OVID’s July Lineup: Underwater breathing, a poet’s descent from dissent, a tsar thriller, gang life, existential jazz, pornography stars behind-the-scenes & more!

This month OVID presents 19 new films and 11 exclusives.

We literally take your breath away with BREATHING UNDERWATER, a documentary about women living off the southern coast of Korea who deep-sea dive without equipment, at high risk to themselves. Then we take you to Niger in ZINDER, with a startling documentary looking at swastika-waving gangs and the impact of violence on women in the community, as well as the men maneuvering for an alternative way of life. We have a documentary about real-life lovers-cum-porn stars in VERIFIED COUPLE, which looks at the compromises and struggles of their lucrative occupation. Marking the main holiday of the Cuban Revolution, we have a film on the poet Heberto Padilla, an early supporter of Fidel Castro whose coerced abject confession was an international scandal. Other exclusive docs include a portrait of atypical French New Wave muse Bernadette Lafont, featuring interviews with Bulle Ogier and others. Also this month, a restoration of Karen Shakhnazarov’s mysterious and labyrinthine psychological drama ASSASSIN OF THE TSAR starring Malcolm McDowell (two versions – in English and Russian). And then, a Romanian dark comedy, MEN OF DEEDS, about a bumbling cop roused from passivity, the third film by Paul Negoescu joining our ever-expanding collection.

Full details on July’s complete lineup are below!

(Image from Hee-Young Koh's Breathing Underwater, premiering on OVID on July 3rd)

Breathing Underwater (2016)

Wednesday, July 3

Breathing Underwater 
Directed by Hee-Young Koh
First Hand Films | Documentary | Korea | 2016

A story of haenyeos or women of the sea who have to hold their breath to survive. This seven-year record of their lives in Udo, an islet in the Jeju Province, located off the southern coast of Korea, watches them dive into waters 10 to 20 meters deep to harvest seaweed and shellfish to make a living. They work from seven to eight hours a day without even a sip of fresh water. They make a living in the same sea, but each has a different story, as the film takes a close look into their lives that stand on the boundary between life and death.

“Beautiful, informative.” —Asian Movie Pulse


Thursday, July 4

Nice People
Directed by Karin af Klintberg, Anders Helgeson
First Hand Films | Documentary | Sweden | 2015

What do you do when 3000 Somalis immigrate to your small town in the backlands of Sweden, and McDonald’s starts being called ‘Little Mogadishu’? Local journalist and jack of many trades Patrik Andersson has an idea: let sport unite the people. And so guys who have never known temperatures below 20 degrees become the national team for Bandy ice hockey of Somalia. Count on having some fun: they do for sure!

“Rousing… The film effortlessly celebrates the value of culture, sport, and self-representation to break barriers and empower communities.” —POV Magazine


Friday, July 5

The Visitor
Directed by Martín Boulocq
With Enrique Aráoz, César Troncoso, Mirella Pascual, Svet Ailyn Mena, Romel Vargas, Teresa Gutiérrez
FiGa Films | Feature | Bolivia, Uruguay | 2022

After recently being released from prison, Humberto makes a modest living by singing at wakes. His greatest desire is to rebuild his relationship with his estranged daughter, but the grandparents of the child—wealthy Evangelical pastors—are not willing to give up custody. Cornered financially and ideologically, Humberto is forced to face his demons. Set in the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba, The Visitor is a somber meditation on class, family relationships, and the increasing power of Evangelism in Latin America, reflecting on the region’s persisting legacies of colonialism and the new forms of ideological dependence guiding Bolivian society.

“An exceptional film, anchored on stellar work from Enrique Aráoz.” —The Spool

“A quietly scathing reflection on fractured familial bonds and the influence of religion… visually and thematically rich.” —Film Threat


Verified Couple
Directed by Joscha Bongard
First Hand Films | Documentary | Germany | 2022

Jamie and Nico aka ‘Youngcouple9598’ made a fortune as a wholesome Verified Couple on porn websites. Now they live their dream under palm trees in the tax haven state of Cyprus. But how does it look off the stage? Joscha Bongard’s documentary starts off as a sex-positive portrait and turns into a multilayered exploration of love, shame, influence, and success.

