YIDFF 2003 Information

International Competition

Total: 902 Films out of 83 Countries and Areas

(Alphabetically shown)

Fifteen films have been chosen out of 902 entries from around the world. These films will be screened during the festival, and are eligible for The Robert and Frances Flaherty Prize and other awards determined by the International Competition jury.

Alain Bergala (France, film critic, director)
Christine Choy (USA, dir. Who killed Vincent Chin?)
Amir Naderi (Iran, dir. Marathon)
Anand Patwardhan (India, dir. War and Peace)
Takamine Go (Japan, dir. Untamagiru)

Basal Banar—Sacred Ritual of Truth
PALAWAN-THE PHILIPPINES / 2002 / Palawanon, Fillipino / Color / 16mm / 120 min
Director: Auraeus Solito

Experimental filmmaker Auraeus Solito is a descendant of an indigenous people of the Philippines, whose way of life was portrayed in Howie Severino’s Return to the Tribes (YIDFF ’99 New Asian Currents). He returns to his hometown on Palawan Island, and captures the sacred rituals and daily lives of its people on film. We see the ongoing disintegration of the islanders’ lifestyles due to the intrusion of various forces such as multinational corporations, and the resulting anger. The echoes of percussion and the rhythm of the images unite harmoniously, drawing the viewer into the extraordinary world of this film.


LATVIA / 2002 / Russian, Hebrew / Color, B&W / Video / 105 min
Director: Herz Frank

An autobiographical work from Herz Frank, director of Once There Were Seven Simeons (Runner-up Prize in the International Competition at YIDFF ’91). Images guide us through the countries in which he worked, interspersed with fragments from his earlier films: births, autopsies, circumcisions, prisoners awaiting execution and other shocking themes. These culminate in scenes from the director’s own heart surgery. The earnestness with which he continues to confront “life” and “death,” using himself as the subject, vividly brings traces of his 75-year journey to the surface.


Fuente Álamo—The Caress of Time
SPAIN / 2001 / Spanish / Color / 35mm / 72 min
Director: Pablo García

A day in Fuente Álamo, a small village in Spain. Blinding sunlight pours down. Teenagers chat amongst themselves, young women work in a shoe factory, farmers work the fields, a grandmother attends to the housework; the uneventful lives of these villagers unfold peacefully. A film bathed in a warm gaze that cherishes time as it drifts by.


Gift of Life
TAIWAN / 2003 / Chinese, Taiwanese / Color / Video / 148 min
Director: Wu Yii-feng

The much-awaited new work from two-time YIDFF participant Wu Yii-feng, who presented Chen Tsi-gen and His Neighbors at New Asian Currents ’97 and attended the Full Shot and Cinema Juku symposium at YIDFF ’99. A devastating earthquake hit Taiwan on September 21, 1999. Based on the written correspondence between the director and his friend, this film illustrates the sorrow of families who lost loved ones in the disaster, and the relationship between the director and his aging father who now lives in an institution for the elderly. Death and separation, despair, and the desire to live. A fine work that questions the meaning of life.


Hunting Down an Angel or Four Passions of the Soothsayer Poet
RUSSIA / 2002 / Russian / Color, B&W / 35mm / 56 min
Director: Andrey Osipov

A unique work that uses experimental techniques to depict the life of Russian poet Andrey Belyi. By re-compiling and editing footage from Russian documentary and feature films of the 1910s to the 1920s, the era in which he lived and the stories of four women surrounding him are brought to life. A search for the real Belyi, who was described variously as a “star-blessed genius,” the “incarnation of a phantom,” the “second Gogol” and a “hysterical screamer.”


IAG BARI—Brass on Fire
GERMANY / 2002 / German, Rumanian / Color / 35mm / 98 min
Director: Ralf Marschalleck

The story begins with a scene of a young boy pulling a horn from a lake. The gypsy brass band “Fanfare Ciocarlia,” born in a tiny village in Romania, has stormed the world and gained an international following. A musical documentary rich in poetic imagery that depicts the travels of reputedly the world’s fastest-playing gypsy brass band. Featuring delightful footage of their performance in Tokyo.


On Hitler’s Highway
FRANCE / 2002 / Polish, Romany, Turkish, Ukrainian, German, English / Color / Video / 81 min
Director: Lech Kowalski

The oldest highway in Poland, built by Hitler to carry supplies and Jews to the concentration camps. While travelling along its route, where Bulgarian prostitutes now ply their trade, the director uses his camera to cut a swath through Hitler’s legacy from a new perspective. A film on Auschwitz by a new generation.


