Edet Belzberg’s “Watchers of the Sky,” Ayat Najafi’s “No Land’s Song” and Jesse Moss’ “The Overnighters” are among 18 titles screening at Mar del Plata Festival’s Documentary Window section, which this year put the focus on political cinema.
A classic, non-competitive sidebar, Documentary Window offers the opportunity of enjoying in the Argentine city of Mar del Plata recent worldwide docu features, often recognized at international high-profile festivals.
Released October Stateside by Music Box after winning Sundance’s Special Jury Prize and Editing Award, “Watchers of the Sky” attempts to understand the existence of genocides in different parts of the world, examining the life and legacy of Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish lawyer and linguist who coined the term genocide.
“Watchers’” helmer, Los Angeles-born Edet Belzberg, already snagged in 2001 an Oscar nomination and another Sundance Special Jury Prize for homeless Romanian children docu “Children Underground.”
Three titles showcasing at Documentary Window’s 2014 edition address the Middle East from a socio-political angle.
In “No Land’s Song,” a Germany-France co-production which won best documentary award at last Summer’s Montreal World Film Festival, helmer Ayat Najafi narrates how an Iranian woman seizes the chance to organize a musical show, rebelling against a state law that bans female singers.
“Almost Friends,” the helming debut of Israel’s Nitzan Ofir, portraits the relationship of two girls with opposite religious and cultural upbringings that meet online: Linor, a member of a family evacuated from a Jewish settlement, and Samar, the daughter of a Palestine man from the Occupied Territories.
Sold by Paris-based Doc and Film International, Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan’s Syria-France co-production “Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait” narrates the daily atrocities of Syrian Civil War through thousands of online videos.
Today’s influence of religious institutions in political and social issues around the world is tackled by vet Argentine documaker Miguel Rodriguez Arias in “Francis of Buenos Aires,” a portrait of Pope Francis, and Jesse Moss’ docu “The Overnighters.”
Awarded at Sundance, San Francisco and Miami, and distributed in the U.S. by Drafthouse Films, “Overnighters” looks at a Lutheran minister who helps migrant workers to find a roof over their heads in an oil-rich region of North Dakota.
The Documentary Window section will also screen American filmmaker Gayle Embrey’s docu feature “Beyond the Walls,” an Argentina-U.S. co-production that studies the murals on the walls in different countries as a way to express social issues and concerns.
Mo Asumang, a German actress (“The Ghost Writer”) and TV host, analyzes racism in “The Aryans,” winner of the Copper Wing Award at Phoenix Film Festival, offering interviews with neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan members.
Finally, the Eastern Europe is represented by multi-awarded Hungarian vet director Livia Gyarmathy’s “The Square,” a thought-provoking look on how a square and a statute can cause debate in a wounded society, and Serbian Sinisa Dragin’s “The Forest,” a Cold War espionage story set in Yugoslavia and Romania, combining art, politics and history.
The 18 titles screening at the 29th Mar del Plata International Film Festival’s Documentary Window sidebar are:
“Almost Friends,” (Nitkan Ofir, Israel)
“The Aryans,” (Mo Asumang, Germany)
“Beyond the Walls,” (Gayle Embrey, Argentina/U.S.)
“The Forest,” (Sinisa Dragin, Romania/Serbia)
“Francis of Buenos Aires,” (Miguel Rodriguez Arias, Argentina)
“Gran Chaco,” (Lucas van Esso, Argentina)
“I, Kamikaze,” (Masa Sawada, France)
“Looking for Life, the Crimes of the Argentine Army in Campo de Mayo Garrison,” (Aldo Getino, Argentina)
“No Land’s Song,” (Ayat Najafi, Germany/France)
“Osvaldo Bayer ‘La Liverta’,” (Gustavo Gzain, Argentina)
“The Overnighters,” (Jesse Moss, U.S.)
“Propaganda,” (Christopher Murray, Chile)
“The Square,” (Livia Gyarmathy, Hungary)
“Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait,” (Ossama Mohammed, Wiam Siman Bedirxam, France/Syria)
“Scorched Land,” (Gustavo Siri, Argentina)
“Unasur in Haiti, Reflections of a Caring Argentina,” (Jorge Diego Gil, Argentina)
“Uncensored” (Oriana Castro, Nicolas Martinez Zembonain, Argentina)
“Watchers Of The Sky,” (Edet Belzberg, U.S.)