Piotr Rosolowski

Poland

Piotr Rosolowski

director of photography, director

Long Gardens. We Have Parted Without War

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan is over a hundred years old. And like any other war, it has displaced the civilian population, killed countless of innocent people and instilled hatred that would be passed on from generation to generation – until today. It is far from over.

In May 1994, an armistice was concluded between the parties. The agreement is valid to this day but the borders are still closed and the balance of powers remains fragile. The film Long Gardens. We Have Parted Without War tells the story of the inhabitants of two villages, who chose not to surrender to the insanity of war. In 1988, Kerkenj (Armenian) and the Kizil-Shafag (Azerbaijani) were faced with forced migration or worse and so they opted for a peaceful exchange of their villages instead.

The distance between the two villages was 640 km. The heads of the communities were the first to travel to the opposite village to understand the location and to negotiate terms and conditions. They took stock of the houses, inventoried the number of the rooms, trees in the yards, furniture and livestock. Everything was prepared for a new beginning and in 1989, after a long and dangerous journey across the mountains, the people of Kerkenj and Kizil-Shafag moved into their new homes, without loosing a single life to the conflict.

The most difficult aspect of leaving their home was to desert the graves of their ancestors. They concluded an agreement to take care of those graves and as a proof of the fact they exchanged videotapes, which had to be smuggled through Georgia. This civil contract is still valid until today and the archive of video footage is a moving testimony to the commitment both parties have to preserve and respect each other. We will use those videos repeatedly in the movie, to travel back and forth in time.
The film tells its story through the memories of those, who lived through the entire process and document life in the villages today. We will zoom into one family’s life, where emotions and secrets from the past still prevent a mother and her son to come to terms with the present. Arpi (44), a single mother who, in 1989, moved from Azerbaijan to Armenia, where she lived since and raised her son Gegham (25). The boy was born in Armenia. Like most young men his age, he grew up hating the Azeri people. When his mother finally confesses the true identity of his father as an Azeri, the boy is thrown into a deep emotional conflict. Torn between loyalty to his mother and outrage over the betrayal she committed in his eyes, he is yet one more victim of the conflict.

We decided to shoot the whole process of filming – it will be about the present, about us – four filmmakers from Armenia and Azerbaijan, about tentative sympathy arising between us – the voluntary decision to ignore the political narrative of today and jointly create a film about past, present and future of our two nations.

Oma Export

In a grey apartment complex in Hamburg lives Petra Kallenbach with her son and her dog. She is a 58-years-old German pensioner, well-rounded with long blond hair, who loves going to theatres and rock concerts. She enjoys having a drink with a
friend or simply going out for a good meal once in a while. But all of this she cannot afford.
Petra got an early but dramatically low pension, like many other seniors in Germany. After paying rent and amenities, she has only about 100 euros left every month for food and other expenses. Barely enough to get by in an expensive city like Hamburg. Petra refuses to accept the current circumstances. She belongs to the new generation of seniors, who don't feel that life should be over when growing old. Her retirement shall be a new chapter in her life. She decides to leave everything
behind and to move thousands of kilometres away to Eastern Europe. In Kavarna, Bulgaria, she wants to find the “better” life she is desperately looking for. She loves the idea of sunny weather, beaches and a biggest rock festival right in front of her
doorstep.
Petra will embark on an adventure of a new culture without knowing neither people nor language. For Petra, retiring in a foreign country will keep her engaged with life. OMA EXPORT is an uplifting humorous documentary that presents old people as
heroes and proves that age is no obstacle for new challenges.

Turbo Folk 2.0 (The Second Generation)

Sandra Afrika is a Serbian performer trying to make it big in the Balkan music scene called turbo folk dominated by mafia and silicone enhanced young women singing a fusion of folk music with electro beats. Her claim to success is interwoven with deeply personal stories of her main fan base - the second generation ex-Yugoslavian (Yugo) community facing an insurgence of anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany. Miloš alias DJ Faca tries to stay clean in a clubbing community where mediatised kitsch, former Balkan war lords turned businessman and beautiful women converge. Sanja is a devoted turbo folk fan of Serbian/Macedonian origins working hard during the day and attending turbo folk performances at night with her Croatian and Montenegrin girlfriends. It is during Sandra Afrika’s exuberant gig at the Berlin club the Universal Hall that her fans’ overwhelming desire to escape in nostalgia for a country long gone becomes vividly apparent.
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