Centrul Astra Film

                                                              

Astra Film Festival

Astra Film Festival 2006 - Films

  • “We are girls, but...” - Women Artists In Romania Between Everyday Life And Visions

    The documentary portrays five women artists who are living and working in different cities in Romania. Each story can stand for itself, but the film relates them to each other following similar subjects in order to contrast attitudes, ways of living and working (art works/ projects) in the context of the contemporary art scene in Romania. The camera accompanies the women during their everyday life activities (at home, in the studio, with friends) and to special events (exhibition, openings, art parties). With close and intimate pictures the film offers a deeper insight into personal life situations. The women tell about their art work, everyday life routine and the difficulty to be creative as an artist while having a job for a living. The author also focuses on the difficulties the characters experience as women artists living in an environment where old fashioned mentalities regarding gender roles/ relations in society still prevail. ...

  • A Few Things About Queen Marie

    "I was barely seventeen when I came to you. I was young and ignorant, but very proud of my native country, and even now, I am proud to have been born an Englishwoman... but I bless you, dear Romania, country of my joy and my grief, the beautiful country which has lived in my heart" (Queen Marie of Romania). The film is conceived as a personal account. Fragments of the Queen's biography are interpreted by the acclaimed actress Maia Morgenstern, whose profile is projected on a background of archive footage and photographs. ...

  • A Hospice in Amsterdam

    Western culture is youth-oriented. It is a death-denying culture but even so one dies several times before physiologically expiring, and the process can be stigmatizing for both the dying and his or her family. A nursing home is the place bearing the capacity to absorb the shock of this final rite-of-passage. When family and friends can no longer take care of you, a nursing home remains an option. The film intimately observes the daily routine of volunteers and patients in a nursing home in Amsterdam. ...

  • And Then, Who Are We?

    Three and a half million Jews used to live in Poland before 1939. 350,000 of them survived the Holocaust. How many Jews are living in Poland today? Nobody knows for sure. Directed as a personal journey, the film attempts to discover the life of Poland's so-called "new Jews", sixty years after the Holocaust and fifteen years after the fall of communism. Since 2001, when the Polish President officially acknowledged the pogroms thus taking the first step towards reconciliation, the Jewish community has tried to renew Jewish life. What does this renewal mean for the few thousands - or maybe even less - Polish Jews? The film looks for answers to these questions and reveals what it means to be a Jew in today's Poland. ...

  • Apocalypse By Cioran, The

    "Universal history is nothing more than a chain of recurring catastrophes waiting for the final catastrophe."(E. Cioran) The film brings the viewer to Cioran's home in Paris, walks along with him to his favorite places, and records his recollections of a "lost Paradise", his place of birth in a village near Sibiu, where he never returned. We meet Cioran the philosopher and Cioran the man, profound and explosively humorous, shortly before his departure from this world. The film is narrated by the Romanian philosopher Gabriel Liiceanu. ...

  • Balkan Champion

    The 1990s were troubled years in Romania's recent history, a period of confusion and anxiety. The status quo of the communist regime was gone. Before, Ceausescu had been everybody's enemy, and this situation had created a certain solidarity between people. It was rather easy to distinguish between friends and enemies. With the dictator's physical disappearance, people felt free to express all their frustrations. And most often they did it in a violent way. The background was favourable for conflicts of all sorts, including ethnic conflicts. The film reveals this period through first-hand experience. The main character is the author's father, and his involvement in the events that followed the Revolution has provoked crucial changes in the life of his family. As a distinguished member of the Hungarian ethnic minority, he firmly expressed his position against the communist Secret Service (Securitate). In early 1990, it was an act of political suicide, and even put his life in danger. After sixteen years and after running for Parliament for five times, this champion of correctitude and intransigence does not find his place in the new system. ...

  • Borderline Lovers

    A Croatian woman from Dubrovnik has been dating a Montenegrin whose compatriots were attacking her city not long ago. At a young couple, marriage in Sarajevo, neither the groom's nor the bride's parents attended the wedding. His father had faught in the Serbian Army while her family had been under siege on the other side. Anesa and Dragan both live in Mostar. But the fact that she lives in the Eastern part of the city and he lives in the West makes a great difference. The film tells the story of couples who refuse to be separated by artificial boundaries. "I am interested in people who refuse to fail. Or, rather people who have the courage to behave as authentic individuals, regardless of boubdaries imposed on them."says director Miroslav Mandic. ...

  • Born Into Servitude

    The institution of servitude has long standing traditions all over Transylvania, and Székelyföld is no exception. At the turn of the century, more than half of the inhabitants of the settlement called Kibed were servants, or at least had been in their childhood, partly due to economic reasons. The story begins in 1999, with teenager Levente Fülöp starting to work as a servant, and ends in 2004, when he has grown into an adult. He and his brother Csaba are bound to their working place and breaking free from this modern slavery system is very difficult if not impossible. The film parallels the lives of Levente and Csaba to those of their two luckier brothers, who live in better conditions and have access to education. Far away from their parents, the four siblings will have to manage by themselves in their attempt to start a new life. ...

  • Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

    The film observes an ancient Kyrgyz custom, which is still active today although it has been declared illegal some years ago. In Kyrgyzstan, one of the former Soviet Republics in Central Asia, a man would abduct the woman he has chosen for a wife. Typically, he takes several friends, hires a car, stakes out his bride-to-be's movements, snatches her off the street, and takes her to his family home. A delegation is then sent to her family to inform them of the kidnapping. The abducted woman is kept by the groom's relatives until someone from her family arrives to discuss the marriage. The level of consent and the familiarity of the bride with the groom vary. Sometimes the kidnappings are consensual - the bride is engaged to the groom and agrees to the kidnapping. In this case, the kidnappings are merely playful rituals. In many other cases however, the bride does not want to marry her suitor, or has never even met him before. Recent studies estimate that about half of all marriages in Kyrgyzstan today are conducted through kidnapping and that in half of these cases the woman is forced into marriage against her will. This documentary follows the dramatic stories of four of non-consensual kidnappings. ...

  • Caravane

    A journey across one of the largest sand deserts in the Sahara area is a tough enterprise. The only way to do it is by camels, as no car can get through. A man's job, one would think. Anthropologist Ingrid Poulsen was intrigued to hear the story of a caravan lead only by women which set out for this dangerous journey every year in September. The film follows the women's caravan, observing the preparations of the journey, and traveling with them all the way for six whole weeks in an attempt to understand why these women have chosen to lead this kind of life. ...

  • Carpatia

    The Carpathians link the Alps with the Balkan Mountains like a spinal cord extending from Central Europe to the East, and branching off as far as western Ukraine. A journey to the rural regions of the Carpathians is an opportunity to encounter ethnic groups with weird names such as the Hutsul or the Gorals, to meet people who still live according to ancient customs and believe in wizards, to see traditional trades alive, and to realize that, as strange at it may seem, everything is part of a common European cultural heritage. This documentary is a poetic journey portraying people, places and the spectacular landscape of the Carpathian Mountains. ...

  • Children of the Decree

    In October 1966 Nicolae Ceausescu siged Decree no. 770, which made abortions illegal in Romania. The punishment was imprisonment. The only exceptions were women over 40 and those who had at least 4 children in care. For the Dictator, the decree was the birth certificate of the New Man, obtained through racial and ethnical purification. In reality, Ceausescu symbolically signed his own death sentence: "after a quarter of a century, he was going to be killed by the very children born at his own command". Born on command is above all a testimony aimed to prevent people from forgetting and repeating the mistakes of the past. ...

  • Clara B.

    Through archive images, news and authentic pictures from the beginning of the 20th century, the film tells the fictionaty story of Clara B., photographer and reporter, an independent and strong woman - born in Strasbourg in 1901 and who lived her life between France and Germany. Another fictional character, Jonas, museum curator, recomposes her existence. He discovers Clara B. through the documents donated to the museum where he works. A meditation on the memory of archives and the history of the 20th century. ...

  • Coming to Light

    Edward S. Curtis was a driven charismatic, obsessive artist, a pioneer photographer who set out in 1900 to document traditional indian life. He created an enormous body of work - 10,000 recordings, 40,000 photographs, and a full lenght ethnographic motion picture. When Curtis began photographing Indians, he believed that their cultures were vanishing. When he finished in 1930, his own work vanished into obscurity , then was rediscovered in 1970s and helped to inspire the traditional on many reservations. Coming to Light tells the dramatic story of Curtis's life, the creation of his monumental work and his changing views of the people he set out to document. The film also gives Indian people a voice in the discussion of Curtis's images. Descended from Curtis' subjects or who are using his photographs for cultural preservation respond to the pictures, tells stories about the people in the photographs, and discuss the meaning of the images. ...

  • Dead Birds

    Dead Birds is a film about the Dani, a people dwulling in the Grand Valley of the Baliem high in the mountains of West Irian. "When I shot the film in 1961, the Dani had an almost classic Neolithic culture. They were exceptional in the way they focused their energies and based their values on an elaborate system intertribal warfare and revenge. Neighbouring groups of Dani clans, separated by uncultivated strips of no man's land engaged in frequent formal battle. When a warrior was killed in battle or died from a wound and even when a woman or a child lost their life in an enemy raid, the victors celebrated and the victims mourned. Becaude each death had to be avanged, the ballance was continually being adjusted with the spirits of the aggrieved lifted and the ghosts of slain comrades satisfied as soon as a compesating enemz life was taken. There was no thoughts in the Dani world of wars ever ending, unless it rained or became dark. [...] " ( R. Gardner). Dead Birds has a meaning which is both immediate and allegorical. In the Dani language it refers to the weapons and ornaments recovered in battle. Its other more poetic meaning comes from the Dani belief that people, because they are like birds, must die. ...

  • Divorce Iranian Style

    The film is set in the Family Law Courts in Central Tehran. The three main character are Jamileh who panishing her husband for beating her, Ziba, a 16 year old girl who is trying to get a divorce from 38 years old husband, and Maryam who is fighting for the custody of her daughters. The film moves away from portraying Iran as a country of war, hostages and fatwas. It concentrates instead on ordinary women who come to this court to try and transform theirr lives. ...