Oui Non
USA, FRANCE, ITALY / 2002 / French, English / Color / Video / 115 min
Director: Jon Jost

Starting with Paris at the beginning of the 20th century as shot by photographer Eugene Atget, this work moves to a contemporary love story between a man and a woman. Jon Jost, director of London Brief (YIDFF ’97 Special Invitation Films) and 6 Easy Pieces (Runner-up Prize in the International Competition at YIDFF 2001), has carved out new realms of possibility for digital video by eliminating dialogue and narrative. This shows a new point of departure for Jost, who achieves a never-before seen sensuality in his work as the breaths of the two lovers intertwine.


ISRAEL / 2002 / Hebrew, English / Color / Video / 63 min
Director: Anat Zuria

An examination of Jewish religious married life and sexuality. Scenes of a family participating in a sacred purification ritual, the struggles of women in a male-dominated society, and relationships and sex dictated by religious commandments. Women state their opinions frankly to the camera, challenging the 2000-year-old taboos of Jewish religious law. The rich countenances of the women and the serene images of water are unforgettable.


ARGENTINA / 2002 / Spanish / Color, B&W / Video / 127 min
Director: Ernesto Ardito, Virna Molina

Filmmaker Raymundo Gleyzer was abducted and killed by the Argentinean military dictatorship in 1976. This film depicts his life, as well as the history of anti-war cinema and liberation movements in Latin America during the 1960s and 1970s, with extensive usage of the films he left behind, home movies and archive footage. Through its brisk tempo, suspenseful developments and the enchanting music that envelops the entire film, memories and ideals that could not be destroyed by the CIA or the military junta are resurrected.


S21, the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
FRANCE / 2002 / Cambodian / Color / Video / 101 min
Director: Rithy Panh

S21 is the name of a former concentration camp for political prisoners in Cambodia. Former victims and tormentors caught up in the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge are reunited, and relive the inhumanity and cruelty of their days here. Facts that are brought to light by evidence presented here, and the vividness of the exchanges between two former adversaries transcend the 25 years that have passed. This film silently pulsates with the emotion felt by Cambodian-born director Rithy Panh (YIDFF 2001 Flaherty Prize winner for The Land of the Wandering Souls) toward his homeland.


Shepherds’ Journey into the Third Millennium
SWITZERLAND / 2002 / Swiss-German, German / Color / 35mm / 124 min
Director: Erich Langjahr

A look at the daily lives of a family of shepherds in Switzerland, set against a mountainous backdrop. A flock of several hundred sheep wanders through fog in search of fresh pastures, crossing roads and negotiating traffic. Lambs are born under the gazes of the shepherd’s wife and children, who spend day after day milking by hand and making bread. Shepherding is said to be one of the oldest professions in the world, and we are shown its harsh and hard-working lifestyle via the steady gaze of Erich Langjahr, director of Alpine Ballad (YIDFF ’97 International Competition).


USA / 2002 / English / Color / 35mm / 145 min
Director: Steve James

A film by Steve James, director of Hoop Dreams (YIDFF ’95 International Competition). In 1995 the director returned to southern Illinois to reunite with Stevie, a boy who he met through a “Big Brother” volunteer program. During filming Stevie committed a serious crime and was arrested, tearing his family apart. Five years later, the film returns to document Stevie and his turbulent family. The director’s concern for Stevie can be felt palpably by the viewer.


Tie Xi Qu: West of Tracks
CHINA / 2003 / Chinese / Color / Video / 545 min
Director: Wang Bing

The Tie Xi district, in Shenyang in China’s northeast, was established during the Japanese occupation and transformed into a highly populated industrial area. This unusually long-form documentary, taking us on a tour of this now decaying area, spreads over nine hours and three parts entitled Rust, Remnants, and Rails. Factories and towns become ruins, people are buffeted by change, and time ebbs away. An extraordinary documentary that puts the realities facing Chinese society into stark relief, through an exclusive and extended exploration of the region.


The Way to the West
GREECE / 2003 / Greek, English, Kurdish / Color / 35mm / 79 min
Director: Kyriakos Katzourakis

Irina, from the former Soviet Union, travels to Greece in search of a better life. She also wanders the streets of Athens in search of her friend who disappeared there, but becomes entangled in the web of prostitution. Her fictional monologue tells of the tragedies and harsh realities faced by immigrants to Greece from Africa, Asia and elsewhere. A work steeped in sorrow.

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