There is a wide selection of New East docs screening at this year’s Sheffield Documentary Film Festival, including a look back to 1970’s Yugoslav Black Wave. We have already seen some of those films at the international festival circuit, others we have only dreamed of, but as the festival is beginning, we made a list of all the gems to watch this year.
dir. Zelimir Zilnik
Part of the Yugoslav Black Wave, Zilnik picks up a group of homeless men from the streets of Novi Sad and takes them home. While they rest, the film-maker tries to ‘solve’ their housing problem.
Bruce Lee & The Outlaw
UK/Netherlands/Czech Republic, 2018
dir. Joost Vandebrug
Nicu, a young homeless boy, is adopted by Bruce Lee, the notorious “King of the Underworld” and goes to live with him in the tunnels underneath Bucharest. As Nicu grows up, he starts to realise that perhaps the King of the Underworld is not the perfect father and has to make a choice between staying in Bruce’s gang, or living a ‘normal’ life above ground. Filmed over six years, Bruce Lee & the Outlaw is a modern-day Oliver Twist story under the streets of Bucharest.
Central Bus Station
Czech Republic, 2018
dir. Tomáš Elšík
The architects’ plans for Central Bus Station to swallow visitors has turned into an endless maze of corridors. Once a gift to the citizens of Tel Aviv now serves to the immigrants. Yonathan has been a guide there for 17 years and is able to show the other side of the station’s significance to those who walk with him. Yonathan knows that the purpose of going down to the building is to find not only himself, but also a society that harbours its values, protects its original traditions and wants to defend its home.
dir. Frederick Paxton
Boldly associative urban symphony reveals the terrible beauty found in the highly polluted Siberian city of Chelyabinsk. Amid this mesmerising mix of images, director Frederick Paxton highlights the often punishing rituals inflicted on young Russian boys and girls. A dense, hypnotic crust of music from opera to East European hip hop underscores this city portrait quite unlike any other.
Dir. Alisa Kovalenko
A season in the life of Alina, a poor 20-year-old girl from Kyiv who has a chance to be saved by football. She’s about to join the Ukrainian national team, but life challenges her once again: her mother dies leaving two young siblings. Now, Alina must choose: football or family.
dir. Corneliu Porumboiu
Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu trains his cameras on Laurentiu Ginghina, civil servant and part-time philosopher who sees himself as a modern day superhero. His dream? To revolutionize the sport of football by focusing on the ball rather than the players. Yet when the director makes Ginghina’s alternative game reality, the bureaucrat can’t let his labyrinth of sporting possibilities go.
dir. Tobias Zielony
A strobed montage plays with imagery of techno and queer culture. Identity, masks and the ‘masked’ Russian intervention in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine fuse together in neon and imposing structures.
Over The Limit
dir. Marta Prus
20-year-old Russian rhythmic gymnast Margarita has a brutal coach, but her senior coach is another level. Dripping in designer chic, she glides in like Elizabeth Taylor, washed up on Olympic shores and is compulsively spitting venom. A rare and gripping insight into the coaching of a young female athlete by two generations of women, this is Black Swan meets Grey Gardens.
Czech Republic, 2018
Dir. Petr Šprincl
Grave robber and death obsessed artist Ondrej Jajcaj is on a mission to stop people fearing the grim reaper. Now he’s travelling with sidekicks Jan and Tomas in a horse-drawn caravan of death to return some famous teeth. In this creatively realised docufiction, the road to Vienna is full of surprises
When The War Comes
Czech Republic/Croatia, 2018
dir. Jan Gebert
Peter Švrček is the chillingly self-possessed young leader of the Slovak Recruits, a volunteer militia drawing the attention of the media, as it trains in the local woods and ‘welcomes’ arriving refugees. This compelling observational film takes us deep inside Švrček’s world, as he vows to stay true to his Slavic blood, and readies the troops for war.
A Woman Captured
dir. Bernadett Tuza-Ritter
Slavery is a European invention, and still exists. Filmmaker Bernadett Tuza-Ritter encounters Eta in Hungary, a woman proud of keeping domestic slaves. Violent, abusive, and manipulative, Eta has stripped 53-year-old Marish of her belongings, her family and her identity. As trust builds between Marish and the filmmaker, Marish begins to mentally prepare for a dangerous bid for freedom.