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LIDF21 Programme

Thursday 10th March

Alex Nevill | 2021 | UK, USA | 66 min

A documentary about railroad photography. Two artists set out on journeys across America to capture traces of locomotives in vast landscapes, intimate stories from passengers onboard and the experience of slow travel in today’s increasingly fast-paced society.

London Premiere

Father (爷爷和父亲)
Deng Wei | 2020 | China | 97 min

Filmmaker Deng Wei’s grandfather Zuogui has been blind since the age of three, living most of his life as a fortune teller and raising many children. Now approaching the final chapter of his life, Zuogui lives a life of bitter discontent toward his son (and Wei’s father) Donggu, a businessman who is set on earning the respect not afforded him as a child. Donggu works as a property developer to provide his family with a good life, but when a job-site accident forces him into financial hardship, it prompts a re-examination of his priorities and values—one that may lead the father and son to finally form a bond of respect, perhaps even love. Set against the vast transformation and economic change within contemporary Chinese society, Wei’s quiet fly-on-the-wall cinematography captures the fraught relationship between his father and grandfather as they negotiate past resentments and an uncertain future.

UK Premiere

Leipzig International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Best Documentary Award – Golden Dove, 2021
DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver, Best Feature Documentary Award, 2021
Asian American International Film Festival, New York, Emerging Director – Documentary Award, 2021
Golden Horse Film Festival, Golden Horse Award [Nominee] Best Documentary, 2020

Paul de Roo | 2021 | Belgium | 62 min

Mikhail Bezverkhni is a 73-year-old musician of Russian origin. In 1976 he won the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition for violin in Brussels. Back in Moscow, the KGB put him under house arrest for 14 years. Only in 1990, after the fall of the Soviet Union, was he able to emigrate to Belgium. ‘Misha’ lives apparently on the fringes of society – a shabby street musician who plays beautiful pieces from the repertoire of great composers. But, his appearance only conceals his ambivalent relationship to his public. He no longer wants to stand on large stages; he prefers to play in small halls, in churches, pubs and on the street.

UK Premiere

The Sailor
Lucia Kašová | 2021 | Slovakia | 78 min

What is the price of freedom? Paul Johnson sailed the world all his life. He loved, drank and lived foolish, never truly living on land. Now he is turning eighty. Both him and his boat are unfit to sail. He drinks a liter of vodka a day and contemplates his life, his death. What is at the end of such a journey? Is there loneliness? What is the relationship between freedom and selfishness? Does fulfilling a dream always have a bitter end?

UK Premiere

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, World Premiere
Flickers Rhode island Film Festival, 2021, Winner – Best Documentary

Friday 11th March

Mohsen Ostad Ali | 2021 | Iran | 84 min

The film follows the story of five women, “Sanaz, Saedeh, Tala, Ladan and Beheshteh”, each with a unique story, but one thing in common: they all live in a women’s shelter in the south of Tehran, either by choice or by force. But now they all aim to change their lives for better, even if it is just for a short while.

European Premiere

Jimmy the Wrestler
Bahador Shahidi | 2021 | Sweden | 30 min

A documentary about Jimmy Lidberg’s career as a wrestler and life. Jimmy, often called “Martin Lidberg’s little brother” has been fighting for his own identity during his life. Jimmy has achieved great success in the European Championships, the World Cup and the Olympic Games.

World Premiere
Enchantment (L’incanto)
Chiara Caterina | 2021 | Italy | 21 min

The voices of five women gradually fill the sound space of the film, weaving a pattern: a tarot card reader; a woman surviving one of the most horrific cases of sexual violence and homicide in Italy in the 1970s; a woman accused of the homicide of four people; a woman who’s obsessed with the idea of death while another seeks an answer to violence through religious practice.
These voices bring out, in different ways, the relationship to life through the discourse of death

UK Premiere

My Voice will be with You (Ma voix t’accompagnera)
Bruno Tracq | 2020 | Belgium, France | 86 min

Fabienne Roelants and Christine Watremez are two of the most renowned specialists in surgical hypnosis. Their voices guide thoughts and can recompose reality. As practitioners, they nurture the doctor-patient relationships that are often damaged by modern medicine, and invite an unusual force in the operating room: the power of imagination.

