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may 2018, distribution news

"El mar la mar"

by Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki, opens June 7, 2018 accompanied by the Caligari Award tour

The sun beats down mercilessly on all those who cross the Sonoran Desert between Mexico and the United States. Aside from the few people who live here, it’s the poorest of undocumented immigrants that make the crossing, who have no choice but to take this extremely dangerous route, followed by border guards both official and self-appointed. The horizon seems endlessly far away and deadly dangers lurk everywhere. It’s best to move under the cover of darkness; during the day, being exposed to the heat and sun is enough to make animals and humans perish.

march 2018, distribution news

"Spell Reel"

by Filipa César, opens April 12, 2018

In 2011, an archive of film and audio material re-emerged in Bissau. On the verge of complete ruination, the footage testifies to the birth of Guinean cinema as part of the decolonising vision of Amílcar Cabral, the liberation leader assassinated in 1973.

january 2018, distribution news

"Forgetting Vietnam"

by Trinh T. Minh-ha

Vietnam in ancient times was named đất nứớc vạn xuân – the land of ten thousand springs. One of the myths surrounding the creation of Vietnam involves a fight between two dragons whose intertwined bodies fell into the South China Sea and formed Vietnam’s curving ‘S’ shaped coastline. Legend also has it that Vietnam’s ancestors were born from the union of a Dragon King, Lạc Long Quân and a fairy, Âu Cơ. Âu Cơ was a mythical bird that swallowed a handful of earthly soil and consequently lost the power to return to the 36th Heaven. Her tears formed Vietnam’s myriad rivers and the country’s recurring floods are the land’s way of remembering her. In her geo-political situation, Vietnam thrives on a fragile equilibrium between land and water management. A life-sustaining power, water is evoked in every aspect of the culture.

 

july 2017, distribution news

New: "For Ahkeem"

by Jeremy S. Levine, Landon Van Soest

Daje is seventeen, and just as unruly and caught up in her own thoughts as others of her age the world over. We only realise her future hangs in the balance when we see her go to juvenile court with her mother: she’s been expelled from school for rebelliousness and has just one last chance to get back on track. Yet the true gravity of her situation only gradually becomes clear: such as when we see the many names of her friends written on her notebook followed by R.I.P. and a recent date, or when Daje talks to her boyfriend about whether she – or he – might also die so young.

FOR AHKEEM explores the cosmos of a young black woman in St. Louis, Missouri, not far from Ferguson, where Michael Brown was shot in August 2014. The film adheres to a strictly personal perspective to recount her upbringing in today’s United States and show the predetermined paths open to her – lined as they are with barricaded brick buildings. But it also reveals Daje’s talent at avoiding the pitfalls of being either a victim or a model student, while evolving into an impressive film protagonist – of a documentary that depicts her complicated life more in the style of a poignant feature than a social reportage. (Dorothee Wenner)

november 2016, distribution news

"Barakah Meets Barakah"

by Mahmoud Sabbagh, opens March 9, 2017

If you were to ask a group of film experts which country is currently the least appropriate setting for a hilarious, truly wacky romantic comedy, the chances are that Saudi Arabia would come out on top. But their guesses would be wrong, as BARAKAH MEETS BARAKAH provides more than enough evidence to the contrary. He’s a municipal civil servant from Jeddah whose origins are humble to say the least, while she’s a wild beauty, the adopted daughter of a rich couple whose marriage has suffered due to their lack of biological children. He’s also an amateur actor in a theatre company rehearsing a production of "Hamlet", while she functions as a crowd-puller for her stylish adoptive mother’s boutique and runs her own boisterous, widely-seen vlog. Fate brings them together – in an environment hostile to dating of any kind. But the two of them show breathtaking ingenuity to circumvent the system of tradition, etiquette and religious police – with the crucial help of a quirky midwife and a pink push up bra. BARAKAH MEETS BARAKAH is a film for anyone who’s always wanted to know just what else is going on in Saudi Arabia. (Berlinale Forum catalog, Dorothee Wenner)

june 2016, distribution news

"Les Sauteurs – Those Who Jump"

by Moritz Siebert, Estephan Wagner, Abou Bakar Sidibé; opens November 17, 2016

Mount Gurugu overlooks the Spanish enclave of Melilla on northern Africa’s Mediterranean coast. The European Union and Africa are separated here by a high-security border facility consisting of three fences. Refugees, mostly from the sub-Saharan region, live in the tree-covered foothills, from where they try to cross the land border between Morocco and Spain. One of them is Abou Bakar Sidibé from Mali, who in LES SAUTEURS is both the protagonist and the one doing the documenting. After 14 months in the informal camp and numerous failed attempts to beat the fence system, Abou starts filming – his daily routine, his surroundings, the mind-numbing wait for the next "jump". His footage gives insights into the social organisation of the refugee community and provides a mournful look at the supposed El Dorado of Europe.

LES SAUTEURS carries out a unique shift in perspective: the abstract, anonymous thermal images of the surveillance cameras stand in contrast to the subjective gaze of an individual. After meeting Moritz Siebert and Estephan Wagner, Sidibé takes on the responsibility for their camera, tirelessly documenting his living conditions on the sidelines of an EU under lockdown. (Caroline Pitzen)