26th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival
Third day at Ji.hlava
The festival’s Testimony section will this year include eleven films, notably The Cave by Syrian director Feras Fayyad, who was awarded for his Last Men in Aleppo at Ji.hlava two years ago. The film was then nominated for the Oscars. The movie narrates a powerful story of an underground hospital in besieged Syrian town of Ghouta where a team of dedicated doctors relentlessly treats victims of bomb attacks. “I also wanted people to see that an ordinary woman can do wonders. I hope it will help change the world,” says Feras Fayyad.
The Opus Bonum competition section that annually presents the most notable international documentary titles, comprises of nine films. These included The Deathless Woman by director Roz Motimer, presented in an international premiere. “Strange coincidence guided my steps to a Polish forest. I discovered later that this was a place where a forgotten grave of a woman was found. When looking back I realise that she was the whole time with me, guiding my steps,” says Roz Motimer about the film that recounts the history of violence against the Roma.
Czech Joy brought the premiere of Radovan Síbrt’s Two Roads about a band called The Tap Tap and Johana Ožvold’s The Sound Is Innocent. Saturday in Ji.hlava also brought Masterclass by Barbora Chalupová and Vít Klusák: who presented their film Caught in the Net, including several outtakes.
Inspiration Forum introducing Srećko Horvat
The day-long debates at the Inspiration Forum all revolved around democracy. One of the contributors was Sophie Howe, who has for three years been in office as the ‘future generations commissioner’ in Wales. Another guest was the political scientist and NATO’s strategic communication specialist, Jonathan Terra, who worked as a diplomat in Afghanistan. Documentary Dialogue introduced Croatian philosopher and political activist Srećko Horvat. “Mankind deserves to survive for all of its good qualities,” said Srećko Horvat in an interview. “However, we also create a system based on exploiting animals and nature,” added Horvat.
23rd Ji.hlava: Largest Czech VR showcase
This year’s Ji.hlava promises to present the largest VR showcase in our country. It will offer both VR works and installations: presenting linear 360° films in four composed blocks, along with interactive experiences (VR installations have six spaces reserved in DKO). “The VR-zone will feature works that build on the impression of realness and underscore the witnessing experience in a specific time and space,” says the programme composer, Andrea Slováková. Among VR documentaries is, for instance, the Nigeria-made title Daughters of Chibok about the kidnapping of a group of young women by the terrorist group Boko Haram. VR installations also form an integral part of the zone. These inspire the viewers to make interpretations of visual art works or create entire worlds. Isle of the Dead offers a virtual interpretation of the famous work by Swiss symbolist painter, Arnold Böcklin.
What can you look forward to?
The Sunday programme will offer the longest film shown at the 23rd Ji.hlava IDFF: Communism and the Net or the End of Representative Democracy by Karel Vachek, the classic of Czech cinema. The author’s ninth film that takes many hours and has four parts, maps out the contemporary Czech political scene, philosophy, religion and art. “One of the key points of the film is that if you want to live in truth, you also have to be a bit of a bastard. The truth is hurtful for everyone and so it seems to be better avoided!” says the director who has already turned seventy-nine.
Sunday will also bring documentary XY Chelsea by Tim Travers Hawkins about the destinies of trans woman Chelsey Manning and Kings of Šumava by Irish director Kris Kelly following the figure of notorious people smuggler Josef Hasil.
The Inspiration Forum will open up the topic of the climate crisis. Bill McKibben, a notable American environmentalist, will talk about the climate crisis as a challenge. His book, The End of Nature, published in 1989 provided a visionary account of today’s climate situation. Following will be Isabella Salton, the head of Brazilian environmental organization Instituto Terra that is fighting to save the Brazilian forest and Jihlava’s native Aleš Palán whose book of interviews with loners from the Šumava mountains, Better to Go Crazy in the Wild, has become a bestseller.