The Specter of Boko Haram (2023)

Tuesday, July 9

The Specter of Boko Haram
Directed by Cyrielle Raingou
Andana Films | Documentary | Cameroon, France | 2023

The Far North Region of Cameroon, bordering Nigeria, lives under military protection, threatened by murderous terrorist incursions. In the village of Kolofata, Mohamed, Ibrahim and Falta — indirect victims of Boko Haram — attempt to create a new future for themselves. Cyrielle Raingou’s camera captures the unfailing vitality of these children as they go to school and look after their herds. 

“A clear-eyed look at how everyday life and the accompanying humdrum tasks go on despite the threat of violence at any moment.” —Variety


Directed by Aicha Macky
Andana Films | Documentary | Niger, France, Germany | 2021

In the town of Zinder in Niger, in the poor area of Kara-Kara which used to be the lepers’ district, a culture of gang violence reigns. A group of youths are trying to break free from this violence, some are trying to start a family and make a life for themselves rather than end up in prison. Aicha Macky, who comes from Zinder, films their daily lives divided between their gangs and their families. We discover how they skillfully cope with life’s challenges and witness their desire to break free from the cycle of violence that has conditioned them.

“A powerful, plainspoken document of social barriers and subcultures in a region that many foreign filmmakers would paint with one broad brush.” —Variety

“Casting a perceptive and tender gaze on her hometown of Zinder, the third largest city in Niger, Aicha Macky’s documentary travels through visions of beauty as well as poverty.” —The Guardian

Skies of Lebanon (2020)

Thursday, July 11

Skies of Lebanon
Directed by Chloé Mazlo
With Alba Rohrwacher, Wajdi Mouawad, Isabelle Zighondi, Odette Makhlouf, Hany Tamba
Dekanalog | Feature | France | 2020

A poetic blending of the personal and political, Skies of Lebanon combines live action with animation to create a vivid picture of Lebanon, inspired by the family history of filmmaker Chloé Mazlo. Using stories told to her by her grandmother of life during the Lebanese Civil War, Mazlo crafts a touching story of love during wartime between Alice, a Swiss woman in 1950s Beirut who falls in love with a Lebanese man named Joseph, an astrophysicist with dreams of sending his fellow citizens into space, and the object of her affection.

** Official Selection for the 2020 Cannes International Critics’ Week

“Mazlo’s mixing of animated and live-action creates a dream world that is shaken by the real world and the result is both striking and immensely watchable.” —Film Inquiry

“A powerful meditation on the optimism lost for a peacefully cosmopolitan Lebanon.” —Film Threat

Friday, July 12

Mafioso, Into the Heart of Darkness 
Directed by Mosco Boucault
Andana Films | Documentary | France | 2022

They claimed to be “men of honor.” In reality, they were killers for the Cosa Nostra in Sicily. Arrested in the early 1990s, they chose to work with the Italian justice and obtained the status of “pentiti” (state witnesses). Three of them tell their story: how they joined the mafia, what they experienced, why they decided to betray the organization and get out. In doing so, they bear witness to the mafioso way of being. This film is the third by Mosco Boucault to join the platform, alongside his Police Investigation series.

“A hair-raising experience that explores the hole that crime cuts out from the soul.” —International Cinephile Society


Men of Deeds
Directed by Paul Negoescu
With Iulian Postelnicu, Vasile Muraru, Daniel Busuioc, Crina Semciuc, Oana Tudor, Anghel Damian
Dekanalog | Feature | Romania, Bulgaria | 2022

A middle-aged police chief goes on with his job and modest life in a small town, dreaming of having an orchard, managing regular drunken conflicts at the local bar and largely ignoring the mayor’s questionable deeds and the dubious things that happen in the village. But when a man is murdered, he jumps to the other extreme, trying to be what he has never been before: the justice seeker who arrests everyone.

“What Training Day might have been like as remade by Bruno Dumont.” —Variety

“Pitch-dark comedy and sociopolitical commentary collide in Paul Negoescu’s portrait of a bumbling cop.” —Screen International

Tuesday, July 16

Music for Black Pigeons
Directed by Jørgen Leth & Andreas Koefoed
First Run Features | Documentary | Denmark | 2023

An informed and intimate portrayal of the contemporary jazz scene that offers revelatory glimpses for fans of the genre, Music For Black Pigeons strikes a universal chord in its pursuit of wider questions centered around creativity. For the past 14 years, the filmmakers followed Danish composer Jakob Bro, witnessing his musical encounters with acclaimed and eccentric musicians from across generations and nationalities. Through Bro’s compositions, the film’s characters explore the space of music—and in doing so answer some of the questions the film poses, in a poetic, life-affirming way.

