Documentary films

India, the magic of kites

Video report (52 min), written and directed by Julien Hamelin.

Produced by MedienKontor.

Broadcast in 2019 on Arte in the program GEO.

Camera: Felix Greif – Sound: Vivien Vogel – Editing: Oliver Walz – Assistant: Jitubhai JC Chauhan.

Every year, for the traditional festival of Uttarayan that marks the end of winter and the arrival of spring, the city of Ahmedabad, in western India, is the setting for a unique and magic show. Millions of locals storm building roofs to fly myriads of kites and engage in friendly mid-air duels. The young Mohit and his brother Nikhil are preparing for the events with eager anticipation.

Java, the magic of shadow theatre

Video report (52 min), written and directed by Julien Hamelin.

Produced by MedienKontor.

Broadcast in 2017 on Arte in the program GEO.

Camera: Ion Casado – Sound: Thomas Ballschmieter – Editing: Oliver Walz – Assistant: Charlotte Mallet.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of the world. Yet, there, thousand-year-old legends of the ancient Hindu religion are still alive and well. Countless stories of gods, kings, warriors and princesses are still told by the puppeteers of Wayang Kulit, a shadow puppet theater on the island of Java. This sacred art is inscribed on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. More than just entertainment for the Javanese, ?Wayang Kulit is also a sought-after way of life for young people. Puppeteers, or « Dalangs », enjoy high social prestige that sometimes ?propel them to stardom. Today, some young people want to embrace this profession. Among them is Ganesh, an apprentice from a modest family who accompanies a master puppeteer on tour.

The Venezuelan crocodile farm

Video report (52 min), written and directed by Julien Hamelin.

Produced by MedienKontor.

Broadcast in 2016 on Arte in the program GEO.

Camera: Roland Wagner – Sound: Michael Haesters – Editing: Oliver Walz – Assistant: Alejandro Gamero.

Even if it is one of the largest and most frightening predators of South America, the Orinoco crocodile is threatened with extinction due to hunting and the degradation of its natural habitat. There are probably not more than 2,000 specimens left. In Venezuela, despite economic and political difficulties, enthusiastic people are fighting for the survival of this fascinating and little-known animal. They set up a farm where they raise babies until they are strong enough to be released into the wild, where they can reach 6 meters long.

Newfoundland, the icebergs hunters

Video report (52 min), written and directed by Julien Hamelin.

Produced by MedienKontor.

Broadcast in 2014 on Arte in the program GEO.

Camera: Jochen Bartelt – Sound: Andreas Buttner – Editing: Oliver Walz – Assistant: Amanda Molloy.

In the spring, huge blocks of ice break away from Greenland and drift slowly to the south, along the « iceberg road ». Some run aground along the wild coasts of Newfoundland, an island in eastern Canada. These white giants represent a great danger to ships and oil platforms, but some Newfoundlanders have taken advantage of this great and beautiful gift of nature: they attack the icebergs with diggers to extract one of the purest drinking waters on earth. 

Mandela – De Klerk, enemies for peace

Documentary film (52 min), written and directed by Julien Hamelin.

Produced by Sunset Presse.

Broadcast in 2014 on France 5 in the program « Duels ».

Camera & son: Vincent May – Editing: Patrick Vincent & Alexandre de Crignis – Assistant: Liesl Louw.

Would Nelson Mandela have become a historical icon without Frederik de Klerk? And vice versa? These questions emerge when we observe to what extent the destinies of the first black President of South Africa and the last leader of the apartheid regime are interlinked. Following the release of Mandela in 1990, and until his election in 1994 and beyond, the two men fought a fierce battle against each other, in a context of unprecedented violence that left more than 14,000 people dead. This penetrating film covers these tough negotiations as well as the political and personal struggles of each leader. It takes us deep into the heart of the duel which led to the end of the most hated and racist regime in the world.

Vietnam: cobra on the menu

Video report (52 min), written and directed by  Julien Hamelin.

Produced by MedienKontor.

Broadcast in 2014 on Arte in the program GEO.

Camera: Roland Wagner –  Sound: Vivien Vogel – Editing: Oliver Walz – Assistant: Thao Tran Phuong.

In Vinh Son, a small village in Northern Vietnam, many inhabitants make a living from snake breeding, a financial windfall that has made this town the first domestic producer of snakes. Cobras and rat snakes are mainly used to produce drugs and alcohol or to be served at gourmet restaurants. This lucrative trade was initiated in part by the president of the Association of Reptile Breeders, who launched his business in the late 1970s, encouraging friends and neighbors to follow his example. Now, at the age of 75, he wants to hand over the trade to the next generation. 

City of God, the redemption of a favela

Documentary film (52 min), written and directed by Julien Hamelin.

Produced by Kanari Films.

Broadcast in 2013 on France ô.

Camera & sound: Philippe Thomas –  Editing: Gwénaël Giard Barberin.

