During the month of September Filmatique presents Docs in Focus, a series of daring films that employ unconventional methods to examine some of the world's most salient political and social realities. From Brazil to Kosovo, Belgrade, and Southeastern Turkey, the spotlighted filmmakers embrace and improvise new approaches of surveying existence within the conflicts that have come to define their respective regions.
In occupied Palestine, Mais Darwazah's debut My Love Awaits Me By the Sea follows the filmmaker on a personal journey to her homeland to reunite with a lover she has never met. Pierre-Yves Borgeaud's Viramundo documents musician-turned-politician Gilberto Gil's travels through the Southern Hemisphere as he seeks to unite communities with the power of culture and diversity. Ognjen Glavonić's first film Depth Two juxtaposes tribunal testimony from victims of violence in the former Yugoslavia with present-day images of the killing sites; Gürcan Keltek's debut documentary Meteors chronicles a military lockdown in Anatolia by way of a spectacular meteor shower that evokes both the memory and disappearance of those still on earth.
Blending observational, investigative, poetic and archival techniques— and featuring three first films— Filmatique's Docs in Focus Series challenges the predominant notion of what documentary filmmaking can and should be.
Depth Two, Ognjen Glavonić / Serbia-France, 2016
Kosovo, 1999. A freezer truck driving along the Serbian-Romanian border carries the bodies of 55 Albanian civilians that have been killed by the Serbian police. It runs off the road and plunges into the Danube River. Between 2001 and 2002, five mass graves containing more than 700 bodies are discovered in the suburbs of Belgrade, near the former training facilities of Serbian Anti-Terrorist Forces. Contemporary images of these sites blend with testimonies from the International Court of the former Yugoslavia, uncovering and elevating voices that have been intentionally buried in silence.
Ognjen Glavonić's meditative and hypnotic debut documentary appeals to the viewer's imagination by returning to the scene of these crimes with new intention. Depth Two premiered at Berlin, São Paulo, Sarajevo, Thessaloniki, Vancouver; Beldocs, where it won Best Editing; Message 2 Man, where it won the Grand Prix, KineNova, where it won Best Director & Best Screenplay; and Festival dei Popoli, where it won Best Feature Film.
Meteors, Gürcan Keltek / Netherlands-Turkey, 2017
Tension has long simmered between Turkish soldiers and Kurdish separatists in southeastern Anatolia. In 2015, the conflict escalated into a military lockdown. Given the lack of media coverage, locals began filming the empty streets in single-take, one-hour clips which were posted to the internet and then vanished. As if by kismet, the falling of the Leonids coincided with this event— a breathtaking meteor shower that emblazons the black skies with impermanent light.
At once telluric and celestial, Meteors punctuates observational filmmaking with political commentary to capture a region of the world on the brink of civil war. Gürcan Keltek's first film premiered at Rotterdam, Hong Kong, and Thessaloniki; Locarno, where it won the Independent Film Critics' Best Film Award; Milan, where it won Best Film; Cartagena, where it won Best Film; Porto/Post/Doc, where it won the Grand Prix; and Bratislava, where it won Best Documentary.
My Love Awaits Me By the Sea, Mais Darwazah / Jordan-Germany-Palestine-Qatar, 2013
Hasan Hourani, a Palestinian poet and illustrator, died aged 29 in Jaffa while trying to rescue his nephew from the sea. Shortly after, the filmmaker Mais Darwazah discovers his drawings and poems and feels drawn to Hourani's world— a universe outside space and time; a place of wonder, discovery, and freedom. Motivated by this kinship, Darwazah embarks on a journey to her homeland, Palestine: a place she has never known.
A poignant personal journey through the labyrinths of hope and despair, occupation and freedom, My Love Awaits Me By the Sea chronicles both the harsh realities of life in occupied Palestine and the power of creative imagination in shaping one's destiny. Mais Darwazah's first feature documentary premiered at CPH:DOX, Dubai, Toronto, Ismailia International Documentary and Short Festival, where it won the Jury Prize; Festival International de Cinema Feminino, where it won Best Documentary; MedFilm Festival, where it won Best Documentary; and FEST New Directors/New Films, where it won Best Documentary.
Viramundo, Pierre-Yves Borgeaud / France-Switzerland, 2013
Gilberto Gil is among Brazil's most famous musicians, having influenced an entire generation in South America and beyond. Now in his seventies, he has recently served as Brazil's first black Minister of Culture. Preoccupied with many contemporary realities such as racism and poverty, he embarks on a tour through the southern hemisphere— from aboriginal communities in Australia and the townships of South Africa, to the Brazilian Amazon— seeking to promote the power of cultural diversity in a globalized world.
Viramundo delves into marginalized societies via the unique intersection between music, politics and culture. Pierre-Yves Borgeaud's fifth documentary premiered at Rio and Visions du Reél.
Special Screening— Anapeson, Francesco Dongiovanni / Italy, 2015
Puglia, 2015. Two centuries ago the Swiss botanist and naturalist Count Karl Ulysses von Salis-Marschlins traveled to the region's largest estate, Casino del Duca, to survey the natural treasures of what was then the Kingdom of Naples. Set against narration from the Count's journal during these resplendent times, the estate today lies barren, sleepless and abandoned, ravaged by distractions of the modern world.
Examining notions of history and the irrevocable changes of time, Anapeson elaborates an allegory of contemporary Italy— its beauty and greatness an elusive vestige of the past. Francesco Dongiovanni's mid-length film premiered at Turin, MedFilm in Rome, and the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs.