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Documentary Competition Introduction




  In August 2014, documentary filmmaker Hogir Hirori left his pregnant wife in Sweden and went back to his homeland, Kurdistan in Iraq, to document the stories of war refugees. More than 1.4 million people were fleeing from the terror of the Islamic State. He was transport to the Shingal Mountains by a helicopter, where hundreds of thousands of people were stuck and surrounded by the IS, with no food or water. However, on his way back to the helicopter, he found an 11-year-old girl lying alone on the ground in pain in scorching heat. He decided to stay and help her, instead of going back on the helicopter. Later, he learned that the helicopter crashed, and that the little girl saved his life. To thank her, Hogir set out on a quest to find the girl again. On his way, he met many other victims of war: women sold as slaves to the IS, families torn apart, children kidnapped, men beheaded and lives destroyed.

  Biography of director Hogir Hirori

  Hogir Hirori was born in Duhok, Kurdistan in 1980. In 1999, he fled to Sweden from his hometown. Now he’s living in Stockholm. He works as a freelance photographer, editor and director. He has his own production company called Lolav Media. His most recent documentary, THE GIRL WHO SAVED MY LIFE, had its premiere in Sweden at the Göteborg Film Festival. It was awarded The Angelos award.


  MR. GAGA (Israel, Germany, Netherlands Antilles, Sweden)


  Ohad Naharin, artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company, is regarded as one of the most important choreographers in the world. Meeting him at a critical turning point in his personal life, this spirited and insightful documentary will introduce you to a man with great artistic integrity and an extraordinary vision. Filmed over a period of eight years, director Tomer Heymann mixes intimate rehearsal footage with an extensive unseen archive and breathtaking dance sequences.

  This story of an artistic genius who redefined the language of modern dance is guaranteed to make you not skip.

  Biography of director Tomer Heymann

  Born in Israel in 1970, Tomer Heymann has directed documentary films and series since 1997.

  His films were screened and won awards at international film festivals such as Berlinale, HotDocs, IDFA, LAFF, Sheffield and were theatrically released around the world, making him one of the leading directors in the documentary film industry.

  His cinematic and TV credits include “BRIDGE OVER THE WADI”(IDFA 2006), “PAPER DOLLS”(Berlinale 2006),“I SHOT MY LOVE”(Berlinale 2010, first prize Hotdocs 2010) and more.




  Tibetan Plateau, the highest and the once most geographically active area of the world, has been made by the ancient orogenic movement, leaving a splendid and magnificent scene with a wide and rich biodiversity. In this region, men, in order to live and protect their families, have developed a wonderful and miraculous balance with the great Mother Nature.

  We will observe how this kind of relationship between people and nature has been formed though some stories, and try to make an inquiry about how people’s personality and wisdom have functioned. You will not only see the rich and vast landscapes, living condition of various rare wild animals, but also witness the lifestyle with vivid nationality and characteristics, all these contributing to one core, mind.

  Roof of the World is a geographic concept, but it conveys a spiritual concept all the more. It’s the roof of our mind that has been surviving on the high Plateau and built a sense of honor and well-being for the innermost being.

  Biography of director ZENG Hai-ruo

  ZENG Hai-ruo is the chief director of the 500-episode STROY OF MOVIE and NEW STORY OF MOVIE and the 62-episode MY ANTI-JAPANESE WAR and MY ANTI-JAPANESE WAR 2. His works have won numerous awards including Chinese Documentaries of the Year Award, China's Outstanding Contribution Award for Documentary and National Memory Image of the Year.


  WE ARE X (UK/ USA/ Japan)


  WE ARE X, Kijak’s third collaboration with producer John Battsek, is a documentary about the rock band X Japan, the most successful band in Japanese history making a play for American success with a show at Madison Square Garden. The film had its world premiere in the World Documentary Competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival where it was awarded a Special Jury Award for Editing.

  X Japan was formed by childhood friends, Yoshiki and Toshi who ignited a musical revolution in Japan during the late 80’s with their melodic metal and flamboyant fashion. Their unique appearance and style created a Japa-nese cultural rock phenomenon known as “Visual-Kei,” a movement that spread globally. X Japan’s success was unprecedented, including 18 sold out nights at the Tokyo Dome (55,000 seats).

  With more than 30 million albums sold worldwide, X is the most successful rock band in Japanese history. However, their success never translated to the West, despite influencing many popular American bands.

  In the fall of 1997, at the height of their success, X broke up - devastating millions of fans and leaving enigmatic leader Yoshiki to battle physical and spiritual demons in a solitary campaign to bring their music to the world.

  Twenty years after the tragedy-fueled split, Director Stephen Kijak’s exacting approach traces the arc of X -- from phenomenal origins through tumultuous super-stardom and premature dissolution up to present day, as the band prepares to reunite for a show at the legendary Madison Square Garden while struggling to reconcile a past haunted by suicide, injury and cultish extremism with the insatiable thirst for perfection that has made them legendary.

  WE ARE X is the story of the most influential band in the world that you've never heard of...yet.

  Biography of director Stephen Kijak

  Stephen studied film at Boston University’s College of Communication. He currently resides in Los Angeles. He has been directing fiction and non-fiction films for nearly 20 years. His credits include the critically acclaimed BAFTA nominated feature doc SCOTT WALKER – 30 CENTURY MAN (executively produced by David Bowie), the celebrated cult documentary CINEMANIA, and the platinum-selling STONES IN EXILE, a documentary commissioned by The Rolling Stones, and produced by Oscar-winning producer John Battsek of Passion Pictures, about the making of the Stones’ classic 1972 album “Exile On Main Street”, which premiered as a Special Screening in the 2010 Directors Fortnight in Cannes. In 2012, he teamed up with Passion Pictures again and Rob Trujillo from Metallica (making his debut as a film producer) on a feature doc about the late, great legend of bass, Jaco Pastorius.

  January 2015 saw the release of a feature documentary Stephen directed for PULSE Films about the biggest-selling boy band of all time, called “Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of.” The film broke iTunes pre-sale records and was a massive fan-favorite the world over.




  Tense and wholly immersive, filmmakers Heidi Brandenburg and Matthew Orzel take you directly into the line of fire between two, powerful Peruvian leaders over the future of the country. When president Alan Garcia attempts to extract oil and minerals from untouched Amazonian land with the hopes of elevating his country’s economic prosperity, he is met with fierce, violent opposition led by indigenous leader Alberto Pizango. This nuanced, even handed film capture all angles of a conflict that quickly escalates from a heated war of words to one of deadly violence.

  Biography of director Heidi Brandenburg

  Heidi Brandenburg was raised in Peru and Germany. On graduating from University of Wales, Newport (UWN) she made biopics DON SILVA and SONNEMANN. She co-founded Yachaywasi Films. A passionate cinematographer and creative storyteller, she is always keen to pursue interesting insightful portrayals in character-led documentary film-making beyond usual stereotypes.

  Biography of director Mathew Orzel

  Mathew Orzel is a documentary producer and visual artist who likewise graduated from UWN. He has since contributed to the making of DON SILVA and co-directed SONNEMANN, as well as researched and co-developed WHEN TWO WORLDS COLLIDE. His involvement with this topical venture is an expression of his commitment to documentary journalism around social and environmental issues. This undertaking arises from an interest in the phenomena of tipping points the levels at which the force for change becomes unstoppable. He focused on making films that combine social campaigns and the environment.