Feature Documentary

THE PROPHET

24 November 2011
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by ptd
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The Prophet, a film directed and composed by BAFTA-nominated Gary Tarn (Black Sun, 2005) takes Kahlil Gibran’s classic novel and spins it into a cinematic exploration of love, life and loss. Shot on his solo travels to Serbia, Lebanon, New York, Milan and London with a 16mm and HD camera Tarn filmed people, situations and places that resonate with, rather than illustrate, the theme of Gibran’s text. The result is a film featuring images from around the globe that act as a visual equivalent to Gibran’s written word and create a common, contemporary thread between each culture. The Prophet is visually striking, finding beauty in the everyday – moviegoers who like a film that makes them think will relish its beautifully evocative nature. And, in a stroke of exquisite taste, the film is narrated by British actress Thandie Newton who delivers Gibran’s captivating prose with an intimate reading, woven into a score for orchestra, guitar, cello and synthesiser. First published in 1923, The Prophet has sold millions of copies worldwide and was the bible of the 60’s counter-culture, famous for its main character’s simple, inspiring answers to the questions with which all of us grapple. Its timeless message continues to be read and to inspire people around the world today.

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SUNNY’S TIME NOW

1 January 2009
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by ptd
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Antoine Prum’s documentary feature Sunny’s time now is a vibrant homage to an uncompromising artist, American avant-garde jazz drummer Sunny Murray, arguably one of the most influential figures of the historic free jazz scene… Featuring a series of interviews with key time witnesses (Val Wilmer, Cecil Taylor, Tony Bevan, Bobby Few, Sonny Simmons, François Tusques a.o.) and extensive concert footage, the film adopts a European point of view to reassess the complex relationships between the libertarian music movement and the political climate of an era whose revolutionary echoes still resonate today. Sunny’s time now also dwells on the near clandestine community of aficionados who continue to worship the gods of their musical coming of age, and whose resolute support has permitted free improvisational music – of which Murray is one of the last Mohicans – to live on.

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COLD WAVES

1 January 2008
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by ptd
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This is a love and hate story built around something no one can see or touch: radio waves. During the 80’s, Radio Free Europe was the secret relief and confidant of its Romanian listeners. The Radio was Ceausescu’s most important enemy; he even hired Carlos the Jackal to close it down. All the protagonists of this story confront themselves once more in COLD WAVES: speakers of the radio, along with terrorists, listeners as well as party and Securitate officials, Romanians, Germans, Americans and French alltogether. The world has changed, there are different wars now. But if you listen to the voices, you may get a better picture.

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DIE HÄUSER DES MR. WONG

24 December 2007
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by ptd
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Welcome to Shanghai, capital of capitalism! In an unprecedented building boom since the 1990s, more than 2000 high-rise buildings have mushroomed to the sky, creating the world’s most erratic skyline. As Shanghai hurtles towards the future at breakneck speed, many historic treasures fall prey to the wrecking ball. While his contemporaries pride themselves on investing in the future, Mr. Wong prefers to put his money on the past. Ever since he returned from Canada to China, the wealthy businessman has made it his mission to spend every penny he can on old houses: villas, wells and temples that belong to an old-and-fading Shanghai nobody seems to care for anymore. Whenever he travels the streets of Shanghai, he keeps his eyes open, ready to buy any house worth preserving before the sledgehammering begins. Stone by stone, Mr. Wong’s workers disassemble the old houses and bring everything to a large property he bought expressly for one purpose: setting up a kind of national park for endangered buildings. Every stone they bring to his warehouses is a building block for Mr. Wong’s dream: A city of his own, an historic wonderland where time is standing still, solely consisting of reassembled, ancient houses – a safe haven for lost traditions and ancient arts, and, one day, a platform for cultural exchange between Chinese and overseas artists living there. Most of his fellow Chinese are sceptical to say the least. Town planners and investors cannot understand what Mr. Wong is up to. Almost everyone sees him as a threat for progress and an obstacle to their plans. Mister Wong is both the humane and gripping story of a most unusual man realizing his vision against all odds and an insightful portrait of the divided soul of modern China.

