Heidi Trautmann

March 11-13 - 4th International Documentary Film Festival of Nicosia (South)

March 11-13, Melina Merkouri Hall

Provocative, educational and, best of all, entertaining, the 4th International Documentary Film Festival of Nicosia is here to stay. Going back to its roots – namely the Melina Merkouri Hall where it all begun back in 2008 – the festival has every intention of monopolizing your attention and causing endless controversy!

The three-day affair will kick off proceedings with a live show, courtesy of the Michael Messius trio, before delving head first into documentary land. First up are two films that challenge everything you thought you knew about men. A transsexual performer and a gay father change the name of the game, stretching gender limits to the max:

In What’s in a Name, infamous New York performance artist Jon Cory whose female sensibilities run deeper than most, decides to get breast implants in order to enhance his performance. Only problem is, he’s at a loss what to call himself. A man or a woman? This and more will soon be answered by director Eva Küpper, who spent endless hours with him during the shoot, and is scheduled to join Cypriot audiences in the presentation of her film. 

Family Matters is nothing but a family portrait, only the dad prefers to pose in heels. The eccentric patriarch - once infamous for his flamboyant fashion shows and opulent feasts - does what he can to convince his son that just because he liked to wear women’s clothes, it doesn’t  mean he loved him any less. As for the supposed chain reaction of love-sex-marriage-family-children , it doesn’t always go hand in hand with heterosexuality. At least not in their family!

Changing tunes, Cinema Komunisto is a nostalgic little gem all the way from Serbia that will resonate with every sworn cinephile in the world. Not only does it recount former Yugoslavia’s film history, but also infiltrates one-time president Josip Broz Tito’s inner sanctum. The film crazed leader often spent the entire night watching Westerns, and was so determined that his country develop a bustling movie industry that soldiers often served their entire duty as extras in war films! First time director Mila Turajlic documents his beautiful madness, intricately entwined with Yugoslvia’s glorious past only to come back to a crumbling present, haunted by rotting old studio complexes and fading memories.

Patricio Guzmán also appears preoccupied with the past, as Nostalgia de la Luz, his giant new undertaking, goes digging for memories at the Atacama desert. In a film so profound, it almost transcends the boundaries of non-fiction, Guzmán combines a nearly metaphysical approach to the human condition with a mystical astronomical journey laced with bottomless pain. Let us not forget the legendary Atacama, the driest desert in the world, was Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s favorite burial ground, where he disposed of thousands of dissidents, never to be heard of again. But that doesn’t mean their relatives ever stopped looking...

Next up is Kinshasa Symphony, the real-life story of a 200-member orchestral outfit from Kongo, that’s sure to knock you off your feet! Starting each and every day with endless hours of manual labour, these natural born musicians still manage to wrap up their shift with a hop and a skip – even if they have to replace their violin strings with bicycle brake cables. Don’t be surprised if by the end of the film you start making out African beats in Beethoven concertos. Who knows, maybe that’s just what he had in mind!

The Greek-language section of the Festival is topped off with an Audience Award, as Gaza We Are Coming, courtesy of the Exandas team, dominated viewers’ preferences at the recent Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. A few short months before the Israeli attack on Gaza in December 2008, a handful of activists achieved an impossible feat: they broke the naval siege, illegally imposed by the state of Israel on Gaza for the past 41 years. Yorgos Avgeropoulos, an old festival acquaintance, documents this life-affirming mission proving that history is sometimes made by dreamers.

Last but not least, the festival boasts the World Premiere of The Third Motherland by Costas Constantinou and Yiorgos Kykkou Skordis that deals with the concept of origin. What does "belonging" really mean? How does it feel to be caught in between two motherlands? What burdens and what opportunities does belonging to an "other" motherland entail? How does ethnic conflict exacerbate identity issues and what kind of impact does it have on the cultural heritage of small minority groups? Filmed in Cyprus and Lebanon, The Third Motherland poses these questions by way of the Cypriot Maronite community. The film reveals the dilemmas of identification and belonging and documents opposing feelings and beliefs within and beyond the community. This is a film about cultural loss, cooption and human rights violations, but also national pride, cultural revival and taking pleasure in everyday life.

The 4th International Documentary Film Festival of Nicosia reaches the end of its non-fiction adventures on Sunday March 13, with an unforgetable party. Dj Cotsios Picatillis will take us on a roller coaster ride from jazz to funk to groove to dance, right there and then in our beloved Melina Merkouri Hall. See you next year!

For more information, please visit our website http://cyprusdocfest.org and e-mails us at info@cyprusdocfest.org with any questions.


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