International Films 2013

The Act of Killing

Joshua Oppenheimer/ Doc / Denmark / 2012 / 115 min / Indonesian

In 1965, the army took power in Indonesia by force. Prior to that, small players in the local underworld, thieves or debt collectors, had been given a task by soldiers: kill communists. Their death squads and regime representatives murdered more than a million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals. Danish filmmakers have now solicited the former leader of these units in an attempt to portray their rampage in a fiction film and document the process. Anwar and his comrades bring the past to life in stylised scenes, celebrating the “liberated” souls of dead communists, dressed as gangsters from 1950s Hollywood movies, interrogating victims or roaming the prairies, mowing down enemies like the conquerors of the Wild West. The shooting of the film attracts the local media and the resuscitation of the unresolved past leads to mixed reactions on the part of indonesians. The murderers joke about their actions on TV and are the celebrated guests of state officials. The Act of Killing offers a chilling insight into the minds of mass murderers and a probe of the society they helped to create.

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Vagelis Zouglos / Short / Greece / 2013 / 12 min.

The inhabitants of a contemporary metropolis live and act within its urban surroundings, wearing white similar full-face masks, constantly following rules and norms that seem to have been established a long time ago. In so strict a system of predefined behaviors and non-existent aberrations, a young woman is confined in a dark sultry unknown space. Her punishment will be harsh and lifelong, with her image being set by the subjugated sight of a manipulated society.

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Karaoke Girl

Visra Vichit-Vadakan / Doc-fiction / Thailand / 2013 / 77 min

Part fiction, part reality, Karaoke Girl follows Sa, a young country girl, working at a bar in Bangkok as an escort to support her family back home.

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Carlos Quiles Menchero / Doc / Spain / 2011 / 22 min / Myanmar

David came to Thailand as a Burmese refugee from the longest and toughest dictatorship in the world. The film tells how he became the father and mentor of more than three hundred children. A story about education,self-improvement, strength and love.The story of a dream.

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Across Land, Across Sea

Hark-Joon Lee, DongkyunKo, Hein S. Seok / Doc / South Korea / 2011 / 52 min.

North Korean refugee Songgook is slowly building a new life in South Korea. However, his pregnant wife still has family in the DPRK. Songgook decides to organise their escape. He travels to China and undertakes a dangerous night-time journey to the Tumen River which runs along the border, where he meets his wife’s family. They then set off on a journey on a borrowed fishing boat to the dangerous international waters between China and South Korea, where they are to meet a South Korean pastor and hand over the refugees. However, the plan runs into problems in the form of bad weather and South Korean coastal patrol. It refuses to help the tired Songgook, who has spent nearly 50 hours in a boat full of water. This dramatic story of hard-to-imagine courage and modesty, which maps the difficult method used to escape from the North, earned the film an Emmy Award nomination. As well as portraying an escape filled with risk, it delivers an account of the absurd conditions refugees encounter in their new countries and the business that has developed around helping them escape.

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Beneath the Blindfold

Kathy L. Berger, Ines Sommer / Doc / USA / 2012 / 55 min.

Four Survivors, One Truth: This Should Not Happen To Anyone A nursing home aide from Africa. An actor from Colombia. A U.S. Navy veteran from Chicago. A physician from Guatemala. So different at first glance, they have a horrific experience in common: they all have been tortured. Rarely given a voice, they are among the 500,000 torture survivors who live in the U.S.

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Bernardo Ruiz / Doc / USA / 2011 /72 min.

Reportero follows a veteran reporter and his colleagues at Zeta,a Tijuana-based independent newsweekly, as they stubbornly ply their trade in one of the deadliest places in the world for the media. In Mexico, more than 40 journalists have been slain or have vanished since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon came to power and launched a government offensive against the country’s powerful powerful drug cartels and organized crime groups. as the drug war intensifies and the risks to journalists.

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Mama Illegal

Ed Moschitz / Doc / Austria / 2011 / 102 min.

Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. Life is particularly difficult in the countryside. The former granary of the Soviet Union is mired in poverty, despair, and alcohol. Consequently, it is not surprising that many Moldovans, particularly Moldovan women, illegally emigrate to Western Europe in order to make money to support their relatives at home. The documentary Mama Illegal tells the story of three women who seek work and happiness in Austria and Italy. Hired as cleaners, they dream of a better life and worry about being deported back to their homeland, while the children they left behind are raised by distant relatives. As a result, an entire generation of modern-day economic orphans is growing up in Moldovan villages. Moreover, as the film shows, some women are frequently willing to accept the complete alienation of their children for the sake of a better life in Western Europe. The soundtrack for the film, which excellently illustrates the causes and effects of economic migration, features music by the popular Moldovan group Zdobsi Zdub.

