28th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

ji-hlavadok-revuecdfEmerging producersInspiration Forum

Accountability for Topic (2024)

Accountability for Topic (2024)

Call for papers

Filmmakers, producers, institutions and critics raise themes that resonate with society. Values, goals, and ideologies are manifested at different levels of decision-making regarding what to make films about. At each stage of this process, obstacles, constraints and structural conditions emerge that affect the public discussion of the problems of our world. In this year's conference on documentary ethics, we will focus on the various ethical dilemmas involved in deciding on the subjects of documentary films, both at the individual level of filmmakers and in the institutional environment of production and media or in relation to political and economic power. The conference will open up the theme of accountability for selecting, shaping and promoting topics that contribute to our collective, public reflection on a world of crises, uncertainties and risks.

We will look at these questions from two perspectives while devoting separate sessions to each one of them the course of the two-day conference:

  1. The individual production level – learners, creators, makers and independent producers (from scriptwriting, story editing and directing to sound, camera or editing) stand at the beginning of the process. How do they perceive their accountability for the topics of the production? To what extent do they determine these topics themselves, and to what extent do they follow the demands of the public, the media, and the productions? What themes do they pursue, and what are successful practices? Where are the ethical boundaries for the choice of topics? Where does the social responsibility of creative work begin and end? Is there censorship in Central Europe?
  2. The institutional level – television, video-on-demand platforms, producers, distributors, film schools - all of these and many others are involved in deciding what topics enter the public debate. The media sets the agenda, and documentary film responds to it or participates directly in forming it. Where does the accountability of industry representatives in shaping the public debate begin and end? How do economic or political considerations enter the process of finding and shaping topics? Who are the powerful actors that influence the construction of topics in Central Europe? How is the influence of technology, especially the emergence of digital platforms, transforming thematic pluralism?

On these two levels, we will not only reflect on the initial ethical question of the accountability of individual actors towards themselves and their creative visions and towards the public and institutions, but we will also look for ways in which the specific environment of documentary filmmaking touches upon ethical issues explored in media theory, sociology and philosophy, such as agenda setting, gatekeeping, the public sphere, institutional routines, propaganda, the spiral of silence, mainstreaming, the avalanche effect, the knowledge gap, resonance, epistemic justice, postcolonialism, new theories of censorship, etc.

The conference will once again bring together the academic, industrial and professional spheres, with a particular emphasis on the Central European context and its specific problems related to the post-transformation reality of the film industries in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. Last year, we opened up this Central European context, and we want to develop the conference further by involving more students and the young generation and opening up a new space for both the sharing of production experiences and the creative confrontation of different perspectives on the ethical boundaries of finding and creating topics for public debate. We are therefore strengthening our emphasis on collaboration with universities and the involvement of learners in the whole programme, as well as creating a safe space for sharing and articulating attitudes and experiences.


The conference is organized by the Ji.hlava IDFF in conjunction with the Center for Media Ethics and Dialogue (CEMETIK) at the Department of Media Studies and Journalism, Faculty of Social Studies of Masaryk University with the support of the Czech Film Fund.

The event is part of the Visegrad Accelerator.

Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Creative Europe Media
Česká televize
Český rozhlas