossible? Nevertheless, the two enemies find common ground when an outsider starts to build a new synagogue nearby. "When somebody attacks from the outside," one of the characters explains, "all Jews would unite in spite of their domestic disagreements. But when the conflict is over, they eat each other alive and the Arabs just sit aside and laugh their heads off." Following this small scale conflict, with its amusing, ridiculous, and sometimes moving moments, the viewer may ponder the broader question: Is there a key to the Middle East situation? ...

  • The Last Yugoslavian Footbal Team

    The Film follows some of the football players of Yugoslavia's dream team of the 80s, exploring how political and ethnic conflicts can turn the sports arena into a battlefield for political and ethnic disputes. Once idolized as national heroes, they were cheered by fans all over the country. Since the 90s, the separation of the ex-Yugoslavian republics has divided them into different national teams. Now, the former team-mates and friends are pitted against each other, and the same crowd that a few years ago used to revere them, now boo the Croatians playing in Belgrade and jeer the Serbs playing in Zagreb. The camaraderie that once united them during their glory days has not survived. In spite of their desire to continue their old friendships, they cannot resist the competitive pressure put on them by a sport that celebrates individual, physical dominance over the spirit of the game. ...

  • The Loan, the Chicken and the Egg

    Buusaa, a small Ethiopian business created by political activists upon their release from prison, offers loans to poor people. The intensive campaign for attracting clients finally shows results. One of the agents manages to convince the women in his village to make small loans that would help them earn enough money to improve their living situations and pay back the loan. Their high hopes are dashed when reality deviates from the path forecasted by the agent. One woman purchases a chicken of an American breed. All is well at first as the chicken lays eggs, the eggs hatch into chicks, and the chicks grow into full-grown, egg producing chickens. But when a rat starts eating the eggs, happy times turn sour. The woman decides to poison the rat, but the rat poison is eaten instead by the American chicken, which dies. Nevertheless, the loan must be repaid. Doubt arises among the borrowers as they face more and more hardships, and the Buusaa agents must use all their talents for persuasion to keep their clientele. Heated discussions reveal the problems of day-to-day survival and make them rethink their ideologies. ...

  • The Man With a Thousand Eyes

    Called the dean of photojournalists, Josif Berman, who lived in Romania between 1890 and 1941, was attracted to the avant-garde movement and made a great contribution to the development of ethnographic photography. As a photographer, Berman documented extraordinary social events, witnessed crucial historical moments, and knew just about all the big names of his time who had an influence over the destiny of Romania. This film is about a man whose life was meaningful only as long as he could photograph, and about his photos which bear witness to an era. ...

  • The Restorer

    Count Tibor Kalnoky was born in Germany, and lived there, as well as in the USA, Holland and France. Some years ago, he decided to settle in Transylvania, being the descendant of one of the oldest Transylvanian noble families. Today he is a public figure and an active participant in the development of the region. When he first went there in search of his roots, he found the two family castles in ruin. The film follows his account of the restoration process, which in the count's opinion must be much more than reconstructing walls. Restoration can be a paradox, as he puts it, and it is difficult to change the face of things without destroying their spirit. The decoration of the rooms, combining tradition and modern comfort with exquisite taste, proves that Kalnoky succeeded to find this balance. More than just a story of the restoration of two old buildings, the film is an allegory of how a man reconnects to the spirit of his roots. ...

  • The Sardine' s Girls

    This film takes a look at the circumstances, culture and environment of women currently working in a cannery in France. Douarnenez, a small town on the coast of Brittany, once boasted twenty canneries. Today, only three are left and they offer jobs to about three hundred women. The camera follows some of them on the production line, where speed and precision are essential skills to keep the aggregate working. Gradually, the viewer comes to know the workers beyond their automatic gestures, finding out what they think about while their hands keep the rhythm of the production line, how they view their condition and what are their expectations. Some are proud of their work while others merely see it as a temporary job. The new employees do their best to keep up with the mechanical pace of the experienced workers, whose movements have become second-nature. Although there is little, if any, time to talk during the work day, the women manage to share hopes and establish friendships that extend beyond the walls of the cannery. ...

  • The School

    THE SCHOOL is a documentary about an intercultural school in Athens serving two communities. More than half of the children are Turkish-speaking Muslims in a city dominated by Greek speaking Orthodox Christians. In an environment often tending to social prejudice and xenophobic nationalism, the teachers are committed to create a "normal" school for children of both communities. For a year, this documentary follows life in the school and in the neighborhood, and intimately looks at the integration of minorities into Greek society. Only recently, has public debate in Greece addressed the ethnic majority's racist perceptions of and discriminations against the minority groups, and the legitimate expectations of these groups to have their language, culture and faith respected and supported by the state and society. Through the examination of the obstacles and difficulties the teachers face, THE SCHOOL attempts to make a broader comment on the effectiveness of individual acts to change racist attitudes and stereotypes. ...

  • The Shelter

    An excellent anthropological approach to the everyday life of an old woman, who lives in a modest house in the mountains far from her village of birth. The filmmaker follows her daily routine with great sensitivity, conveying the hardships she faces living alone. The film documents the ethnografic aspects of her rural life, such as bread making, sheep milking, and haycock building, in an organic manner which does not overpower the flow of the story. For her, the days and seasons unfold slowly. Occasionally, the simple pattern of her lonely life is punctuated by news from the village brought by her son. In a slow, yet captivating rhythm, the film succeeds to portray a world very different from our fast-paced reality. ...

