Shanghai International Film Festival|SIFF Documentary: Meet the World Here

    "SIFF Documentary" has always been an important section of the Shanghai International Film Festival and has a group of loyal fans. This year's documentary section continues to explore the content of the film in terms of geographical breadth, time span, rich themes, and depth of thought, striving to show the audience the complexity, reality, and vividness of the world. The first batch of film lists for the documentary section are announced below:

    The new film "Architecture" by film master Victor Kossakovsky was released at the Berlin Film Festival; "Magnetic Continent" is another Antarctic expedition by the director of "March of the Penguins" following blue whales and penguins; "Dahomey", which won the Berlin Film Festival, fiercely debated colonial issues; an Iranian girl who was enslaved by ISIS bravely faced life and told the world about her "Life After"; "Under the Skies of Damascus" was a group of Syrian women who used drama to express the art and courage of resisting oppression; "Glass Skin" recorded the thousands of homeless people at the bottom of an abandoned skyscraper in Brazil; "Evaporation" focuses on people in Japanese society who have to disappear due to the pressure of life; in "Goodbye Pastoral", the last traditional potato farmer in Amsterdam is suing the multinational giant McDonald's; "The Zola Experience" is a love and life story that is as life as a play. The director breaks through the techniques and boldly transcends; in "Freedom at the End of Life", a social activist uses death to test his ultimate freedom and power; and another 84-year-old "Mature Goddess" shows us a vibrant life of graceful aging; "A Visit from China" reveals to us the connection between a Jewish musician and Shanghai.

    Architecton (2024, Victor Kossakovsky)


    New works by masters return to SIFF

    This is an elegy for the development of human civilization, from the Temple of Baalbek in Lebanon, to the ruins destroyed by war in Ukraine, to the remains of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkey in 2023. Russian film master Victor Kossakovsky focuses his camera on the building blocks of human society. He and Italian architect Michele De Lucchi discuss the rise and fall of civilizations. How should contemporary civilization be built? The film's novel perspective brings unprecedented visual and emotional impact, and was shortlisted for the main competition unit of the 74th Berlin International Film Festival. The director served as the chairman of the jury of the documentary unit of the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival.

    Antarctica Calling (2023, Luc Jacquet)


    March of the Penguins director returns to Antarctica for stunning new film

    Thirty years ago, director Luc Jacquet set foot in the mysterious Antarctic for the first time. Now, he sets out from Patagonia, the "end of the world", to return to the Antarctic continent, to where it all began. This is an expedition to follow blue whales, seabirds, and penguins, and a deep tribute to this disappearing land. The director subverts the shooting method of his Oscar-winning documentary feature "March of the Penguins", using black and white images to reproduce the shocking nature. Every life is lonely in this white polar region, looking for direction.

    Dahomey (2024, Mati Diop)


    Documentary films that won the Berlin Golden Bear

    After the short film "Snow Cannon" was shortlisted for the Venice Queer Lions and the feature film "Atlantics" won the Cannes Jury Prize, the talented French female director Mati Diop won the Golden Bear Award for Best Film at the 74th Berlin International Film Festival with this documentary, completing her grand slam of the three major film festivals. This film traces the ins and outs of the 26 royal treasures of the Kingdom of Dahomey looted by French colonists in 1892 and returned to the Republic of Benin in 2021. In addition to presenting the difficult journey home of these cultural relics from a unique perspective and in a self-narrated way, the heated debate among local college students around these cultural heritages has raised the film's level of thinking and is thought-provoking.

    Mediha (2023, Hasan Oswald)


    Teen escapes ISIS slavery and bravely reclaims her life

    The girl Mediha is from Iraq and is a Yazidi minority. The extremist organization "Islamic State" (ISIS) has massacred this ethnic group. Mediha was sold many times and survived. She is determined to find her relatives and pursue justice. This girl who once didn't know how to speak has made her voice heard to the world. This film contains precious pictures taken by Mediha herself. Emma Thompson, an Oscar-winning actress and winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay, is one of the producers. It has won the Jury Award of the American Unit of the New York Documentary Film Festival.

    Under the Sky of Damascus (2023, Talal Derki/Heba Khaled/Ali Wajeeh)


    When drama becomes a weapon of women's resistance

    Syrian women, who have suffered from war, are also suffering from patriarchal oppression and abuse that has lasted for generations. Five young Syrian women, in a dilapidated hut, choreographed a drama about women based on the stories of countless women interviewed anonymously. There were many challenges in the creative process: the danger of unemployment, family obstruction, and internal disputes among members. They struggled to break through taboos and discuss the real situation of women. This film was shortlisted for the "Panorama Documentary" unit of the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival.