  • Faces

    If you have been born and you live in the Danube Delta, and you own a fisherman's boat, you don't have to worry too much about today and about tomorrow. At least, that's what locals used to think. Owning a boat means that you can fish and feed your family, and it also means communication. Surrounded by waters, the only way people can get from one place to another is by boat. The film tells the story of the transition period in the Danube Delta, an isolated area at the Eastern Romanian border, governed by other rules than the rest of the country. According to the locals, they are the first Romanians to see the sun rise and the last to see justice done. In the recent years, some nouveaux riches have seized the opportunities offered by the Danube Delta and started fishing or tourism businesses there, most of the times at the disadvantage of the locals. The film explores the ways they find to cope with this new situation. ...

  • Fat Fiancees

    For the Bahima people of western Uganda, fat is beautiful - at least for women. Men measure a woman's attractiveness by her obesity, and a young woman is prepared for marriage in ways guaranteed to "fatten her up." She is given the least possible activity and the most possible food. By the time of her marriage, the young woman may be so fat that she cannot walk, only waddle. Once married, a wife is kept fat by consuming surplus milk from the cowherd. She leads a life of "leisure" - she is assigned no heavy physical work and rarely leaves home. The obese, conspicuously consuming wife is a symbol of her husband's economic prosperity. In this film Sheila, 17, is fattened for her marriage to Moses. But Sheila wants a different life. She would prefer to stay at home with her parents and still go to school.The film tells the story of the tradition vs. modernity conflict in the form of a lush and compelling story. ...

  • Favela Rising

    A favela is a Brazilian squatter settlement. Favela is the home of drug dealers, and a place where murder is an everyday event. Anderson Sa is a former drug dealer haunted by the deaths of his family members and those of many of his friends. His way to fight against crime and violence is hip-hop music. The rhythms of the street and the Afro-Brazilian dance rally his community to war against the violent oppression enforced by teenage drug armies and sustained by corrupt police. At the dawn of liberation, just as collective mobility is overcoming all odds and Anderson's grassroots Afro-Reggae movement is at the height of its success, a tragic accident threatens to silence the movement forever. ...

  • Forest of Bliss

    Forest of Bliss is an unsparing yet redemptive account of the inevitables grieves, religious passions and frequent moments of happiness that punctuate daily life in Benares, India's most holy city. The film unfolds from one sunrise to the next without commentary, subtitles or dialogue. It is an attempt to give the viewer a holy authentic though greatly magnified and concentated sense of participation in the experiences examined by the film. "In late 1984 and early 1985 I was back in Benares making Forest of Bliss, a film about which I had pondered at length since my first unsettling visit ten years earlier.I have shaped the film so that it occupies the time between two sunrises. It stand as an exclusively visual statement resorting neither to voiced commentary nor subtitles. It is about people being and also dying". ...

  • Forever Yours

    Our grandparents' lives are coloured in sepia. They fascinate us because they are related to events we have read about in history books or seen in old newsreels. Forever Yours bears the charming perfume of the good old times before WW2, but it is much more than that. The author of the film discovers a photograph taken in Mumbai, which could be a proof that her grandfather, whom her grandmother never ceased to love and to mourn, could still be alive. The charismatic figure of the grandmother together with romantic pre-WW2 footage complete this emotional and disturbing journey in seek of the truth. ...

  • Friends, Fools, Family. Rouch's Collaborators in Niger

    On the 18th February 2004, Jean Rouch was driving down a desert road together with his friend Damouré. Suddenly, out of the darkness, a trailer blocked their way. The car drove straight into it, and Rouch died instantly. Worldwide, Jean Rouch is known to many as an anthropologist and innovative filmmaker. Much of his work is linked to the birth of cinéma vérité. However, Rouch's 50 year involvement with a particular group of people in Niger shines a more personal light on his work - one of friendship and collaboration. Together with this particular group of friends, Rouch has made numerous ethnographic films. Upon his arrival in 2004, they had yet another film in the works. Sadly, Lam Ibrahim Dia, a founding member of the group, had passed away in 2001. The others, namely Damouré, Moussa and Tallou, were eagerly awaiting Rouch's return. The year prior to Rouch's death, the authors went to Niger to make a film with his friends. They were curious to know how Rouchts friends had experienced all these years of working with him and the cinema. Unaware of Rouch's fate a year later, these friends joined the authors on a journey to explore this unique collaboration that changed their lives. ...

  • Furriadroxus

    Furriadroxus could be translated as the secluded, or isolated place. At Malfatano, on southern Sardegna, only a few hundred yards from the well-known beach of Tuerredda, you come across the first furriadroxus. These typically local habitats are scattered along the coast and most tourists ignore their existence. But the locals do not ignore the invasion of tourists on the Tuerredda beach. The film explores the microcosm of the furriadroxus people as opposed to the consumerism of the tourists. ...

  • Gambare

    The documentary tells the history of the neighborhood Liberdade in Sao Paulo, a main point of reference for the commercial and cultural habits of the Japanese community living in Brazil. The film portrays the Japanese immigrants' lifestyle and discusses their influence on the esthetic and cultural composition of the region. The Japanese community itself is subjected to change. They face ideological contrasts between generations, as well as changes in social behavior. ...

  • Getting Back

    When you are fifty and you have been away from the world for ten years, it is quite a challenge to regain your place in society. The film tells the story of 50 years old Andrej who has been released from prison after having served a ten years' sentence. His old apartment is a ruin; he has no income whatsoever and no one to rely on, except his mother who stands by him during this difficult time in his life. Finding a job and really getting back to a normal life is his utmost desire. Will he succeed? ...

