IDFA 2023- Smoke Sauna Sisterhood
Smoke Sauna Sisterhood
Few places in the world are better suited for showing our vulnerabilities than the sauna. The women in this intimate documentary bare all, both literally and figuratively, in a remote spot in the freezing cold, somewhere in Estonia, where the smoke sauna tradition is on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.
The camera seems to be part of the group as it respectfully and affectionately records the women sharing their experiences—some of these are beautiful, while others are traumatic. No subject is taboo as the women talk of the stillbirth of a child, sexual abuse, coming out, domestic violence, sickness and recovery.
Touching close-ups in the sweltering sauna alternate with wide shots of the women running naked in the snow, kindling the fire, playing music and smoking pork. An elderly woman talks about the sexist traditions of her younger days, presenting a stark contrast with the intense sense of support and strength that the women feel in this safe, therapeutic sauna.
Anna Hints has a background in contemporary art and experimental folk singing. She has studied Estonian and Comparative Literature and Folklore and has a degree both in Photography and Film Directing. Her student film ‘Free World’ brought her Kaljo Kiisa named Young Filmmaker Award and Best National Short Film award at Black Nights FilmFestival.
Her debut short ‘Ice’ was selected to more than 90 film festivals and won 14 awards, including Best Short Film Award at Estonian Film and Television Awards in 2018. Her new short fiction in pre-production is set in India and combines environmental and women issues. Anna is part of female music trio Eeter that was nominated for The Best Composer Award at Estonian Film and Television Awards in 2019 for the original score for ‘Wind Sculptured Land'
View all episodes
Berlinale: hold on to her20:49hold on to herMawda Shawri, two years old in 2018, sister of Hama, daughter of Phrast and Shamden, was shot dead by a Belgian police officer during a migration border control on a Belgian central highway. In 2023, over 40 people, both undocumented and documented resident activists, assembled before the camera at La Voix des sans papiers in Brussels to stage a collective hearing of documents from and reactions to Mawda’s case. In this collective hearing session, the speakers acknowledge a ghostly haunting caused by police impunity and the state’s lack of accountability. It is in their refusal of such a shortage of truth and human rights that they feel the need to explore beyond the official narratives. Together they produce the counter-forensic evidence of Mawda’s deadly Channel crossing. This collective hearing is supported by Vanbesien's audiovisual grammar, which foregrounds the opaque and the poetic. Given the inability to proceed within the dominant frameworks and the urge to imagine other possible worlds, this collective hearing challenges what is visible and audible. The film moves back and forth between the hearing and the site of the crime. This dialogue is imaginary: the collective inner world of the collective hearing is projected onto a landscape, which is at once haunting and mournful.Robin VanbesienAs a visual artist and filmmaker, Robin Vanbesien explores modes of embodied knowledge and collective imagination engaged in social and political struggles. Through the notion of ciné place-making, he acknowledges the capacity of cinema to preserve, reclaim, or redistribute invisibilized memories, histories, and lived cultures, using a cinematic language that probes beyond the prevalent scenes of representation. He collaborates with situated emancipatory grassroots movements, exploring cinema as a space for social gathering and political engagement that rehearses the capacity to hold space collectively. In 2020, Vanbesien co-founded The Post Film Collective, which explores cinema as a form of speculative rehearsal and communal assembly. 'Under These Words (Solidarity Athens 2016)' (2017) and 'the wasp and the weather' (2019) premiered at transmediale and Cinéma du Réel. His first feature ‘hold on to her’ will world premiere at Berlinale Forum Expanded (2024).
