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Films competing for Florence Festival dei popoli

Florence hosts the 46th edition of Festival dei Popoli
December 2 - 8

The competition section proposes thirteen films; all Italian premieres, all representative of the new trend of the contemporary documentary cinema for style, language and content. Over 900 titles, which came from 65 different countries, participated at the pre-selection: these figures established an absolute record for our festival and we consider this a tangible sign of the extraordinary attention that Festival dei Popoli receives from the authors and the production houses from all over the world. The International Jury will award a prize of 5,000 euro to the best documentary and the “Gian Paolo Paoli” shield to the best anthropological film.

International Competition

9m2 pour deux
by Joseph Césarini, Jimmy Glasberg
France, 2005, colour, 35mm, 94’

Helped by a professional troupe, a group of eight prisoners in Marseilles jail film themselves on set for this cinema experience inside a full-scale reproduction of a cell which lasted eleven months. In front of the lens, with the naturalness born of familiarity, the protagonists (who are also the authors in a certain sense) recount and show scenes of prison life, the procedures to be followed for meals, the rules for cohabiting with the cell-mate, ideas for making the most of the limited space available, and the inevitable thoughts of the outside and afterwards. In a fiction that gets completely intertwined with reality we see the staging of what are normal events in an otherwise invisible universe.

Avenge but One of My Two Eyes
by Avi Mograbi
Israel/France, 2005, colour, 35mm, 100’

The revolt by the zealot Jews of Masada against the Romans was chosen, in 1942, as the founding legend for the state of Israel. Avi Mograbi takes a fresh look at this legend, and that of Samson, the man he identifies as “the first suicide warrior of history”, comparing them with today’s suicide bombings by Palestinians. On the one hand, the film tells how Samson in his struggle against the Philistines, and the ancient Jews in theirs against the Romans are held up to young Israelis as examples of those who, with their sacrifice, preferred death rather than give themselves up to the enemy. On the other hand, it eloquently shows the daily harassments inflicted by the Israeli army on Palestinians which assuredly help to fan the flames of the Intifada…

By David Teboul
France, 2005, colour, video, 65’

Russian spas are an evocative world of low light, water, steam, amplified sounds and murmurings. As though separated from surrounding reality, these baths, often very dilapidated, are frequented by a great number of men of all ages to bathe and take saunas and massages. Bania focuses on the consistency and shape of their completely naked bodies. The message is in the raw, simple images of these bodies and their emphasised uniqueness. Scenes of great expressivity, far from the affectations and conventional canons of how of nudity should look.

By Marcos Prado
Brasil, 2004, colour/bn, 35mm, 115’

Estamira is a sixty-three-year old woman who, for more than twenty years, has worked amidst the refuse in the Jardin Gramacho dump in Rio de Janeiro. After a difficult marriage to an Italian immigrant she found herself on the street, jobless with two small children. She was later diagnosed as having a form of schizophrenia. Observed by the director over a four-year span in which we note the changes brought about by her psychiatric treatment, Estamira tells us and shows us her life. She sleeps rough in a place reminiscent of Dante’s circles but she sees her children and family integrated into society and seeking to be close to her. She encounters humanity with the other outcasts on the dump and she is able both to express herself clearly and with moderation, as well as to abandon herself to an intimate mysticism made of poetic, hallucinatory images because, as she herself says, she has a mission to bring truth.

Il fare politica - Chronique de la Toscane rouge 1982 – 2004
By Hugues Le Paige
Belgium, 2005, colour, video, 86’

Fabiana, Carlo, Claudio and Vincenzo are four, long-term political activists in the Communist Party at Mercatale, near Florence. For decades, they worked hard in activism supporting party initiatives, struggles and election campaigns. For them, as for many other grass-root activists, “political activism” means first and foremost using their capabilities as active and participative citizens to examine the needs and issues of the community to which they felt they belonged. By a series of meetings recorded over twenty years, the film highlights the main turning points of one of the most important parties of democratic Italy, showing how the initial yearning to work for the good of the community has been changed for the worse by the radical transformations that the Italian political scene has been subjected to. After the P.C.I. – the Italian Communist Party – was dissolved, the four friends make different life choices.

By Annett Schütze
Germany, 2005, colour, video, 90’

Life as it unfolds in Moskatchka, a poor area of Riga (Latvia). The camera captures images without seeking to channel them into a narrative. The surroundings are noted as is human behaviour, everyday acts, sometimes accidental, brief episodes tinged with the absurd or tragedy: this which appears before the lens is reality reduced to its lowest common denominator. The only initiative to organise them into a film were the essentialities of selecting the camera take and the length of each. This is the wealth of simplicity – of a reality which is given to us whole and which allows us to reproduce an atmosphere intensely and without coldness in which no comment could ever add anything.

