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Amiet (2011)
Iwan Schumacher, Cornelia Strasse
Switzerland
52′
Cuno Amiet lived from 1868-1961, yet seen today many of his pictures have a contemporary edge. Amiet was a Swiss pioneer of modern painting along with Ferdinand Hodler and Giovanni Giacometti. The film visits three highly individual Amiet collectors in Dallas, Geneva and Studen, near Biel. Surrounded by Amiet’s works they tell us what part these paintings play in their lives.
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Ecuador (2012)
Jacques Sarasin
Ecuador
75′
In a world of one-way traffic, where the northern countries are exporting their economic and political model worldwide, one country in Latin America has undertaken a profound reform of these models to invent a new type of governance, both pragmatic and humanistic. The country in question is Ecuador. Rafael Correa, an established economist, who came to politics as a man on a mission, was elected President in 2006. Since coming to power, he has transformed a country with archaic structures into a social, independent, ecological and participative democracy. He has given Ecuadorians genuine reason to believe that the rigid structures of the past were no longer inevitable, that ordinary citizens had their word to say, and that, at long last, their voices would be heard. This film is intended for everyone, from rich and emerging countries alike. It suggests concrete perspectives to a new way of living the phenomenon of globalization. It shows that political, ecological and economic alternatives do exist. This film is not a film about Ecuador; rather, is about a political project, where utopia became reality. It is a film of ideas and reflections, suggesting solutions to the current crises besetting the globe. It proposes a real debate on the future of our society
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Fukushima - No Man's Zone (2012)
Toshi Fujiwara
Japan
105′
A man wanders through the 20-kilometre exclusion zone around the stricken nuclear reactors at Fukushima. The cherry trees are in bloom and the natural surroundings make an idyllic impression. Radiation is invisible, yet a gaping emptiness looms where the tsunami engulfed streets and houses. The man is wearing normal clothing, just like the people still toughing it out here, for the time being at least. He occa- sionally encounters white "ghosts" in protective clothing, performing strange tasks. As in Tarkovsky’s STALKER, the zone in Fujiwara Toshi’s NO MAN’S ZONE is both a place and a mental state. A gradual disintegration began long before the destruction and devastation, a process defied for the most part by the old people our "Stalker" encounters. A voice accom- panies the filmmaker’s wanderings, that of Armenian-Canadian actress Arsinée Khanjian, a voice from a place of exile, unfamiliar and sympathetic. NO MAN’S ZONE is a complex reflection on the relationship between images and fears, on being addicted to the apocalypse, on the ravaged relationship between man and nature. For the zone to be decontam- inated and returned to the people, nature itself will have to undergo an amputation.
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Golden Slumbers (2012)
Davy Chou
Cambodia
100′
A nocturnal drive along a rural highway into a city at dawn that is somehow moving in the wrong direction. It is only after a while that you notice that the vehicles are travelling backwards, receding back into the dusk of reality. This mysterious metaphor forms the starting point for a journey into the unknown history of Cambodian film. Nearly 400 films were made in Phnom Penh between 1960 and 1975, only 30 of which survive today. The Khmer Rouge burnt them or allowed them to decay along with many of the country’s studios and cinemas. Most of those involved in the film industry became victims of the genocide. Director Davy Chou, the grandson of one of the most important film producers of the Golden Age’ of Cambodian cinema, uses his film to reconstruct the country’s cinematographic legacy. He goes about his work like an archaeologist, recognising how impossi- ble it is to actually speak to survivors about a life’s work destroyed but not forgotten. LE SOMMEIL D’OR undertakes a painstaking search for fragments of memory in the present, whether in the form of lobby cards, songs on YouTube or a visit to a karaoke bar housed in what used to be a film studio, and gradually coalesces into a strikingly vibrant memorial.
