26th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

ji-hlavadok-revuecdfEmerging producersInspiration Forum

Nature can be perceived as a useful source of virtually everything that humans need. However, as we have seen and have been able to measure with increasing sensitivity over the past decades, this approach has various negative consequences for both of the involved parties. Shouldn’t we rethink our attitude, our perception and consideration of the world around us? If we admit that non-human creatures, too, dispose of special means of communication and forms of interconnection and become aware of the more-than-human living world, we can make a key step towards establishing a new relationship and reconsidering the way we coexist. Humans are irreversibly dependent on nature despite all the conveniences of the technosphere, but the reverse is not true. Recognizing the subtle intricacies of nature’s complexity and our physical interconnectedness can not only inspire’s intellectual and emotional relationships, but also their sustainable and non-exploitative way of coexistence – crucial for the survival of humankind on this planet.

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SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30

9:30–⁠10:00 AM
Five Books
Theatre performance for 12 viewers (in Czech)

The performance by Vendula Tomšů and Ian Mikyska will take the audience through various epochs of the universe, the planet and our present, using books, sounds, poetry and their own breath. In an intimate space, together they question our position in relation to the planet, the sun or our breathing.
The performance was created with the support of KALD DAMU. In 2021, the performance is part of the Nová krev na scéně programme of the Nová síť organization.

GuestsVendula Tomšů, Ian Mikyska

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10:30–⁠11:30 AM
Community Garden
The inner world of Barbara Benish

In the garden we grow plants and relationships. It‘s where humans and nature team up. It brings benefit, joy and inspiration to people. What, on the other hand, can a garden bring to non-human living systems? The story of Barbara Benish's ten inspirations in a garden community with worms, leaves, water, mushrooms, nettles, brambles, potatoes, solar seeds, acorns and moss.

Guest: Barbara Benish

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12:00–⁠12:30 PM
Five Books
Theatre performance for 12 viewers (in English)

The performance by Vendula Tomšů and Ian Mikyska will take the audience through various epochs of the universe, the planet and our present, using books, sounds, poetry and their own breath. In an intimate space, together they question our position in relation to the planet, the sun or our breathing.
The performance was created with the support of KALD DAMU. In 2021, the performance is part of the Nová krev na scéně programme of the Nová síť organization.

GuestsVendula Tomšů, Ian Mikyska

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1:00–⁠2:30 PM
Unheard (of) Relations
News from the world of plants

When looking at a plant, we usually only see what is on the surface - the stem, the trunk, and the leaves of the flower. But there's so much more underground – complex networks of roots through which water and nutrients flow. However, that's not all. Like living creatures, plants too are concerned with concepts such as knowledge and community. Plants are always interconnected, they form communities, and they have intricate communication networks. They are able to respond to stimuli that are unexpected to us, they have memory and are even capable of learning. We can talk about a certain subjective quality when it comes to plants. Understanding the plant universe through pioneering discoveries using unusual methods can give us a new perspective on nature.

GuestMonica Gagliano
Moderated byLukáš Likavčan

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3:00–⁠4:30
To Control, to Manage, to Love?
Panel discussion on how science can help transform our relationship with nature

Despite increasingly accurate and solid scientific knowledge and its growing availability, our society has not yet found a fundamental solution to its environmental problems. On the contrary, we are approaching many of the so-called tipping points. Are we persisting in inaction because we are betting everything on science? From the first grade onwards, we are shaped by science. How can we improve our sensitivity to nature so that we can be more effective in implementing the needed change?

GuestsAndreas Weber, Hana Nováková, Tomáš Daněk, Jan Roleček
Moderated byĽuboš Slovák

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5:00–⁠6:30 PM
Between the Human Animal and the Animate Earth
Keynote speech by David Abram and conversation on our relationship with our environment

As the climate veers toward catastrophe, the innumerable losses cascading through the biosphere make vividly evident the need for a metamorphosis in our relation to the living land. For too long we have ignored the wild intelligence of our bodies, taking our primary truths from technologies that hold the animate earth at a distance. We will explore ways of thinking that subvert this distance, ways of speaking that might draw humankind into a far more intimate relation with the more-than-human world. Join us for an investigation into the earthly depths of sensory experience, and into the ecological dimensions of communication and language.

