The best Sundance and Berlinale films in the 21st MDAG program!

Millennium Docs Against Gravity is rapidly approaching. The festival program features documentary winners from Sundance and Berlinale. In the case of Sundance, the previously announced film "A New Kind of Wilderness" by Silje Evensmo Jacobsen, which won the main prize in the international documentary competition, is a beautiful story about life away from civilization. Also, the winner of the American documentary competition, "Porcelain War" by Brendan Bellomo and Slavy Leontyev, will have its Polish premiere at MDAG. From the recently ended Berlinale, programmers brought the winner of the Best Documentary award, "No Other Land" by Rachel Szor, Yuval Abraham, Hamdan Billal, and Basel Adra.

The largest Polish film festival will take place from May 10th to 19th in eight cities (Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Poznań, Katowice, Łódź, Bydgoszcz, and Lublin), and then online from May 21st to June 3rd on mdag.pl. The titular sponsor of the event is Bank Millennium (https://www.bankmillennium.pl/).

"No Other Land" focuses on the area of Masafer Yatta, the hilly outskirts of Hebron in the West Bank. Palestinian homes are systematically demolished by the Israeli army. A verdict issued by the Israeli Supreme Court in May 2022 designated this area as a military training ground, allowing the state to demolish all structures. Palestinian activist Basel does everything in his power, both in reality and online, to protest. In the darkest moment of his life, facing mass eviction, he befriends Israeli journalist Yuval, who supports Palestinian protests.

During the Berlinale, the film "I'm Not Everything I Want to Be" by Klara Tasovska also had its world premiere. Composed solely of photographs and the protagonist's narration, this beautiful and captivating film tells the story of Libuše Jarcovjáková, who was dubbed by the media as the "Czechoslovak Nan Goldin." In her youth, the photographer fled Prague and embarked on a wild journey towards freedom, capturing her experiences in thousands of subjective photographs. For years, her work went unrecognized until she gained fame and was asked to prepare an exhibition. Faced with this task, she had to review thousands of photos, thus recalling her past. The film documents this extraordinary process.

Award-winning at Sundance, "Porcelain War" depicts three artists who defend their culture and country in the face of the Russian invasion. Slava, Anya, and Andrey are armed with their art, cameras, and, for the first time in their lives, rifles. Despite daily shelling, Anya finds solace in art, Andrey embarks on a journey to transport his family to safety, and Slava trains ordinary people who have suddenly become soldiers. "Porcelain War" is a tribute to the passion and strength exhibited by artists when the world around them begins to burn.

In addition to the documentary winners straight from this year's Sundance, MDAG's program includes touching stories that have captured the hearts of American audiences and critics alike. One of them is "Ibelin" by Benjamin Ree, the author well known to festival audiences for his film "The Painter and the Thief." This time, Ree tells the story of Mats Steen, who passed away at the age of 25 due to a degenerative muscle disease. His parents mourned their son, believing that the illness had forced him to live in solitude and isolation. However, they were unaware that Mats had long been engaged in a rich online activity and had a huge impact on the gaming community. After his passing, they discovered a completely new picture of his life and encountered a surprising, previously inaccessible world to themselves.

 

Dorottya Zurbó and Arun Bhattarai offer a unique perspective on the typically idealized Bhutan and its remarkable happiness policy in the film "Agent of Happiness". We follow Amber, who is one of the interviewers conducting a survey commissioned by the king on the "happiness index" of the country's residents. At the same time, he must deal with his own loneliness and the exclusion he experiences as a member of the Nepalese minority. Over time, we begin to question the unconventional indicators of fulfillment and success used in the survey. Are the people of Bhutan truly the happiest in the world? The filmmakers capture many tender and humorous moments between Amber and his interviewees, simultaneously presenting many thought-provoking conversations.