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Ken Bugul (2015)
Silvia Voser
Senegal
64′
Ken Bugul is a Senegalese writer who lives in Africa, where her soul is anchored. She has had an exceptional life. Silvia Voser’s film shows her as an iconic figure of the female condition and of relationships between Africa and the West. Ken Bugul is considered one of the most brilliant writers in Senegalese and French of these past decades. Over the years, thanks to her great command of the French language and the uncompromising care she takes with the wording of the meaning of Wolof vocabulary, her mother tongue, her novels have become absolute references in the realm of linguistic studies. "What you read in French in my novels is how we think and speak in Wolof in my village". Ken Bugul’s personal story is overshadowed by Africa’s turbulent history. She was born in 1947 in an isolated village in Senegal, at that time a French colony. Her father was 85 years old and her mother left them before Ken turned five. This was a fundamental event in Ken Bugul’s life. In spite of lacking a mother’s love, she was full of energy and a yearning for freedom, and she received an exceptional education for a village girl of that time. In 1971, she left for Europe to go to university and there she met people from the upper middle class and discovered new ideologies and liberties, modern art, drugs, alcohol, loneliness, incomprehension and disdain, and prostitution to relieve her need for affection. As she says in "The Abandoned Baobab": "For twenty years all I had learned was their thoughts and their emotions. I thought I’d have fun with them, but I ended up even more frustrated. I identified with them, but they didn’t identify with me." She came back to Senegal, a broken, lonely and penniless young woman. People thought she was crazy and she was rejected by her family and society. For two years, she slept in the streets of Dakar, hanging out with outcasts, beggars, prostitutes and artists. Dirty, hungry, almost naked, she started writing her first novel, "The Abandoned Baobab". Worn out, she decided to go back to her family. And there, in her mother’s village, she found refuge with the Serigne (marabout), a wise and much respected man. He took her as his 28th wife, enabling her to re-enter society, and he supported her in her desire to write and to be free. He died in 1981, a year before the publication of her first novel, "The Abandoned Baobab", which was an immediate success. Ken Bugul was invited to present her book all over the world. She met a doctor from Benin, married him and moved to that country, where she gave birth to their daughter Yasmina. Her husband passed away four years later. For the past thirty years, novel after novel, Ken Bugul has painted a picture of her life as a woman, of her loves, of the relationship between her continent and the West. "To write", she says, "is to dazzle the senses, and the senses are colourless." Silvia Voser leads us gently into the secret, tormented world of an artist whose writings show an understanding of the world that is rarely achieved.
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Markus Raetz (2007)
Iwan Schumacher
Switzerland
75′
The Swiss artist Markus Raetz is an established figure in the international art world. For the film by Iwan Schumacher, the artist from Bern is for the first time giving a camera team an insight into his 40 years of work.
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My Name is Salt (2013)
Farida Pacha
India
92′
Year after year, for an endless eight months, thousands of families move to a desert in India to extract salt from the burning earth. Every monsoon their salt fields are washed away, as the desert turns into sea. And still they return, striving to make the whitest salt in the world. The desert extends endlessly - flat, grey, relentless. There is not a tree or blade of grass or rock. But there is one thing in abundance: salt. Salt is everywhere, lying just beneath the cracked, baked surface of the earth. This is the Little Rann of Kutch, 5000 sq kms of saline desert. And for eight months of the year, the salt people live here - laboriously extracting salt from this desolate landscape. They have been doing this for generations. Year after year, they migrate from their villages, 40,000 of them, to live on this bleak land without water, electricity or provisions. Arriving just after the monsoon, Sanabhai and his family will live here from September until April. Their nearest neighbour is a kilometre away. They communicate by flashing mirrors in the sunlight. Sanabhai’s wife Devuben walks across the bare, trackless desert to chop firewood. They buy the family’s water supply from a private tanker that comes once a week. Sanabhai has taken a large loan from the salt merchant in town as an advance on his salt harvest. He needs money to dig a well to reach the saline water 70 feet below ground, and to buy the diesel for the pump which draws the brine into the salt pans. Over the next few months, the only sound to break the silence of the desert is the mechanical drone of the pump’s engine. It takes eight months for the brine to crystallise into salt. Knee-deep in the brine pond, under the blinding glare of the sun, Sanabhai and his family trample the ground to prevent the salt from congealing. Once the brine has evaporated enough to allow the salt to be handled, they gather it with heavy wooden rakes until large crystals have formed. Their labor is rhythmic, a dance that mirrors the dance of the mirages on the burning horizon. The white crystals are as sharp as glass. Only two of them have rubber boots. Several times in a day Sanabhai inspects the quality of the salt crystals and keeps a close watch on the level of water in the salt pans. Two of Sanabhai’s children - a boy and a girl aged eleven and eight- go to a school recently opened by an NGO. Everyday at 11, after their morning’s work at the salt pans, they cycle off to school - just another hut in the vast emptiness of the desert, but with one difference: the children have planted paper flowers around it. In April, the salt merchant sends his man to inspect the salt. No good, he says: the crystals are small, not white enough. He cuts the price agreed with Sanabhai at the beginning of the season. Sanabhai is downcast, but he shrugs his shoulders: what can you do? The next salt season will certainly be better. Meanwhile, somewhere at the edge of the desert, mountains of salt lie next to the railway tracks waiting for transport to the city. The season is over and the monsoon is on its way: the heavy rains will soon wash the family’s salt fields away. The desert itself will not remain a desert anymore, but will turn into a sea. And the only way one can cross it is by boat.
