International Short Film Competition 2021
Amongst the Plants
Director: Mark Lindenberg
Country: Netherlands (about Peru)
“Entre las Plantas” (“Amongst the Plants”) portrays a Peruvian Amazonian family living in the Ucayali region. Flor, Karina and Julio work and communicate with plants that according to their Asháninka culture have an elevated status of teachers. In their garden they cultivate medicinal plants to protect against negative energies and to heal their Peruvian and foreign clients. During the night, they sing to ‘the mother of all plants’, plant-teacher Ayahuasca, for her to visit, heal and to consult on how they can help their clientele. In their garden, which is a microcosm in itself, good and evil seems in a constant duel as dangerous gorillas and snakes get contested by brave chickens and eagles. With patience the film-maker learns as an apprentice how plant, animal and human work together in this garden for his own and other’s healing process.
Arho – The Afar Salt Trade of Northeastern Ethiopia
Director: Till J F Trojer
Country: Germany (about Ethiopia)
“Arho – The Afar Salt Trade of North-eastern Ethiopia” follows the journey of a camel caravan to the salt plains of the Afar Depression. Traditionally, the caravans moved from Afar Depression to other parts of Ethiopia and to the Red Sea coastal regions of modern-day Eritrea and Djibouti. For centuries the control, trade and distribution of salt was of primary importance in the articulation of economic, social, and political life of the nomadic communities living along the caravan trails. Since 2010, trucks have slowly replaced the camel caravans...
Director: Maud Mascré
Country: New Caledonia
“‘Burning cars’ tells a paradox. New Caledonia is a dazzling mermaid with its blue-lagoon charms. But while crisscrossing this French Pacific island, I was struck by the underlying tension contained in this exotic paradise. Historical wounds, links of tortuous love with France, island microcosm and thorny juxtaposition of societies with opposite values ... The film explores a place, a universe”.
Djuedjevdan Is Yet To Come
Director: Predrag Todorović
Tomorrow is Djurdjevdan*. The locals of Oparic are preparing the Saint Patron’s Day dedicated to the Holy and Great Martyr George, and they are glorifying the holiday that follows winter, evokes spring and awakens all the senses. Despite the fertile land, there are fewer cultivated fields in Oparic, and more weeds and abandoned gates. However, people, plants and legends in this village in the Levac area are still weaving colorful Djurdjevdan's wreaths together. From the beginning of time to Instagram.
* Djurdjevdan (St. George's Day) has been in the National Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Serbia since 2015. This Christian and national holiday is celebrated throughout Serbia, but each region nurtures specific beliefs and customs that celebrate St. George's Day.
Emails to My Little Sister
Director: Solomon Mekonen
“Emails to My Little Sister” is a film created as part of an MA thesis project concerning the phenomenology of Blackness in Berlin. The film, however, takes place in Ethiopia, where becoming Black is reflected back on in siblings' email conversations. The film, a result of an autoethnographic research, explores historical and ongoing relationship between the so-called West and Africa. A brother who lives north of the Mediterranean and a sister south of it discover what that relationship entails and how it affects and shapes their lives.
Guli Armugʻon：Women’s Local Islamic Ritual in Uzbekistan
Director: Iqbol Meliqo'ziev
The beautiful pink Guli Armug‘on (Afghan redbud) blossom in early spring has been traditionally compared to a woman at the grave of an Islamic saint, Do‘sti Xudo (God’s Friend), by people in the village of the Ferghana region of eastern Uzbekistan. Therefore, in this season, the Uzbek and Tajik women of the region gather to celebrate the arrival of spring each year, a ritual also called Guli Armug‘on after the tree. Through this ritual in early spring, when nature awakens, one can observe the harmony of the magical communion among nature, humans, Islamic saints, and God. Historically speaking, Sufism, emphasizing spirituality more than precepts, spread religious tolerance in Central Asia and successfully incorporated local pre-Islamic religious cultures into Islam. This ritual survived under the oppression of the Soviet regime and still functions as a bridge connecting different nations and cultures in this region.
Director: Mehdi Imani Shahmiri
Keshvar is a lonely old woman crafting an ancient and unknown and woven Textile. She tells us a strange story too, a tale of a Fairy and a Shepherd who came to their village one day ...
Director: Aron Marty, Maria Bänziger
After staying in Switzerland for fifteen years, earning a living in construction, Babacar ‘Bouba’ Camara, 51, returns to his motherland Senegal. In Béne Barack, a socially and economically marginalized neighborhood of Senegal’s capital Dakar, Bouba has founded a private elementary school. Stepping in the footsteps of his socially minded parents, he aims to give the children a better education in comparison to the overcrowded public schools.