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ÜBER WASSER, menschen und gelbe kanister

24 February 2007
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by ptd
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When water runs out, the world ends. He who wants water must be prepared to kill for it» an old Arab saying goes. At the beginning of the 21st century water, the ancient source of life, already is in short supply all over the world. From the heart of Africa to the Aral Sea in the Kazakh steppe the film portrays different people`s lives and their struggle for water and survival.

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LIFE IN LOOPS, a Megacities RMX

1 January 2007
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by ptd
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Multimedia artist Timo Novotny labels his new project an experimental music documentary film, in a remix of the celebrated film Megacities (1997), a visually refined essay on the hidden faces of several world “megacities” by leading Austrian documentarist Michael Glawogger. Novotny complements 30 % of material taken straight from the film (and re-edited) with 70 % as yet unseen footage in which he blends original shots unused by Glawogger with his own sequences (shot by Megacities cameraman Wolfgang Thaler) from Tokyo. Alongside the Japanese metropolis, Life in Loops takes us right into the atmosphere of Mexico City, New York, Moscow and Bombay. This electrifying combination of fascinating film images and an equally compelling soundtrack from Sofa Surfers sets us off on a stunning audiovisual adventure across the continents. The film also makes an original contribution to the discussion on new trends in documentary filmmaking.

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BLACK SUN

1 November 2005
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by ptd
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Co-produced by Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Children of Men, Y tu mamá también) and John Battsek (Searching for Sugar Man, One Day in September), Black Sun tells the story of Hugues de Montalembert, a French artist and filmmaker living in New York, who was blinded during a violent assault in 1978.

Combining de Montalembert’s audio narrative with signature 16mm visuals, the film articulates the immediate and longer-term consequences of the attack as de Montalembert reflects on his perception of the world. A portrait of an unique man and his remarkable reaction to a life-changing trauma, Black Sun is a poetic cinematic meditation on an extraordinary life without vision.

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TOUR DE FORCE

1 December 2004
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by ptd
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For their debut film, directors Antoine Prum and Boris Kremer stuck to the heels of Luxembourg strongman Georges Christen bending, towing and twisting his way through Russia. Proud holder of 23 Guinness Book World Records in feats of strength – such as bending nails, towing trains, planes, and ships with his teeth, or tearing up the yellow pages – this modern-day gladiator has been touring his unique PowerShow for more than twenty years. Muscles, sweat, and blood make his performing routine a unique mixture of genuine power and vintage-style entertainment, appreciated by audiences the world over. Looking back on an impressive track record, Christen felt the time had come for the ultimate challenge… Russia, the country of a strongman’s childhood idols, provides the backdrop to this unconventional film, a road movie that is at once melancholic and jubilatory. In a succession of tableaux vivants, TOUR DE FORCE draws an intimate picture of Russia today, caught between the burden of history and the repercussions of fast-paced Westernisation. A parade of truer-than-life characters and faces completes this modern-times ballad of the itinerant artist, where reality at times appears to outdo fiction.

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WORKINGMAN’S DEATH

1 January 2004
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by ptd
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Today’s manual laborers are no longer celebrated with hymns of praise. They must be content with encouraging one another that backbreaking work is better than no work at all… In the Ukraine, a group of men spend long days crawling through cramped shafts of illegal coal mines. Sulfur gatherers in Indonesia brave the smoky heat of an active volcano and the treacherous trip back down. Blood, fire and stench are routine for workers at a crowded open-air slaughterhouse in Nigeria. Pakistani men use little more than their bare hands to dismantle an abandoned oil tanker for scrap metal. Steelworkers in China fear they could be a dying breed… Five portraits of heavy manual labor, increasingly less visible in our technological 21st Century.

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MEGACITIES

24 October 1998
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by ptd
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Earth is beautiful. It’s people who make it horrific. Bombay, Mexico City, Moscow, New York: seductive yet repellent monsters. The contradiction insinuates itself into the daily lives of those who populate these megacities. The film’s twelve chapters tell the tales of: Shankar, the Bioscope Man; Modesto, the chicken feet vendor; Baba Khan, the paint recycler; Nestor, the trash scavenger; Oleg, Borya, Kolya and Misha, the street kids; Cassandra, the performer; Larissa, the crane driver; Toni, the hustler. Day in, day out they all set about their struggle for survival with ingenuity, intelligence and dignity. And they all share a single fantasy: the dream of a better life. MEGACITIES is a film about work, poverty, violence, love and sex. A film about the beauty of people.

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