International Festival Signs of the Night - Paris
Festival internatinal Signes de nuit - Paris

19e Festival international Signes de Nuit - Paris / 1-10 octobre 2021

Online Edition


Rift Finfinnee

Daniel Kötter
Ethiopia, Germany / 2020 / 1:19:00

"Rift Finfinne" takes the viewer on a journey through the periphery of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. In strictly composed images and a soundtrack that interweaves the original conversations in a complex way, the film takes the concrete geography, architecture and the everyday life of individual agricultural and construction workers in the east of Addis Ababa (in Oromo: Finfinnee) as the starting point for an allegorical narrative about the urbanisation of African societies on the edge of civil war. The film documents the rural-urban transformation of space and its consequences for living together using the example of four settlements in the east of the fast-growing Ethiopian capital: the village of Dingaja, the Bole Arabsa social housing estate, the Ayat Condominiums, and the gated community CCD Homes. Four different backdrops for the profound social change in Ethiopia, all four within sight of each other, but separated by a deep rift, which divides city and non-city, present from projected future, Oromo from Amhara: the gorge of the Akaki River.


Jury Declaration:

"Rift Finfinnee" witnesses the evolving landscape of an emergent Addis Ababa, with impressive technical precision, empathy and insight. The film’s European formalist style productively amplifies the architectural colonial technologies unleashed on this previously rural Ethiopian environment. A dérive through its streets and surroundings, seamlessly gathers conversations with its inhabitants, revealing the ruthless social change, dislocation and homelessness underpinning the city’s construction.


The Signs Award for Documentary honors films, which express in an original, convincing and sensitive way the perturbing aspects of reality.

The Postcard

Asmae El Moudir
Morocco / 2020 /1:23:00

When director Asmae El Moudir finds an old picture postcard of a mountain village among her mother’s belongings, it brings a remarkable story to life. The picture is of Zawia, the village in Morocco that her mother left as a child and never returned to. El Moudir decides to go to this remote place. In Zawia, where time seems to have stood still, she embarks on a quest into her mother’s past, and thereby her own. She connects on a personal level with women and girls in the village; one of the young girls is Oum Elaid. The better El Moudir gets to know her and her family, the more she realizes how different her life would have been if her mother had stayed in the village. What begins as an intimate, personal journey in search of her family’s roots, evolves into a universal story about emancipation, migration, and the human longing to belong to a community.



Jury Declaration:

A poetic and emotional journey to the roots of a young filmmaker, through which she shows us, with an always respectful camera that flees from the limelight, the world that she would have lived but did not live. Small stories, snippets of a daily reality that show a world that is disappearing to make way for another new reality, marked by the invasion of the outside world and the end of a way of life. All this told through hypnotic images and deep beauty and delicacy.

The Night Award for Documentary honors films, which represent reality in an ambivalent and enigmatic way, avoiding stereotypes of representation
and simple conclusions.

Death of Darkness

Jasmijn Schrofer
Netherlands (Kenja) / 2020 / 0:25:31

This impressionistic documentary is set in the remote desert community of Illaut, Northern Kenya. The Samburus are nomadic pastoralists who live by the rhythm of the sun and the moon. The film asks the question, what will remain of their customs once electricity makes its appearance? Will artificial light, water pumps, refrigerators and a mobile network pose challenges to the preservation of their culture? What consequences will the temptations of modern times impose? After a decade of living under pylons that provided electricity to cities, the government is now making efforts to connect their community as well. This results in structural changes for the way they organize their lives. For example, in order to have a safe electrical connection, the impermanent huts must make way for permanent houses with fencing, which in turn makes public land private property. Although electricity offers new possibilities, it also has a socio-economic impact: a new dependence with consequences for their formerly self-sufficient way of life. The transition that the Samburu is currently going through is at the tail end of broader global transformation; since 2007 more than half of humanity has been living in cities. The nomadic Samburu settle in villages while a share move to the nearby city. While we as viewers experience the excitement of the Samburu for the changes, we also feel melancholy at the disappearance of a traditional way of life.



Jury Declaration:

A poetic invocation to Nature that envelopes the darkness of night immersing the rhythmic cycle of the sun and the moon in the cosmic infinity; coming of electricity in a small Northern Kenyan village disturbs the fragile balance echoing a larger reflexive question. An elegy!


The Euphoria of Being

A létezés eufóriája
Réka Szabó
Hongrie / 2019 / 1:23:00

Éva Fahidi avait 20 ans lorsqu’elle réchappa d’Auschwitz-Birkenau et revint en Hongrie. Elle était seule, 49 membres de sa famille ayant été assassinés. À l’âge de 90 ans, 70 ans plus tard, elle est sollicitée pour participer à un spectacle de théâtre dansé sur sa vie. Réka, la metteuse en scène, imagine un duo réunissant Éva et la jeune danseuse de renommée internationale Emese. Réka veut voir comment les corps et les histoires de ces deux femmes peuvent s’entremêler sur scène. Éva accepte immédiatement. Tandis que les moments clés de la vie d’Éva se distillent dans les scènes du spectacle, une puissante relation se noue entre les trois femmes.



