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Other people’s lives

By Alix Norman

It turns out that the genre of documentaries is far bigger than I ever realised, locked as I am into fictional programming involving the landed British gentry, or dragons, dwarfs and death. Each year, hundreds make it onto the big screen, thousands are shown on TV, and millions appear on YouTube. But it’s the choice few from around the world that are, this coming week, being featured in one of the best film festivals the island has to offer: the Lemesos International Documentary Festival.

Organised by Brave New Culture and supported by the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the festival is now in its tenth year, once again delivering the high-quality programming fans have come to expect. Beginning yesterday, the festival is showing a total of 23 ground-breaking (and, for the most part, award-winning) documentaries, many of which will be attended by their directors.

Today’s programme, for example, includes Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow-up to his extraordinary film The Act of Killing, entitled The Look of Silence, which focuses on a village optometrist confronting the former right-wing paramilitaries who murdered his brother during Indonesia’s anti-communist purges of the 1960s, followed at 8.30pm by a local director Constantinos Patsalides’ Beloved Days (revolving around the 1970 shooting of the Hollywood film Beloved in Karmi), and at 10.30pm by Brett Morgan’s raw and visceral journey through Kurt Cobain’s life and career: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.

Monday sees another triple whammy: Hubert Sauper, director of the acclaimed Darwin’s Nightmare, returns to Africa to paint a stunning picture of contemporary colonialism in We Come As Friends (winner of the Best Documentary: Vienna Film Prize at Viennale this year); Andrea Culková (who will be there in person) charts one mother’s fight against the global sugar mafia in Sugar Blues; and Pervert Park (directed by Lasse and Frida Barkfors, and winner of the Special Jury Award for Impact: World Cinema Documentary at Sundance), takes a look at the everyday life of sex offenders as they struggle to reintegrate into society.

Tuesday’s films move from Moscow to Syria to Greece: Hanna Polak’s Something Better to Come featuring a woman who lives in the largest rubbish dump in Europe; Sean McAllister’s A Syrian Love Story telling the tale of an odyssey to political freedom, and Angeliki Aristomenopoulou’s A Family Affair following three generations of the musical Xylouris family.

Marcus Vetter’s The Forecaster (the extraordinary story of Martin Armstrong’s economic predictions), Wim Wenders and Juliano Riberio Salgado’s The Salt of the Earth (charting the travels of renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado) and Matthew Heineman’s Cartel Land (the winner of the Directing Award: US Documentary at Sundance) are Wednesday’s programme, while Thursday sees (T)error, How to Change the World and Dior & I from directors Cabral and Sutcliffe, Jerry Rothwell and Frédéric Tcheng respectively.

Friday’s programme begins with the oldest profession in the world and ends with one of our newest issues: both Exotica, Erotica, Etc (Evangelia Kranioti) and Dreamcatcher (Kim Longinotto) taking a look at prostitution, while The Yes Men Are Revolting (Laura Nix) follows activist-pranksters Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonnano in their efforts to draw awareness to the issue of climate change.

The festival draws to a close on Saturday with two hard-hitting documentaries: Willemiek Kluijfhout’s Sergio Herman: Fucking Perfect (nominated for Best Documentary Award at Seattle IFF) and Laura Poitras’ Citizenfour (winner of the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary at the Oscars), ensuring the week ends on a high note. For anyone who’s a fan of the genre, it’s a programme sans compare; for those of us who are relative neophytes, it’s going to be quite an education. Either way, the 10thLemesos International Documentary Festival is unmissable.
The 10th Lemesos International Documentary Festival
At the Evagoras Lanitis Centre, Limassol until August 8. Each day’s showings start at 8pm. Entrance costs €2 per film, €25 for a festival pass (avaible pre-sale at Chaplin’s Bar, Limassol). All films will be screened in their original language with Greek and English subtitles. For more information and the full programme of events call 99 517910, email [email protected] or visit www.filmfestival.com.cy or the Facebook page ‘Lemesos International Documentary Festival’



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