IFEF 2017

Dear colleagues and participants,

We are glad to announce that the work of the Selection Committee of the 6th Intenational Festival of Ethnographic Film Sofia (Peter Vulchev – documentary filmmaker, Violeta Koceva – ethnologist and Rosen Malchev – folklorist) has finished! They watched more than 50 films from 26 countries and decided to select the following films:

  1. Edge of the Clouds / 14 min. / 2016 / China, Finland / Director, Researcher, Cameraman: Hanna Kaihlanen / Contacts: edgeoftheclouds@gmail.com

Zhujinnong’s house is located in the mountains of Northwest-China where clouds run through valleys and verdancy. He`s a shibi, the is the communicator between the gods of nature and the community. Edge of the clouds follows Zhujinnong’s struggle between Qiang culture and contemporary China. Somewhere between the mountain peak and the valley down below lies the ancient spirituality.

  1. The Possibility of Spirits / 71 min / Netherlands / 2016 / Director, Researcher, Cameraman: Mattijs van de Port / Contacts:M.P.J.vandePort@uva.nl 

What is it that you film when you film a spirit? Shot in Bahia (Brazil), and based on over 15 years of research on the afro-brazilian religion Candomblé, The Possibility of Spirits is an essay film that keeps the baffling mystery of spirit possession center stage. In a poetic assemblage of images and words, it offers an alternative for the kind of documentary that either exoticizes spirit possession in spectacular imagery, or extinguishes the wonder of the phenomenon in explanatory prose. Possession ceremonies are filmed in close up, but the images first and foremost reveal that we don`t know what it is that we are looking at. Words — of the filmmaker, as well as of his interlocutors — are allowed to drift out of meaning. Trying to grasp the phenomenon, they become silence, or laughter, or screaming. Paying tribute to the extra-ordinariness of its subject matter, this film invites viewers to allow themselves to be confused and — in that confusion — consider the possibility of spirits.

  1. Funeral Season / 87 min. / Canada / 2012 / Director: Matthew Lancit, Cameraman: Laura Hudock / Contacts: mlancit@yahoo.com 

“We pray to our ancestors but we do not worship them. You, you need an intermediary, the priest. But for us, our intermediary is the ancestor who is sitting next to God,” says Poundé, the old Cameroonian ethnologist, to the young Jewish director from Canada. And with this conclusive statement, everything becomes clear: the funerals in memory of “the dead who are not dead” organized several days or even years following the burial, the chants, brass bands and traditional dancers who accompany and punctuate the village rituals. The ancestral rites struggle to survive in a continuously westernized society of consumption by parading wealth and excess for all to see — even the dead. Funeral Season takes the viewer through the red dust of Cameroon’s laterite slopes and into the heart of the Bamileke country, where one funeral flows into the next. These death celebrations provide an opportunity to see elaborate costumes and masks, festive songs and dances, and lavish feasts, while illuminating the communal links which bind the Bamileke as an ethnic group and society. Along the way, the director befriends his guides and becomes increasingly haunted by memories of his own ancestors. At times, the dialogues alienate him from the locals; at other times they bring the two closer together. Like the dead and the living, they belong to two different worlds often mirroring each other. There is a lightness to be found in this subjective ethnographic film which imaginatively and symbolically turns the gazes of two different worlds upon each other.

  1. A Goddess in Motion (María Lionza in Barcelona) / 62 min. / Spain / 2006 / Director, Researcher, Cameraman: Roger Canals / Contacts:rocanals@gmail.com 

The cult of María Lionza, one of the most important religious practices in Venezuela, is beginning to manifest itself in Barcelona. Through the testimonies of believers, artists and esoteric art sellers, this documentary depicts, for the first time, the appearance of this religion in the Catalan capital.

  1. We Are The Others / 70 min. / Germany / 2017 / Director, Researcher, Cameraman: Antje Akkermann / Contacts: akkermann.antje@gmail.com 

How I failed, became the subject of my subject, made a self-reflexive film – or nearly all about religion, monsters and syncretism in Ghana? I started 2011 with filming about the West African concepts of monsters. But monsters don’t seem to exist in Ghana and I was surprised that I went into the trap of universal ideas. But then I met David. And when he brought me to the shrine of Mamishie Rasta, he involved himself into a ritual. The conflict he faced after this was due to his Christian belief. This was the turning point of “We Are The Others“ and I asked myself many questions as: What is African (Traditional) Religion at all? What happens when people combine different religions? And does monstrosity re-enters at some point?

  1. Icaros / 71 min. / Argentina / 2014 / Director: Georgina Barreiro, Researcher: Georgina Barreiro – Matias Roth, Cameraman: Leonardo Val / Contacts: georginabarreiro@gmail.com

Icaros explores the spiritual universe of the Shipibo indigenous people who live by the Ucayali river, one of the main tributaries of the Peruvian Amazon. Young Mokan Rono sets outs on a journey to discover the ancestral knowledge of ayahuasca, mentored by a wise shaman and by his mother, a master healer.

  1. Spirit, 5 мин. Spirits / 5 min. / Thailand / 2017 / Director and Cameraman: Ryan Anderson, Researcher: Rossarin Onprom / Contacts:jra@jamesryananderson.com 

Mr. Thumsuan reunites families with the ghosts of their dead relatives. He’s one of southern Thailand’s last professional spirit mediums. During the three-day ritual called Limon, he invites spirits to inhabit a woman in the village. As one spirit enters her body, the woman begins to shake. “It’s the same as when the wind touches the trees,” say Mr. Thumsuan. “You see the leaves blow, but can you see the wind? No – but you still believe it’s the wind.” “Spirits” is a short documentary filmed in Songkhla, Thailand opening a window into this fascinating ritual – a ritual which even only a handful of Thais have never witnessed.

