Synopsis: Day of the Sparrow is a political wildlife documentary. It centres around a country where the border between war and peace fades. On November 14, 2005, a sparrow is shot dead in Leeuwarden, and a German soldier dies in Kabul. With the headlines appearing side by side, Philip Scheffner is induced to use ornithological methods in his quest for the war. His journey through Germany begins at the Baltic Sea, with childhood memories at a bird sanctuary situated between a military training zone and a sailing marina. From place to place, the camera circles the reality of war, in seemingly peaceful images. Conversations from coincidental meetings blow across the deserted landscape, birds staying in the focus of the lens at all times. They sit in cannon barrels, on fences, flutter across meadows and fields, marking the locations where the current war is contrived. And suddenly the perspective changes. A friend of the filmmaker is arrested on a village street in Brandenburg. The bird watchers themselves become the object of observation. The journey ends with a slightly displaced view of the familiar: a military training zone at the Baltic Sea situated between a bird sanctuary and a sailing marina. Missile-impacts lash the turquoise blue water; the birds above continue unswervingly onward.

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“There once was a man. This man came into the European war. Germany captured this man. He wishes to return to India. If God has mercy, he will make peace soon. This man will go away from here.” Mall Singh’s crackling words are heard as he spoke into the phonographic funnel on 11th December 1916 in the city of Wünsdorf, near Berlin. 90 years later, Mall Singh is a number on an old Shellac record in an archive – one amongst hundreds of voices of colonial soldiers of the First World War. The recordings were produced as the result of an unique alliance between the military, the scientific community and the entertainment industry. In his experimental search “The Halfmoon Files”, Philip Scheffner follows the traces of these voices to the origin of their recording. Like a memory game – which remains incomplete right until the end – he uncovers pictures and sounds that revive the ghosts of the past. His protagonists’ words intersect along the concentric spirals the story follows. Those who pressed the record button on the phonographs, on photo and film cameras, were the ones to write official history. Mall Singh and the other prisoners of war of the Halfmoon Camp disappeared from this story. Their spirits and ghostly appearances seem to play with the filmmaker, to ambush him. They pursue him on his path, to bring their voices back to their home countries. Yet the story of these ghosts escapes the control of the narrator. And the ghosts do not disperse. “When a person dies, he constantly roams about and becomes a ghost. It is the soul that roames about. The roaming soul is like air. So a ghost is like air. It can go everywhere.” (Bhawan Singh, Wünsdorf 1917 / 2007)

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Synopsis: The essay film, made in the form of a letter exchange between a man and a woman, was inspired by the fact that the government of Vietnam plans to build the country’s first two nuclear power plants in Ninh Thuan (formerly known as Panduranga), right at the spiritual heart of the Cham indigenous people, threatening the survival of this ancient matriarchal Hindu culture that stretches back almost two thousand years. At the border between documentary and fiction, the film shifts audience attention between foreground and background, between intimate portraits and distant landscapes, offering reflections around fieldwork, ethnography, art, and the role of the artist.

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Synopsis: Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions. This unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of fifty years of silence.

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Synopsis: My mother is a Cambodia genocide survivor. She always refused to tell us about it. Upset by her silence, my brother and I decide to launch our own memory quest. We follow Antoine, a grandson of Armenian genocide survivors who photographs the ghosts of his family and his people in Anatolia.

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Marseille, 2014. Dozens of Armenian asylum seekers trying to survive while waiting for their application to be considered. They left behind them a country whose people have settled around the world for over a hundred years …

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Synopsis: A cornerstone of the French New Wave, the first feature from Alain Resnais is one of the most influential films of all time. A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) engage in a brief, intense affair in postwar Hiroshima, their consuming mutual fascination impelling them to exorcise their own scarred memories of love and suffering. With an innovative flashback structure and an Academy Award–nominated screenplay by novelist Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima mon amour is a moody masterwork that delicately weaves past and present, personal pain and public anguish.

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