I have for years (decades?) benefited of having access to the Docs for Sale catalogue of IDFA to be kept up to date on new films as a programmer and first of all as one, who writes on this site, where time and energy does not allow me to review all the good films so here is some catch-up with some titles I have enjoyed and would like to recommend:
A Jewish Life
Direction Team: Christian Krönes, Florian Weigensamer, Christian Kermer, Roland Schrotthofer. Israel, Austria, 114 mins. 2021.
Catalogue: Marko Feingold, born in 1913, grew up in a Jewish working-class neighborhood of Vienna. Fateful twists and turns helped him survive the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Neuengamme, Dachau and Buchenwald. After the War he (illegally) aided tens of thousands of survivors out of Europe to what would become Israel. At the age of 105, A Jewish Life is his story, in his own words shortly before his death. I was happy to meet this extraordinary man, who talks so well, with stunning archive in between. A true document.
The Balcony Movie
Director: Pawel Lozinski, Poland, 101 mins.
Catalogue: Can anyone be a movie hero? Can the world be locked in one film frame? Director Paweł Łoziński is watching people from his balcony as they are passing by: sad, thoughtful, glued to their phones, young and old. Neighbours, random visitors or simply passers-by. The filmmaker accosts them, asks questions, talks about how they deal with life. Standing there with his camera for over 2 years he has created a space for dialogue, a lay confessional of sorts, where everyone can stop by and tell their story. The protagonists carry secrets and mysteries, and are not easy to label. Every story is unique, and life always surpasses imagination. I saw this masterpiece for the second time on Docs For Sale, first time I had a link sent from the director – in this case I recommended the film to my colleagues at Magnificent7 Festival in Belgrade, where the film will be screened in October this year.
Director: Francesco Montagner, Czech Republic, 97 mins. 2021.
Catalogue: Jabir, Usama and Useir, are three young Bosnian brothers, born into a family of shepherds. They grew up in the shadow of their father, Ibrahim, a strict, radical Islamist preacher. When Ibrahim gets sentenced to two years in prison, for war participation and terrorism, the three brothers are suddenly left on their own. The absence of their father’s demands and strict commandments, changes their lives drastically. Brotherhood is an intimate exploration of the transition from youth to manhood, the search for identity, finding love and yourself. The film has so many of those „authentic now»s that editor Niels Pagh Andersen talks about in his book «Order in Chaos». I would add the importance of being multi-layered and not flat and fingerpointing at the father.
Director : Roberto Salinas, 98 mins. Italy, 2021.
At 15 Alexis is already a promise of the Cuban National Ballet School when he discovers his family wants to move to the United States. Determined to continue dancing, Alexis will have to leave behind his teachers, his friends and his first love to get ahead in the difficult world of North American ballet, while yet staying true to his roots. I knew this film from different workshops and was happy to see the final result, full of life reminding us that documentaries are about people and that a film becomes better if the people are full of passion and energy and joy as this Cuban family is !
Writing With Fire
Directors : Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh, India, 94 mins. 2021
In a cluttered news landscape dominated by men, emerges India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women. Armed with smartphones, Chief Reporter Meera and her journalists break traditions, be it on the frontlines of India’s biggest issues or within the confines of their homes, redefining what it means to be powerful. Oscar nominated, already awarded on several occasions, a film with protagonists you can only love for their courage and energy.