Hot Docs Festival Online starts May 28 and the lineup includes several titles supported by the Institute of Documentary Film, such as Two Roads by Radovan Síbrt, The Wall of Shadows by Eliza Kubarska, A Loss of Something Ever Felt by Carlos Eduardo Lesmes Lopéz, Lessons of Love by Malgorzata Goliszewska & Katarzyna Mateja and The Earth Is Blue as an Orange by Iryna Tsilyk.
East European Forum 2017, East Doc Market 2018, East Silver 2019
dir. Radovan Síbrt | The Changing Face of Europe | 80 minutes | 2019 | CZ | International premiere
What would you do with your life, if you knew that you have a limited time ahead of you? Much shorter than an average life? Members of The Tap Tap - a music band made up of physically disabled - or rather crippled as they would call themselves - students of Jedlička Institute in Prague have a pretty clear idea. They want to live and enjoy every single minute of it. The Tap Tap orchestra shows how to confront difficulties and obstacles. And above all, how to have fun in your life.
The Wall of Shadows
East European Forum 2017
dir. Eliza Kubarska | International Spectrum | 94 minutes | 2020 | PL, DE, CH | World premiere
The Sherpa family breaks a taboo and climbs the most holy of mountains, in order to earn money for their son’s school and cut him away from their tradition. They accompany the western expedition of goal-driven and troubled misfits. Wall of Shadows will tell a story about the meeting of young Sherpa boy and experienced alpinist at the foot of sacred mountain. Will they face the wrath of mountain Gods?
Lessons of Love
Ex Oriente Film 2017, East Doc Forum 2018
dir. Malgorzata Goliszewska and Kasia Mateja | The Changing Face of Europe | 75 minute | 2019 | PL | North American premiere
With her platinum blonde hair, stylish makeup and chic outfits, 69-year-old Jola is quite a film character, but her life has been no Hollywood romance. After being married to an abusive, alcoholic man for 45 years, she decides to finally leave him behind at their house in Italy and start a new life in Poland, her home country. Reuniting with her long-time girlfriends, who shockingly all share the experience of domestic violence, Jola lazes on the beach, takes singing lessons and even embarks on a new love affair with Wojtek, a gentleman she meets at a Latin dance class.
A Loss of Something Ever Felt
Ex Oriente Film 2018, East Doc Forum 2019
dir. Carlos Eduardo Lesmes Lopéz | World Showcase | 82 minutes | 2020 | ES, CO, SE | World premiere
Eeva is looking for her half brother, Lauri. The last time she heard anything form him was in December, when she and her mother received a call from an alleged hospital in Bogotá, Colombia. Since then there has been no word from Lauri, or Colombia. It is not strange for Lauri to disappear, to be on the move, but it is strange that he has lost contact. He never does this, not even when he was in a Venezuelan prison for drug trafficking.
Tales from the Prison Cell
East Doc Market 2019
dir. Ábel Visky | Artscapes | 80 minutes | 2020 | HU, HR, UK | North American premiere
In a Hungarian prison, filmmakers task incarcerated fathers to write fairy tales about their children. Next, they will turn those fairytales into short films, with the prisoner’s loved ones in the leading roles. In an effort to help strained families bridge the unnatural divide that prisons cause, director Ábel Visky gets creative by spotlighting the transformative power of art. Unmissable is the weight of each father’s absence in the lives of their children, and the toll taken by each valuable moment lost.
The Earth Is Blue as an Orange
East Doc Market 2019
dir. Iryna Tsilyk | World Showcase | 74 minutes | 2020 | UK, LT | Canadian premiere
Taken from Paul Eluard’s surrealist poem, the film’s title points to the moment when the seen and the unseen exist at the same time. In this Sundance award-winner, war and peace happen in the same place—in fact, inside the same home. In the small town of Krasnohorivka, Anna and her four children have the Ukrainian-Russian war on their literal doorstep. She is determined not only to stay put, but to see her family flourish in its rubble.
All Her Dying Lovers
IF/Then Tribecca Award at IF/Then Short Doc Pitch 2018 (East Doc Platform 2018)
dir. Anna Benner and Eluned Zoe Aiano | Shorts | 6 minutes | 2020 | DE, CZ | World Premiere
A nurse, a Nazi and a fish: this is the incredible tale of a young Czech woman who, in the face of Nazi occupation, trumps the invaders with her unique form of resistance. Her story is given an animated retelling that explores the collision of history, truth and myth-making.
Other Central and Eastern European titles at Hot Docs 2020:
East Silver 2019
dir. Tomasz Knittel | Revisionaries | 84 minutes | 2019 | PL | International premiere
The tenement house in Złota is a part of the only preserve fragment of the Jewish Ghetto Wall in Warsaw. The building was inherited from Jewish ancestors and repossessed during the reprivatization. 35-year old Krzysztof and his wife Ida take care of this building. He is a grandson of the owner of this house from before the war - a surviver from the Holocaust. Their lives, dreams, unfulfilled plans and ideas mix with life of other tenants. Among them there are 94-year old Czeslaw, a retired accountant, Sułtan from Afganistan, Inna from Ukraine and Fadi from Syria - a war refuge.
dir. Ksenia Okhapkina | The Changing Face of Europe | 60 minutes | 2019 | ES | Canadian premiere
Ksenia Okhapkina films the snow-decked barrack architecture in gray and white tones. An endless procession of railroad wagons carry away the mineral-bearing rock that provides the town with its main source of income. The only color is the blue glow of the flamethrower that’s used to de-ice the huge monument every morning. Indoors, girls are doing their ballet drill for an upcoming performance. Meanwhile, the boys learn to march and dismantle machine guns. Both groups are constantly corrected and belittled.
Dead Souls' Vacation
dir. Keko Chelidze | The Changing Face of Europe | 67 minutes | 2020 | GE | World premiere
Twenty years ago, in Tbilisi, Georgia, Levan Svanidze was somebody. He had made a name for himself as a talented bass player, but now he’s 45, broke and living with his elderly mother in a tiny studio apartment. Sharing only 14 square metres, they literally could not be any closer. Lamara occupies herself with her son’s meals and appearance and regales him with the same stories about her late husband and her love for Stalin on endless repeat.
I Want You If You Dare
dir. Dagmar Smržová | International Spectrum | 84 minutes | 2019 | CZ | International premiere
Single mother Martina raised twin girls, one of whom was born blind and the other with polio, leaving her disabled. Both children are now adults, and disabled Jana would love to leave her mother and live on her own in institutional living. And she would also like to experience sex, perhaps with a paid assistant. The documentary offers a brutally unsentimental view into the life of an impoverished rural family with two permanently disabled members.
[Updated on May 5, 2020]