Women Commentators Planete+ Doc Film Festival

"Detropia" / Movie still courtesy of the Against Gravity

Komentatorki Planete+ Doc Film Festival (now: Docs Against Gravity Film Festival) was an event accompanying the exhibition "Women Commentators" organised by the Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation in the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle. The night screening of the best documentary films made by women, shown and awarded at the Planete+ Doc Film Festival (now: Docs Against Gravity Film Festival) was prepared in collaboration with Against Gravity and Kino.Lab.


  • Weapon of War, Ilse van Velzen, Femke van Velzen, Netherlands, 2009, 60 min
  • Detropia, Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, USA, 2012, 90 min
  • Private Universe, Helena Třeštíková, Czech Republic, 2012, 83 min
  • Manufactured Landscapes, Jennifer Baichwal, Canada, 2006, 90 min
  • Putin’s Kiss, Lise Birk Pedersen, Denmark / Russia, 2012, 85 min
  • The Ghosts in our Machine, Liz Marshall, Canada / USA, 2013, 93 min

23 November 2013 (Saturday)

Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle
ul. Jazdów 2, 00-467

Admission free

„Weapon of War”, Ilse van Velzen, Femke van Velzen, Netherlands, 2009, 60 min

In no other country has sexual violence matched the scale of brutality reached in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During nearly two decades of conflicts between rebels and government forces, an estimated 150,000 Congolese women and girls fell victim to mass rape. That figure continues to rise. "Weapon of war", an award-winning film honored by Amnesty International, journeys to the heart of this crisis, where we meet its perpetrators. In personal interviews, soldiers and former combatants provide openhearted but shocking testimony about rape in the DRC. Despite differing views on causes or criminal status, all reveal how years of conflict, as well as discrimination against women, have normalized brutal sexual violence. We also see former rapists struggling to change their own or others’ behavior, and reintegrate into their communities.

A companion to FIGHTING THE SILENCE and its portraits of Congolese rape survivors, this indispensable resource provides unique insights into strategic uses of rape as a military weapon - and the motives of the men who employ it.

Selected festivals and awards: Movies That Matter Film Festival, The Netherlands/ International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam/Full Frame Documentary Film Festival/ UNAFF- United Nations Association Film Festival

„Detropia”, Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, USA, 2012, 90 min

Although the lucky star of Motown had been fading away for the past centuries, the sudden demise of three car manufacturing companies, in the past decade, turned Detroit into a ghost town. In the same “explosive” way as the rise of the city (in the ‘30s the city had the fastest developing infrastructure in the world), today’s Detroit, following a recession and an economic crisis, spectacularly disappeared. During the recent years, Detroit’s population declined by one-fourth and consequently the city has the biggest  concentration of uninhabited buildings in the US. The current unemployment rate is at 30% and the budget is so broke, that the mayor faced the decision of having to turn-off the street lights in order to save money. 

The economic downfall of the city resulted in many socio-psychological phenomenons. The movie describes these phenomenons and follows stories of a few protagonists, who react differently to the new reality. The blogger girl portraits the silent existence of empty buildings. The owner of a coffeehouse strives to culturally animate the city. The mayor campaigns to revive Detroit’s social energy, and men who are collecting scrap-metal illegally destroy old, industrial buildings.

On the one hand, the movie shows some of the bottom-up initiatives that revitalise city’s social-space, on the other hand it depicts people who are affected by the crisis and who try to fight it. As a result, the movie is insightful and captures the recession in everyday life of individuals.

Selected festivals and awards: 2012 – Sundance FF: Editing Prize, Special Jury Prize, 2012 – Traverse City FF Michigan: Grand Jury Prize, 2012 – IFF New York

„Private Universe”, Helena Třeštíková, Czech Republic, 2012, 83 min

"Private Universe" is an epic 37-year story of a singular Czech family and an extraordinary country. In 1974, Jana and Petr had their first child, Honza, inspiring Petr to start keeping exhaustive journals in film and writing, documenting the family’s life together and the changing political and social climate in Czechoslovakia. It was the cheerless era of socialism and a totalitarian regime. The family lived with the two grandmothers in a one-room flat. Soon enough, they found a house outside of Prague and their family grew. Turbulent times in their family were mirrored by unrest in the country as protests against the Communist leadership popped up, resulting in the Velvet Revolution and the transition back to democracy. Meanwhile, Honza drops out of school, smokes pot and the family struggles to keep the peace. Narrated by present-day Petr and Jana, "Private Universe" is a fascinating vision of a much-changed society.