GuestDavid Abram
Moderated byNikola Benčová

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7:00–⁠7:30 PM
Five Books
Theatre performance for 12 viewers (in Czech)

The performance by Vendula Tomšů and Ian Mikyska will take the audience through various epochs of the universe, the planet and our present, using books, sounds, poetry and their own breath. In an intimate space, together they question our position in relation to the planet, the sun or our breathing.
The performance was created with the support of KALD DAMU. In 2021, the performance is part of the Nová krev na scéně programme of the Nová síť organization.

GuestsVendula Tomšů, Ian Mikyska

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7:30–⁠8:30 PM
Five Books
Collective reflection of theater performance

The performance by Vendula Tomšů and Ian Mikyska will take the audience through various epochs of the universe, the planet and our present, using books, sounds, poetry and their own breath. In an intimate space, together they question our position in relation to the planet, the sun or our breathing.
The performance was created with the support of KALD DAMU. In 2021, the performance is part of the Nová krev na scéně programme of the Nová síť organization.

GuestsVendula Tomšů, Ian Mikyska

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OCT 31

10:00–⁠12:00
A More-Than-Human World
Workshop and a guided walk around Jihlava

As human animals, we have numerous creaturely skills -- multiple ways of opening our senses, attuning and aligning ourselves with other animals, plants, and the elemental terrain that surrounds and sustains us. Yet contemporary civilization has largely forgotten these skills, refusing our inclusion within the more-than-human collective, insisting that humankind is largely exempt from natural processes. In the course of this workshop, two renowned authors – biologist Andreas Weber and sensory ecologist David Abram – will bring their unique insights into conversation with one another and with the cityscape of Ji Hlava, offering a few ways to recalibrate our intelligence and our nervous systems in relation to the animate earth.

GuestsDavid Abram, Andreas Weber

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The programme block "New Nature / On our relationship with our environment" is realized in cooperation with Heinrich Böll Foundation Prague.  
   

GUESTS

David Abram (USA)

Cultural ecologist and philosopher and founder and creative director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics. He is best known for his work bridging the philosophical tradition of phenomenology with environmental and ecological issues. David is the author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology and The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-human World. His essays on the cultural causes and consequences of ecological disarray have appeared in a number of publications and anthologies. Abram coined the phrase “the more-than-human world” as a way of referring to earthly nature, a term that has become a key phrase within the lingua franca of the broad ecological movement.

Nikola Benčová (Czech Republic)

She studied Performing Arts, International Relations and is a PhD student at the Department of Environmental Studies at Masaryk University. She is a freelance editor at Radio Wave and a member of the climate justice collective Limits Are Us, where she co-produces the podcast Trhlina. She is dedicated to bringing themes of corporeality and encounters with the more-than-human world into the sphere of academia. She is interested in the intersections of specific spirituality and corporeality, and in how research through body and corporeal imagination can be viewed as a relevant and adequate source of knowledge for the emerging world in which we learn to gently coexist with the landscape that nourishes us.

Barbara Benish (USA)

California-born artist, who moved to Prague in 1992 as a Fulbright scholar. She founded ArtMill in rural Bohemia, an international eco-art centre with the goal of bringing the pressing environmental issues of our time into tangible art forms that inspire, ignite, and engage the public at large. From 2010–2015 she served as Advisor for U.N.E.P. in Arts & Outreach, and since 2015 is a Fellow at the Social Practice Arts Research Center, (University of California). Benish is co-author of Form, Art, & the Environment (2017, Routledge). Her mixed media work critiques historical tropes that have kept unsustainable systems operating, and often celebrates non-human living systems. Benish’s art has been shown in hundreds of international exhibitions, including major museums in New York, Germany, and Prague.

Tomáš Daněk (Czech Republic)

University teacher and interdisciplinary researcher at the Department of Development and Environmental Studies at Palacký University in Olomouc. His research focus is on environmental philosophy and ethics, changes in Western approach to nature, and anthropology and sociology in relation to development and associated issues.

Monica Gagliano (Australia)

Research Associate Professor in evolutionary ecology at Southern Cross University where she directs the Biological Intelligence (BI) Lab as part of the Diverse Intelligences Initiative of the Templeton World Charity Foundation. She has pioneered the brand-new research field of plant bioacoustics, for the first time experimentally demonstrating that plants emit their own ‘voices’ and detect and respond to the sounds of their environments. Her work has extended the concept of cognition (including perception, learning processes, memory) in plants. By demonstrating experimentally that learning is not the exclusive province of animals, she has re-ignited the discourse on plant subjectivity and ethical and legal standing. Her latest book is Thus Spoke the Plant: A Remarkable Journey of Groundbreaking Scientific Discoveries and Personal Encounters with Plants.

