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26th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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24th Ji.hlava IDFF is over, attracting half as many viewers as last year


Ji.hlava IDFF films available online internationally

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Audience Award

Voting is open until Friday, November 6

24th Ji.hlava IDFF: Award winners

OPUS BONUM Best World Documentary Film 2020 Winner: White on White (dir. Viera Čákanyová / Czech Republic, Slovakia, 2020) Jury statement (sole juror Hilal Baydarov): For being a very honest, brave and inspirational film. The film shows us how difficult and almost impossible it is to make a film about oneself. Special mention: A Man Leaning (dir. Olivier Dury, Marie-Violaine Brincard / France, 2020) Jury statement (sole juror Hilal Baydarov): For its beautiful structure and well-performed editing that gives strong hints about the nature of cinema through beautiful rhythm and poetic signs. BETWEEN THE SEAS Best Central and East European Documentary Film 2020 / 10 000 EUR financial award for the winner / Winner: Latvian Coyote (Ivars Zviedris / Latvia, 2020) Jury statement: For a sensitive approach to its well-chosen protagonists the Jury has decided to award the film that shows us a global and a well-known topic from a unique unconventional perspective which still allows the audience to get very close not only to the main protagonist but also to dive into the whole story. And all this is supported by the strong cinematic vision of the director. Special mention: THE LAST IMAGE (dir. Judith Zdesar / Austria, 2020) Jury statement: For its poetic aesthetics, in search of a sensory representation of a daily and familiar environment, and for its visual creation of a memory that permanently disappeared by bringing glimpses of light in a world of darkness. BETWEEN THE SEAS STUDENT FILM COMPETITION Best Central and East European Student Documentary Film 2020 / 2 000 USD financial award for the winner, in cooperation with Current Time TV / Winner: Time Is (Zaur Kourazov / Belgium, Russia, 2020) Jury statement: For a beautiful and minimalistic narrative approach with which director succeeds, by suspending time in a soothing atmosphere, to open multiple number of topics that unfold in the film and can be relevant not only for the Chechen society. CZECH JOY Best Czech Documentary Film 2020 / 10 000 EUR financial award for the winner / Winner: A New Shift (Jindřich Andrš / Czech Republic, 2020) Jury statement: The Czech Joy main award goes to Jindřích Andrš’ film New Shift portraying the life story of Tomáš Hisem, a laid-off miner from the Paskov Mine, who at 50 is trying to retrain as a computer programmer. As a careful and sensitive observation showing no prejudices or downplaying, the film allows us to get so close to the main protagonist and his environment that it changes not only us but also its author. Using the example of one person, the film expresses in exact terms the generally valid topics of center-periphery relations, existential struggle, work transformation and alienation in a neoliberal economy and individual adaptability in a world without a strong safety net. Tomorrow, anyone of us can be in the shoes of a Paskov Mine miner. Special mention: Wolves at the Borders (dir. Martin Páv / Czech Republic, 2020) Jury statement: Wolves at the Borders is a story of our personal boundaries, our shared fear of the unknown and of the possibility of losing our conquered territories where anyone can be the wolf. The strong environmental topic of irreversible ecosystem disruption blends with the unassuming format of a western set in the Broumov region with the author’s unbiased approach unveiling borders being delineated, crossed or shared in a process where even the losing side is a winner. Student Jury Award: Traces of a Landscape (dir. Petr Záruba, Czech Republic, Italy, 2020) Jury statement: We selected Petr Záruba’s film Traces of a Landscape: Jan Jedlička for its visual, sound and content integrity. The film leads the viewer in a self-effacing, modest and precise way. It is a sensitive symbiosis via the shared language of observation. It’s therefore sure to have a concentrated, almost intimate impact. FIRST LIGHTS Best Feature-Length Documentary Debut Film ​2020 Winner: Ghosts: A Long Way Home (Tiago Siopa / Portugal, 2019 ) Jury statement: For magnificent cinematic style, for the immersiveness of spiritually enriching storytelling. A small-scale epic suggesting an entire mythological world. A fragile essay on a memory, on human roots, and on a moment in which presence is explicitly connected with the future and the past. Film as a free verse. Pure cinema. Special mention: A House (dir. Judith Auffray / France, Switzerland, 2020) Jury statement: We, who come to the house with director Judith Auffray, are soon enchanted — yet at the same time brutally deprived of the usual rhythms, automatic motions, and safe steps belonging to the familiar regime of our daily existence. We learn new rules, alternative rhythms, movements, we focus on the world differently. It becomes a dance. Student Jury Award: A House (dir. Judith Auffray / France, Switzerland, 2020) Jury statement: A House is a gentle observational documentary bringing us a natural glimpse into the specific world of a group of autistic persons. The jury appreciates the author’s human approach towards the portrayed topic and the trust that she has gained with her protagonist via her camera. The jury also commends the fact that the film is not trying to be an advocate for David, Zoey or Thomas but lets them speak for themselves. The result is a portrait of several exceptional individuals who are seen by the viewer as an integral part of the environment they are actively helping to maintain but also as fully-fledged human beings with their own eccentricities and history. The