The Depth Beneath, The Height Above
Director: Andrea Bordoli
“The Depth Beneath, The Height Above” consists in an exploration of the high alpine region of Robiei, southern Switzerland. Conceived as a sensory piece, the film particularly focuses on the existing relationships between the human, animal, infrastructural and natural elements that compose Robiei's specific landscape. Through a juxtaposition between the aesthetics and activities that takes place above – the continuous stream of water, the movement of animals, the processes of production of cheese – and respectively below the ground level - the mechanisms and technologies involved in the hydroelectric production, as well as the humans interacting with them -, the film invites to question the nature of contemporary alpine landscapes.
Director: Rodrigo Tenuta, Ignacio Leonidas
The Yagan Paiakoala community resides in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego. They are the descendants of the first people who inhabited the southernmost islands of our planet for more than 8,000 years. Catalina Yagan is 89 years old. She still remembers how her grandfather Asinawensis sang to her. Victor and Roberto Vargas are her sons. They both start a horse ride, from the indigenous reserve that they currently occupy through the coasts of the Onashaga Canal in search of their ancestral reflection. Twankana means teaching in Yagan and as they travel, the two sons have a connection with the ritual songs of Asinewensis. The Yagan language floats in the air and dances with the harsh nature of the region and the sensibility of an ancestral community that is truly alive.
Walking With Plants
Director: Trevor Dixon Bennett, Leigh Joseph
Styawat/Leigh Joseph is a Sḵwxw̱ú7mesh Nation ethnobotanist. She grew up away from her traditional territory of Squamish, B.C. but in coming to a deeper understanding of her identity as a Sḵwxw̱ú7mesh woman, felt called to move her family home. As she navigates walking between academic and cultural worlds, she contemplates her relationship with plants and their role as teachers. On the land where her ancestors have harvested since time beyond memory, her life purpose is awakened. Leigh grew up connected to family and community, but always held a longing for the Sḵwxw̱ú7mesh landscape. Through her academic study she has found a path guided by plants, and it has led her home.
Director: Sebastien de Monbrison
Country: France (about Togo)
An experiment of a vodou's party in Lomé, the capital of Togo.
The Last Bonesetter
Director: Adam Booher
“The Last Bonesetter: An Encounter with Don Felipe” traces the career of one of the last “hueseros”, or bonesetters, in the area – 80-year-old Don Felipe. Medical anthropologist Kathryn Oths has long been concerned with the survival of indigenous healing. She first got to know and work with Don Felipe in the 1980s when she carried out 18 months of fieldwork in Chugurpampa. At that time, dozens of healers offered their services to the sick and injured. While she kept up with Don Felipe in the intervening years, she was stunned to discover upon her return 25 years later that he was the sole provider of traditional health care for the large hamlet. Besides being a well-known bonesetter and herbalist, over time he also took on the roles of midwife and a curer of illnesses that are unique to the Andes, such as ‘susto’ (soul loss from fright). While there is a modern medical health post in the hamlet where he lives, it is seldom staffed by doctors and has few medicines to prescribe, Don Felipe is the only reliable source of health care who people trust for miles around.
Dakhla: Cinema and Oblivion
Director: Arturo Dueñas
Country: Spain (about Algeria)
Life is going on in Dakhla, one of the Sahrawi refugee camps in southern Algeria, forgotten for 45 years. The celebration of a film festival, the FiSahara, breaks the monotony. The event ends, life (and oblivion) continues.
To Be A Marma
Director: Edward Owles
Country: UK (about Bangladesh)
The Marma are a minority indigenous people living in the Hill Tracts of the Bangladesh/Myanmar border. Ruled over by an increasingly symbolic monarchy, as well as the Bangladeshi state, they are battling to protect their identity, culture and territory in the face of mass climate migration onto their ancestral lands. “To Be a Marma” portrays how different figures try to do this through religion, music and land ownership. It was made as part of producer/academic Farhana Hoque's longterm collaboration with the community.
Director: Emil Nørgaard Munk
Country: Denmark (about Palestine)
In Palestine Saleh is moving from farm to farm working on 6 month long contracts. But this is not how he grew up. He has been robbed of the land he thought he should farm and pass on to his children. As a nomad, now he is trying to save what is left of the Palestinian soil through organic sustainable farming.
