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March 12

Stranger in Paradise

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What do you actually want from Europe? Do you think of us as a sort of Garden of Eden, whose fruit you can harvest as you wish? Exhausted immigrants, who have just survived the sea to arrive on European shores, continue to hear such questions. And, sometimes, they even hear something else. The documentary’s protagonist Valentijn Dhaenens, a Belgian actor, assuming the role of a mentor, confronts immigrants at his lectures with some of the typical European attitudes towards their arrival. Should we caution them about potential problems? Or support their dreams for a better life? Who will get a chance to stay in Europe? How do we decide? One thing is certain: far more complicated mechanisms than the mere determination and will of foreigners lie behind entering “paradise”. Under which scenario will one of the greatest stories of our time – the story of migration, hope and disillusion in which everyone is forced to play a role – develop? Show more

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The Russian Job

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Russian Lada brand cars were once a big name throughout the former Eastern Bloc. Swedish manager, Bo Inge Andersson, who is the first foreigner to ever lead the Russian giant AvtoVAZ, attempts to restore their former glory. Automobile manufacturer AvtoVAZ is one of the most important state-owned enterprises in Russia and one of the largest car factories in the world. However, over the last 20 years it has been continuously operating at a loss. Bo Inge Andersson, a Swede who, in the past, worked for Saab and GM and also managed the Russian company GAZ, has been assigned the task of streamlining the operations of this traditional company. However, the clash between the Western manager and the Russian mentality and nostalgia for socialist conditions has led to ever deeper disillusionment on both sides. The differences in reasoning are expressively documented in the situations filmed in the car manufacturing plant and interviews with Russian employees as well as with Bo Andersson and his Czech colleagues. Last year, this directorial debut of journalist Petr Horký competed at the prestigious IDFA Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. Show more

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The Departure

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"Tender and quietly touching; The Departure is like a haiku," writes the New York Times. Intense work with people with suicidal thoughts leads a Zen Buddhist monk to realise the value of his own life. "I want to die." These are the kinds of text messages that Ittetsu Nemoto often receives. He responds daily to dozens of desperate emails and leads seminars in which his clients are looking for a reason to stay alive. Often he heads out on his motorbike to those in need, and as a result he is rarely home for his two-year-old son's bedtime. Recently he has also been troubled by health problems. The film looks at Nemoto's past and finds him at a crossroads. Where does meaningful help for others end and self-destruction begin? An impressive film meditation on the sources of overpressure and the balancing forces of human life. Show more

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I Know You Are There

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Quentin has been living between life and death for years without any prospect of improvement. As people in a state of minimal consciousness perceive positive emotions in their surroundings, his family does not stop giving him daily care. He watches his loved ones with eyes wide open. Sometimes a smile appears on his lips, but he never answers. He is unable to walk, is confined to bed and requires continuous care. "I wish we knew what you wanted," his mother sighs, her eyes lowered and lovingly covering her adult son with a blanket. Ten years have elapsed since the car accident that put Quentin in a coma for three weeks and left him in a state of minimal consciousness. His brain functions are examined by top neurologists in a specialised laboratory, while his loved ones have just one question in their hearts: Is he going to be like this forever? Show more

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Moldovan MIracle

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Hans Bjørn Bakketeig changed the lives of about 10,000 people in Moldova. He examined their vision, discovered that they had poor eyesight, and prescribed them glasses. Simple? Not in a country where Hans is the only optometrist. Hans arrived in Moldova from Norway in 2001. He found that there was nobody to heal eye defects in the poorest country in Europe. Children with poor eyesight remained hidden at home. At school they were considered stupid, but they just couldn't see the board. This film follows Hans and his assistant Tatyana as they travel the countryside, where many people still cannot afford to buy glasses. But health workers have bigger plans than merely giving away glasses from the Norwegian non-profit organisation Help Moldova. They want to build the first eye clinic in Moldova. They are trying to gain support, but face bureaucracy, poverty and political chaos. In the year when the documentary was released, the government fell four times. The film also highlights the corruption that divides the country both politically and at the everyday level. Show more

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The Venerable W.

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The ethnic Rohingya Muslim minority has long faced discrimination and oppression in primarily Buddhist Myanmar. The ideological leader of radicals is the Myanmar nationalist monk Wirathu. “Buddhism tells us to follow the way of peace. The moment there is any violence, Buddhism is destroyed,” explains monk W. Kaylar Sa, one of the leaders of Myanmar’s Saffron Revolution. Nevertheless, there is an extremist movement of radical nationalists amongst Myanmar’s Buddhist monks, which is inciting religious violence against Muslims in Myanmar. Leading them is the radical monk Wirathu, the spiritual father of the anti-Muslim 969 Movement. His followers believe the Rohingya Muslims pose a threat to Buddhists and that it is necessary to get rid of them. Last year, violence in Myanmar led to the systematic burning of Rohingya villages, and to the murder and assault of civilians. What has led to this wave of Myanmar nationalism? In the film, Wirathu openly speaks about the long years he has worked to propagate his thoughts. Show more

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