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Pink Saris

Kim Longinotto / Doc / UK / 2010 / 98 min / India

In this film, Sampat Pal, the famous founder of a group called the ulabi Gang (“Pink Gang”) to combat the tradition of gender discrimination, describes herself as the messiah of Indian woman. Director Kim Longinotto, who has devoted many years to women’s rights issues, captures the everyday grind of Pal and other Indian activists who regularly meet women who are the victims of their husbands’ violence. The stories of two girls, Rheka and Rhena, are highlighted. Rheka is pregnant with her higher caste boyfriend, whose family will not approve the idea of marriage. At the same time, as a single mother she faces being thrown out by her own family. Rhena, meanwhile, has run away with a lover from the husband she was forced to marry in childhood. However, the romance is doomed, as her lover’s family will not accept a woman from a lower caste. Through the energetic Sampat Pal, Longinotto shows the problems faced today by Indian women, for whom “erring” can lead to death.

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Law of the Jungle

Michael Christoffersen / Doc / Denmark / 2013 / 85 min / Peru

In 2008, the government of Peru divided up a large part of the country into smaller territories, selling the rights to their usage to multinational corporations. As tends to be the case, the latter’s interests frequently do not overlap with the needs and rights of the local population. When a Dutch petroleum company begins destroying the environment in which they live, natives from the Amazonian settlement of Andoas protest, occupying the local airport. The locals call for dialogue and everything passes off peacefully, without the use of weapons. That is, until a special armed security unit intervenes and an officer dies during the clash under murky circumstances. Fifty natives are arrested. A trial begins that could serve as a precedent for other similarly oppressed groups. A fired-up legal representative leads a protracted court battle. He draws up a defence strategy and searches for witnesses, who are often afraid to speak when faced with powerful opponents in the form of a rich corporation and corrupt state officials. Will the natives win their fight for their rights?

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Even a Bird needs a Nest

Vincent Trintignant-Corneau, Christine Chansou / Doc / Denmark / 2013 / 85 min / Peru/ Docu / France / 2012 / 70 min / Cambodia

This documentary looks at a community living on the banks of BoeungKak Lake in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. In 2007, that country’s government decided the lake would be filled in and plots of land would be offered on a long-term lease to an unknown company, which would then build luxury houses and shops on these properties. This plan, which from the outset was beset by allegations of corruption in the highest places, spelled tragedy for the hundreds of families living around the lake. When their humble dwellings were razed by bulldozers and the investment plans of the powerful, most of them literally lost the roof over their heads without receiving any compensation. This film testifies to the injustice now prevailing in Cambodia. A handful of people who enjoy absolute political and economic power ruthlessly prey on an impoverished majority, whose rights are systematically violated. Anyone who expresses opposition runs afoul of the forces of repression. They are ostracised and imprisoned. This film also shows the unshakeable desire for justice for which unhesitant, energetic activist TepVanny and other inhabitants of BoeungKak risk their lives.

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Back to the Square

Petr Lom / Doc / Norway, Canada / 2012 / 83 min / Egypt

The joy, pride and sense of community experienced during the revolution in Egypt was replaced by the everyday fight for survival.How did the transformation impact the lives of citizens? Employing the documentary essay form, director Petr Lom considers the character and depth of the revolutionary changes. He interviews not only opponents and supporters of the revolution, but also the bystanders. A guide at the pyramids, a minibus driver who refused to transport the arrested to prison, the wife of a wrongly accused man, a young girl stigmatised in her village for taking part in the uprising, the brother of an imprisoned blogger–all gradually paint a complex and unhappy portrait of post-revolutionary Egypt. The revolution has not managed to overthrow a system of repression rooted in both state organs and interpersonal relationships. On the contrary, it has led to increased despotism on the part of police. However, this film clearly shows that people have decided to take advantage of the increased leeway the revolution has brought.

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Framing the Other

Willem Timmers, Ilja Kok / Doc / Netherlands, Ethiopia / 2011 / 25 min / Ethiopia

The Mursi tribe lives in the basin of the Omo River in the south of the east African state of Ethiopia. The women are known for placing large plates in their lower lips and wearing enormous, richly decorated earrings. Every year hundreds of Western tourists come to see the unusually adorned natives; posing for camera-toting visitors has become the main source of income for the Mursi. To make more money, they embellish their “costumes” and finery in such a manner that less of their original authentic culture remains. The film contrasts the views of Mursi women and those of Dutch tourists preparing for a meeting. This humorous and at the same time chilling film shows the destructive impact tourism has on traditional communities.

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Cultures of Resistance

Iara lee / Doc / Brazil / 2010 / 72 min.

Does each gesture really make a difference? Can music and dance be weapons of peace? In 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war, director Iara Lee embarked on a journey to better understand a world increasingly embroiled in conflict. After several years, travelling over five continents, Iara encountered growing numbers of people who committed their lives to promoting change. From BURMA, where non-violent monks take on a dictatorship, to BRAZIL, where musicians transform guns into guitars, and ending in PALESTINIAN refugee camps in LEBANON, where photography, music, and film have given a voice to those rarely heard, CULTURES OF RESISTANCE celebrates the people standing up to exploitation and violence with artistic expression and creative activism.