UK Premiere

Alexander Trauner ART/Film Festival, Hungary – Second Prize for Best Fine Art Film, 2021

Desert Train
Tommaso Cotronei | 2021 | Italy | 49 min Y

The perpetual rumbling of wagons on rusty tracks disappearing on desert horizon. The bleating of goats suffering from heat and thirst. Freight cars with Bedouins and cezve of strong mint tea. The train, carrying tankers filled with water and fuel, cuts through the desert landscape of the never-ending horizon of sand. In the mud huts along the tracks, people live humble lives on the edge of poverty. The tank of water and fuel is the basic unit of measure for survival. The train is the main axis of life for the Bedouins catching their breath in the shadows of the heat and the contours of tranquillity.

World Premiere

Andrea Lodovichetti | 2021 | Italy | 60 min

The generational tradition, the respect for the sea, the fear and the challenge of man’s adventure, the survival to eat and trade. Nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is transformed. The ports of small towns in Italy, are different. They have changed, over the years. Deeply changed. Yet, their richness hasn’t changed. They are rich in mankind, so varied and bursting, noisy and tireless.

Fiorenzo Serra Film Festival, Winner, 2021
Golden Beggar Film Festival, Honourable Mention, 2021
Kino Duel Film Festival, Winner, 2021
Mente Locale Film Festival, Winner, 2021

Saturday 12th March

Samarth Mahajan | 2021 | India | 67 min

‘Borderlands’ is an intimate exploration of how everyday lives intertwine with personal and political borders in the Indian subcontinent. Through conversations and observations, the film reveals people’s efforts to find meaning in a world beyond their control.

Martijn Veldhoen | 2021 | Netherlands | 18 min

Wanderlust is an associative, purely visual journey through four European cities, portraying the profound, sad, banal, absurd and sometimes cheerful effects that tourists have on the places they visit. In this film, a tourist seems to be a human being of a separate anthropological category, with specific behaviour and recognisable equipment to match. In five short scenes, we are presented with a mix of different locations: we go from the madness at the Trevi fountain in Rome to the massive elation of King’s Day in Amsterdam. And finally it all stops – and suddenly everything is no longer as self-evident as we thought.

UK Premiere
The Fantastic
Maija Blåfield | 2021 | Finland | 30 min

The Fantastic is a film about encountering the unknown and the relationship between imagination and reality. The film is built on interviews with exiled North Koreans, who describe what they imagined the outside world to be like, based on their experiences of watching smuggled western fiction films. Alternating documentary footage and visual effects, the film raises the question of how reality is defined and what we wish to believe in. The Fantastic reverses the set-up where westerners are peeping in on the everyday life of the closed-off state. In this film, it is the North Koreans who direct their curiosity at the outside world and imagine what life in Western countries is like.

UK Premiere

Tampere Film Festival, Finland, 2020, Best Film under 30 minutes in National Competition, Youth Jury Award

Claire Fleming | 2021 | UK | 10 min

Six poems written by six young prisoners animated to tell their stories, thoughts, fears and hopes.
Read by Letitia Wright, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jodie Turner-Smith, Adepero Oduye and Riz Ahmed

London Premiere

The Viewer
Yael Danon, Eran Sagi | 2021 | Israel | 73 min

Ofer Libergal, a film critic and a complete cinephile, is the ultimate viewer. The camera quietly observes him as he goes about his daily routine, with the same meditative devotion in which he watches films – and lives his life – from the sidelines.

European Premiere

Down to Earth (Blisko ziemi)
Paulina Sikora | 2020 | Poland | 30 min

The documentary movie “Down to Earth” tells the story of co-dependent relationship of Małgorzata and Mariusz, the directors’ parents.The relationship presented is far from perfect but it is also full of unexpected examples of care and subtle gestures of love.

UK Premiere

Poland, Off Cinema International Documentary Film Festival, Special Mention, 2020
Poland 67. OKFA – Polish Independent Films Competition, Grand Prix for the student film, 2021
Poland, 40. Youth and Film competition, Jantar Award in short documentary competition, 2021
The Bread Winner
Hanan Youssef | 2021 | Egypt | 20 min

An observational documentary that follows a day in the life of ‘Um Jomana’ a simple but resilient woman, who is dealing with hardship by baking bread and selling it in the street. Through Um Jomana’s inner conflict, this film sheds a light on some of the gender challenges facing Egyptian women.