Jury Declaration:

A physical-metaphorical choreography between three women: Eva Fahidi, a holocaust survivor, now 90 who dances with young modern dancer Emese as imagined by Reka, the director, also combines the trinity of cinema, dance and memory inscribed in mind and body of Eva in search of a euphoria of being; a multilayered story that seamlessly crosses boundaries.

Director Declaration:

3 years ago I worked with Sylvie Gadmer, editor of the film. partly in Paris, since she lives there, and Pm'Zed supported us, so we had everything for editing (thanks). That time in Paris I was absolutely crazy and frustrated feeling I'm not able to do what I want, working in the little editing studio 12-14 hours a day with Sylvie, who started every day with new energies (thanks). So it's really a pity I can't be there now with you to enjoy just Being in Paris...

Now Éva is going to celebrate her 96th birthday soon. She is extremely active, travelling a lot, mainly to Germany, and planning to write her third book. Emese is expecting her second baby, and still loves dancing. I'm looking out of the window in Budapest. It's raining. I'm waiting for the right questions. Thanks for Dieter's enthusiastic work to organize this festival !

There will be a live screening of The Euphoria of Being at the Parisian cinema Le Saint-André-des-Arts on Friday, November 19 at 21h in the frame of L'Europe autour de l'Europe film Festival.

Réka Szabó


The Making of Memories For The Future

Jimmy Hendrickx
Indonesia / 2021 / 1:03:00

Film actor RONNY has an awakening to end poverty and brands himself a modern Robin Hood, making money from slum tourism. His son Brandon narrates his father's loss of grip with reality.


Jury Declaration:

"The Making of Memories for the Future" creatively straddles the tensions of poverty and daily post-colonial life in contemporary Djakarta through the quixotic quest of an engaging ageing protagonist. The film’s strength is that it engages its audience directly on multiple levels; the personal, global, familial, political and production levels, all at once, efficiently delivering a duplicitous brutal archaeology of loss, despair and economic development.

Director Declaration:

With this film I want to thank Ronny and his family for their trust over the years and to allow me to film them. It was a turbulent and chaotic process, just like Ronny’s own life. By embracing that chaos in form and style we were able to finally piece together all the elements that make this film possible.


Nikos Karouzos - Poems on the Tape Recorder

Yannis Karpouzis
Greece / 2020 / 1:44:33

Left-wing and Christian, hermit and an alcoholic, damned poet Nikos Karouzos is the central figure of this hybrid-genre feature. In this essay film about a documentary, the viewer is taken through the Athenian urban landscape, the editing room, prison island of Makronissos, Stockholm and Kronstadt, following a frustrated researcher in a journey through time to restore the collective memory of Greece’s most underrated poet and his tumultuous times through pictures, celluloid and testimonies. A story about life and death, about Greece’s troubled post-war history, and about the advent of Spring.


Jury Declaration:

Important documentation delving into the eventful, unexplored life and work of an eminent modernist Greek poet through archival findings, found footage - super 8 cassettes, videotapes besides recordings of memories of his colleagues. The film retrieves the traumatic postwar history of Greece while harnessing the available technological means; an interestingly rigorous expansive biography.



The Earth Asleep

Clara Casian
United Kingdom (Japan) / 2021 / 1:20:23

"The Earth Asleep" discovers hidden truths and forgotten histories about the 2011 Great East Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the most powerful disaster ever recorded in Japan. The documentary includes invaluable archive research, testimonies, ceremonial rites, spiritual beliefs, bringing a sensitive understanding of loss and trauma. Image, poetry and music intertwine in an evocative rhythmic montage of archive and original visual elements, with a score beautifully rendered and inspired by Japanese instruments, and a poem on screen highlighting the role of the metaphor, to mark the 10th year commemoration of the lost and missing people.


Jury Declaration:

Documentation of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami event in Japan instills newer poetic energy into traditional documentary articulations by creating a series of vignettes discovering hidden truths and forgotten histories. The tragedy finds its polyphonic voices in images and sounds.



Desert Lights

Luces del desierto
Félix Blume
Mexico / 2021 / 0:30:00

Some strange lights appear at night in the Mexican desert. The residents tell us what they’ve seen: fire, a fireball, lights flying, lightning falling from the sky and a flash. The singularity of each experience builds a complete story narrated by a choir of people. An encounter with this strange phenomena can be surprising, dangerous or even fatal. The night isn’t as dark as it seems. The desert is full of all kinds of living beings. This emptiness is the place for everyone. Desert Lights invites us to open our eyes wide in the twilight and to listen to the sounds hidden in the blackness. A horror movie, in the darkness of the desert.


Jury Declaration:

The nights of the Mexican desert are populated with things and beings that we do not see. This surprising documentary, which moves between the observing and anthropological gaze and the fantastic world of the archaic mysteries of the inhabitants of the desert, fixes its attention on those lights that break the darkness and that always represent a danger or a threat: it is when the protective darkness disappears when the threat arises.