  • Gold Seekers

    Gold has always fascinated people's minds. The film explores the essential role it hasplayed in a history of a community living in a gold mining area in Transylvanya. While explaining the technical differences betweem gold mining and gold washing, the interwies reveals old stories of legendary shafts where you can sill find massive gold veins, and of miners who dug out dozens of kilograms of pure gold in only one night. The characters also talk about how the lucky miners used to spend their fortunes, and about the early ears of communism, when the regime imposed state control on all cold mine activities. "Gold has brought us good luck, but it has also been a curse" - mining and gold washing techiniques face extinction, but the fascination for gold remains untouched. ...

  • Here we are

    The film tells the moving story of a family in search of its roots. After the World War II, the Krnác family moved from Central Slovakia to Sub-Carpathian Ukraine, and a village in the Kazakh steppe became their home for more than fourty years. When the USSR ceased to exist, they decided to move back to Europe, i.e. to Slovakia, a country they knew little about, except from the stories they had heard from their parents. But in Slovakia they find neglected villages and unemployment, and the chances for a better life are scarce. Meanwhile, memories of their lives in the Kazakh village get stronger and stronger every day. The question arises: Where is their real home? ...

  • Hidden Sorrows

    This documentary chronicles the rarely told narratives of Gypsy survivors of Nazi persecution in Romania as they remember their experiences during WWII in the context of their lives today. During WWII, Gypsies were slated alongside Jews and other populations for extermination. In each country occupied or allied with Nazi Germany, their fate was similar. Nearly 500,000 are supposed to have perished due to systematic extermination, forced marches, starvation, exposure, diseases, and abuses. Romania, The Gypsies' experience critically altered their lives. Survivors share with viewers their shocking deportation from Romania to camps where they fought to survive by any means necessary. Hidden Sorrows reveals the continued struggle of Gypsies for equality in a society that views them as second-class citizens. It examines the present impoverishment of the survivors and their descendants as well as discrimination facing them daily. ...

  • Holy Men and Fools

    The story of two Hindu sadhus, Uma and Vasisth Giri, one of Swedish woman, the other a 29 year old Indian. Together they go on a pilgrimage of self-discovery into the high Himalayas to the source of the River Ganges, searching out the saints and mystics of Hinduism. They meet a sadhu who has nit spoken a word for 12 years. They spend days living in the caves and huts of reclusive ascetics. After 27 years searching Uma finally discovers the spiritual master she has always been searching for. ...

  • I Love You As You Are

    Every year, in Lisbon, at the beginning of summer, Saint Anthony's Day is celebrated. In the oldest districts, street festivities and popular community marches are organized. On Saint Anthony's night, each district presents its march in a competition parade along the city's main avenue. This film follows a family from the Bica neighborhood during the preparation and rehearsals for the parade through the point of view of its various members. The expectation grows: will Bica neighbourhood win this year's March? ...

  • In Search Of Happiness

    In 1934, Stalin had the strange idea of founding a so-called Siberian Israel, with the capital Birobidzhan. The hero of the film, Boris Rack, was born in the very same year, and the story of his life mirrors the fate of the weird land conceived by Stalin. Boris Rack is a person who lost his nationality, his culture and his language. His children migrated to Israel. The only concrete thing in his life is the ruined kolkhoz he used to work for as a manager. ...

  • In Search Of The Hamat'sa: A Tale Of Headhunting

    The Hamat'sa (or "Cannibal Dance") is the most important-and highly represented-ceremony of the Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl) people of British Columbia. This film traces the history of anthropological depictions of the dance and, through the return of archival materials to a First Nations community, presents some of the ways in which diverse attitudes toward this history inform current performances of the Hamat'sa. With a secondary focus on the filmmaker's fieldwork experience, the film also attends specifically to the ethics of ethnographic representation and to the renegotiation of relationships between anthropologists and their research subjects. Although the Hamat'sa was outlawed by the Canadian government from 1884 until 1951 as part of a broad policy of assimilation, the Kwakwaka'wakw maintained knowledge of the dance, in part through participation in performance displays in ethnographic contexts such as films and world's fairs. During the same period, they came under intense anthropological scrutiny, especially with the voluminous work of Franz Boas and the popular photography of Edward S. Curtis. Since the 1950s, the dance has reemerged in both ceremonial and intercultural contexts, and now claims pride of place as a kind of cultural emblem for the Kwakwaka'wakw. ...

  • Into the Field

    Into The Field follows the everydays lives of nuns in the Romania Orthodox monastery of Varatec. Documenting the nuns's relationships and roles within their community, it focuses on the ordinary and mundane aspects of their daily routines, conveying how seemingly secular activities are interwoven with the more explicitly spiritual sides of monastery existence. Utilizing an observational style of filming combined with both informal and formal interviews, it explore the concept of "obedience work" and how this principle is followed on a day-to-day basis. The film provides a look at the larger structure of the monastery, as well as glimpses into several of the nuns' personalities, backgrounds, and life choices that led them to the convent. It additionally incorporates several sequences of stop-motion animation into the film narrative structure, in order to reflexively depicts some of the anthropologist's own challenges of working in the field. ...