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Solar Mamas

Jehane Noujaim, Mona Eldaief / Doc / USA, Denmark, UK / 2012 / 75 min / Jordan

Rafea, a mother of four, lives with her husband in a shabby tent in a remote Jordanian village. The couple’s favourite activity is lying on a rug. Rafea, who has always wanted more out of life, is forced to run the dingy household. When the opportunity arises to go to India for several months to learn how to assemble and install solar panels with a group of other women from around the world, she jumps at it … until she asks for her husband’s consent – he doesn’t want to allow her to study abroad. The film follows Rafea and other women on an inspiring but difficult journey toward a situation in which their skills are used for something other than cooking, doing laundry and looking after children. They have to fight prejudice, the traditions of patriarchal society, the incomprehension of those around them and malice. They also have to deal with perceptions of their roles as mothers, including when they leave their children behind to advance their own personal development. The film is part of the international project Why Poverty?, aimed at fostering debate about various forms of poverty around the world.

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My Neighbor, My Killer

Anne Aghion / Doc / USA, France / 2008 / 80 min / Rwanda

Coming to terms with a genocide that has cruelly robbed you of your nearest and dearest is far from easy, especially if the murderers also happen to be your neighbours. Eight hundred thousand people died in ethnic clashes between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994. The country’s government later set up special tribunals called Gacaca, under which the victims of the genocide have the opportunity to try the perpetrators. Anne Aghion’s documentary shows several Gacaca courts in which defendants and plaintiffs face one another. In one case, a Hutu woman married to a Tutsi man is devastated by the fact that he has beaten their children to death before her very eyes. Frequently, the cases are complicated, with defendants reluctant even to accept charges and plaintiffs faced with the prospect of judging somebody who has robbed them of the will to live. How can they live side by side? How can they come to terms with the fact that their village is home to both victims and murderers? This harrowingly direct film documents a stalemate, which only time and forgiveness can resolve.

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Elegy for a Revolutionary

Paul Van Zyl / Short / South Africa / 2012 / 24 min.

Two friends oppose the apartheid-era govern­ment in South Africa. Their choice to use violence tears their relationship apart.

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115 Miles

Lee Hyung-Suk / Short / South Korea / 2007 / 25 min

Losing their video footage of Arctic animals, a TV station documentary team sets out in search of an alternative documentary footage to meet the upcoming broadcasting schedule. The team decides to venture into the Demilitarized Zone, hoping to find rare animals. Soon the team realizes that they crossed the line – there is more than just a documentary at stake.

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Seeing is Believing

Katerina Cizek and Peter Wintonick / Doc / Canada / 2002 / 51 min / Philippines

They were intended for capturing weddings and holidays, but possessed unsuspected possibilities. Manageable video have thoroughly changed the media landscape. This became ruthlessly clear after the attacks on the World Trade Center: never before, so much footage of a catastrophe had been available. Everywhere in New York, amateur filmmakers had captured the events. Without images, the news no longer has any eloquence. We are only interested in famine or war in far-off countries when the suffering is visible; therefore, many development-aid workers consider the video camera as an indispensable tool. SEEING IS BELIEVING: HANDICAMS, HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE NEWS shows to what extent the camera has acquired a political and social function. Video images sparked off riots in Los Angeles after the Rodney King incident. They sustain the trial against Milosevic, who has been charged with war crimes, in The Hague. They expose social abuses, accompany fund-raisers and set relief actions going. Peter Wintonick, who in documentaries like MANUFACTURING CONSENT: NOAM CHOMSKY AND THE MEDIA (1992) and CINÉMA VÉRITÉ: DEFINING THE MOMENT (1999) also explored the influence and significance of images, in his latest film particularly stresses the potential of the camera as a political weapon. Together with filmmaker Katerina Cizek, he followed the Philippine human rights activist Joey Lozano, who manfully documents acts of violence in his country. That video footage can also be misapplied, for instance for propaganda purposes, is not ignored in this well-balanced documentary.

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Sorayos / Short / Thailand / 2013 / 17 min / Thai

Boonrerm is a housemaid.Everdays she received a weird order.

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Red Wedding

Guillaume Suon, Lida Chan / Doc / France / 2012 / 58 min / Cambodia

Between 1975 and 1979,at least 250,000 Cambodian women were forced into marriages by the Khmer Rouge. Sochan was one of them. At the age of 16, she was forced to marry a soldier who raped her. After 30 years of silence, Sochan has decided to bring her case to the international tribunal set up to try former Khmer Rouge leaders. Noces rouges is the story of a survivor who pits her humanity against an ideology and a system designed to annihilate people like her.

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The Game must Go on

Angeli Andrikopoulou, Argyris Tsepelikas / Doc / Greece / 2010 / 22 min.

Greek schoolchildren Alexandra, Vlad and Chrysa love football. Every day, after school, they gather in front of their building to play an intense game of ball. But their neighbours don’t like it and regularly drive the kids away. But where else can they go, if there is no play area anywhere nearby? “Every child has the right to play, and we must assert our rights,” they decide.Consequently, they go to the town’s mayor and demand that a children’s playground be built on an overgrown patch of waste ground. At the town hall, however, they discover that it is far from easy to submit such a request. Despite this, they don’t give up, and they duly take all the necessary steps to complete the application. After a year of effort, will they finally manage to achieve their goals?

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