Biblical in name only, City of God, the favela of Rio de Janeiro, has a history marked by violence, poverty, and drug trafficking. A reality recounted in 2002 by an eponymous film, that made City of God the most famous favela in the world and a symbol of the tough reality facing a big part of the Brazilian population. However, the last few years have seen City of God experience a real revolution. Rio De Janeiro being a host city for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and the 2016 Olympic Games, local authorities have implemented a new security policy based on the installation of “Pacifying Police Units” in some of the poor neighborhoods such as the City of God, with the goal to restore order and promote security. And while some of the problems facing this community still exist today, guns have turned silent in the streets of the City of God. And the 47 000 inhabitants of this favela can now reveal another facet of their lives:  one of a community that works, sings, and laughs. In a word, a community that thrives. “City of God, the redemption of a favela” is a positive film that goes beyond the usual clichés (so often portrayed in the media) by bringing together artists, former drug traffickers, police officers, and simple citizens who made, and are still making, the City of God into what it is. 

The indian canteen

Video report (52 min), written and directed by Julien Hamelin.

Produced by MedienKontor.

Broadcast in 2012 on Arte in the program GEO.

Camera: Roland Wagner – Son: Satish Sathiyaseelan – Editing: Michelle Barbin – Assistant: Vish Patil.

Every day in Hubli, southwestern India, a group of fifty men undertake the monumental task of feeding nearly 180,000 children and must do so in a few hours. These men aren’t superhuman in any way. They are the humble local employees of the Akshaya Patra Foundation. Every day, across the country, this NGO provides free meals to more than one million children. In the Foundation’s enormous kitchen in Hubli, the challenge begins in the middle of the night. The highly mechanized kitchen is tailor made to cook over 9 tons of vegetables, 15 tons of rice and spices.   All the meals are to be delivered without delay to the different public schools in the region. And for students in poor and isolated villages, this makes all the difference. Throughout the day, this film sticks its nose first in the giant pots of these special cooks and then in the plates of the children who rely on them.

The unexpected downfall of the Californian empire

Documentary film (52 minutes) & TV report (23 minutes), written and directed by Julien Hamelin

Produced by Sunset Presse.

52-minute version  broadcast on Planète channel in 2010.

23-minute version broadcast on Arte (Arte Reportage program) in 2009.

Camera: Vincent May –  Editing: Gwénaël Giard Barberin – Assistant: Linsey Jones.

« California’s day of reckoning is here. Our wallet is empty, our bank is closed and our credit is dried up […] People are writing California off ». These alarming words were part of California Governor’s address to his constituents in June 2009. Indeed, the Golden state is badly strapped for cash: for over a year, 38 million Californians have been helplessly looking on as their empire was falling apart. The avalanche of subprimes was followed by a fiscal deficit, rampant unemployment, and increasing homelessness. The Golden State might have to change its moniker. Even Hollywood stars have lost their shine. While State officials explore solutions to cover off the deficit, some argue that legalizing cannabis would provide much needed revenue. This is a real felt immersion into the heart of a fallen empire.

San Pedro, village or prison ?

TV report (23 minutes), written and directed by Julien Hamelin

Produced by Sunset Presse.

Broadcast on Arte (Arte Reportage program) in 2009.

Camera and sound: Patrick Vanier –  Editing: Gwénaël Giard Barberin.

A thousand and four hundred men are jailed in San Pedro’s penitentiary, in La Paz (Bolivia). Since they cannot leave the compound, some of the prisoners live with their wife. Others have even brought their children in. In San Pedro, most inmates work for a living, because all basic goods and services have to be paid for, including accommodation. While some detainees own their cell, others rent it. The wardens seldom enter the grounds; they only monitor the entrance gate. Left alone, convicts have set up their own village. Along the narrow streets of San Pedro, there are restaurants, grocers, fruit vendors, and even a carpentry workshop. These small businesses sell their production to inmates, but also to customers outside of the compound. But in San Pedro, drug trafficking and inequalities also abound.

This film has received the « Jeune Reporter » Award at the Angers Festival du Scoop.

Nollywood : Nigeria goes to the movies

Documentary film (52 min), written, directed & co-produced par Julien Hamelin

Produced by Sunset Presse.

Broadcast on  Planète channel in 2009.

Camera: Franck Rabel – Editing: Ranwa Stephan – Assistant and sound: Mohammed Musulumi.

With over 1,500 films released each year, Nigeria has become the world’s third most important film producer after the United States (Hollywood) and India (Bollywood). Nollywood’s films are shot in no time, with a small budget, and although their quality may be questionable, Nigerians do love them. Rightly so! These are films that are shot by Africans, for Africans. They are sold in the streets, in CD or DVD formats… Their stories unfold in Southern Christian communities or in Northern Muslim regions. They mix action, romance, religion, and sometimes even magic. In short, these films are a sheer reflection of this country. Welcome to Nigeria! Welcome to Nollywood!

This film has received support from:

The « Auteur de Documentaire » Grant from the J.L Lagardère Foundation.

The « Déclics Jeunes » Grant from the Fondation de France.