The Millennium Docs Against Gravity festival has come of age – it celebrates its 18th edition! Once again viewers will be able to watch the best documentary cinema from all around the world. As it already became our tradition, the program includes new thematic sections, connected to subjects that were of particular importance to filmmakers throughout the last year. Below we are introducing selected films from the new sections, two per each. This edition of Millennium Docs Against Gravity will repeat last year's hybrid formula. Following the on site portion, hosted by cinemas in seven Polish cities (Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Poznań, Katowice, Lublin, Bydgoszcz) between 3rd and 12th September, there will be the online part screened at mdag.pl from 16th September to 3rd October. Millennium Bank is the titular partner of the festival.
THE ALPHABET OF PROTEST – films in this section demonstrate that you only have to make the first step in order to do something useful for society and the planet. Who knows, maybe it will prove to be a small step for us, but a great leap for humanity?
Courage, dir. Alexei Paluyan – during the presidential elections in Belarus in August 2020, Maryna, Pavel and Denis, three actors from the underground Belarus Free Theatre in Minsk, join mass protests against Alexander Lukashenko. The protesters pour out on the streets of Minsk to stand up for freedom of speech and support the long-awaited change of power. Civil disobedience becomes a moral imperative, but the voice of the people is brutally suppressed by the security forces of the Belarusian regime.
Dear Future Children, dir. Franz Böhm – a portrait of three young female activists in different parts of the world: Rayen is involved in anti-government protests in Chile, Pepper fights for Hong Kong's independence from the Chinese rule, and Hilda is the leader of the Young Uganda Climate Activists' strike. A poignant depiction of what the world has in store for the youngest generation of adults, and a series of questions about what kind of environment will children inherit in the future.
CSI MDAG – there's more to life than Scandinavian crime fiction. We present documentary films which merge the quest to discover the truth with sequences so thrilling as if lifted straight from the pages of a thriller! And not all of the stories presented here are grim and bleak, trust us!
Seeds of Deceit, dir. Miriam Guttmann – in 2017, after the death of a renowned Dutch fertility specialist, doctor Kaarbat, it turned out that he had used his own sperm to fertilize 65 patients, instead of trying to find donors. The country of Netherlands was shocked. The mini-series dives into the how and why of the case, while also telling the stories of Kaarbat's children. Each of them has found a different way to come to terms with the reality of their situation and their unexpected emotional baggage.
The Mole Agent, dir. Maite Alberdi – 83-year-old Sergio wins a casting call for a 'mole', whose task is to infiltrate a nursing home and report on the quality of care provided to its residents. The casting is organized by Romulo, a detective hired by a daughter of a resident; the woman suspected that her mother was being mistreated. As Sergio investigates the home from within, he becomes friends with a number of his peers and discovers that the actual danger to senior citizens looms elsewhere, and is hidden much deeper. A unique meditation on compassion and loneliness, featuring great characters and plot twists.
FACES OF SOUTH AMERICA – in this section we can find both films from countries that appear in the news quite often, like Chile or Venezuela, as well as stories from less known places, including Paraguay. They reveal a sunny continent with a complicated past – and an equally complicated present.
Nothing but the Sun, dir. Arami Ullón – The Gran Chaco plain in Paraguay is the home of the Ayoreo people. They came into contact with the white Western civilization relatively recently. Enticed by Christian missionaries with their visions of a better life and pushed out of the forest by settlers, the Ayoreo abandoned their native land. Most of them live in settlements scorched by the sun and covered with dust, in the trash dumps of civilization, without access to arable land and clean water. Focused on a small, forgotten microcosm, the film depicts the disastrous, irreversible effects of colonialism, which continues to destroy communities to this day.
So Foul A Sky, dir. Álvaro S. Pulpeiro – Venezuela. A cinematic meditation on a delicate and conflict-prone relationship between a citizen and a state that has lost its agency, a state which almost nobody identifies with and wishes to live in long-term. The film does not feature a linear story, instead it gives you only a temporary immersion in a specific time and place. The stream of refugees flows by the dreary border checkpoints. The lingering atmosphere of anarchy might have even seemed poetic had it not been for the constant sense of danger. Will there be a sudden release from the impasse which Venezuelans have been stuck in?
LIFE IN TIMES OF THE PANDEMIC – new young Polish cinema. Collection of films which prove that lockdown enhances creativity. Even 'regular' people who feel the need to document this strange new world reach for a camera (often, the one in their smartphone). The results? Amazing!
Polish Self-Portrait, dir. Jakub Drobczyński, Maciej Białoruski, Robert Rawłuszewicz - ‘marriages are breaking up. Lives are coming to an end. And how tough it will when this is all over. At least I can talk to you, and that's good. Though that's not actually talking, is it?’ says Piotr, who at the time had been stuck in his apartment for a month. Virtually all Poles found themselves in that situation. In self-isolation, they wait for a vaccine to cure them of the virus of loneliness. This is the document of the pandemic reality, recorded over a one-year period. It consists of personal recordings filmed by the protagonists, as well as documentary footage from Poland in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bless You, dir. Tatiana Chistova, Maciej Hamela – the winner of the Doc Alliance Award for Best Short Film, a prestigious award presented by seven most important European documentary film festivals during a ceremony in Cannes. After the pandemic broke out in Russia, the government imposed forced isolation for all elderly citizens. Millions of people have been forced to stay in their apartments and homes, some without contact with their immediate family, access to medicine, or even food. For those seeking help, a special hotline was created. Its consultants received calls from desperate people. These brief phone conversations reveal the anxieties of those who grew up in the Soviet Union and were largely left to fend for themselves after the fall of communism.
This edition of Millennium Docs Against Gravity will repeat last year's hybrid formula. Following the on site portion, hosted by cinemas in seven Polish cities (Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Poznań, Katowice, Lublin, Bydgoszcz) between 3rd and 12th September, there will be the online part screened at mdag.pl – from 16th September to 3rd October. Thus, the festival becomes a month-long event, between 3rd September and 3rd October.