** Official Selection of the 79th Venice Film Festival – Out of Competition 

“A heartfelt and memorably tuneful tribute to jazz and jazz musicians.” —Business Doc Europe

“A compelling window into what it means to live a life totally devoted to music.” —The Georgia Straight


Wednesday, July 17

Malintzin 17
Directed by Eugenio Polgovsky & Mara Polgovsky
Icarus Films | Documentary | Mexico | 2022

The director and his five-year-old daughter film a nesting bird from a window. The girl’s curiosity is provoked, sparking conversations about the relationship between humans and nature and the very meaning of filmmaking. This film completes Eugenio Polgovsky’s filmography on our platform. One of Mexico’s preeminent documentary filmmakers, Polgovsky died suddenly before this film was completed. 

“A more than fitting tribute [that] makes for a rewarding and deeply moving experience.” —BFI


Thursday, July 18

Directed by Roberta Marques
With Rob Das, Graziela Felix, Mariana Lima, Demick Lopes
MVD | Feature | Brazil | 2011

Rânia is a teenage girl living in the city of Fortaleza who dreams of being a dancer. Her best friend, Zizi, introduces her to ‘Sereia da Noite’, a local joint where fun, dance, money, and sex rock the night. When Rânia meets the choreographer Estela, she will be torn between the possibility to make money in the nightclub and the will to become a “real dancer”.

Elis & Tom: so tinha de ser com voce
Directed by Roberto de Oliveira & Jom Tob Azulay
MVD | Documentary | Brazil | 2024

In Los Angeles 1974, Tom Jobim, the incarnation of Bossa Nova, and Elis Regina, then Brazil’s most popular singer, met to record what would become one of the most iconic albums in the history of Brazilian music. Through rare and never-before-seen images, this restored and remastered musical documentary tells the story of how the encounter and recording between the two artists happened. “A captivating and illuminating documentary.” —NYC Movie Guru

Friday, July 19

Anatolian Leopard
Directed by Emre Kayiş
Dekanalog | Feature | Turkey | 2021

Fikret (Uğur Polat) is a melancholic divorcé who leads a lonely life. Dedicated to his work of 22 years, he is the director of Turkey’s oldest zoo in the historical yet somnolent capital of Ankara. Like much of the country, the institution is undergoing a process of privatization, but one obstacle stands in the way: its oldest inhabitant, the Anatolian leopard, an endangered species indigenous to the region and protected by law. Though boiling on the inside, Fikret keeps his brewing discontent at the sweeping conservative reforms bottled. Emre Kayiş’s debut feature wraps a poignant Kafkaesque scenario in a Kaurismäkian package. This dark comedy, with impeccably woven realist and surrealist threads, is a sharp metaphor for the contemporary Turkish state. 

“A sly sense of humor throughout… History is shown to be fragile in the dark comedy, but Kayis shows the strength required to bring it to light.” —The Moveable Fest

“A genuinely entrancing tale of disappointment with a sense of tragic inevitability.” —Always Good Movies

Tuesday, July 23

Sapiens, the Birth of Art
Directed by Pascal Goblot
Andana Films | Documentary | France | 2023

For decades, it was believed that the beginnings of art had emerged in Europe, 20,000 years ago at Lascaux, then 36,000 years at Chauvet. Recent research is reshaping that understanding of art, whereby the art of prehistory is much richer than we thought. Sculpture, music, painting… the creativity of Sapiens testifies to a very high level of aesthetic mastery … The oldest paintings have been dated to nearly 45,000 years old, and not in Europe but on the other side of the world in Indonesia. The film goes in search of the origin of art and shows how art is inseparable from Sapiens, from our humanity.