Oscar special: To Kill a Tiger32:31To Kill a TigerIn a small Indian village, Ranjit wakes up to find that his 13-year-old daughter has not returned from a family wedding. A few hours later, she’s found stumbling home. After being abducted into the woods, she was sexually assaulted by three men. Ranjit goes to the police, and the men are arrested. But Ranjit’s relief is short-lived, as the villagers and their leaders launch a sustained campaign to force the family to drop the charges.A cinematic documentary, To Kill a Tiger follows Ranjit’s uphill battle to find justice for his child. In India, where a rape is reported every 20 minutes and conviction rates are less than 30 percent, Ranjit’s decision to support his daughter is virtually unheard of. With tremendous access, we witness the emotional journey of an ordinary man facing extraordinary circumstances. A father whose love for his daughter forces a social reckoning that will reverberate for years to come.Nisha PahujaNisha Pahuja is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker based in Toronto. Her latest film, To Kill a Tiger, had its world premiere at TIFF, where it won the Amplify Voices Award for Best Canadian Feature Film. Since then, it’s won 19 awards, including Best Documentary Feature at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and three Canadian Screen Awards. The film grew out of a long career of addressing various human rights issues, notably violence against women in India. In 2015, Pahuja won an Amnesty International Media Award for Canadian journalism after making a short film about the Delhi bus gang rape for Global News. Her other past credits include the multi-award-winning The World Before Her (2012; Best Documentary Feature, Jury Award winner, Tribeca Film Festival; Best Canadian Documentary, Hot Docs; TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten; Best Documentary nominee, Canadian Screen Awards), the series Diamond Road (2008; Gemini Award for Best Documentary Series) and Bollywood Bound (2002; Gemini Award nominee).
Rotterdam Film Festival: A Man Imagined24:40A Man ImaginedA bracingly intimate and hallucinatory portrait of a man with schizophrenia surviving amidst urban detritus and decay. Pushing at the limits of non-fiction cinema, A Man Imagined follows 67-year old Lloyd as he sells discarded objects to motorists and passersby. Unfolding along psychological lines, the film reveals the existential solitude of a man at once gentle and marred by a storied past.Brian M. Cassidy (1977, USA) and Melanie Shatzky Brian M. Cassidy (1977, USA) and Melanie Shatzky are collaborative artists working at the intersection of documentary and narrative cinema. Their films have screened at many film festivals and arts venues including, Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, IFFR, Locarno, the New York Museum of Modern Art, le Musée de la Civilisation, ICA London and the Rio de Janeiro Museum of Modern Art. Their first feature-length fiction film Francine (2012), was selected as a New York Times Critic’s Pick. A Man Imagined (2024) is officially selected for IFFR 2024.FilmographyFish Kill Flea (2007, short doc, co-dir), The Delaware Project (2007, short, co-dir), God Provides (2007, short doc, co-dir), The Patron Saints (2011, doc, co-dir), Francine (2012, co-dir), Animals Under Anaesthesia: Speculations on the Dreamlife of Beasts (2018, short, co-dir), Interchange (2018, short), A Man Imagined (2024, short doc, co-dir)
Rotterdam Film Festival: The Light11:10The Light As war is yet again raging within Europe, The Light explores the controversial artwork "Peace Sculpture" created in 1995 by artist Elle-Mie Ejdrup. The piece, a 532 km laser beam along Denmark's west coast bunkers, ignited a national debate about the country's dark past and liberation from Nazi occupation. Elle-Mie faced threats and ostracism due to sexist media coverage. Almost 30 years later, this documentary not only focuses on the artwork and controversy but also highlights the overlooked Atlantic Wall built during WWII and emphasizes the importance of nuanced historical narratives. Alexander Lind Alexander is a Danish filmmaker who graduated from The National Danish Film School in 2013. Alexander has recently moved back to Denmark after spending 2 years in Amsterdam. His breakthrough in the industry came with his graduation film, Carl & Niels. The documentary, which portrays the struggles of two twin brothers trying to break free from their childhood symbiosis, was selected for the IDFA documentary film festival in Amsterdam and received the "Best New Nordic Voice" award at the Nordic Panorama film festival. Since then, Alexander has established his name with his debut in 2017 titled Next Summer, which tells the story of Rasmus, who fears inheriting his father's depression. This documentary led to a nomination at the Danish documentary film festival CPH:DOX and further solidified Alexander's remarkable ability to depict close and complicated relationships in both a visually artistic and deeply human way. In addition to these films, Alexander has directed TV documentaries for DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation) and the Danish production company Pineapple Entertainment. He has worked on several TV series, many of which have received awards, nominations, and acclaim from the industry and audiences in Denmark. In May 2023, Alexander released his critically acclaimed documentary film, The Light. It portrays the complex history of Denmark's largest and most controversial artwork, the Peace Sculpture 1995. In the film, Alexander utilizes extensive archival footage from both the 1940s and the early 1990s to create a contemporary space of understanding through brand new studio recordings and interviews.