  • Jiu River Valley People

    Jiu River valley is the most important mining area in Romania. Over the years, it has been the scene for many conflicts. In 1977, the miners from Jiu River valley had the courage to oppose the Ceausescu regime. Later, in the early 90's they were used by the politicians in power in their attempt to reduce to silence the democratic opposition in the country. Their violent interventions in Bucharest have entered recent history under the name of mineriads. After these turbulent episodes, the Jiu River valley miners find it difficult to escape the label of violent people. Using the observational style, the film tells their real life story. ...

  • Just Married

    The film tells the story of two couples who decide to marry although they know that a life together is not possible for them in Israel. Kifah is an educated career woman. She is politically active and she truly believes that there is a chance for coexistence and peace in the Middle East. Her spouse was born in Gaza and she has to go to Berlin to be able to live with him. Suhad is a 23 years old student from Bethlehem. She is engaged to an Israeli. After the wedding, she becomes an illegal resident in her husband's home in Jerusalem. Whenever she wants to visit her parents, she must sneak through breaches of the secured area, and carefully avoid to be seen by soldiers. Her pregnancy makes these trips even more difficult. Just Married tells about the absurdities generated by political conflicts in people's private lives. ...

  • Koriam's Law and the Dead Who Govern

    The old man walks along the line of people waiting to receive him, leaning heavily on a cane. He shakes each proffered hand, moving closer, filling more and more of the frame. He looks to camera, and says, "Will I shake your hand too?" For a moment, it seems as though the question has been put to the viewer. But a voice off-screen answers in the affirmative, and a hand emerges from beneath the camera, taking the old man's and shaking it firmly. This instance, which blurs the line between viewer and film, filmmaker and subject, is typical of the documentary Koriam's Law - and the dead who govern. This is the story of the Kivung in the town of Pomio, an influential religious and political movement, called by some a 'cargo cult', on the island of East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. ...

  • Leaving Transylvania

    After the collapse of communism in Romania, thousands of ethnic Germans emigrated from Transylvania to Germany. The exodus continued year after year. The young Saxons, or ethnic Germans, were eager to leave Romania dreaming of a prosperous future in the West. For the elder, however, migration was a traumatic experience. Leaving Transylvania documents this dramatic situation seen trough the eyes of an elderly couple from a village called Arbegen / Agirbiciu. Hans and Maria Kenzel, aged 70, are two of the very few who decided to stay. The Kenzels look after the local church fortress, ring the bells and wind up the clocks. Dusting off pews in the huge empty church seems to be their only link to the old times. They have two options: to leave everything behind them or to stay. ...

  • Lucky Draw

    Although not recorded and studied by psychologists or sociologists, the prolongued youth syndrome is frequent in Serbia. The term refers to people in their late twenties or even in their thirties, who are compelled to live with their parents because they have no other housing option. Jelena's family lives in Belgrade. Three generations live under one roof. At 27, Jelena wants a place of her own. Her father refuses to lend her the money she needs for the rent, but her mother is supportive. She collects coffee-bags, because the prizes offered by a promotional campaign for a coffee brand could be the answer to Jelena's problem. ...

  • Milking the Desert

    Frederic came from France to become a novice at the St. Moses Abyssinian monastery in the desert of Syria. We follow him and Syrian monk Boutrous through their daily chores and routines: milking goats, making cheese and praying. Their lives create a backdrop for Muslim and Christian relations in the area. ...

  • My Destiny's Road

    Maruja is the youngest member of a gang called "The Warriors" in San Juan de Lurigancho, one of Lima's poorest and most violent districts. A warrior's main concern is to survive. Although Maruja is only twelve, he must support his brothers and his mother, and also finds time to go to night-school. My Destiny's Road tells his story, which is the story of thousands of young people born in Lima's marginal neighbourhoods. ...

  • New Eldorado

    A village where many houses have been preserved for centuries. A village where people treasure their land, their church and their long-gone ancestors. A village surrounded by mountains hiding tons of gold and silver ore. Because of its deposits of precious minerals, the village Rosia Montana has been courted by international corporations involved in the extraction industry. Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, a Canadian-Romanian company, wants to open a goldmine here. People will have to move to a new location, where modern houses are waiting for them. Gold and silver will be found in abundance in this New Eldorado. About eight hundred hectars will be covered with cyanide wastes, but there will be a dam to prevent contamination of the area. However, the village Rosia Montana with its centuries-old houses will disappear. ...

  • One Day In People Poland

    One Day In People's Poland chronicles an ordinary day in the life of ordinary citizens in communist Poland. After a three-years long research of archive material from the communist period, the director reconstruct October 27th, 1962. It was just another day, when nothing remarkable happened. Yet, each personal account reveals memorable things about the absurdities of those times. The film combines original footage, letters and oficial documents. Those who have experienced communism will recall many things that used to govern their lives in those times. As for younger viewers, they are offered a glimpse at a period they neither know nor understand. ...

  • Passenger

    Passenger is a title of a painting by John Scully, the well-known American artist. It was done in his studio in Barcelona in the early summer of 1997. A friend, the filmmaker Robert Gardner made what he calls "an observation in four movements". The intend of the piece is to impart an experience of the engagement by Scully with the work in question, an engagement which is both physical and emotional. The only sounds are those made by the artist as he works and, occasionally , musical passages from tapes Scully listened to while he is painting. ...

