"No one understands me", says Mr. Ryuichi, father, husband and keeper of secrets. Mr. Ryuichi, the protagonist of Kaspar Astrup Schröder's I Want to Cheer Up Ltd., is head of a clandestine business of professional stand-ins.
With his portrait of the iconic Dr. Nakamats last year, Kaspar Astrup Schröder moves to the other end of the scale in his choice of a protagonist in his new film I Want to Cheer Up Ltd. Here we have a man who conducts his second life after hours, unobserved by even his immediate family.
Mr. Ryuichi and his 32 employees are professional stand-ins, part of a growing service sector catering for clients who are in need of a companion – a spouse, relative, friend, colleague, boy or girlfriend – to accompany them to social functions such as weddings and funerals. The film explores how Mr. Ryuichi juggles with so many secrets and why his clients cannot bear public scrutiny of their personal lives. Not able to be the ubiquitous dad or face up to his own shortcomings, Mr. Ryuichi finds satisfaction in being a stand-in for other families. But, is this giving him a better life?
Producer Mette Heide previously signed the two behind-the-scenes documentaries "Milosevic on Trial" (2007) and "Saving Saddam" (2008).
Photo: Danish Documentary
Striving to reach success for a second time can be a painful journey. This is the case for ballroom dancer Slavik in Andreas koefoed and Christian Bonke's "Ballroom Dancer", who once held the world championship in Latin American dance. He is now making a final comeback attempt – this time with Anna, his partner and lover.
Born into a poor Ukrainian family with Gypsy blood Slavik set his sights on becoming the world's best Latin American dancer. But as good as he was at his climb, as difficult it was for him to sustain his fame.
A decisive flaw in his character – his uncontrollable temper – led to his downfall. He turned his partnerships into emotional roller coasters, which eventually cost him his title. Now with his new partner Anna, he has his mind set, but the journey is a bumpy one. His maturing physique presents its ailments, all while Anna suffers from his outbursts.
Moreover to win the title, Slavik and Anna will compete with the very same girl who discovered him and with whom he broke through to stardom, status and wealth. But Slavik is confident. On the dance floor he is in a place serene where he is oblivious to emotional interference.
Photo: Upfront Films
Carving A Democracy
Democrats by Camilla Nielsson offers a unique insight into the inner workings of the zimbabwean government at the highest level. Nielsson was co-director on "Cities on Speed – Mumbai Disconnected", selected for last year's Reflecting Images.
A historic project is underway in Zimbabwe. Committed people, once bitter political rivals, are now part of Government.
Two top politicians – and former political enemies – have been appointed to lead the country through the process of forming a new constitution that should bring the country a decisive step closer to democracy.
The film goes behind the scenes of the constitutional process and is being made at a critical and, possibly, history-changing juncture as the political elite struggles to find a new post-colonial identity – a struggle that may herald a new epoch in the development of modern African states.
Photo: Plus Pictures
The Peter Pan of Queens, New York, Ashrita Furman is a determined man. He has broken over 300 Guinness records in the past 30 years. In this human interest story Brian McGinn portrays a man who has decided never to grow up.
Ashrita started out as a super-nerd, anathema to him, so at 15 he decided immersing himself in the works of to devote his life to attaining the authors like Henry David Thoreau extraordinary. This meant putting and Herman Hesse. Normality was aside family, sex, and material possessions in return for pushing the limits of human potential to the breaking point.
Besides pursuing his record-breaking, Ashrita manages his neighborhood health food store. His colleagues from the store and the community have become his record-breaking assistants, and, in many ways, his closest family.
Why has Ashrita become dependent on record-breaking for joy in his life? Can he keep raising the bar for humanity as he approaches the age of 60?