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10 Years of Discovering the Best Documentaries for You



- 30.5.2011 0:54 -

Draw me a sheep…

children´s day

“I would photograph a falcon in flight… I would not photograph a dead bird or a dog…” says one of the protagonists of the documentary film The Unseen. With his camera, director Miroslav Janek has become a witness of a unique project. The blind children from the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory in Prague were photographing their surroundings. Their enthusiasm for the project, the result of which they will never see, tells about their imagination, creativity, sensitivity as well as the very creative process. The film follows the blind protagonists not only during filming but also during their everyday activities; their fascinating encounters with the world of music, the times of playing and learning. The questions asked by the children in the film call for the self-reflection of the sighted viewers as well. Don’t we, too, genuinely wonder now and then why we dream about “why the Moon is cold but not why the Sun is hot?”
Another film to be presented this week is Into the World by Austrian filmmaker Constantin Wulff. Made in the direct cinema tradition, the film is a fascinating probe into the microcosm of a Gynaecological and Obstetrical Clinic in Vienna. The mosaic of episodes from the examination rooms, nurse’s rooms and delivery wards represents one of life’s most powerful dramas – the drama of the beauty and pain of people’s birth into the world. The routine words and acts performed by the doctors during examinations and deliveries are in direct contrast to the miraculous moments of each birth, with the joy of new life and the uncertainty of being thrown into the arms of an unknown person mingling in the new-born’s first scream.
Zuoz by Daniella Marxer is another Austrian contribution to celebrate Children’s Day at the portal. The feature documentary follows a Swiss boarding school of the same name. A graduate from the educational institution for children of rich and influential parents, the director portrays Zuoz as a hermetically closed and guarded organism, struggling to maintain the values and traditions of hundred years ago. The camera rarely looks up from the halls, classrooms and students’ rooms. The snowy mountainous landscape behind the school windows is a metaphorical illustration of the rigid atmosphere. Episodes of encounters of students and their teachers, disciplinary punishments and reproofs accompanied by artificial smiles illustrate the teacher’s desire, or even obsession, for impossible discipline and perfection; while the students themselves have to cope with the process of growing up.
Made by Philippine experimenter Khavn De La Cruz, Squatterpunk represents an interesting counterpoint to Zuoz. Edited in the rhythm of expressive punk music, the black-and-white film follows the life of children in the slums at the suburbs of Manila. The rotting garbage becomes their toyshop and the roads and sewers their playground. The poverty and uncertainty do not disturb the spontaneity and joy of their games, left in the film as a sober message for the viewers to see.
The short films Behind the Fence and 18 Years are the last two of the six films sharing the theme of children and children’s world. The former tells about a single holiday day at the Polish countryside. Full of humming and children’s curiosity, the film represents a poetical attempt at a return into the carefree times of summer holidays. The documentary 18 Years follows the life of young Morgane and the first steps of adulthood in her incomplete family.

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