  • Praising the Masters

    A variety of small trades were visible in the urban space until not very long ago under the form of small shops: the quilter's, the hatter's, the shoemaker's etc. You could buy soda water from the soda booth and have your broken household items fixed at the craftsmen's shops. A skilled craftsman was highly appreciated. Nowadays, you hardly ever come across craftsmen's shops on the streets of the city. The small trades are slowly vanishing. The documentary portrays ten representatives of urban professions putting together a piece of urban history. ...

  • Pride of Place

    A rarely seen classic, Pride of Place was made as a first project while Kim Longinotto was a student at England National School of Television and Film. As a teenager the filmmaker has been condemned to a girl's boarding - school in an old, isolated castle in Backinghamshire. Wisely, she ran away at the age of 17 and years later took the opportunity to for sweet revange. In this dark and expressive film, Longinotto exposes the repressive school from the students' perspective- as a kind of miniature state of with bizzare rules, indigestibles food and absurd punishments. One year after the release of the film, the boarding school was close down. With Pride of Place, Longinotto sets the tone for a long career of films in which individuals revolt against oppressive authorities and stiflings traditions. ...

  • Punam

    Punam's mother died when she was only five. She was left with her father, her newborn sister and her two-year-old brother. The children see little of their father because he works from sunrise to sundown to earn enough money for their school fees. During the daytime, nine-year-old Punam assumes the roles of head of the family, caregiver and homemaker. Punam's friends do not go to school. Their parents cannot afford the school fee. Instead of studying, they work in a stone quarry or brick-making factory to help their families get by. The film captures the hard work the children are required to perform and also takes a peek into the poor five-grade school that represents Punam's symbol of hope. She believes that education ushers in progress and is the only opportunity for improving their situation - perhaps bringing about new job opportunities in better conditions. We look at the situation through the eyes of this young Asian girl, who dreams of becoming a teacher and helping other children in situations like hers. ...

  • Red Poppies

    The film was made in the framework of an anthropological research conducted within a (Boyash) Roma community from the city of Orastie, Hunedoara County. It addresses issues related to women's status, marriage, birth, abortion, contraceptives, domestic violence and prostitution through women's narratives. The viewer can understand these phenomena through the experience of the Romany women within their own community, and from the moments when they have to face off instances of institutional racism. The viewer will also observe the gap (and the lack of communication) between their perspectives and the point of views of those whom they confront with in the different situations of everyday life. The film identifies the strategies these women use against discrimination and how they construct their own world as a reaction to social exclusion and marginalization. ...

  • Rivers of Sand

    The people portrayed in this film are called Hamar. They dwell in the thorny scrubland of southwestern Ethiopia. They are isolated by some distant choice that now limits their movement and defines their condition. In their isolation, they seemed to have refined this not uncommon principle of social organization to a remarkably pure state. At least until recently, it has resulted in their retaining a highly traditional way of life. Part of that tradition was the open, even flamboyant, acknowledgement of male supremacy. Hamar men are masters and their women are slaves. The film is an attempt to disclose not only the activities of the Hamar, but also the effect on mood and behavior, of a life governed by sexual inequality. ...

  • Rodica Is A Good Boy

    Since his early childhood, Vasile Ghiman from a mountain village in Maramures considered himself to be rather a girl than a boy. He called himself "Rodica" and wore women's clothes. Vasile/Rodica grew up with this transsexual dilemma. At 30, he is still confused about his place in the community, although the people in the village have accepted him as he is, proving that rural communities in Romania may be more open-minded than most people might think. The film captures Rodica's confessions on camera, sharing with the viewer his anxieties and his attempts to come to terms with himself. ...

  • Rumenye, Rumenye

    Kletzmer music originates in Central and Eastern Europe and has become a symbol of Jewish culture. Kletzmer used to be a functional music, always played at weddings and others Jewish ceremonies. Today, this music link European and Jewish culture and stands for the post-Holocaust revival of the latter. Kletzmer music is like a bridge connecting the sufferings of the past with the hope for conciliation and understanding in the future. American ethnologist Yale Storm is world famous for his research of Kletzmer music. He gives an acount on the revival of Kletzmer from a double perspective: as a historian and as a musician. No other country had a stronger impact on Kletzmer music than Romania. " Doina-Jewish Blues" celebrates the connection between Jewish and Romanian music. The film features Elisabeth Schwartz, the famous Yiddish singer whose ascendants were born in Romania. ...

  • Screening Room - Jean Rouch

    In the 1970s, Gardner produced and hosted Screening Room, a series of more than one hundred 90 minute programs on independent and experimental filmmaking. The series, considered an invaluable historical record of modern cinema. At AFF 2006, you can see the interviews with Jean Rouch, Ricky Leacock, Alan Lomax, and Peter Huton. Jean Rouch appeared on Screening Room in July 1980 and screened Les Maitres Fous as well as several film excerpts including Rhythm of Work and Death of a Priest. Over a period of five decades Jean Rouch made many films about the Songhay and Dogon of West Africa. He also made, with Edgar Morin, the classic documentary, Chronicle of a Summer about the lives of Parisians. ...