author’s craftsmanship also stands out with long shots revealing a surprising climax of the portrayed story. FASCINATIONS Best Experimental Documentary Film 2020 Winner: We Are Without (SJ. Ramir / Australia, New Zealand, 2020) Jury statement: The jury has decided to award the shortest film of this section: SJ Ramir’s We Are Without. Despite the author’s signature high level of stylization and the use of conventional cinematic devices, this work unlocks in a simple sequence of several images a vast range of interpretations. The increasing desire to see the context, to materialize fragments of the story, to grasp the inner visual realm gives us a chance to see, in the gaps between archaistic shots, the offscreen-made film as contemporary, unique, precise and topical. Special mention: Baroque Femina (Nr. 7-11) (dir. Péter Lichter/ Hungary, 2020) Jury statement: The jury’s special mention goes to Péter Lichter for his video-essay Barokk Femina (Nr. 7-11). The visually adventurous collage about today’s Hungarian collective unconscious sensitively and with admitted prejudices experiments with the politic reality of narrative frameworks. FASCINATIONS: EXPRMNTL.CZ Best Czech Experimental Documentary Film 2020 Winner: Catastrophe (dir. Zbyněk Baladrán / Czech Republic, 2019) Jury statement: The main jury award goes to Zbyněk Baladrán for his film Catastrophe. An established figure of Czech contemporary art, his systemic work is characterized by an ability to achieve, using simple and formally and stylistically pure devices, movements of thoughts which, instead of becoming illustrations of theoretical discourses, use visual shortcuts to connect audiences to lived reality and to its reflection in societal and individual memory. Special mention: Sparkly shiny brightly see, kaleidoscope grows from ears (dir. Tereza Chudáčková, Klára Ondračková / Czech Republic, 2020) Jury statement: The jury has decided to award a special mention to two Czech experiments: To Sparkly shiny brightly see, kaleidoscope grows from ears by Tereza Chudáčková and Klára Ondráčková for its sensitive work with light, its narration indescribable in words and for its simplicity and non-speculative nature. Special mention: Nobody needs to know about this, he said (dir. Ester Grohová / Czech Republic, 2020) Jury statement: The second special mention goes to Nobody needs to know about this, he said by Ester Grohová for a bold approach to a personal topic without inclination to its ironization or untransferable self-experiencing and for the not-so-obvious blending of the therapeutical layer with the artistic one. SHORT JOY Best Short Documentary Film 2020 Winner: First Birthday After the Apocalypse (dir. Farah Hasanbegović / Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, 2020) This section’s jury was general public, which has voted online for the films in competition. TESTIMONIES Best Film Testimony 2020 Winner: Oeconomia (dir. Carmen Losmann / Germany, 2020) Jury statement: Oeconomia presents a challenging topic for a documentary – the creation of money, profit and debt. The filmmaker managed to zoom in on the issue itself while also pointing at its creators – top bank and business managers who have no idea how the system they have created actually works. The jury also appreciates the cinematic qualities of the film which transforms the sterile rooms of financial institutions and industrial corporations into an impressive esthetic experience reflecting how the elites are cut off from the life of ordinary people. Special mention: Vivos (dir. Ai Weiwei / Germany, Mexico, 2020) Jury statement: Vivos captures the intimate testimonies of people whose children and loved-ones were killed or seriously injured during a police massacre in the Mexican city of Iguala. The film gradually moves from a clear explanation of the massacre investigation process and from the affected families’ protest against the official version of events towards the vast context of international war against drugs and the impact of US policies on the ongoing violence against vulnerable communities in different parts of the world. The jury has also concluded that the film is a sensitive portrayal of the culture and daily life of local communities avoiding unnecessary exoticization. CONTRIBUTION TO WORLD CINEMA AWARD 2020 Ai Weiwei THE AUDIENCE AWARD A New Shift (Jindřich Andrš / Czech Republic, 2020) THE BEST FESTIVAL POSTER AWARD Audience Award: ANIFILM Festival Identity jury: Taiwan International Documentary Festival SILVER EYE AWARDS 2020 (awarded by the Institute of Documentary Film) Silver Eye Award feature length category 2020 Winner: A New Shift (Jindřich Andrš / Czech Republic, 2020) Jury statement: We have decided to give the Silver Eye Award 2020 to the film that picked our interest because of its very current and burning issue it depicts. We were also charmed by the sensitive approach to the protagonist and the place it captures. The director spent several years of his life with the story he devoted his short and feature film to. Nevertheless, he kept his perspective and humble approach. In our opinion, this documentary perfectly represents the region of Central and Eastern and has a potential to resonate in the wider international context. Silver Eye Award for the best short documentary 2020 Winner: Son of the Streets (dir. Mohammed Almughanni / Poland, Lebanon, 2020) Jury statement: How unwelcome can one be in this world? A very unique connection with characters allows the director to unfold the nature of Khodor's vital dilemna in a vivid and profoundly memorable way. The vigorous cinematic experience engraves in the viewer the complex reality of daily life in a camp. Special Mention: To Feather, to Wither (Hanna Hovitie / Hungary, 2020) Jury statement: For outstanding directing skills that have given life to the deceased. The director has created a tender portrait of the poetics of the cycle of life.