UK Premiere
Fireflies (Vagalumes)
Léo Bittencourt | 2021 | Brazil | 19 min

The night side of a modernist icon. The fauna and flora of Roberto Burle Marx’s gardens. Visitors to Flamengo’s Park while the city of Rio de Janeiro falls asleep.

UK Premiere

Mirjam van Veelen | 2021 | Netherlands | 70 min

Julia has a gap year between her undergraduate and Masters degrees. Not for the usual reasons, she knows already knows very well who she is and what she wants. Travelling (Portugal, Andorra), speaking with friends and working (a rehabilitation centre in Haarlem, a gym in Amsterdam) she looks for ways to reach her multiple goals. In twelve chapters the documentary follows Julia through significant moments.

UK Premiere

Aylesbury Estate
Carlotta Berti | 2020 | Italy | 90 min

Shot over years with unprecedented access to the biggest “brutalist” social housing estate in the UK, ‘Aylesbury Estate’ offers an intimate exploration of inhabitancy and loss, and the raw testimony of an irreversible transformation of British society.

Sunday 13th March

One Pine and a Hundred Sparrows
Hashem Mortazavian | 2021 | Iran | 65 min

The daily tribulations and hopes of Amir Shahed who has been teaching Afghan immigrant children for 20 years.

UK Premiere

My Place is Here (Io resto)
Michele Aiello | 2021 | Italy | 83 min

Lombardy, Italy – 26th March 2020. The town’s public hospital is overwhelmed by ill people infected by a previously unknown virus. For 30 days, Michele Aiello modestly films the unprecedented and indispensable relationships that unite the patients and healthcare staff. Protected by masks, separated by screens, the nurses and the ill become closer through the hardship. With a delicate direct cinema approach, the film asserts the humanity that permeates relationships within the hospital. Even if it is painful at times, My Place Is Here brings an intimate dimension to this slice of raw reality, far removed from voyeurism, from heroic apology or from the usual anxiety-inducing media representation.

UK Premiere

Visions Du Réel, Grand Angle section. World Premiere 23 April 2021, Nyon, Switzerland
Biografilm Festival, Italian premiere. Best Film Award Biografilm Italy, Bologna, Italy
Ortigia Film Festival. Best Documentary Film “Sebastiano Gesù” Award, Siracusa, Italy
PerSo Perugia Social Film Festival, Perugia, Italy. Special Mention
Documentaria Film Festival, Palermo Italy. Best Film Visioni Doc Italia

Stolen Fish
Gosia Juszczak | 2021 | Poland |30 min

In the Gambia, the smallest country of mainland Africa, fishing is now dominated by Chinese corporations and catch exported to Europe and China to feed animals in industrial farming. As a result, Gambians are being deprived of their primary source of protein, overfishing is depleting marine ecosystems. The film follows Abou, Mariama and Paul, three Gambians who share intimate stories of daily struggle, anger, hope and longing for their loved ones.

London Premiere

Livable Planet Film Festival, San Francisco, Jury Prize for Best Short
Comet (Kometa)
Adam Buka | 2019 | Poland | 20 min

The intimate world of five siblings from the Warsaw block of flats. Life filled with fairy tales, kids’ daily routine, cherry pit spitting on the balcony. Impatient awaiting the new family member. A story narrated from the child’s point of view illustrates the value of parental love, focusing especially on the stage of growing up when mom is the centre of the child’s universe.

UK Premiere

35th Pärnu Film Festival, Estonia, 2021 (The best student docs Award)
The Enigma of Faina
Durna Safarova | 2021 | Azerbaijan | 5 min

Based on the life of a 33-year-old woman who lost her life in a suspicious circumstance in prison. Silenced by the authorities and forgotten by society, Faina Kungurova was a mysterious woman with a revolutionary spirit.

UK Premiere

Annecy International Animation Film Festival’s competition section “Perspectives”, 2021

Camping Life
Josep Perez | 2021 | Spain | 52 min

Life on a Costa Brava campsite during the summer of 2020. Stories of the day to day life of the uninhibited campers. A portrait of how the coronavirus crisis was experienced during the summer of 2020 by a middle class determined to enjoy their recreation time no matter what. The campsite is an ephemeral city, which comes alive every summer to become an organic entity devoted to leisure, and then just as quickly fades away.

