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Reviews and Interviews from the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
Reviews and Interviews from the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

Reviews and Interviews from the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

Until I Fly (2024) by Kanishka Sonthalia and Siddesh Shetty

Meanwhile, when examining the story from a broader perspective, the challenges related to leaving one’s home country and the resulting discrimination are expertly portrayed. The film also makes a point that these issues are even more impactful in smaller communities, where one cannot easily blend in with the masses. This adds a universal aspect to the movie, ultimately enhancing its overall impact.

Queer Japan Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

“By carefully selecting its main character, the film “Queer Japan” allows for a diverse range of voices to be heard. This includes butoh dancers, drag queens, club creators and owners, a manga writer who focuses on bear homosexuals, an erotic artist, and a politician. Represented in the film are individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender men and women, non-binary, pansexual, as well as those with various fetishes. Together, these individuals serve as examples of human sexuality transcending traditional gender norms.”

Johatsu Into Thin Air Thessaloniki Documentary Festival

One admirable quality of Andreas Hartmann and Arata Mori’s work is their extensive research and comprehensive presentation on screen, covering all possible perspectives of the concept. The film “Johatsu” delves into individuals who run ‘night-moving’ companies, revealing their own past experiences fleeing the system, as well as their clients, reasons for running, and lives after their escape. It also explores the impact on those left behind, disproving the stereotype of their malevolence in some cases. This is a significant achievement, given the sensitive nature of the topic and the directors’ success in persuading these individuals to share their experiences on camera in great detail. The resulting revelations are truly shocking.

An Asian Ghost Story by Bo Wang

The film presents a mix of reality and fiction, using mockumentary techniques. Feng Shui experts reciting Mao’s poetry, along with ghosts and their hair and wigs, are all woven into the story. Gradually, the narrator shifts the focus to herself and an outrageous plot where she transforms into a wig and travels overseas. These elements carry on throughout the movie, resulting in increasingly absurd tales. The “Sadako” interview, including its translation, provides a perfect ending, while songs sung in reverse and various performances bring the movie to a close.

Kabul Beauty (2023) by Margaux Benn and Solène Chalvon-Fioriti

The interaction between the two angles is expertly showcased and is one of the strongest technical elements of the film. It successfully keeps the audience engaged and entertained as the scenes transition between the streets, parlor, girls’ homes, and eventually Europe. While the journey, both physical and symbolic, is a triumph, it also offers a refreshing perspective in a setting like Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where positive narratives are scarce.

From Abdul to Leila (2024) by Leila Albayaty

The documentary follows several different themes, ranging from traditional documentary style to more unconventional methods. The stories of Leila’s father, who served in Iraq, are fascinating, as well as her mother’s experiences and how the two of them met. The film also delves into Leila’s difficult relationship with her father during her youth, in addition to the lingering effects of her own experiences in Iraq. Throughout the film, there are scenes of Leila dancing, creating artwork, attempting to learn Arabic, and collaborating with her father to turn his poems into songs. The documentary also includes her trip to Egypt, where she speaks with a survivor of torture in Iraq, and reflects on the complex relationship between the West and the Arab world, exemplified by events like the Bataclan attack and the US’s “war on terror.” This multifaceted approach ultimately forms the backbone of the film.

And So It Begins (2024) by Ramona S. Diaz

Therefore, “And So it Begins” can be seen as a blend of successes and shortcomings. While it effectively brings attention to past events and aspects of local history that have been overlooked, it only scratches the surface and lacks insight. The addition of Ressa’s “arc” at times feels forced and gives the impression that Diaz was uncertain about the film’s intended trajectory, resulting in a compromised final product. While the film is not necessarily subpar, it does not quite measure up to Diaz’s previous works.

Pol Pot Dancing (2024) by Enrique Sánchez Lansch

The historical and political elements depicted in the documentary are truly mesmerizing in their various formats. Testimonies from individuals in both urban and rural areas, footage from the past including interviews with Pol Pot, and the personal accounts shared by Chea Samy all come together to paint a haunting portrait of terror. This includes the forced relocation of city dwellers to the countryside, where they were forced to work on collective farms, the abolishment of currency leading to widespread hunger, and the mandatory pairing of men and women which continues to haunt the nation. The staggering statistics reveal that approximately 25% of the population perished, either from starvation and illness or as victims of political persecution, bringing this shocking depiction of genocide to a chilling close.

The making of a Japanese still

“The Making of a Japanese” is an excellent documentary that sheds much light on how the locals are shaped from the elementary level, as much as a testament on how the order that dominates most aspects of life in the country is instilled in them.