Women’s identities and Ukrainian experiences, three giants and archival film, Hollywood auditions and tattoos, sustainable fashion and ISIS, Iran and China... these are just some of the themes of day one of the 19th International Documentary Film Festival
After last night’s official opening, the first complete festival day begins at 3 p.m. in theatres 2, 4 and 5 with free screenings from the Festival Hits, Teen Dox and Biography Dox sections. One day in Ukraine by Volodymyr Tykhyy is scheduled in theatre 2 at 3 p.m. on the date from the title, 14 March 2022, in the lives of several people from different professions caught in the whirlwind of war. In theatre 4, a potpourri of short films about young people is presented with A Mouthful of Petrol (dir. Jess Kohl, about the relationship between a father and son, lovers of self-built race cars, Oasis (dir. Justine Martin, about a brotherly bond tested by disability), Away (dir. Ruslan Fedotow, about young Ukrainian refugees who work through war experiences with their children, and provoke discussions on the streets of Budapest with graffiti) and When I Grow Up (dir. Claire Billet, Olivier Jobard, about the renovation of Ukrainian schools and the educational process through the stories of three students).
Theatre 5 welcomes 7:15 – Blackbird(b. Judith Auffray, a meditative formal bravura about a hermit and a girl whose listening to animals leads to unexpected adventures), Will You Look at Me(dir. Shuli Huang, an autopoetic essay by a Chinese director who returns to his native Wenzhou from New York) and Jaime (b. Francisco Javier Rodriguez , a portrait of a schizophrenic whose worldview tries to be mediated by film means).
In theatre 1 at 3:30 p.m. Ahsen Nadeem, a native of Saudi Arabia, in his feature-length, Japanese-Irish debut Crows Are White, seeks to enter the monastery of an isolated, physically extreme Buddhist sect, but finds true ‘enlightenment’ with a renegade monk in love with heavy metaland ice cream. In theatre 3, at the same time, the IDFA laureate Apolonia, Apolonia by Lea Glob, is presenting a portrait of an intriguing painter in International Competition, another debut.
Theatre 2 at 5 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Maximilien Van Aertryck, features the opening film And the King Said, What a Fantastic Machine, a provocative archival meta-film analysis of the complex relationship between narcissistic humanity and the cinematic medium. In theatre 4, Regional Competition starts with a programme of short films: Mother’s Milk (dir. Isaac Knights-Washbourn, the story of a Serbian milkmaid torn between heritage and individuality), Hope Hotel Phantom (dir. Bojan Stojčić, an artistic reminiscence of the Dayton Agreement through the author’s stay in the negotiations hotel) and The Silence of the Banana Trees (b. Eneos Çarka, a meditative-nostalgic and slightly experimental work about memories and family ties). In theatre 5 at 5 p.m. we screen March on Rome (directed by Mark Cousins), an archival essay on the history and present day of Italian fascism through a film analysis of the propagandist discourse in documentary and fiction films. This treat for the fans of creative historical documentary fits in with the recognisable poetics of the filmmaker who won awards in Cannes, Venice, Amsterdam, etc. for works such as The Eyes of Orson Welles, The Story of Film, etc.
The ZagrebDox section dedicated to environmental issues, Green Dox, premieres at 5.30 p.m. in theatre 1. In Fashion Reimagined Becky Hutner portrays designer Amy Powney, who after the Vogue award decides to dedicate herself to creating a sustainable collection, sets out on a journey into the heart of darkness of the fashion industry. The extremely rich Masters of Dox section opens in theatre 3 with the film Everything Will Be OK by the famous Rithy Panh, i.e. with his characteristic puppet-film version of the Orwellian-Boulleian dystopian visions of animal supremacy.
At 7 p.m. in theatre 2, another big name, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, takes the stage, who in the award-winning Matter out of Place (Regional Competition) offers a global panorama of man’s struggle with waste, which he discusses with the audience after the screening. At the same time, the Masters of Dox section continues in theatre 4 with a new film by the versatile Danish artist Jon Bang Carlsen Dreaming Arizona. The winner of the My Generation Award and a frequent guest of ZagrebDox presented the fragments of a new work about teenagers who in an American neverland rethink their origins and perspectives in the past, with the equally poetic travelogue work Banality of Sadness, which we screened at last year’s ZagrebDox.
The Biography Dox section begins in theatre 5 at 7 p.m. with stories about Mahsa Amini (Mahsa (Zhina), the Story of a Legal Murder, anonymous director) and Bonnie Timmerman (Bonnie, directed by Simon Wallon), a girl whose murder started a new wave of resistance to Iranian fundamentalism and a casting directorwhose auditions hosted some of the biggest Hollywood names.
The first ZagrebDoXXL event (theatre 1, 7.30 p.m.) is a screening of the Croatian omnibus Eight Chapters (dir. Tonći Gaćina, Tiha K. Gudac, Jasmina Beširević, Anja Koprivšek, Petar Vukičević, Dalija Dozet, Judita Gamulin, Katarina Lukec)about eight female protagonists and female identity in different periods of life. The film also competes in Regional Competition.
Dry Ground Burning (dir. Joana Pimenta, Adirley Queirós ) from International Competition (theatre 3, 7:30 p.m.) is also a story about women – workers in a self-governing refinery of illegally extracted oil near Brasília – realized in a combination of found and staged reality as a manifesto against the local political elites.
The Musical Globe opens in theatre 2 at 9 p.m. with a search for the misty origins of the famous song Bella Ciao, followed by a conversation with the director Giulia Giapponesi. The memories of the Italian partisans are interwoven with scenes of contemporary protests from all over the world in a polyphonic piece about a song that is still happily sung on our meridians today as an expression of resistance.
The Brazilian-American film Scab Vendor (dir. Lucas de Barros, Mariana Thomé) (theatre 4, 9 p.m.) is a story about the fascinating life of Jonathan Shaw, on whose tattoo chair (even before it was legal) Johnny Depp, Jim Jarmusch and Iggy Pop sat. Rojek by Zaynê Akyol (theatre 5, 9 p.m.,) in International Competition, features the testimonies of the most important members of the Islamic State (ISIS), jihadists imprisoned in the camps of Syrian Kurdistan.
The rich program of ZagrebDox’s day one ends at 10 p.m. in theatres 1 and 3 with three films from International Competition. In theatre 1 the short film Mountain Flesh (dir. Valentina Shasivari, a black and white, geometric etude about a sleepy Swiss village ‘penetrated’ by geometers), is followed by Hidden Letters(dir. Violet Du Feng) about two Chinese millennials who share a fascination with Nushu, a secret script that connects generations of local women in a sisterly support system. In theatre 3, The Hamlet Syndrome (dir. Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosołowski) will show the actualization of the Shakespearean dilemma in the experiences of young Ukrainian actors just before the Russian invasion. The intertwining of rehearsal scenes and the private lives of the protagonists also creates a view of a generation marked by war trauma.
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