FIPADOC: Stolen Time19:10Stolen Time A coproduction of National Film Board of Canada and Intuitive Pictures inc.In Stolen Time, a riveting feature documentary, charismatic elder rights lawyer Melissa Miller takes on the for-profit nursing-home industry. It’s Miller’s most challenging case yet in her early career: a mass tort representing hundreds of families fighting some of the world’s most powerful long-term care corporations. Her adversaries stand accused of neglecting their vulnerable charges as they reap huge profits. Booming elderly populations worldwide add urgency to holding these corporations to account.Stolen Time is a compelling call for justice from desperate families who’ve turned to the courts as a last resort. We witness surprising testimonies and images from researchers, advocates and, most notably, frontline caregivers whose work is often undervalued but disproportionately blamed for what goes wrong. The film is a rare inside look at a legal battle and an emerging elder justice movement with ramifications—and inspiration—for us all.Helene KlodawskyIndependent filmmaker Helene Klodawsky is a passionate storyteller, committed to portraying complex political and social struggles. Exploring the documentary art form for over 35 years, Klodawsky’s work has been screened and broadcast around the world. The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, Hot Docs, the Rendez-vous du Cinéma Québécois, the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), World Press Photo, the Mannheim Film Festival, and the Jerusalem International Film Festival are among the many festivals and events that have honoured her work. FILMOGRAPHYStolen Time (2023), Feature docThe Invisible Everywhere (2019),Short web documentaryFrom Janet with Love (2017), Interactive storyGrassroots in Dry Lands (2015),Feature docCome Worry with Us! (2013), Feature docMalls R Us (2009), Feature docFamily Motel (2007), Feature alternative dramaNo More Tears Sister (2005), Feature docUndying Love (2002), Feature docWhat If? About Judith Merril (1998), Feature docMotherland: Tales of Wonder (1994), Feature docShoot and Cry (1988), Feature docPainted Landscapes of the Times (1984), Short doc
Rotterdam Film Festival: Flathead17:00Flathead Jaydon Martin’s feature directorial debut combines fiction and documentary to present a compassionate portrait of blue-collar life in Australia. Cass Cumerford has borne more than his fair share of setbacks in life. Now in his seventies, he decides to return to his childhood home of Bundaberg, a small city famous for its rum, in Queensland. Through conversations with the strangers he encounters, and the friends he makes, Cass gradually reveals the events that have shaped his life – the mistakes he has made, the moments of joy and the grief that weighs him down.Drawing on the lives and past of a rich panoply of characters in Bundaberg, Martin creates an environment that allows those in front of the camera to perform – summoning the fabric of their lives to interact with others, with subjects that range from addiction, race, faith and the forces that bind and repel us. Shot in crisp monochrome, Flathead traverses its landscape in search of a country that rarely appears in the headlines or on screen. In doing so, it becomes a vital, spirited and poignant portrait of community life.Jaydon MartinAustralian born film director Jaydon Martin has worked in both narrative and documentary. He was camera operator on the feature documentary GENERAL HERCULES (Sydney Film Festival, MIFF & TiDF 2023). Jaydon has made many BTS documentaries for the BBC, WNO, WMC, National Theatre of Walesand Artes Mundi in the United Kingdom.Drawing upon his life experiences growing up in a violent low-socioeconomic area of Australia, his creative expression is deeply rooted in the exploration of maligned cultures and mundane existence. Working class expression is at the forefront of his work both in front and behind the camera.