Phantom Limb
By Jay Rosenblatt
USA, 2005, colour/bn, 35mm, 28’

Stills from found footage, set up like a of series paintings, taken from old cinema newsreels, super 8 family movies and other sources of documentary cinema. These, the metaphors they suggest and the remarks accompanying them, give us the sense of the film shot by the director to reflect on the death of his seven-year-old brother. It happened many years ago, far off in time, but it is an indelible memory and a thought which induced him to ponder on the sense of separation and loss, on an indescribable pain that one is obliged to live with, and the idea of death itself.

Raiees Jomhour Mir Qanbar
President Mir Qanbar
By Mohammad Shirvani
Iran, 2005, colour, video, 70’

Mir Qanbar, an elderly Iranian who lives in a small village in Azerbaijan has an unshakeable ambition to be elected President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. After three failed attempts, tireless, and determined to achieve his goal, he takes his simple political manifesto round the country villages seeking support. His election campaign is conducted by bicycle and a few duplicated pamphlets which an odd-ball volunteer hands out to peasants who are often sceptical about any form of government. The strength of Mir Qanbar, who, at the age of almost seventy-five managed to pass the university entrance exam, comes from the principle that every citizen has the right to aspire to representing the people and govern.

Trópico de cáncer
di Eugenio Polgovsky
Messico, 2004, colour, video, 54’

Life is not easy for the poor of Charco cercado, a semi-desert area of Mexico in the state of San Luis Potosì. The only way to scratch a meagre living is by hunting – capturing animals for food or for sale, live, from a ramshackle zoo-market, to tourists and truck drivers on their way along nearby Highway 57. Using slings, nooses and rudimentary traps they move through a dry, desolate landscape, in which they know everything about everything animal and vegetable. Birds, rattlesnakes, rodents all have their special, tried-and-tested ways of being caught, and for every cactus, even the most thorny there is a way of digging it up. It is a hunt for survival involving children as well as adults, that has no time for environmental scruples.

Un dragon dans les eaux pures du Caucase
The Pipeline next Door
di Nino Kirtadzé
France, 2005, colour, video, 90’

The former Soviet republic of Georgia boasts some enchanting landscapes, wooded slopes and valleys rich in fields with wells of pure, clean water like the one near the village of Sakiré. And the massive oil pipeline built by British Petroleum had to come right through here. And it was right here that BP came up against the mistrust of the locals who, after compensation, were being made to give up their land. The negotiations were not easy, the little community went about its consultation procedure somewhat chaotically and the property boundaries were blurred. So what was to be done? Give in and fight on for more money, or stand up against the Georgia government who had already signed the agreement, and against works that would completely destroy the landscape and put the health and the survival economy of the inhabitants at risk?

Volver la vista - Der Umgekehrte Blick
by Fridolin Schönwiese
Austria/Messico, 2005, colour, 35mm, 90’

A comparison between two cultures – Mexican and Austrian – through portraits of Austrians living in Mexico and Mexicans living in Austria. The many and varied testimonies lead many of those commenting to turn their glance to their national identity and integration, to what can be assimilated from such different cultures which can express the same colours and moods. Alpine landscapes and life in Austria alternate with that of everyday living and fiestas in Mexico, German and Spanish blend together like the recollections of those who left their countries of origin when they were small. What is it that makes a homeland? Is it possible to feel belonging to both worlds? Perhaps clear-cut boundaries only exist at the frontier points between states.

Venerdì 2 dicembre - ore 18.50 - Cinema Alfieri Atelier - Prima Italiana

Weisse Raben. Alptraum Tschetschenien
White Ravens. Nightmare in Chechnya
di Johann Feindt, Tamara Trampe
Germany, 2005, colour, video, 92’12”

No money and no chance of work: two reasons why some young Russians leave for war-torn Chechnya, like Petya and Kiryl, soldiers, and Katya, a nurse in a field hospital. Despatched into a war zone, they came back incurably injured both in body and soul. Their testimony, together with that of soldiers’ mothers who have formed a committee against the war, is the backbone of an enquiry conducted by the director, attempting to reconstruct the facts behind stills taken from film footage. What are the people captured during a raid being accused of? Who are the women with their hands on their heads and terror in their eyes? And, especially, what happened to them?

Yan Mo
Before the Flood
By Li Yifan, Yan Yü
China, 2005, colour, video, 150’

How does life flow for the people of Fengjie before everything disappears underwater? One of most celebrated cities of classical Chinese poetry, and birthplace of poet Li Bai, is located where the so-called “Three-Gorges” dam is to be constructed – the massive engineering work which will flood a vast area of China, covering places of unique natural beauty, human settlements and historical relics for ever. Very little remains of the poetic beauty sung by Li Bai. The region’s inhabitants live in conditions which are miserable, their earning possibilities are low and the move hanging over everyone’s head obliges them to come to terms with government authorities, always offering seemingly inadequate compensation for what is being expropriated.


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