The second week of Documentary Fortnight begins this Wednesday, February 24, and runs through March 3. The selections now turn to look at communities around the world, including a special thematic focus on Iran and Afghanistan. First up is Gideon Koppel’s Sleep Furiously. The film depicts Treufurig, a hill farming community in Wales where, many years ago, Koppel’s parents found a home as refugees. The daily life, landscape, and mannerisms of the people and place are captured with attention to small details such as conversational patter, eccentric hobbies, and music by Aphex Twin.
Several of the films we’re showing represent a salute to the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam’s Jan Vrijman Fund, which supports filmmakers in developing countries. Those films include Jawed Taiman’s Addicted in Afghanistan (2009), which follows two heroin-addicted boys in Kabul, and Massoud Bahkshi’s Tehran Has No More Pomegranates! (2008), a perceptive and comic narrative about the Iranian capital’s transformation from a small village to a bustling metropolis. Catch them this Friday and Saturday as part of a two-day focus on Afghanistan and Iran.
The two-day focus also includes Sepideh Farsi’s film shot with a mobile phone, Tehran without Permission (2009), and two works by Bahman Kiarastami, Statues of Tehran (2008) and The Treasure Cave (2009). Screening Friday at 8:00 p.m., Carol Dysinger’s Camp Victory, Afghanistan looks for the first time on film at the American exit strategy in Afghanistan. This timely and affecting work-in-progress follows two men, General Sayar of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Colonel Michael Shute, a lifelong National Guardsman. Following the screening, we’re pleased to present a discussion with Dysinger and Col. (Ret.) Shute.
Several Asian films in the festival offer unique perspectives on the environment. Earth’s Women (2009, Woo-jung Kwon) follows three women in South Korea struggling to hold on to their utopian ideals as community activists and farmers. Agrarian Utopia (2009, Uruphong Raksasad) depicts two families in Thailand facing seizure of their lands, and a neighboring farmer who is practicing alternative farming methods. The Chinese film 1428 (2009, Haibin Du) documents the aftereffects upon communities and families of the Great Sichuan Earthquake, which took place at 14:28 on May 12, 2008.
A few films capture the idea of love as a deep connection that is expressed less in words than in a way of being together. Ivan and Ivan (2009), a short by Philipp Abrytun, looks at the relationship between nine-year-old Ivan Junior and his grandparents Marfa and Ivan, who are raising him in the Magdan region of Russian, where the Evens people fish and herd reindeer. Andrei Descalescu’s Constantin and Elena depicts an elderly Romanian couple who, after fifty-five years of marriage, still care for each other deeply; the filmmaker—their grandson—observes them as they go about their daily life.
Many of the films in this year’s Documentary Fortnight capture the atmospheres, essences, and qualities of everyday life—how the experience of each fleeting moment is what makes life so rich. We have watched films by filmmakers from around the world, and discovered in them parallel circumstances encountered by people of seemingly disparate cultures and historical time periods. These diverse films teach us that our world is truly a global community.