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Nostalgia de la luz (2010)
Patricio Guzmán
Chile
90′
In his documentary essay film, Chilean Patricio Guzmán takes a double look at the past: On the one hand there are the astronomers who look up to the sky in the Atacama Desert and explore the origin of the universe, on the other there are the women who search in the desert sand around the observatories for the mortal remains of their loved ones who have become victims of the military dictatorship. A journey into the light.
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Passagen (1972)
Fredi M. Murer
Switzerland
45′
H.R. Giger became known all over the world as the designer of the aliens in Ridley Scott's feature film ALIEN. In this documentary about H.R. Giger's work, which was made many years before, the artist's creative process and the interplay between conscious and unconscious influences are the focus. Statements by experts and contemporaries address the question of the artist's position and social responsibility.
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Storia probabile di un Angelo - Fernando Birri (2017)
Paolo Taggi Domenico Lucchini
Italy
76′
A journey into the world and the work of the great master of the South American cinema, Fernando Birri. As Birri said, it’s his "spiritual kino last will".
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Take Off (2013)
Bruno Moll
Ghana
93′
Ghana is considered a model country in West Africa - democratic, open, ambitious. Ghana's government is proud and likes to refer to good governance: to the best rule of law in West Africa and above all to stable economic growth - despite the global financial crisis. The government is determined to achieve faster socio-economic development, especially by expanding the industrial sector. Ebenezer Mireku comes from a Ghanaian jungle village. He made some detours to obtain his doctorate at the University of St. Gallen in 1988 and then returned to his home country to apply the knowledge he had acquired as an entrepreneur. For several years he has been passionately fighting for the realisation of his major project: the construction of a new section of the Ghanaian railway. The railway line is intended to stimulate the development of the entire region. His future-oriented, gigantic railway project was at the centre of the film project and is the leitmotif of Bruno Moll's film Take Off. The film narrative follows Ebenezer Mirekus' biography and experiences with the railway project, documenting encounters with Ghanaians. Questions about development, growth and progress are of specific interest.
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The Song of Mary Blane (2019)
Bruno Moll
Switzerland
86′
The painter from Solothurn (CH) Frank Buchser was sent to the USA in 1866 to paint a large painting of the "Heroes of the Civil War" for the future Council of States Hall in Bern. Initially Buchser was busy portraying politicians and generals in the spirit of his clients. More and more, however, he became interested in the Indians expelled to the reservations and in the living conditions of the slaves who had just been freed. Years earlier, fascinated by Moorish culture, Frank Buchser rides disguised as a Turkish sheikh to the Moroccan town of Fez, which is forbidden to Christians under death penalty. The Swiss filmmaker Bruno Moll (Pizza Bethlehem, Tunisreise) tells the two adventurous journeys of the rebellious and controversial artist. The film narrative begins with film documents of the riots in Charlottesville in August 2017 and the diary entries made by Frank Buchser in 1869, when General Lee was his model for the portrait. In a large flashback the film tells Buchser's story of his stay in Andalusia and Morocco in 1858, returns with him to his homeland and closes with his North American adventure.
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Une ville à Chandigarh (1965)
Alain Tanner
India
53′
When, in 1947, a portion of Punjab province was assigned to the newly created Pakistani State, Albert Mayer began planning a new capital for the portion which remained in the possession of India. Le Corbusier had been responsible since the 1950s for general planning and, more particularly, for large-scale buildings typical of the governmental sector. A year after the death of Le Corbusier, Alain Tanner began shooting his film in a city still partially under construction, or even, in certain places, at the planning stage. The inhabitants of the metropolis, however, already numbered some 120,000. Among the most modern of cities architecturally, Chandigarh was archaically constructed by hand. Impressions of this green horizontal city-brick not permitting vertical development-are captured in long static shots and numerous traveling shots. John Berger's commentary inscribes the visual beauty of that reality within a larger reflection: climate did strongly influence the decisions of the planners, whereas the new city did not succeed in breaking the old social rules with a single blow. These rules continue to determine the level of education and income, and it is not even possible for these workers who are in the process of constructing Chandigarh to live in it themselves. However, the film partakes of Le Corbusier's optimism in its appreciation of architecture as an instrument aiding men to clarify their visions, to exercise their powers of discernment and to establish new relations, even if the results will only make themselves felt in the long term.
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Urs Fischer (2010)
Iwan Schumacher
Switzerland
102′
The 36-year-old Swiss artist Urs Fischer, who lives in New York, has been enjoying international fame for some years now. This documentary follows him during the preparation of his exclusive exhibition in an American museum and thus takes us into the daily life and work of an artist.
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Von der Rolle (2019)
Verena Endtner
Switzerland
88′
What happens when fathers do more family work than mothers? An overview of families where traditional roles have been reversed. The director's experiences with children are reflected in the film in the form of short animations.
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