Lukáš Likavčan (Slovakia)

A philosopher focused on technology, ecology and visual cultures. As a researcher, he was based at Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (Vienna), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Hong Kong) and BAK, basis voor actuele kunst (Utrecht). Likavčan is a lecturer at Center for Audiovisual Studies FAMU (Prague), faculty member at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design (Moscow) and a member of Display – Association for Research and Collective Practice (Prague). He is a co-editor of Czech anthology of contemporary philosophical realism Mysl v terénu. Filosofický realismus ve 21. století (Display / VVP AVU, 2018), and an author of Introduction to Comparative Planetology (Strelka Press, 2019).

Ian Mikyska (Czech Republic)

Composer who mostly works at the fringes of sound – as an author of installations, performances, books and videos. He studied composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and is currently completing an MA in Directing at the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre at Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU). He leads the Prague Quiet Music Collective and Stratocluster ensembles. He has also published the book Partitury pro čtenáře. He is the author of the jingle of the public address system in the village of Sedlice in the Pelhřimov region. He works as Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Czech Music Quarterly magazine and as a translator from Czech to English.

Hana Nováková (Czech Republic)

Director, indologist and ethnozoologist. Her PhD research focuses on the clash between the Western zoological paradigm and the animistic perception of the world among tribal people in Bengal. As a filmmaker, essayist and a curator she has also been exploring the relationship between humans and other animals, and human alienation from nature. For five years, she was a permanent editor of Czech Television's environmental programme Občanské noviny. She cooperates with the Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences, the A2 magazine and the ethnobiological anthology Pandanus. She interprets from Bengali for refugees from the sinking Bangladesh.

Jan Roleček (Czech Republic)

Environmentalist, educator and researcher at the Botanical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. He is an assistant professor at the Department of Botany and Zoology of the Faculty of Science, Masaryk University. He studies ecology and history of vegetation, focusing in his research on phytocenology, phytogeography and paleoecology. Between 2012 and 2018, he led two research projects of the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic concentrating on the development of methods for quantitative reconstruction of vegetation during the Holocene using pollen data, and he is currently leading a project of the GACR that consists in the research of soil memory of species-rich steppe meadows.

Ľuboš Slovák (Slovakia)

University teacher and ecologist. He studied computer science and social and cultural ecology. He currently teaches at the Department of Environmental Studies at Masaryk University, where he also leads the international DeepEn project aimed at developing experiential learning methods based on the broad tradition of deep ecology. His work at the Institute of Global Change Research of the Czech Academy of Sciences includes research on the intangible values of nature and landscape. He is interested in the relationship between humans and non-human nature and the transformation of concepts of nature. His professional interests also include ecophenomenology, ecopsychology and philosophy of science.

Vendula Tomšů (Czech Republic)

Visual artist and set designer. She studied at the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre at DAMU. Her work focuses mainly on original projects for smaller audiences, in which she explores a closer relationship between performer and spectator. This is the case with the performance Veduty (Vedutas, 2017) and Pět knih (Five Books, 2020). She is one of the founding members of the theatre group 8 lidí and the association Zvěřinec, which is dedicated to the development of cultural and community life in the Zlín region.

Andreas Weber (Germany)

Biologist, philosopher and writer. He teaches at Leuphana University and at the University of Fine Arts, Berlin. His work is focusing on re-evaluation of our understanding of the living. He proposes understanding organisms as subjects and hence the biosphere as a meaning-creating and poetic reality. In his 2019 book Enlivenment. Toward a Poetics for the Anthropocene he presents an alternative understanding of our relationship with nature, arguing not that humans control nature but that humans and nature exist united in mutual transformation.

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FILM SELECTION

Images can speak louder than words. Check out our selection of films from the Ji.hlava IDFF’s festival programme.