Mick Mahon50:00Mick Mahon Mick Mahon has been at the forefront of editing in Ireland over the past twenty years, with a particular focus on documentary. He has edited a host of award winning films, and his work has been screened at festivals worldwide. He is a two time IFTA winner, in 2015 for Rough Rider and in 2020 for GAZA, which was Ireland's entry for Best International Feature at the 2020 Academy Awards. In 2022, Nothing Compares, a documentary about Sinéad O'Connor was released to international critical acclaim. Mick was nominated for BIFA, IFTA and BFE awards for his work on the film.Other credits include I, Dolours, The Queen of Ireland, Love Yourself Today , Notes From Sheepland and Neil Jordan's Marlowe.
Lyra24:06LyraAn emotive, intimate, feature-length portrait of Lyra Mckee - the remarkable young journalist murdered in Northern Ireland in 2019 after a life fearlessly committed to truth and justice. Alison MillarAlison is one of the UK and Ireland’s most respected documentary film-makers. She’s a BAFTA, IFTA and Prix Italia winner with a reputation for making emotionally compelling films. Trained at the National Film and Television School, Alison then worked with Mike Leigh’s producer Simon Channing- Williams at ‘Imagine Films’ in London. She went on to make observational documentaries for BBC1, BBC2 and Channel 4 with many of the UK’s best-known Independent Companies, as well as working in-house for the BBC Documentary Department in White City.Alison moved back to Belfast and founded Erica Starling Productions Ltd in 2010.
Subject27:00SubjectSubject explores the life-altering experience of sharing one’s life on screen through key participants of acclaimed documentaries The Staircase, Hoop Dreams, The Wolfpack, Capturing the Friedmans, and The Square. These erstwhile documentary “stars” reveal the highs and lows of their experiences as well as the everyday realities of having their lives put under a microscope. Also featuring commentary from such influential names in the doc world as Kirsten Johnson, Sam Pollard, Thom Powers and Sonya Childress, the film unpacks vital issues around the ethics and responsibility inherent in documentary filmmaking. As tens of millions of people consume documentaries in an unprecedented "golden era," Subject urges audiences to consider the often profound impact on their participants.Camilla Hall - Co-DirectorSubject is Camilla Hall’s third independent documentary feature film. She recently completed directing Kingdom of Dreams, a new documentary series about the golden age of luxury fashion produced by Emmy-award winning Misfits Entertainment, the filmmakers behind McQueen and Rising Phoenix, for Sky and HBO Max. Her first documentary feature, Copwatch, a film about police brutality, premiered in Competition at the 2017 Tribeca Festival and sold to Amazon and her second, Garenne, an investigation into a child sexual abuse scandal on a tax-haven island, was broadcast across Europe by BBC Storyville, Arte, NRK, SVT, and DRK. Camilla has also produced films including Sirens (Sundance 2022) and Circus of Books (Tribeca, 2021 andNetflix). She is an executive producer on Black Barbie: A Documentary, directed by Lagueria Davis, and will serve as an executive producer on Rita Baghdadi’s next film. She taught the inaugural documentary filmmaking class at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Prior to filmmaking, Camilla was an award-winning journalist at the Financial Times covering Wall Street in New York, and spent five years covering the Middle East prior to that. She now works on films between London and Los Angeles.Margie Ratliff - Producer & Film ParticipantMargie Ratliff is a producer of Subject and was a participant in The Staircase, a Netflix true-crime series released in 2018 that documented her father’s legal battle after he was accused and convicted of the murder of her mother. A shorter version of the series, which aired in 2004, was re-released on Netflix with three new episodes. Margie’s life has moved far beyond the series. She is now an independent Producer/Director of documentary films, a marathon runner and a passionate world traveler.