Life on the Other End | Panorama • Golden Goblet Awards Competition Films for Documentary
The Shanghai International Film Festival Golden Goblet Awards Competition Films for Documentary has been made public recently. Five profound and refined documentaries with SIFF artist ambiance will compete for the final winner.
The only Chinese finalist Still Tomorrow chooses the famous female poet Yu Xiuhua as the protagonist, while oversea productions all focus on social issues. The Good Postman presents the historic choice of a shabby village with only 38 villagers through splendid film texture, in-depth ideology and intense sense of drama; When Paul Came over the Sea – Journal of an Encounter records the unusual friendship between the director and the refugee from Cameroon. Both films pay attention to the refugee issue in Europe, yet with different entry points and themes. Robin from Italy centers on a group of rebellious and dangerous youths in Naples and is featured demanding filming techniques. The documentary from the US, Big Sonia ignites the seemingly-incompatible relationship between the grievous history and personal persistence, touching and inspiring.
Golden Goblet Awards Competition Films for Documentary
Big Sonia / The Good Postman/ Robin
Still Tomorrow / When Paul Came over the Sea – Journal of an Encounter
● Film Profile ●
International Premiere IMDB 9.4
The Holocaust survivor Sonia Warshawski (90) was once confined in three concentration camps, during which time all her families were executed. On the day of emancipation, she was hit by a bullet and nearly died. Despite the old age, she is running her own tailor shop now. The past has left nothing on her except for happiness and optimism. For years, her story has been encouraging numerous hurt souls in their hardest time, while the shop is supporting her in return. However, one day she is served an eviction notice for her popular tailor shop. As a 'wounded healer', Sonia's trauma comes to the surface as she struggles with the concept of retirement. What choice will she make?
Behind the Holocaust, we see the survivors; in this survivor, we see the shining beauty and love of common people!
Big Sonia is a documentary co-directed by Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday. They are a couple, and Leah Warshawski is also the granddaughter of the film’s heroine. The two directors managed to record the life of Sonia Warshawski in a true and natural way with mature skills and complete control over techniques. Leah Warshawski’s first production Finding Hillywood has received six awards, including the Critic’s Award at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Napa Valley Film Festival, and been screened at over 65 film festivals.
The Good Postman
Delicate in music, lighting and lens, and solid in texture, the film embraces historical changes and current politics featuring character close-up, hot issues and regions, with intense conflicts and dramatic story lines – a rare documentary of the textbook level.
The film deals with the grand theme from a subtle perspective, presenting a small and stubborn Bulgarian village facing the Turkish border. Now its electorate of 38 elderly Bulgarians is reflecting their different opinions on the refugee issue in Europe. Postman Ivan has a new political vision. He decides to run for mayor to bring the dying village to life by welcoming refugees. His opponents want either to close their eyes or close down the border. Busy on the campaign trail while delivering the mail, Ivan soon learns that while good intentions are not enough.
The director Tonislav Hristov’s documentary Soul Food Stories was premiered at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival in 2013, and Once Upon A Dream at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. He has also showcased his works at world renowned festivals including the Tribeca Film Festival, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival, Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Nyon International Documentary Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival, etc.
The director wins the trust of the protagonist and puts his camera towards the juvenile delinquents who are rarely seen on screen. Several violence and death scenes during the filming are hard to be recorded, which also makes the work more precious. It presents the families being punished and distressed for the crimes, faces the pain points of the society and creates disputes, thus revealing and clarifying the various views in the dispute.
For the very first time on screen, the real baby bosses talk about themselves in a frank, unmediated manner. The mothers’ whimpers and tears are unforgettable, but violence is still continuing. The end of the film is poetic and ingenious.
Michele Santoro is one of the most influential journalists and television hosts in Italy. Santoro's popularity was essentially based on being the author and anchorman of the prime-time broadcasts early in the 1990s, which discussed about political events during a period of Italian political turmoil. In 2001, as his work was determined by the Prime Minister of Italy then as crime, his work in the TV station was suspended, and till 2006, he was able to come back for work again. After that, Santoro has been devoted to producing and hosting TV programs on current society and political issues. Robin is his documentary debut.
When one of her poems is shared more than a million times on Chinese social media, the female poet Yu Xiuhua, who is disabled by cerebral palsy, suddenly becomes famous. Twenty years ago, her parents arranged for her to be married to a laborer who has no feelings for her. The marriage then turns into her life-long pain and regret. Yu Xiuhua writes poems, about her disabled body and her eager for true love, trying to dialogue with her own destiny.
Fan Jian, documentary director, has produced works chosen for the Berlin International Film Festival, Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival, Hong Kong International Film Festival, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, etc. His works shed light on the human nature and family under the huge transformation of ages, including Dancing in the City, Taxi, The Next Life, Manufacturing Romance, Wu Tu: My land and so on.
When Paul Came over the Sea – Journal of an Encounter
This is an encounter: the filmmaker meets Paul, who now lives in a forest waiting for the right moment to cross the Mediterranean. By recording Paul, the film provides a case about how an African young man tries so hard to survive and enter Europe. Besides diary style and first person narration, the documentary also adopts illustration to reproduce certain scenes. The filmmaker’s life has been influenced by Paul to some extent as well: they become friends. It is a documentary interwoven with cruel reality and warmth of humanity.
In addition, the film conveys an opinion that the western journalists didn’t tell us, which is explained by an interview at the beginning of the film: “Who caused the chaos in Africa? The West, the white people. Now it’s time you bear the consequences.” It is a work that accurately targets itself towards important social issues.
Jakob Preuss’s works have been screened at multiple film festivals and in over ten countries. His last documentary The Other Chelsea: A Story from Donetsk was awarded the Best Documentary at the Max Ophüls Festival, as well as the prestigious Adolf Grimme Award. His political career is also impressive: he has helped to write the Election Manifesto for the German Green Party in its 2014 European election; meanwhile, he is the Member of the German Green Party Council as a counselor on European affairs. Since 2014, he has been delivering speeches because of his achievement in immigration affairs, and started his four-year study on When Paul Came over the Sea.