IDFA ’17: Young directors, modern storytelling in HBO Europe’s doc slate

HBO Europe’s slate of feature documentaries for 2017/2018 glimpse into the intimate moments and everyday lives and histories of people spanning the world of politics, sports, music, film and more. The ...
November 17, 2017

HBO Europe’s slate of feature documentaries for 2017/2018 glimpse into the intimate moments and everyday lives and histories of people spanning the world of politics, sports, music, film and more.

The lineup was revealed during the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) 2017, where a number of HBO Europe docs have been selected, including Mila Turajlić’s The Other Side of Everything; Maciej Bochniak’s Ethiopiques – Revolt Of The Soul; Lukáš Kokeš’s Nothing Like Before and a retrospective screening of Alexander Nanau’s multi-award-winning Toto and His Sisters as part of the festival’s 30th anniversary.

The Other Side of Everything has also been selected for the festival’s cinematography-focused Camera in Focus program.

HBO Europe’s documentaries this year include Anna Zamecka’s Polish coming-of-age film Communion (pictured) which nabbed a European Film Award nomination for Best Documentary after garnering 22 Grand Prix award wins at festivals worldwidee. Balázs Simonyi’s marathon-running documentary Ultra (Hungary) which was longlisted for a European Film Award and The Lust For Power (Slovakia), a film that made the top ten box office in its home country.

“Central and Eastern Europe has a big documentary tradition and many gifted filmmakers, and our current slate and recent successes reflect the enviable talent that the region has to offer. I’m especially proud to be working with so many young directors, supporting them to make their first or second features and to tell stories that reflect our younger audience’s lives, hopes and fears for the future,” said Hanka Kastelicova, HBO Europe’s VP and executive producer, documentaries, in a statement.

“At HBO Europe we’re open to innovative ideas, we care for modern storytelling and we aim for high production values, and this along with a lot of love, hard work and dedication has resulted in a line-up of films that will provoke, inspire and entertain audiences in the region and beyond.” 

Below is the lineup with documentary descriptions courtesy of the network:

The Other Side of Everything
Dir. Mila Turajlić, Serbia
World Premiered In Competition at Toronto International Film Festival 2017
European Premiere In Competition (Feature-Length Documentary) at IDFA 2017; selected for Camera in Focus

A locked door inside a Belgrade apartment has kept one family separated from their past for over 70 years. As filmmaker Mila Turajlić begins an intimate conversation with her mother, the political fault line running through their home reveals a house and a country haunted by history. The chronicle of a family in Serbia turns into a searing portrait of an activist in times of great turmoil, questioning the responsibility of each generation to fight for their future.

Nothing Like Before
Dir. Lukáš Kokeš, Czech Republic
World Premiere In Competition (First Appearance) at IDFA 2017

A deep insight into the life of contemporary teenagers living on the Czech-German border, on the geographical and social periphery in the middle of Europe.

The film portrays the daily lives of three youngsters brought together by one high school, and witnesses their transformation into young adults. To what extent are they prisoners of their surrounding environment, family types and the educational system, and to what degree are they capable of becoming independent creators of their own fates?

Nothing Like Before depicts two crucial years in the lives of the main characters, following them through many transformations, which prepare them for their adult life… or perhaps not.

Ethiopiques – Revolt of the Soul 

Dir. Maciej Bochniak, Poland
International Premiere, Music program at IDFA 2017.

In his latest documentary feature, Maciej Bochniak, takes the audience on a unique journey charting the history of one of the most original music genres of the 20th century. It begins in 1960s Addis Ababa, where local nightlife is flourishing and local artists are revelling in Western music to create a completely new sound; a powerful combination of rock, funk and jazz with distinctive harmony and throaty vocals that becomes known as Ethio-jazz.

In 1974 the emperor is toppled, bringing this golden age of music to an abrupt end, and forcing popular musicians to abandon their passion or flee their country. Years later a long-forgotten album is discovered in France by music producer Francis Falceto. Dedicating himself to releasing the unique sound it quickly finds fans worldwide, including Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, Tom Waits, Robert Plant and Jim Jarmusch.

Ethiopiques: Revolt of the Soul documents nearly five years of meticulous search across three continents as Bochniak and Falceto track down these jazz musicians, who reminisce on the swinging Seventies, how they created their inimitable sound, and an Ethiopia that no longer exists. It’s a moving story about a lost generation and the price paid by Ethiopian artists, the creators of stunning sounds and music, for their fight for freedom and their own dreams.

The Lust for Power  
Dir. Tereza Nvotova, Slovakia
On air winter 2017

From young director Tereza Nvotova, The Lust for Power is the story of Slovak ex-politician Vladimir Meciar, examining the impact he’s had on Slovak society and Nvotova’s own life. In 1989 Tereza Nvotova is one year old, and the Velvet Revolution is about to bring down the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

Following their victory, almost none of the revolutionary leaders want to occupy important government positions. They organize an open call for the position of Minister of Interior, and an unknown lawyer from a small town, Vladimir Meciar, vies for the job. He wins – and proceeds to rise to the very top. While governing he becomes a benevolent dictator, ruling the country using tools of corruption, propaganda and organized crime. While events like the division of Czechoslovakia or the kidnapping of the President’s son unfold, Tereza and her friends are playing children’s games of politics casting Meciar in the lead role.

The Lust for Power isn’t simply about one man and one chapter in Slovak political history. As Meciar-like political archetypes continue to pop up all over the world it raises universal and very current questions: will we ever understand the tendency to put blind faith in authoritarian leaders?

“When the War Comes”
Dir. Jan Gebert, Czech Republic
In Production

Peter lives a seemingly happy life. He drives a new white SUV, has a pretty girlfriend and recently enrolled at university. However, his real life is elsewhere – as the head of a paramilitary called “Slovenskí branci” that recruits hundreds of Slovak teenagers with the silent approval of the authorities. The group’s goal is simple – to create a model totalitarian community based on military drill, obedience and fear. Peter dreams that one day he will convince the entire society – as a big shot politician.

The Other Side of the Medal
Dir. Denisa Morariu, Romania
In Production

Andreea Raducan is a 32-years old and one of Romania’s greatest gymnasts. She worked all her life to become an Olympic champion, finally winning the Olympic gold medal in 2000 in Sydney, Australia. Three days later, she lost it, after being found positive for a banned substance. 15 years later, Andreea is fighting the toughest fight against the people who deceived her, as she tries to recover her medal and, along with it, her dignity.

Love Express
Dir. Kuba Mikurda, Poland
In Production

Love Express is an account of a tumultuous relationship between high art, sexuality and the market illustrated by the puzzling career of maverick filmmaker and visual artist Walerian Borowczyk, celebrated by film critics and festivals in the 1970s and swallowed by the soft-porn circuit in the 1980s. How does one get from creating cutting-edge work and competing in Cannes to being labelled an erotic filmmaker?

Love Express is an original insight into the twist and turns of the sexual revolution and its aftermath.  The film features interviews with Borowczyk’s collaborators, filmmakers and leading intellectuals who put his works into perspective, including Terry Gilliam, Bertrand Bonello, Neil Jordan, Andrzej Wajda, Patrice Leconte & Slavoj Žižek.

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