Selected festivals and awards: 2012 – Hot Docs Toronto

„Manufactured Landscapes” / Movie still courtesy of the Against Gravity

„Manufactured Landscapes”, Jennifer Baichwal, Canada, 2006, 90 min

Manufactured Landscapes is the striking new documentary on the world and work of renowned artist Edward Burtynsky. Internationally acclaimed for his large-scale photographs of “manufactured landscapes”—quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and dams—Burtynsky creates stunningly beautiful art from civilization’s materials and debris. The film follows him through China, as he shoots the evidence and effects of that country’s massive industrial revolution. With breathtaking sequences, such as the opening tracking shot through an almost endless factory, the filmmakers also extend the narratives of Burtynsky’s photographs, allowing us to meditate on our impact on the planet and witness both the epicenters of industrial endeavor and the dumping grounds of its waste.

In the spirit of such environmentally enlightening sleeper-hits as AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH and RIVERS AND TIDES, MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES powerfully shifts our consciousness about the world and the way we live in it, without simplistic judgments or reductive resolutions.

Source: Zeitgeist Films

Read more: Planete +

„Putin’s Kiss”, Lise Birk Pedersen, Denmark / Russia, 2012, 85 min

Nashi is an increasingly popular political youth organization in Russia with direct ties to the Kremlin. Officially, its goal is to support the current political system by creating a future elite among the brightest and most loyal Russian teenagers. But the organization also works to prevent the political opposition from spreading their views among young people.

19-year-old Masha Drokova, a Nashi commissar and spokesperson, is an ambitious middle-class student from the outskirts of Moscow. After joining Nashi at the age of 15, she moves to the very top of the organization, and is rewarded for her dedication with a university scholarship, an apartment, and even a pro-Putin talk show.

Everything changes when Drokova becomes acquainted with a group of liberal journalists, including popular anti-Putin reporter Oleg Kashin. At first, she remains devoted to Nashi while pursuing tentative friendships with its left-wing critics — but when Kashin is brutally beaten by "unknown perpetrators," she has a genuine change of heart and decides to take a stand.

Source: Putin's Kiss

„The ghosts In Our Machine” /  Movie still courtesy of the Against Gravity

„The ghosts In Our Machine”, Liz Marshall, Canada / USA, 2013, 92 min

The Ghosts In Our Machine is a journey of discovery into what is a complex social dilemma. In essence, humans have cleverly categorized non-human animals into three parts: domesticated pets, wildlife, and the ones we don’t like to think about: the ghosts in our machine. Why do we value wildlife and our companion animals but not the billions of animals bred and used annually by global industries? It is this core question that prompted me to delve deeply to explore this subject matter. The film follows animal rights photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur over the course of a year in parts of Europe, the USA, and in Canada. I chose to feature Jo-Anne as the film’s protagonist because her mission is an inspiring and sympathetic entry-point into the animal issue, and her powerful photographs invite us to consider non-human animals as individuals.

As a filmmaker my heart is fully engaged, yet I am critically removed, looking through glass, examining the angles, the light, and the meaning of the greater story. My deepest motivation is to create an eye-opening experience for audiences, to remove people’s blinders, and to celebrate underrepresented narratives. Through story, sound and picture I hope people will see animals differently – forever. As consumers we can each make a difference for the ghosts, everyday

Source: The ghosts In Our Machine

Selected festivals and awards: 2013 – Vancouver IFF, 2013 – Roberts Creek Arts Festival, 2013 – PLANETE+ DOC FF: European premiere, 2012 – Hot Docs Toronto