    Skin of Glass (2023, Denise Zmekhol)


    Low-end life in vertical slums


    The father of the film's director, Denis Zmekel, Roger Zmekel, was an architect. His proudest work was the skyscraper "Glass Skin" (Pele de Vidro) in the center of Sao Paulo. Over the years, this once most beautiful building has become a shelter for many homeless people, but now, why is the building about to collapse? The film is the director's warm remembrance of his father and a sharp insight into Brazilian society. It has won the Best Documentary Feature Award at the Barcelona International Architecture Film Festival.

    Evaporation (Johatsu - Into Thin Air, 2024, Andreas Hartmann/Arata Mori)


    Thousands of Japanese disappeared

    In Japan, tens of thousands of people disappear every year. The reasons why these "evaporators" choose to "disappear" are different: escaping from emotional crises, avoiding the threats of gangs, and facing their families because of the bankruptcy of family businesses... In the dead of night, special moving companies quietly help these customers move to new residences without a trace. "Evaporators" try their best to live an ordinary life. The two directors keenly capture this unique social phenomenon in Japan, recreating the psychological struggles of the missing and the inner pain of their relatives and friends.

    Goodbye Pastoral (Gerlach, 2023, Aliona van der Horst/Luuk Bouwman)


    A commoner against the times and capital

    This film records the struggle and life of Gerlach, the last traditional potato farmer in Amsterdam. As highways and multinational companies erode the land, Gerlach argues with the government and goes to court with McDonald's. He resolves the crisis with his unique humor and philosophy of life. The two directors use exquisite composition and light and shadow to show an old man's persistence in the land and his protection of his own rights. As a commoner, he fights against capital and the times with his own way of life, but the times are like a rolling torrent. The film won the Best Dutch Documentary Award at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival.

    The Zola Experience (2023, Gianluca Matarrese)


    Life is like a play, play is like life, reality and fiction are playing a game

    In the film, actress Anne plays the heroine Gervais in a stage play adapted from Zola's famous novel "The Little Hotel". Her partner in the stage play is Ben, an enthusiastic neighbor in real life. Anne's personal life is completely intertwined with the direction of the stage play. Is their love true or false? The film uses the form of a play within a play and a rather experimental setting to challenge the boundaries between feature films and documentaries, and also blur the boundaries between reality and fiction. It was shortlisted for the "Venice Day" unit of the 2023 Venice Film Festival.

    Freedom at the End of Life (Jackie the Wolf, 2023, Tuki Jencquel)


    Is death a life right?

    Jacqueline Henkel, a mother, grandmother and activist for the right to die, publicly announced at the age of 74 that she wanted to end her life through euthanasia, a decision that caused intense debate among her family and public opinion. Jacqueline was not terminally ill, but felt that life was boring and she wanted to die with dignity as she aged. Her son brought a camera and had a frank conversation with his mother about freedom, dignity and ties.

    Mature Goddess (Vika!, 2023, Agnieszka Zwiefka)


    The enthusiastic old lady cheered us on

    At 84, Vika is the oldest DJ in Poland and even in the world. Vika is full of energy, loves her career, and insists on speaking for minorities. This not only encourages the elderly around her, but also proves to young people that it is mentality rather than age that determines the way of life. Director Agnieszka Zwiewka uses Vika's favorite language - music, to tell her bittersweet life, but also does not avoid the real problems that need to be faced at an advanced age. The story of this beautiful old goddess is worth watching!

    Visit from China, 2023, Paul Rosdy


    Two war refugees' musical connection in China

    Ferdinand Adler was a Jewish violinist who fled to Shanghai in the 1930s to escape the Nazis and taught music there. Sheng Mingliang fled to Shanghai to escape the Nanjing Massacre and later became Adler's student. At that time, Adler's performances were very popular among Chinese music fans, and he also trained many classical music talents. The film tells the life encounters and precious friendship of the fathers through a meeting between Sheng Mingliang's son and Adler's daughter in a cafe, and contains a large number of very rare historical images.

    It is reported that ticket sales for this year's film festival will start on the Tao Piaopiao platform at 12 noon on June 7.

    Note: If the film list changes, please refer to the actual schedule.


    Leave a Reply

    + =