Thursday, July 25

Bernadette Lafont: And God Created the Free Woman
Directed by Esther Hoffenberg
With Bulle Ogier and Jean-Pierre Kalfon
Icarus Films | Documentary | France | 2016

A journey with Bernadette Lafont, French cinema’s most atypical actress. From the natural pin-up, model of sexual freedom revealed by the New Wave, to emblematic roles of joyful feminism of the seventies. While family and friends frame the film, it is Lafont herself who weaves her cinematic life through her inimitable voice as a character actress, marked with the seal of insolence and freedom.

** Official Selection Cannes Classics 2016


Friday, July 26

The Padilla Affair
Directed by Pavel Giroud Eirea
With Heberto Padilla, Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jorge Edwards, Carlos Fuentes and Fidel Castro
FiGa | Documentary | Spain, Cuba | 2022

Spring 1971, Havana: The poet Heberto Padilla is released from jail and appears at a meeting of the Cuban writers’ guild where he spouts, in his own words, a “heartfelt self-criticism.” He proceeds to self-incriminate, declaring his status as a counterrevolutionary agent and accusing many of his attending colleagues, including his wife, of the same crime. The Padilla case is an astonishing documentary that opens a window to explore aspects of Cuba’s past that reverberate in its present, such as the lack of freedom of expression and the struggles of the cultural collective to obtain it. 

“A searing, definitive chronicle of Cuban poet Heberto Padilla’s political suicide.” —The Film Verdict


The Assassin of the Tsar
Directed by Karen Shakhnazarov
With Malcolm McDowell, Oleg Yankovskiy, Armen Dzhigarkhanyan
Deaf Crocodile / MVD | Feature | UK | 1991

A mysterious and labyrinthine psychological drama in which the tormented chambers of a patient’s mind come to warp everything around him, even the folds of history itself. In one of his finest latter-day performances, the great Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) stars as Timofeyev, a severe schizophrenic in a dreary Soviet mental hospital who is convinced that, impossibly, he’s the killer of two Tsars: Alexander II in 1881 and Nicholas II in 1918. The thoughtful new head of the hospital, Dr. Smirnov (Oleg Yankovskiy) is determined to cure Timofeyev of his madness – but instead finds himself literally pulled back through time, inhabiting the ghosts of the past as they march towards their tragic destiny. 

“A compelling, thought-provoking insight on Russia’s past, then-present, and future, led by convincing performances from its two leads, McDowell and Russian actor Oleg Yankovskiy.” —Film Obsessive

Wednesday, July 31

The Great Toilet Battle
Directed by Arnaud Robert
With Diana Avramut and Bogdan Dumitrache
Andana Films | Documentary | France, Switzerland, Belgium | 2022

Nowadays flushing “human waste” away translates into millions of tons of water waste, which has a negative impact on the environment, including water pollution. On another hand, in many parts of the world, people do not have access to safe and hygienic toilets, which can spread diseases. These diseases are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. This documentary confronts our need to make significant changes in how we handle, manage and even talk about human waste – a “toilet revolution.”


Complete list of films premiering on OVID this month (in alphabetical order):

Anatolian Leopard, Emre Kayiş (2021)
Bernadette Lafont, and God Created the Free Woman, Esther Hoffenberg (2021)
Breathing Underwater, Hee-Young Koh (2016)
Elis & Tom: só tinha de ser com você, Roberto de Oliveira & Jom Tob Azulay (2023)
Mafioso, Into the Heart of Darkness, Mosco Boucault (2022)
Malintzin 17, Eugenio Polgovsky & Mara Polgovsky (2022)
Men of Deeds, Paul Negoescu (2020)
Music for Black Pigeons, Jørgen Leth & Andreas Koefoed (2023)
Nice People, Karin af Klintberg & Anders Helgeson (2015)
Rânia, Roberta Marques (2011)
Sapiens, the Birth of Art, Pascal Goblot (2023)
Skies of Lebanon, Chloé Mazlo (2020)
The Assassin of the Tsar, Karen Shakhnazarov (1991)
The Great Toilet Battle, Arnaud Robert (2022)
The Padilla Affair, Pavel Giroud Eirea (2022)
The Specter of Boko Haram, Cyrielle Raingou (2023)
The Visitor, Martín Boulocq (2022)
Verified Couple, Joscha Bongard (2022)
Zinder, Aicha Macky (2021)

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