Antonio Ferrera, Albert Maysles 94', USA, 2007
Artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have been living in New York since 1964, but had yet to realise one of their controversial projects there. In 1979, they presented an ambitious plan to realise a work of art in Central Park called The Gates. To them, the process leading up to the realisation of a project is an essential part of the work. For that reason they asked the Maysles brothers, with whom they had collaborated before, to make a film about their new work. It would become an extremely lengthy project. The footage from 1979 (on which David, Albert Maysles's brother who died in 1987, also worked) shows that New Yorkers were not enthousiastic about the artists' plans - for a while, it seemed as if everything would fall through. But by 2003, things turned around and the project was approved after all. The camera closely follows the developments: the filmmakers attend the negotiations and film the construction of the numerous orange gateways and saffron-coloured fabric panels, as well as thereactions from those who attended the opening in February 2005.
Benson Lee 95', USA, 2007
Once you've mastered the footwork, windmills, top rocks, suicide, and pop & lock, you are entitled to call yourself a B-Boy or B-Girl. As in Break Boy or Boogie Boy. In this documentary, which shows that Breakdance is by no means just a hangover from the 1980s, but rather a living, professional form of dance, we follow five ambitious dancers from all over the world, in their preparations for the biggest B-Boying event: The Battle of the Year. We see their techniques, their friends and family. What drives them? And who will beat - or smoke - the rest at the battle of the year? Breakdancing, originally a 1980s dance phenomenon, is still going strong. B-Boying started in the 1970s on the streets of New York. At the same time as phenomena such as emceeing, graffiti and DJ-ing. All of these art forms went to make up the original form of the hip-hop culture we know today. Thirty years on from the origins of break-dance, B-Boying is now more professional than ever. Where the old form was based on the classic moves from the 1980s - known as old skool - the new form (new skool) consists of moves the B-Boys have thought up themselves. Acrobatic dance moves that set them apart from the rest.
Angelique & Titia
Claudia Tellegen 67', The Netherlands, 2007 WP
Angelique is a 22-year-old girl with Down syndrome. She lives with her mother - her brothers and sisters have already moved out. They make up a close-knit family; they often get together and support each other in everything. Because they have spent so much time together, the bond between Angelique and her mother Titia is very strong. "Angelique is my guardian angel," Titia says. Still, there has been some tension between them of late, because Titia is homesick for her native country Suriname and her health does not exactly benefit from the Dutch climate, either. She would prefer to spend her last years in her motherland, but she knows this would not be a good option for Angelique. In Suriname, the care for mentally handicapped people is not as good as in the Netherlands, plus people there look differently upon 'those children'. For Angelique, the solution is obvious: she thinks she is now old enough to move out and live by herself under supervision. When the decision has been made and the practical preparations for Angelique's move are underway, it is time for mother and daughter to let go of each other.
The Thirst of a Stone Sea
Vladimir Perovic 79', Montenegro, Serbia, 2007 WP
The camera glides across a rocky, seemingly uninhabited valley, upon which the sun shines mercilessly. In the distance, the echo of animal sounds can be heard, while an old man travels through the deserted surroundings with his improvised cane. Next, we see a man make charcoal in a brick hut. Another man covers the first part of his journey on horseback, then ties his horse to a tree and continues by car. One by one, the few inhabitants of a remote valley in the southwest of Montenegro are introduced, following them in their daily activities. They are mostly self-supporting and live off the yield of their land and their flocks of sheep. The documentary, clearly shot with affection and admiration, takes the time to show the rhythm of life in this arid vale, where water is drawn from deep wells and contact with the rest of society consists solely of the passing of the bus. Little is said. The old man occasionally hums a tune from days long gone, while another listens to news fragments on the wind-up radio. And yet, life here has not come to a complete standstill: a newborn baby sees the light.
Ted Braun 95', USA, 2007 EP
According to the Sudanese UN Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalkhaleem, "We are proud to be an Afro-Arab country based on tolerance and understanding." In his mind, the allegation that genocide is taking place in the Sudanese region of Darfur, as the American government maintains, is "grossly exaggerated." There is a conflict, he admits, but it involves claims to natural resources. A visit to Sudan teaches us that the population is counting on the 'white people' who are helping to rebuild the country. A Sudanese man mentions the criminal practices that are of the order of the day: "Where are the media to cover it all?" Darfur Now does not try to depict the conflict in this African country - instead, it conveys a positive message and calls on Western citizens to take action. The film follows six people involved in several kinds of activities: a tribal chief in a refugee camp in West Darfur, an Argentinean prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, a Darfurian woman who joins the rebels, a UN relief worker who offers help on the scene, a student from California handing out leaflets, and a Hollywood star who uses his contacts in China and Egypt for political lobbying. Even 'Governator' Arnold Schwarzenegger swings into action.
Up the Yangtze!
Yung Chang 93', Canada, 2007 IP
A luxurious cruise ship carries a group of predominantly Western tourists down the Yangtze River. On board, the well-trained Chinese staff offers a varied programme of food, drinks, and entertainment. Within the foreseeable future, the landscape that glides by will permanently disappear as a result of the construction of the gigantic Three Gorges Dam. This mega-project, presented as the symbol of progress in modern China, will force two million people to move. Complete cities and villages will vanish under the steadily rising water, and although the government is helping to build new houses, hundreds of thousands of landowners have been duped. In the film, we watch them seek shelter higher on the banks of the constantly swelling river, their humble possessions in tow. Two stories of young people working on the cruise ship illustrate the contradictions of modern China. 'Cindy' Yu Shui really wants to go to university, but her parents cannot afford it. As poor farmers, they are quite literally up to their necks in the rising water. Dead on her feet, she washes the dishes in the galley while the handsome, English-speaking 'Jerry' Chen Bo Yu counts his tips.
Zhou Hao 145', China, 2007 WP
"If you are in the jungle, you're not the one in control," Ah Long sighs at the end of Using. For the past 10 years, he has led a transient life as a junkie in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, the last three years of which director Zhou Hao has followed him. At intervals, that is, because Ah Long often changes his phone number and has the tendency to disappear off the face of the earth. Nevertheless, he always gets in touch again after a while, or otherwise his girlfriend Ah Jun manages to reach the director. This produces many scenes in miserable hostels where the two addicts argue or lethargically sit around chain-smoking and shooting up. Zhou Hao films this misery without compassion and tries his best to get under their skin, but in the end nobody reveals all that much. Ah Long and Ah Jun have someone they can tell their story to and scrounge some money from, but to them, Zhou Hao will always be the journalist. In their minds, we all use each other, albeit for different purposes.