  • The University Professors

    Through the accounts of some university professors, the film offers a personal view of the recent history of university life in the city of Cluj. It looks at the time period between the end of World War II and the present day. The professors' careers started in the troubled 50s, when the newly installed communist regime was imposing its own system of values. Their professions, as well as their personal lives, flourished at a time when all aspects of life were controlled by the authorities. Through these personal testimonials, the film presents one generation's take on the cultural and academic life at the Cluj University. ...

  • The Wives of Haj - Abbas

    Haj-Abbas built a house with two similar wings for his two wives, bought them the same presents and tried to live in harmony with both of them. After his death, the two old, childless widows remain to live together in the same house. Their everyday lives reveal a strange relationship, and a lifetime of rivalry and conflict has given way to some affection. Their subtle gestures and behaviors toward each other provide a glimpse into what their lives together must have been like for all those years. Beyond the humorous and sometimes ridiculous moments, at the heart of the film is the story of two women who had to find a way to co-exist, and now, facing old age, illness and death, they discover they only have each other for comfort. ...

  • The World of Sounds, Traditional Romanian Musical Instruments

    The film presents the diverse, traditional musical instruments of Romania in an encyclopedic manner. The particular sound of each instrument is analyzed from the point of view of its role in the specific tunes of the region from whence it comes. Besides the classic wind and string instruments, things like tree leaves or fish scales are also used to produce music. In describing the variety of traditional instruments, the film draws a musical map of Romania. ...

  • Them and Me

    THEM and ME shows the hidden parts of anthropological fieldwork. How does an anthropologist gain the trust of the people whom he is observing? How does one become integrated into their society? Is it possible to remain distant and objective without inflicting one's own values on the community being observed? Through his lens, he provides the viewer with a glimpse into the lifestyle and behaviors of the aboriginal people he is studying, and further widens that angle of understanding through the use of interviews with community members and his running commentary, which describe his thoughts and reactions to what he witnesses. This film, through its use of community interviews combined with the filmmaker's oral journal, provides one anthropologist's unique and interesting approach to anthropological field work and filmmaking. ...

  • Tito

    The film deals with the personal life of Josip Broz Tito, the man who single-handedly kept Yugoslavia together through sheer force of will for 40 years. Partisan, prisoner, dictator, celebrity, Tito's story is here told by the people who knew him best. Colleagues, friends, and servants all give their account of the man who led strife-torn Yugoslavia from German occupation in World War II and walked it down a political tightrope for 40 years, gaining the respect and admiration of both the Soviet and Western superpowers. ...

  • Transylvania Mythica

    The villagers in the Apuseni Mountains in the Carpathians celebrate St. George's Day by performing a ritual rooted in the pre-Christian times. The ritual was originally designed to purify people and their animals, and ensure the fertility of land for the coming agrarian year. Similarly, it was meant to keep away evil spirits, who were likely to descend on earth on that particular night. This film follows the ritual as it happens today, giving voice to the performers' current interpretations of its meaning. ...

  • We Have the Same Kind of Blood

    In the small mountain village of Pachnali, Nepal's 1990 ban on discrimination based on the caste system has no effect. The Thakuri, members of an upper caste, and the Dalit, divided in several lower castes, have no contact whatsoever, except for some labor the latter do for their superiors. Upper caste members do not accept the Dalit in their temples and they even use separate water taps to prevent the slightest chance of physical contact. The Dalits, however, have an intricate system of unwritten laws that govern the relationships among their lower castes. Albeit interaction with superior castes is out of the question, each of the lower castes observes a set of rules that forbids contact with some, but allows relationships with others. The film gives voice to the Dalit, who express their own opinions and try to explain to themselves and to the viewer the origin and correctness of the caste system. Despite the decline in its strict adherence, the caste system is likely to persist in conservative, rural areas such as the village Pachnali. ...

  • Winter at 3000 Meters

    Qiang, descendants of one of the oldest ethnic groups living in China, is the focus of this film. The subject matter is presented with an extraordinary anthropological sensibility. The filmmakers follow a 9-year-old girl, Cong Huan, who lives with her family in a village 3000 meters high in the mountains with no access road. It is a small settlement, isolated on the highland, with no more that one hundred households. The elders speak Qiang language and cherish their customs. Cong Huan's parents decide that she too must speak the language and learn the Qiang customs, which leads to the heart of this film. Through Cong's education, the viewer is able to listen to old storytellers weave their tales; hear the traditional songs; see the dances; and watch as her mother, an experienced artisan teaches the techniques for creating the traditional handicrafts. In moments of leisure, Cong and her friends play, reproducing the adults' efforts for everyday survival. It is their way of learning from a very young age to adapt to the harsh conditions, as life at 3000 meters is more than just a game. ...

  • Women, the Forgotten Face of War

    WOMEN, THE FORGOTTEN FACE OF WAR is the story of ethnic cleansing seen through the eyes of women of all ages, who make up an increasing amount of the victims of modern war. It features women who have survived the most recent crisis in the Balkans: the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Ordinary women speak about living with the scars of gang rape and having witnessed the executions of their husbands and children. These are real stories about women and their amazing journeys as they try to piece their lives back to normal. The film explores what happens to ordinary women, whose lives have been turned upside down and changed forever by war. ...