Gagulhchugh Nen Gagusun (The Land Looks Good All Around)
Director: Jeremy Williams
A poetic journey through the breathtaking and culturally-significant landscapes of the Dasiqox watershed, with reflections and stories shared by Tŝilhqot’in in Nenqayni Ch’ih (Tŝilhqot’in language).
Il Ponte Rotto
Director: Niccolò Masini
It is essential to know in order to belong. “Il Ponte Rotto” is an anthropological, animated documentary infiltrating Sardinian’s Culture and Identity. Using Carnaval, a ritual specific to the heart of the Barbaricinian’s island of Sardinia, as a metaphor, the project questions the evolution of this land’s culture.
A Remedy for Envy
Director: Nektaria Kapsala, Marion Reichstaler
This short documentary film explores a traditional spiritual phenomenon that has undergone a lot of changes the last years in Greece, in terms of belief and practice. The “evil eye” and all the myths and stories around it can be approached and perceived through many different perspectives. Many intriguing questions about different aspects of human interaction and institutions in the Greek Culture and Society, such as industry, religion, family, medicine and much more, arouse from the narratives of people we interviewed about that folklore topic. Considered as a superstition by most of them, the “evil eye“ still remains a deep part of the Greek Culture and brings up admiration and fear in their narrations about the “unknown” – even in the young generations.
Outside the Oranges are Blooming
Director: Nevena Desivojević
Country: Serbia (about Portugal)
High among the mountains, a man endures alone in a disappearing village. Wandering through the misty nature, roaming between the walls of his dark house, he bewails his condition as a man doomed to serve the surrounding he has rejected.
Director: Sidylamine Bagayoko
In Mali, in the localities of San and Bla, and in particular in the belt of Dâdougou, kɔtɛ was widely practised and integrated into a system of initiatory societies like the NYA and the DO. In most of the villages of Dâdugu, the ceremony of kɔtɛ takes place either following the death of a head of village, or every seven years. The initiation rites are secret, and we don’t have any information about them because it is forbidden to reveal their contents. There are, however, several activities organized around the core secret initiation ceremony during two days of festivities.
From Trash To Treasure: Turning Negatives into Positives in Lesotho
Director: Iara Lee
Country: USA (about Lesotho)
From erosion to overgrazing to enduring poverty, the people of Lesotho – a highland country surrounded by South Africa – face a variety of difficult challenges. Yet, grassroots communities in the country also exhibit tremendous resourcefulness and creativity. In particular, a wealth of artists have mastered a talent for resurrection, developing the skill to creatively turn negatives into positives: Designers who turn discarded trash into beautiful jewelry, clothes, rugs. Filmmakers who turn tragedy into artistic expressions of resilience and compassion. Musicians who write songs to save the environment. In this short, Cultures of Resistance Films profiles a variety of these inventive creators, introducing viewers to a fascinating cast of local residents who are using art as a means of communicating a communal desire for positive change.
The Golden Wing on Taiwan
Director: Gary Seaman
Country: USA (about Taiwan)
Lin Yueh-hwa’s autobiographical “novel” about his native village “The Golden Wing: A Sociological Study of Chinese Familism” (1948) is now considered a classic ethnographic account of pre-communist China. In the 1970s Gary Seaman made a series of ethnographic films featuring village life in a Taiwanese village. This film merges images from Taiwan with verbal ethnographic description from Fujian to provide the audience with a multimodal integration of visual and written ethnography of Chinese social life.
Director: Robert Lemelson
Country: USA (about Bali)
Shot in the arid landscape of West Bali, Tajen follows multiple narrative threads of the ancient spectacle of the Balinese cockfight. Through attention to the blade, the rooster, and the cockfighter, the film conveys the intimacy, brutality, and festivity of the fight. The film and its companion website Tajen: Interactive were conceptualized as a visual ethnography to complement Clifford Geertz’s seminal piece, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” and bring the study of the fight into the 21st century.
Small Family, Happy Family
Director: Zoe Hamilton, Annie Munger
Small Family, Happy Family is a short documentary following Mitilesh, a young woman from rural Madhya Pradesh, as she is recruited by health workers in her village to undergo sterilization and decides with her husband to pursue the surgery. Her story is situated in the larger context of population control in India, revealing how these policies affect the lives of women. The film is an immersive, highly personal glimpse into the lives of women positioned at the turbulent nexus of government policy and reproductive rights. In Mitilesh we see so many other women – in India and in our own countries – who also have tenuous control over their bodies and choices.