ANIMOT (Czech Republic, 2021, Juliana Moska)
THE MUSHROOM SPEAKS (Switzerland, 2021, Marion Neumann)
HOW TO KILL A CLOUD (Finland, Denmark, 2021, Tuija Halttunen)
KINLOSS (United Kingdom, 2021, Alice Dousova)
COW (United Kingdom, 2019, Andrea Arnold/)
OBSERVATORY.01 (Czech Republic, 2021, 11 min., Pavel Mrkus)
PREPARATIONS FOR FILM T (Czech Republic, 2021, Milan Klepikov)
CONNECTION (Italy, 2021, Andrea Dalpian)
GLOBES (Belgium, 2021, Nina de Vroome)
TED K (United States, 2021, Tony Stone)
ULTRAMARINE (Czech Republic, 2021, 6 min., Marina Hendrychová)
TERRAFORMING (Portugal, 2020, Ricardo Moreira)
FROM THE WILD SEA (Denmark, 2021, Robin Petré)

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READING LIST

If you want to delve deeper into the topic, here is a selection of the most interesting texts and other resources recommended by the programme guests, which are definitely worth the read!

CRITICAL ZONES (ZKM)
The term “Critical Zone” is taken from the geo-sciences and describes the biochemical, fragile layer of the earth, its surface on which life is created. By Bruno Latour, the term is extended to a critical, participatory relationship to our living world, whose threatened state has reached an unprecedented scale in the Earth's now man-made history. Latour has described this worldwide situation, which affects all living beings on the planet, as a “new climate regime”. It is not limited to ecological crises, but touches on questions of politics and cultural history as well as ethical and epistemological changes of perspective. The digital exhibition project is accompanied with the display Critical Zones: Observations for Earthly Politics, organised last year at the German Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe.

ROBERT MACFARLANE AND JACKIE MORRIS: THE LOST WORDS (HAMISH HAMILTON)
David Abram: “The resurgence of oral storytelling – the renewal of the full-bodied practice of face-to-face storytelling – seems an especially wonderful and fruitful development, one that carries rich clues for the replenishment of place-based community life. The storytelling resurgence feeds the poetic richness of our spoken languages, which are themselves being hollowed out by an over-reliance on digital and screen-mediated forms of communication. The oral tales of the English storyteller Martin Shaw are exemplary here: if you speak English, check out his audiobook entitled Courting the Wild Twin. Also dip into the dazzling writings of the British author Robert Macfarlane: look at the picture/poetry book he did with Jackie Morris entitled The Lost Words, and read – in translation – his marvelous book, Underland. Don’t miss the wild, award-winning novel, The Overstory, by the American Richard Powers – a novel in which trees are central players, or agencies, within the tale. Meanwhile, the marvelous discoveries regarding the richness of life within the world of mushrooms and fungi, as exemplified in the book Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake, or the film Fantastic Fungi, are important to follow.”

EMERGENCE MAGAZINE
David Abram: “The free, online, multi-media publication "Emergence Magazine" offers a powerful array of essays and interviews by some of the keenest and most creative artists and writers (including myself) working to explore and address the intensifying ecological problematic, and to highlight the centrality of indigenous peoples and lifeways to any genuine solution of that problematic. For a special treat, listen to "The Nightingale's Song," their recent interview with Sam Lee, a remarkable vocal artist in England who gathers other musicians for long, night-time vigils singing with nightingales in the local forest.”

HOLLY JEAN BUCK: GEOENGINEERING: CLIMATE TRAGEDY, REPAIR, AND RESTORATION (VERSO)
Lukáš Likavčan: “A book that has recently resonated with me a lot was After Geoengineering: Climate Tragedy, Repair, and Restoration by environmental researcher Holly Jean
Buck. She embarks on a controversial but ultimately very refreshing argument that seeks to reconcile technological interventions in the planetary system with issues of environmental justice and non-growth. You can watch one of her talks on the topic.”

METHODS TO THE MADNESS (PODCAST)
Barbara Benish: „Last year I discovered the podcasts and lectures by Cafe Ohlone/mak-‘am ham creators, Vincent Medina (Chochenyo Ohlone) and Louis Trevino (Rumsen Ohlone), in California. They are making menus from indigenous plants, gathering and preparing them in the traditional ways, and presenting the entire culture to the public in a highly aesthetic and provocative context. It is a learning forum as much as a meal, and introducing non-Natives to new ways of experiencing food production, consumption, and distribution through prayer, music, and dance.“

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