London Premiere

Cerdanya Film Festival, Spain, 2021, Best Documentary
Toronto Beaches Film Festival (TBFF), 2021, Best Documentary
Spotlight Documentary Film Awards, Atlanta, 2022, Spotlight Silver Award

Hamidreza Khosh-Bazan | 2020 | Iran | 11 min

Life of an editor who works for Islamic Republic of IRAN Broadcasting and feels like Frankenstein creating a monster. Shot entirely on a Smartphone.

UK Premiere

Winner of Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival, 2020
Sit Down and Shut Up
Cian O Connor | 2021 | Ireland | 13 min

It’s 1980, Ireland is in the midst of recession, the world is locked in the Cold War and football royalty Real Madrid travel to play local football club Limerick City FC in world football’s premier competition, the European Cup. This is the David Vs Goliath tale about a game that no one remembers that three men will never forget.
Desert Lights (Luces del Desierto)
Félix Blume | 2021 | France | 30 min

Some strange lights appear at night in the Mexican desert. The residents tell us what they’ve seen: fire, a fireball, lights flying, lightning falling from the sky and a flash. The singularity of each experience builds a complete story narrated by a choir of people. An encounter with this strange phenomena can be surprising, dangerous or even fatal. The night isn’t as dark as it seems. The desert is full of all kinds of living beings. This emptiness is the place for everyone. ‘Desert Lights’ invites us to open our eyes wide in the twilight and to listen to the sounds hidden in the blackness. A horror movie, in the darkness of the desert.
Primer Premio Sección Oficial de Cortometrajes Internacionales at L’Alternativa 28 (2021)
Grand Prize Video Art at Côté Court, 2021
Best Short Film at FilmOptico, 2021
Honorific Mention at Cinema Planeta, 2021
Mención Especial at Competencia Mexicana de Documental Shorts México, 2021
Mention for the Night Award at Festival Signes de Nuit and Night Award at Festival Signos da Noite, 2021
Honorable Mention for Best Documentary at Tacoma Film Festival, 2021
Jury Award for Provoking Imaginary Spaces at Signos de la Noche, Tucuman, Argentina, 2021

Stories of You and I
John Davies | 2021 | UK | 19 min

Narrated by Academy Award Nominee, Jonathan Pryce, ‘Stories of You and I’ is an open letter to the Earth. Based on true accounts, memories and relationships with the natural world, it is a touching, personal and emotional battle cry for environmental justice.

UK Premiere

BAFTA Student Film Awards, (LA, USA), June, 2021
Wild is the Spring
Adia Massoud | 2021 | USA | 22 min

‘Wild is the Spring’ captures moments in the lives of diverse ethnic communities in the Levant who struggle to survive when life descends into chaos. We witness the protagonists’ struggles from genocide to dislocation and disillusionment to courage and endurance. Each of these moving stories illuminates events of larger social and geopolitical consequence and convey the triumph of the human spirit.

World Premiere
The Edge of Home
Oliver Sunley | 2020 | UK | 12 min

A family of Syrian refugees live in North London, each with different experiences of settling into their new community.

European Premiere

The Lost Shoes
Tomaso Aramini, Rafiqfuad Yarahmadi | 2020 | Italy | 104 min

The story of a man from the Verona countryside who devoted his life and political experience to his communist ideals, culminating in the kidnapping of a NATO general. He is one of many thousands of people that tried to radically change Italy and the world during the 1970s.

Angaelica Film Festival, Los Angeles, Best International Documentary, 2021
Harrogate Film Festival, Best International Film, 2021
Wallachia International Film Festival, Bucharest, Best Editing in a Documentary Feature, 2021
L’HIFF-Barcelona International Film Festival, Nominated as Best International Documentary Feature, 2021
AntiCensura Film Festival, Buenos Aires, Finalist as Best Documentary Feature, 2020
Bridge Fest Vancouver, Best Documentary Feature, 2020
Andromeda Film Festival, Istanbul, Best Documentary, 2020
Calcutta Cult International Film Festival, Best Documentary Feature, 2021
Canadian Cinematography Film Awards, Best Documentary, 2021


Photos from LIDF