New Vision

Cabal in Kabul

Dan Alexe

This is the story of the last two Jews in Afghanistan. All the other Jews have left a long time ago. Isaac and Zabulon live alone in the abandoned synagogue…

For the past ten years, Zabulon and Isaac, the two remaining Jews in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, have been living in the courtyard of Kabul’s old synagogue. The elderly Isaac lives on the ground floor and makes a living by selling amulets to his Muslim neighbors. Middle-aged Zebulon lives on the top floor and haggles with the same Afghans over his illegally produced wine. There is no love lost between them; the two Jews systematically abuse and insult each other at every turn. Isaac is happy to divulge the fact that Zebulon collaborated with the Taliban and bribed them with financial and oenological favors. Zebulon, for his part, claims that Isaac converted to Islam; why else would he be called “Mollah Isaac?”

Angry Monk – Reflections on Tibet

Luc Schaedler

Angry Monk is a road-movie and a time-travel in the footsteps of the rebellious Tibetan monk Gendun Choephel (1903-51), revealing a face of old and present-day Tibet that goes against popular clichés.

A free spirit, Choephel was far ahead of his time and has since become a seminal figure, a symbol of hope for a free Tibet. A rebel and voluble critic of the establishment, Gendun Choephel kindled the anger of the Tibetan authorities. The film also makes an abundance of unique and rare historical footage available to the general public for the first time, offering a fascinating insight into a country whose eventful past is refracted in the multiplicity and contradictions of everyday life: archival images of ancient caravans and monasteries give way to scenes of discos and multi-lane highways in Lhasa, where pilgrims prostrate themselves as they circle the holy temple.

Mahaleo

Cesar Paes, Raymond Rajaonarivelo

In Malagasy, “Mahaleo” means free, independent.

Mahaleo’s voices and music have accompanied the people of Madagascar ever since the collapse of the colonial regime. Yet, even after 30 years of success, the group’s seven musicians still keep their distance from the world of show-business, and remain deeply committed to helping their country’s development; their professions range from surgeon to farmer, physician to sociologist and member of parliament. Accompanied by the group’s rhythmic melodies, the film follows the singers through their daily lives, giving us a glimpse of the far-reaching social and economic problems of the Malagasy people. The combined talents of the Brazilian, Cesar Paes, and the Malagasy, Raymond Rajaonarivelo, have produced a work that is both ethereal and concrete, poetic and political.

My Daughter the Terrorist

Beate Arnestad

Like many Sri Lankan families, Dharsika’s father died in the war. She stayed with the family just long enough to bury her father, then disappeared into the guerilla’s hands.
Dharsika and Puhalchudar have a close friendship. For seven years they have been eating, sleeping, training and fighting side by side. They belong to the last batch of the Black Tigers, and they don’t know exactly how many enemies they’ve killed in ordinary battles. Now they are equipped for the last mission: strapping claymore mine to their bodies, able to blow themselves and everything within 100 feet into pieces. They believe that their great leader would never order them to bomb civilians. The grisly images of the bombing of Colombo’s very own World Trade Center is a somber counterpoint to this.

Alongside the wailing mothers clutching the graves of their lost ones, Dharsika’s mother places her flowers on the grave of an unknown soldier, and walks away.

On a Tight Rope

Petr Lom

This is a lyrical film about four children living in an orphanage in Xinjiang province, China. The children are Uighurs, members of China’s eight million strong largest Muslim minority. To prevent Uighur separatism, China enforces a policy of cultural and political assimilation in Xinjiang: religion is particularly targeted. (Human Rights Watch reports that 10 000 Uighurs are political prisoners, and hundreds have been executed. China claims they are terrorists.) The film shows the reality of the Uighurs through a small story: a story of four Uighur children dreaming of becoming champion tightrope walkers, an ancient Uighur tradition, which becomes a metaphor for the lives of all Uighurs whose lives are balancing acts in their attempts to preserve their language and Muslim identity against the persecution of the Chinese Communist state.

The Bimo Records

Yang Rui

In the Daliang Mountain region of Sichuan China, lives the ancient tribal Yi minority. Their priests are called Bimo.For hundreds even thousands of years, the Bimo have relied on memorized scriptures to communicate their people’s desires with the ghosts and spirits of the world.This film follows the story of three very different Bimos.

The Spell Casting Bimo comes from a clan famous for the power of their curses.He specializes in black magic rituals. One curse is enough to hurt, even kill a person. But with the Chinese government’s prohibition of these ceremonies he has fallen from a position of feared power to sad unemployment. The Soul Calling Bimo is the respected master of white magic. He cures the sick and calls to souls for help and good fortune. But his past hides sadness and pain. The Village Cadre Bimo: he is empowered by the Communist government with religious Bimo and political cadre status. He holds power in the world of people and spirits. However, when he abuses this power during the village mayor elections, he is dismissed by the government. Times change. But the ancient tribal stories of the Bimo continue on…

Two Homelands Cuba and the Night

Christian Liffers

Framed by the beautiful poetry of the oppressed Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, this revealing documentary features memorable portraits of five gay men and one transsexual woman living in and around Havana. Their disparate stories and candid interviews dispel myths while demonstrating a range of experience, opinion and social status: A vibrant nineteen year old, Raudel attends illegal gay parties, since the government still cracks down on queer gatherings; Tomas is a former colleague of Arenas, still deeply in touch with the revolutionary spirit; A courageous and talented photographer, Eduardo explores the mythology of Cuban machismo through his work; Imperio is an HIV-positive drag artist performing in the illegal cabarets; Alexy is the son of a Communist official living under the radar on the Malecon; and Isabel is a transsexual woman whose triumphant spirit helps her survive in a hate-filled world. Cuba is the country where they live, but the night is where they thrive.

The Ecstatic

Till Passow

According to the belief of ‘Sufis’, the mystical Islamic, ‘Mast’ is someone who walks the road of love to reach his beloved Saint, one who is in a state of ecstasy, absorbed in an inner rhythm of meditation and trance in his search for spiritual love. ‘Mast Qalandar’ was a Sufi Saint, who settled down in Sehwan Sharif in the south of Pakistan at the beginning of the 13th century to spread his preaching of love, tolerance and ecstasy. Soon he became one of the most legendary mystical Islamic Saints of the Orient. Those who are in extreme love with the Saint wish nothing but meeting Him in an obliteration of the conscious self and even give up their own existence to reach the Saint. During the annual celebration of reunion of the Saint with Allah, around one million devotees, from all over Pakistan, India and Afghanistan pilgrim to his Shrine at Sehwan Sharif in search of individual and collective ecstasy.

Chichester’s Choice

Simonee Chichester

Chichester’s Choice follows filmmaker, Simonee as she investigates the life of her homeless father, Edgar Chichester who abandoned her at six years old. Twenty-three years later, Simonee journeys to the streets of Guyana and Brazil to find and reunite with her father in the hopes of forgiving and understanding him while coming to terms with who she is. It is a raw and personal coming of age film that touches on the universal issues of homelessness, alcoholism and abandonment.

City of Memories

Lee Ching-hui

“City of Memories” depicts the lives of elderly people living in a Taipei nursery home: their agony, longing and loneliness. Images of winterly Taipei, with its drizzling rain and gloomy sky, reflect these aged women’s fading mind. In the midst of all the suffering, the women’s ballad singing and story telling bring back the emotional memories of their love lives. These women are trapped in the place where dreams and reality intertwine, and retrospection is their way to hold on to the eternity of love.

“City of Memories” is the third film in the tetralogy “The Realm of Womenhood”, after “Where is My Home?” and “The Ballads of Grandmothers”.