  • Sentenced To Marriage

    Three young married women trapped in religious courts.They can't get a divorce because the court needs their husband's consent in order to grant one. Dependant on their husbands whim, they know not when release will finally come. They are denied other relationships and are condemned to be barren, because a married woman is forbidden to another man. In Israel, a democratic country of the 21st century, their pain and suffering is embedded in the law. Being young and anonymous, their voices are silenced. For two years the film follows the Kafkaesque struggle of Tamara, Michelle and Rachel- three young women doing all that is humanly possible to obtain a divorce, with the help of a group of female orthodox rabbinical advocates. ...

  • Shinjuku Boys

    A film about love and gender. This film is set in the New Marilyn night club in Tokyo where all the hosts are women who has decided who live as men. They make their living by working in a club with other ' onnabe' like them. The young women who come there often have relationships with them but the underlying fear is whether such a relationships can withstand the pressures on a girl to get married and have children. ...

  • Singing Pictures: Women Painters of Naya

    For generations, Patua (Chitrakar) communities of West Bengal, India have been painters and singers of stories depicted in scrolls. Scrolls cover a variety of themes: mythological and religious, social and especially women's issues, contemporary local and world news. The more recent themes are communal (Hindu Muslim) harmony, Joy Bangla (the birth of Bangladesh as a country), the battle of Kargil (Kashmir conflicts) and the 9/11 events in New York. In the past singers used to wander from village to village, receiving rice, vegetables and coins for their recital. They would unroll a scroll, a frame at a time, and sing their own compositions. But competition from other media eroded this way of life and now the Patuas are trying to adapt to changing conditions. In response of this cultural crisis and as a means to make extra money, recently a group of women from Naya village near Calcutta form a scroll painters' collaborative. The film follows their daily lives as they paint, sing, cook, tend to their children and meet with the cooperative. ...

  • Sisters In Law

    Six year old Manka has run away from home, fleeing her abusive aunt. Sonita has daringly accused her neighbor of rape. Amina has decided to end her brutal marriage by taking her husband to court. Set in Kumba, a small town in Southwest Cameroon, Sisters in Law follows the work of the female State Counsel and Court President as they try to help women to change their lives. Incredibly moving and at times disturbing, Kim Longinotto's latest film spectacularly encompasses courage, hope, and the possibility of change. Longinotto is known for her insightful, compassionate studies of women's lives, and the pull between tradition and change. ...

  • Slack-Time

    2 Mai is a village on the Black Sea coast, close to the Romanian-Bulgarian border. In the last fifteen years, more and more tourists have come here for their summer holidays. The small fishermen's village has turned into a seaside resort. However, few of the tourists who come here for the beach and to have a good time realize that the village has a life of its own, which goes on after they leave. The film focuses on the life of the village community during slack season. ...

  • Street Punk Moscow

    The film observes a group of young Punks living in the outskirts of Moscow in concrete blocks built by the communists. They cannot cope with the expectations of the adults. They are the lost between yesterday and tomorrow, living by the principle: "Get drunk, have fun! Cut yourself a mohawk and you'll see what really counts." ...

  • Teshumara-Guitars Of Tuareg Rebellion

    In 1963, short after the Mali state Independency, Tuareg people start a rebellion against the new authorities, which will end in a blood bath. Terrible dry seasons will follow, pushing thousands of Mali and Niger Tuareg refugees on the road to Algeria and Lybia. So is Teshumara born, in pain and exile, as a cultural and political movement stating the existence of Tuareg people, and calling for their emancipation. This is when the Tinariwen guitars started to resonnate…This film, through music, lyrics and testimonies of Tinariwen founders, but also through music and poetry, is a tribute to the memory of Teshumara, and of the Tuareg tragedy. ...

  • The Age of Reason

    This is the fifth and final film in the Doon School Quintet, an intimate study of India's most prestigious boys' boarding school. 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. In this film MacDougall focuses on the life of one student whom he discovers at the school. The film explores the thoughts and feelings of Abhishek, a 12-year-old from Nepal, during his first days and weeks as a Doon student. This is at once the story of the encounter between a filmmaker and his subject and a glimpse of the mind of a child at "the age of reason". ...

  • The Angelmakers

    Nagyrev seems to be just another forgotten place in rural Hungary. But if you take a closer look at the history of the village, you come across the ghosts of the past. In the 1920s, after a series of mysterious sudden deaths among the men in the village, an investigation of the authorities revealed they had been poisoned with arsenic. The modus operandi was quite simple, the "murder weapon" was ordinary flypaper, and the killers were their own wives. After many years of silence, the characters talk to the camera about the tormenting past events in the village life as well as about their present expectations and the actions they take to escape a boring routine. Their stories reveal how common gender confrontations can sometimes lead to extreme behaviour. ...

  • The Great Communist Bank Robery

    In 1959 there was robbery at the Romanian National Bank in Bucharest. The robbers were six formerly high-ranked members of the communist party. They were arrested and then forced to play themselves in a propaganda film meant to reconstruct the crime and the investigations that followed it. At the end of the trial (also filmed), the defendants were sentenced to death and executed. Three weeks later, the film "Reconstruction" was released. The author of this documentary carefully researched this incredible story and found terrible testimonies related to the events that happened more than forty years ago. ...