  1. Huan Nuo Yuan: Fulfilling the Will of the Spirits / 20 min. / USA, China / 2016 / Director and Cameraman: Thomas Riccio, Researcher: Peng JinQuan / Contacts: thomasriccio@gmail.com 

A film by Thomas Riccio documenting the Huan Nuo Yuan: Fulfilling your will with the Nuo Spirits ritual of the Miao people, Xiangxi Autonomous Prefecture, Hunan, China. The Miao ethnic minority of southwestern China is 6000 years old and considered the indigenous people of China. The resilient Miao have survived invasions, encroachment, persecution, and acculturation by finding refuge deep within the rugged and formidable Wu Ling Mountains. Central to their cultural persistence is the Badai, shaman-like spiritual guides and healers who serve as tradition bearers. Through an intricate and sustained system of ritual practice, the Badai have maintained Miao spirituality and culture. A Huan Nuo Yuan is sponsored by a family as a way to give back to the spirits and by so doing fulfill the will of the household. The ritual is performed only in the depths of winter, serving as a Thanksgiving, a family and community communion, and a mythic and ritual reiteration of the Miao origins and cosmology.

  1. The Greatness of Man / 30 min. / Germany / 2012 / Director and Cameraman: Jana Richter, Rike Holtz, Researcher: Jana Richter / Contacts:richterjana@hotmail.com 

The movie tells of Gods who came over the sea to create from two beliefs a third one. It tells of people who learn to fly and of birds who would rather stay in their cage. It tells of Yemaya, the Goddess of the ocean, who in spite of her riches and her power cannot believe in love.

  1. Land of Udehe / 26 mi. / Russia / 2015 / Director and Researcher: Ivan Golovnev, Cameraman: Maksim Drozdov / Contacts:golovnev.ivan@gmail.com 

According to the Udehe worldview, in the afterworld all is better than in this world. Therefore Udehe people are happy to pass into the country of the dead. This film takes us into the world of Udehe people, whose population now dropped to 1,490 souls…

  1. Journey to the Maggot Feeder, 87 мин. Journey to the Maggot Feeder / 87 min. / Estonia / 2015 / Director and Researcher: Liivo Niglas, Priit Tender, Cameraman: Liivo Niglas / Contacts: liivon@gmail.com

“Journey to the Maggot Feeder” tries to solve the mystery of a bizarre Arctic fairy tale. Priit Tender, an Estonian animator, makes a film about an old Chukchi legend – The Maggot Feeder. The unconventional narrative finds misunderstanding in the western audiences and Priit takes off to a journey to Chukotka in the North Eastern corner of Siberia where deeper layers of the story and local culture start to unfold. This anthropological road movie deals with the importance of storytelling in human life, inviting the viewers to undertake a journey into the depths of their inner world.

  1. The Silvesterchläuse of Hundwil / 12 min. / Italia / Director: Michele Trentini, Researcher: Giovanni Kezich, Antoanella Mott, Cameraman: Michele Trentini / Contacts: micheletini@yahoo.de 

Hundwil, Swiss, here the New Year is celebrated on January 13th, because the people, refused to accept the Gregorian reform of the calendar. On this day, there appear in the village some ancestral visitors…

  1. Man of faith / 60 min. / Bulgaria / 2017 / Director: Ganeta Sagova, Cameraman: Dobrin Kashavelov / Contacts: gsagova@ossem.eu 

Alex Orbito is one of the greatest healers of the 21 st century. He has healed with a great success over 1 million people worldwide. The documentary tells the stories of people who visited the healer and have fully cured from diseases which conventional medicine considers being incurable. It presents the position of doctors, scientists and researchers who have been observing and exploring the phenomenon for years and trying to provide an explanation to it. Where is hidden the key to health? When and why do we get sick? Can a person heal himself? How does quantum physics explain this phenomenon? These are some of the questions that the film seeks and answers. “Man of faith”, is a film about the strength of the human spirit and also about the love. About the great love of the small man from the distant Philippines and the little love in each of us, waiting to be awakened. The film will shock, provoke but at the same time will expand the minds of the people who watch it. Certainly, no one will leave indifferent after the screening.

  1. Quarantore of Komiza / 36 min. / Croatia / 2013 / Director: Davor Borić, Researcher: Vido Bagur, Cameraman: Mak Vejzović, Luka Jančin / Contacts:crnomerec@gmail.com 

Quarantaore is a Catholic custom of prayer and worship in front of the Holy Incarnation (the body and blood of Christ in the form of the Holy Sacrament stored in the church tabernacle), which lasts for forty hours and starts on the Palm Sunday. The name itself originated from the Italian words quaranta meaning forty and ore meaning hours. Quarantore of Komiža is a film document of the man`s attempt to come closer to God, humbly and introspectively, through prayer and worship, but also through hard work in His Glory. Hence, a number of the inhabitants of the village of Komiža built the quarantore in the church of St. Nicholas on the hill of Muster a few days before the Palm Sunday.

IFEF – Sofia 2017 will be held from the 14th until the 18th November 2017!

Consecutive translation: Slavena Ilieva

See the PROGRAM and CATALOG and PROMO for this year.