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ERA New Horizons IFF


9th Edition of the ERA New Horizons International Film Festival, to be held in Wroclaw, Poland from 23 July to 2 August.


An Appreciation of the Real: Documentaries at ENH




by Sandy Mandelberger, Online Dailies Editor


When the film history of our era is written for future scholars to examine, one of the interesting aspects will be the flowering of non-fiction film. Documentaries, once relegated to television or educational settings, have broken through to the theatrical box office. While not every film can be “Fahrenheit 911” (which topped $200 million at the box office) documentaries have been faring well in cinemas all over the world.  The ERA New Horizons International Film Festival, which concludes its 11 day run in Wroclaw, Poland, offered an intriguing survey of current documentaries in the Documentaries/Essays section. In “City of Borders”, American documentarist Yun Jong Suh offers a unique perspective on the Israel/Palestine conflict by focusing on a gay bar in Jerusalem where opposing sides come together for mutual support and protection. The film won the Siegessäule award at the Berlin Film Festival.  “Film Ist, A Girl And A Gun by Austrian filmmaker Gustav Deutsch, a master manipulator of found footage, creates an astonishing tableau made up of silent fragments of romantic, porn and propaganda films. The film was a hit at its debut at the Rotterdam Film Festival. Fellow Austrian  Tina Leisch takes on a more somber topic in “Gangster Girls”, a verite portrait of the daily life in a women’s prison. How specialized societies are organized and maintained is also the topic of “In Comparison”, a globe-hopping documentary by Harun Farocki.

In “Must Read After My Death”, American documentarist Morgan Dews uncovers the secrets kept by his grandmother that only become revealed to her family when she passes on. Family secrets tied in with historical inevitabilities is also the subject of “The Children of Wehrmacht”  by Polish director Mariusz Malinowski. How individuals face the challenges of their times, specifically two unlikely activist partners in the fight against Nazi fascism, is the theme of The Count and the Comarade by German documentarian Ilona Ziok. Untold stories of personal heroism provides the sub-text for Swiss filmmaker Peter Liechti’s “The Sound of Insects – Record of a Mummy” about the starvation death of a man whose body is discovered with a diary of his final days.  The changes wrought by modernity on tradition is the subject of three films in the program.  In “The Korean Wedding Chest”, famed German non-fiction filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger uses a traditional ritual of the Korean marriage ceremony to comment on the tensions between contemporary and traditional values. In “Sleep Furiously” by British director Gideon Koppel, the filmmaker examines challenges facing a small farming village in Wales. With “Supergrass”, the camera lingers on a dying profession, the lives of simple ranchers who travel hundreds of miles to bring their sheep to market.    




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