Ai Weiwei to receive the Contribution to World Cinema Award


Q&A / via ZOOM


Time Schedule – Films


Press release: 24th Ji.hlava IDFF will be launched on Tuesday by a New Shift


Competition sections of the 24th Ji.hlava IDFF

The 24th Ji.hlava IDFF kicks-off in two weeks! Despite the recent forced shift of the event to digital space, the full-fledged festival programme with over 59 world and 26 international premieres remains. What can the viewers look forward to? The programme features over 220 films: from the latest of Czech and international documentary crop, South Korean film retrospective, comprehensive showcase of Afro-American docs as well as new documentaries focusing on topics that are more than relevant these days: coronavirus pandemic, China and Hong Kong, climate change, and films asking the fundamental question – where is our home? The 24th Ji.hlava IDFF will take place between October 27 and November 8, 2020. “We are sorry that we can’t screen the films in cinemas but we want to see the current situation as an opportunity. One positive aspect is that everyone will be able to get to see the films,” says Marek Hovorka, the Festival Director. “Fifteen years ago, the same year when YouTube was launched, Ji.hlava IDFF founded the first VOD portal dedicated to documentaries. Today, DAFilms.com is one of the leading European VOD platforms,” describes Hovorka the partnership with DAFilms, which will be the festival’s this year’s streaming platform. “The uniqueness of this programme is in the fact that apart from over 220 films available to the Czech viewers, we will offer more than 80 films from Ji.hlava’s competitions to audiences worldwide, released in their World, international or European premieres,” says Diana Tabakov, the Executive Director at DAFilms. This year’s Ji.hlava will not only focus on films. “In order to bring the unique atmosphere of Ji.hlava to online audiences, we have prepared several simultaneous live streams, all-day live service from the festival’s Lighthouse studio at the Ji.hlava’s central Masaryk square as well as an interactive environment interconnecting the audience with the filmmakers,” concludes Marek Hovorka. Competition sections: Chinese struggle and Latvian coyotes The topic “home” echoes in the Opus Bonum section that offers the most remarkable world documentaries. For example, One Says No by Chinese director Dayong Zha that captures the desperate fight of a man named Azhong against a brutal construction lobby to save his home. Expanding Chinese cities are swallowing the countryside, their inhabitants are forced to make space for new houses and businessmen from urban areas. The majority of the locals gives in to the pressure: despite poor compensation and bleak prospects of dignified housing. Azhong decides to stand up against the system. The raw documentary is based on his testimony that he is giving from a barricaded flat. Between the Seas section brings the best documentary production from Central and Eastern Europe, reflecting on the topic of our search for home in film titles such as Refugees Are Welcome Here by Tomáš Rafa. The film captures the uncertain situation of refugees in refugee camps in Berlin. “When you are shooting with extreme right-wing groups,” says the director “the most important thing is to act as if you belong among them, and keep calm. I don’t take part in discussions and I only record their words because they themselves want it, I don’t ask questions,” says Rafa.  Film Latvian Coyote directed by Ivars Zviedris brings a dramatic story of smugglers from the Latvian-Russian border, called coyotes. They are risking their freedom for a small reward, setting others free and wandering through endless swamp woods and villages full of abandoned and dilapidated houses. The trauma of ethnic Germans in Eastern Europe is explored by the Serbian film, Belonging by director Tea Lukač. Their cohabitation with the local ethnicities ended during WWII when their German identity became a pretext for brutal violence. Only one tenth of them survived. Their concealed trauma gets to life in the memories of witnesses that all merge into the question of whether national identity implies the responsibility for acts conducted in its name. “The issue of belonging is universal,” says Lukač.  “It consists in the desire to define oneself in relation to others and at the same time it is a given fact that we didn’t choose.” Film discoveries: Ji.hlava’s First Lights The First Lights section that each year discovers remarkable documentary debuts will include the Portuguese film, Ghosts: Long Way Home directed by Tiaga Siopa. The filmmaker visits a house where his grandmother used to live and follows the traces of her life by contemplating on the objects that have been left. Home of One's Own by Lebanese director Ruba Atiyehse shows how an intimate self-therapeutic video-diary can help you overcome the feeling of alienation and find your own roots in a foreign country. The director herself lives in exile. Motherlands by Italian director Gabriel Babsi relates a story of a man called Hervé who fled the war in Ivory Coast to Greece where he found a new home and a new job: living in a squatted apartment and working as a people smuggler. “What is morality when you don’t have a choice?” asks the film’s director. “What is ethical when you have no rights? Can we be judged? And if so, by whom?” A refugee from Syria who takes diligent care of his little garden at the outskirts of Remse in France and who would like to exchange his temporary asylum for a permanent home is the main protagonist of Gevar’s Land. A House by French director Judith Auffray provides a raw account of how people living with autism learn to be at home. Duo of authors George Tiller and Maéva Ranaïvojaona is searching for a father who has long disappeared in Austrian-Madagascar film Zaho Zay. The film has been influenced by psychoanalysis and is composed of mesmerising images of Madagascar society ravaged by war, poverty, corruption and criminality. Experimental sections: Catastrophe, collapse and magicians What else will be there to see? Certainly the experimental competition sections, Fascinations and exprmntl.cz. That will bring, among other films, the new title by French experimental filmmaker Jacques Perconte – Before the Collapse of Mont Blanc. It poses the question whether we are the last generation that will see snow on the mountain top. A profound physical experience comes in the form of a film experiment reviving George Romer’s old horror classic Night of the Living Dead made by Israeli video-artist Guli Silberstein who reflects on the current anxiety of the first months of the covid pandemic. “The combination of video and digital image has helped me express my fear and paranoia associated with the covid pandemic,” says Silberstein. The section will also feature the best of Czech experimental cinema. Visual artist Lea Petříková will bring to Ji.hlava her new film After the Magician that references the work of French-Mexican surrealist Alice Rahon. In 1947 the filmmaker produced her first and last film called Les Magiciens; sadly, it got lost before its first screening. This has been the inspiration of the author’s dream about a film that was never seen, about a meeting with an artist that has unfairly been almost forgotten. Zbyněk Baladrán will screen his film, Catastrophe that references a one-act play by Samuel Beckett dedicated to former Czechoslovak president Václav Havel in prison. Czech Joy: Švankmajer and the Wolves Czech Joy section, which presents the new Czech documentary works will bring the premiere of Wolves at the Borders by director Martin Páv who captures the approach of locals to the wolves returning to the Broumov region. The film concentrates on the relationship of people and wild nature. “To what extent are we willing to accommodate the unpredictability of the world that does not only belong to us?” asks the director. The Czech competition will also feature three film portraits of filmmaker and world-renowned surrealist Jan Švankmajer and visual artist Jan Jedlička. Surrealist artist Jan Švankmajer is captured in the film Alchemical Furnace made by the duo of authors, Jan Daňhel and Adam Oľha. The film is trying to identify Švankmajer’s creative methods and his sources of inspiration. “Our aim was to create a formally independent film that will not imitate Švankmajer’s signature style,” says Adam Oľha. The film titled Jan Jedlička: Traces of a Landscape directed by Petr Záruba portrays the figure of Jan Jedlička, visual artist, photographer and experimental filmmaker who emigrated to Switzerland because of the political situation in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Among the other films showcased in the Czech Joy section will be film essay White on White by Viera Čákanyová. During her stay in the Antarctic, the author was chatting with artificial intelligence, discussing topics related to cinema, art and the meaning of life. The duo of directors Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda will present an international premiere of their most recent film Once Upon a Time in Poland. Short Joy: viewers will decide the winner Before