WINNERS OF THE 2016 FOCAL INTERNATIONAL AWARDS BELOW.
THE CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS TO THE 2017 FOCAL INTERNATIONAL AWARDS WILL BEGIN OCTOBER 2016 FOR PRODUCTIONS PREMIERED IN 2016.
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A GERMAN YOUTH (Une Jeunesse Allemande) chronicles the political radicalization of some German youth in the late 1960s that gave birth to the Red Army Faction (RAF), a German revolutionary terrorist group founded notably by Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, as well as the images generated by this story. The film is entirely produced by editing pre-existing visual and sound archives and aims to question viewers on the significance of this revolutionary movement during its time, as well as its resonance for today's society.
Reason for submission: The visual material available to recount this tragedy is exceptionally rich. A German Youth gathers its sources from three irreconcilable sides: the West German government, the RAF and the movie-makers of the time (including Godard, Fassbinder and Antonioni), as well as the images respectively produced by each. The story of the film is told in the present tense and chronologically, without retrospective excerpts, indeed exclusively through images that are contemporary with the events in the story. The connections between the characters as well as the story's dramatic arc and flair are brought to life through the editing.
"My films paint a bleak portrait of humanity: concentration camps, Hiroshima, prison, reprisals, revenge, oppression, violation, death. However, my work as a filmmaker is not to burden, depress, or lecture my audience with these images. On the contrary, I have found that watching humanity at its weakest builds a feeling of resistance. And moreover, that within this resistance lives resilience, a love of humanity in its fragility, and most importantly, hope. I realized a few years ago that I only questioned violence produced by the systems to which I was personally and deeply opposed. It is much easier, of course, to judge the acts of adversaries. Why was I so ready to find excuses for actions committed in the name of convictions I deemed to be "good"? Just because the impetus was an ideology closer to my own, did that somehow make one act of violence more justified than another? Upon reflection, I realized that associating with the victim was still ultimately a one-sided point of view. To be truly objective, one must truly examine and question the motivations and thought processes of the so-called wrongdoers as well. This raises unresolvable and even unbearable questions. While considering these ideas as human beings neither rewrites history, nor excuses the crimes committed, it does open a door to a more complete discussion about the nature of the acts, and our own humanity, albeit the gloomiest part. With this in mind, I dove headfirst into my research of revolutionary violence. As years passed, I narrowed down my research to emancipation movements in the sixties and seventies, until finally I chose to focus on the history of the Red Army Faction, a left wing German terrorist group. Terrorism is no more than failure and destruction, blindly spreading death, and discrediting its own revolutionary ambitions. My question all along was this: how could anyone deliberately choose this kind of violence? This question is even more pointed when the terrorists are not of some marginalized, disenfranchised group, living on the fringes of society. In the case of the Red Army, we see a group of "normal" German youths with rights, resources, and a bright future ahead of them. They held the proverbial keys to a country that, in the 1950s, in the crippling aftermath of the world wars, was still immersed in total reconstruction 8 (...)." (Jean-Gabriel Périot)
On April 28, 1945, life begins again. Hundreds of survivors from the German concentration camps arrive to the harbour of Malmo, Sweden. While they take their first steps in freedom Swedish news photographers film them. Now, 70 years later the survivors are watching this archive footage for the very first time and as they discover themselves they re-experience the emotions from this special day.
In Every Face Has a Name the use of archive material is adding perspective to our present everyday life. Many emotional stories are evoked for the first time in Every Face Has a Name and the archive reveals an extraordinary blend of stories coming from Jewish survivors, Norwegian resistance men, Polish mothers with newborn babies and British spies. All united in the moment of freedom. Moments and scenes also taking place all over the world today. Endless streams of war survivors arriving to a new country. All anonymous. Faces without names.
June 1944, Allied forces came ashore in Normandy. Their ships' holds contained tens of thousands of litres of a valuable and highly symbolic liquid: human blood. Overlord was also the biggest blood transfusion operation ever organized... For the first time, blood donated by volunteers in New York and London was transfused to wounded soldiers in France. In the US army, Dr Herbert Stern was in charge of managing this - red gold - stock. Following the life of this German-American doctor, from pre-Nazi Germany to US 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the film tells the story of blood at the twentieth century.
L'OR ROUGE is a 52 minutes documentary only composed by footage from over 30 different sources. During one year, we have searched film libraries in Europe and North America, to find rare and unseen footage to tell the unknown story of blood transfusion at the twentieth century, by using photos and archive films, as well as fiction feature films, starring Mary Pickford, Humphrey Bogard, Maurice Chevalier or Erich Von Stroheim. The editing of this heterogeneous footage relies on the first-person narrator Herbert Stern, created by the film director.