  • The Internet Bride

    Looking for love on the Internet is becoming more and more popular. Services such as the "Internet" or "mail-order" bride attract an increasing number of clients. But who are the men who use such services to find a life-time partner? And who are the potential brides whose photos pop up on cyber-galleries? Apparently, men who seek brides on the Internet are all white, middle-aged, and coming from Western Europe or from the United States. The women generally seek a better future in the US of in a Western European country. The film goes beyond stereotypes, introducing some of the clients of the "Latin Best" agency, and the Colombian women who have been included in the agency's data base. ...

  • The Land of Silence

    What can a photo camera mean for a 10-year old boy who lives in a soundless world? The film follows the summer holiday adventures of Alfred who can neither hear nor speak. Because of his handicap he attends a special school in Cluj. Back home for his holiday, he meets a photographer from a neighbouring village. The man who has the same handicap as Alfred, offers the boy a photo camera. And Alfred's adventure begins. ...

  • The Spectacle

    North Korea is anything but an accessible country. It is not easy to enter it and it is even more difficult to enter it with the purpose of making a documentary film. The main feature line in The Spectacle is the colossal show "Arirang" with thousands of actors performing for thousands of people in the good old communist totalitarian style. The film crosses beyond the grotesque show to offer glimpses of real life in North Korea. ...

  • Timisoara. December 1989

    Set in the title Romanian city during the tumultuous fall of communist dictator Ceusescu, this documentary chronicles the attempts of government soldiers to quell a citizens revolt. But during the few days of the uprising a surpeising thing happened - the soldiers joined the citizens. The filmmaker use interviews, video footage of the events and archival photographs to recreate the rebellion, but due to a lack of explanation within the film, the chronicle will be most useful to historians and those well-informed in recent Eastern European history. ...

  • Victory Day

    After Estonia became independent in 1991, most monuments of the Soviet era were removed. The Bronze Soldier, however, remained in its place. It is a statue of a soldier in Red Army uniform with medals on his chest and a rifle slung over his shoulder. Every year on the 9th of May, people gather at this statue and their behaviour creates a new social memory. The monument is no longer important for itself, but rather for the ceremonies and rituals that take place around the Bronze Soldier. ...

  • Village Of Socks

    In the small village Viscri / Deutschweisskirch, in the middle of Transylvania, all women are knitting socks. A german musician sells the socks to Germany, to Austria and to other countries. And he also enjoys living in Viscri. He teaches to Viscri-children German, he plays piano and sings about the beauty of the Romanian language and last but not least, he organizes the sock-export. The majority of the Saxons who lived in Viscri before has left the village. Only a few are left. There are no jobs in Viscri, but many tourists are coming, because of the impressive old church and also because of the socks. This documentary is a portrait of a very special village, isolated in a beautiful landscape but still full of life. ...

  • We Are The Indians

    " I love James Bond films, action films and even romantic films, but my favorite film is without a doubt 'The Mission'. My uncle acts in it and nobody calls him anything other than Burnt Arse', says Marcelo Gonzales at the beginning of the film. This young man, from the Mbya Guarani Indian tribe, lives with his family in the Red Earth settlement in the Northeastern part of Argentina. These original inhabitants survive in the immediate vicinity of the rainforest as best they can. Their dilapidated houses are often a tourist attraction for Japanese visitors, and they sometimes set off into the jungle to hunt for armadillos or pumas or leave in a group to work on the tea plantations. However, most of them do not receive the promised wages for their several days' hard work. In this colorful and original documentary film with miniportraits of members of the Indian community, we meet with zealous Christian missionary Claudio, an older peasant named Sebastian, and the active toothless chief Agustin, who goes off to fight for the rights of his people to their land in Buenos Aires. The picture offers a unique look at the conflict between the traditional Indian culture with the white civilization and the way in which the Indians perceive the universal human themes such as Identity, friendship, adulthood, 9/11, death and religion. ...

  • Welcome To New York

    Welcome to New York is a set of impressions, and an experiment of inverted ethnography. It reveals the directors' irreverent and sarcastic vision of the "Capital of the World". Tragedy and comedy alternate in strong contrasts. The camera scans the city looking for humans, animals, politics, fashion, sense and nonsense, beauty and death. Welcome to New York is a reflection on the human condition in the most influential urban center of contemporary Western sociey. ...

  • Who wants to publish my diary?

    She was abandoned in an orphanage shortly after having been born; she was sexually abused, diagnosed with a mental handicap, and lived in a violent environment; she was subjected to physical and emotional pain. The film makes the portrait of this woman quoting from her own diary. Now, at 38, she can say that she has made it. She is a university graduate and has found a job as a teacher. But all the pain she has suffered has remained in her memory and on the pages of seventeen notebooks. ...

  • Window

    He is only eleven years old, but he has to work in a deserted coal mine. The place is dangerous, and the boy risks his life every day for 20 soms, which is no more than half a dollar. But is has to be done, because he is the only support for his invalid mother. ...

  • Writing on the wall. HIP-HOP graffiti in Cluj-Napoca

    Graffiti can be seen as an artistic form of resistance to authority and at the same time a means of expression and connectedness to its own subculture. This documentary is based on a research project on the emergence of the graffiti phenomenon in the city Cluj Napoca. The structure of the film follows the stages of the research, starting with the exterior signs, interviewing graffiti writers and revealing their position toward and connections with the international graffiti community. In its second part, the film analyses the internal structure of the Cluj commmunity of graffiti writers, and the place and meanings of graffiti productions in the public space of the city of Cluj. ...