the online start of the festival, the viewers will be treated to a preview of festival films from the Short Joy section. All nominated short docs shown in their world or international premiere will be available for free at DAFilms.com starting already on October 19. The viewers will be voting via dafilms.com portal until October 29 and the winner of the DAFilms Audience Award will be given online distribution and promotional services in the amount of 3 000 EUR. All of the participants in the vote will have the chance to win an annual subscription to DAFilms.com and other benefits. The Short Joy films will then be presented also as part of the online festival programme at www.ji-hlava.com until November 8. 100 years of South Korean documentary The non-competition section Transparent Landscape that annually showcases the cinema production from one selected country will this year focus on South Korea. The comprehensive showcase will start with films from 1920s that capture the boom of Korean cities and industries until the films from recent decades. In 1988, Dongwon Kim made Sanggye-dong Olympic following the preparations of the Summer Olympics of 1988. At the time, Korean government kicked one hundred and sixty families out on the streets, tore down their houses in the slums of Sanggye-dong in Soul where they built luxury flats. The director spent three years with the families and witnessed their desperate struggle with the state authorities. The film initiated a new era of Korean social documentary. Another chilling documentary is The Murmuring directed by Byun Young-joo who describes the trauma of Korean women who served and sex slaves to Japanese soldiers in WWII. Viewers will have the chance to see the very first experimental film in the history of Korean cinema. The Meaning of 1/24 Second made by Ku-lim Kim. Its fast-paced collage is critical of the drastic urbanization of the city of Seoul. Black Cinema Matters “This year’s topical section Black Cinema Matters is not intended as a superficial response to the Black Lives Matter movement, on the contrary – the current social turmoil prompted us to draw attention to the rich and inspiring tradition,” says David Čeněk, the section’s programme selector. “The section introduces a radical change in the perspective of the Afro-American narrative, which has long been dividing not only American public but is also bogged down with a lot of prejudice, ignorance and lack of empathy,” says Marek Hovorka. The section will comprise exclusively of works by Afro-American filmmakers attesting to their direct experience with racism and violence. As a paradox, this authentic testimony has been marginalized or presented predominantly by other than Afro-American filmmakers.  American curator Greg de Cuir Jr. was a consultant of the section. The showcase will include Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, Take 1 directed by William Greaves. “A doc documenting the documentary shooting of a documentary” this could be the motto of the film made in the tradition of cinema verité: a competition for a fictional film taking place in Central Park in New York which transforms into a riveting experience of the process of filmmaking thanks to the parallel shooting of three independent crews. Ji.hlava Industry programme The rich Industry programme will take place online and will include a number of projects focused on film professionals, such as the Emerging Producers workshop focused on up-and coming European producers, Conference Fascinations on the distribution of experimental works, virtual meeting of film festival representatives Festival Identity, presentation of new Czech documentaries Czech Joy in the Spotlight, educational seminars including Media and Documentary and the Ji.hlava Academy, and a wide range of discussions with film producers and distributors from V4 countries. Industry accreditations are intended for film professionals and film school students and this year are issued free of charge. IDF will present the Silver Eye awards During the 24th Ji.hlava IDFF, the Institute of Documentary Film (IDF) will organize an online version of the traditional East Silver Market with Central and Eastern European films for film professionals. Two international juries will decide on the best films on the market and the winners of the Silver Eye Awards. Eight films have been nominated in the short-film and eleven films in the feature-film category. The Ex Oriente Film workshop will offer its programme to the public starting already on October 19 – 24, 2020.
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