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26th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Films on COVID-19 in the festival programme

The 24th Ji.hlava IDFF starts in three weeks. “We believe that despite the pandemics, the festival will take place on site in Ji.hlava. Personal meetings are irreplaceable as a source of inspiration, and films are primarily made for the big screen”, says Ji.hlava festival director Marek Hovorka. The current COVID-19 pandemic will also be reflected in this year’s festival programme not only in terms of safety measures, but also in the form of films dedicated to the issue. The Ji.hlava IDFF will show the latest film CoroNation by artist Ai Weiwei, capturing the situation of isolation in Wuhan at the start of the year. Covid-19 started spreading into the world in December 2019 from Chinese city of Wuhan and turned the world upside-down. It affected the entire society as well as our culture. “It is more than evident that the virus will change the whole society and these dramatic changes will also affect cinemas. Therefore, it is important to organize our festival, to support filmmakers, cinema operators and filmgoers,” says Marek Hovorka. “This year we will already bring the first films focusing on this phenomenon.” The audience will see the Czech premiere of feature-length documentary by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. The awaited film CoroNation captures events in Chinese Wuhan between January 23 and April 8, during the most challenging weeks of the quarantine. The film follows the stories of “ordinary” people mourning their dead, fighting bureaucracy and trying to “just” live. “To maintain stability, the government uses huge amounts of money and many people to follow and control me,” says a man who is desperately trying to get an urn with the ashes of his father from the authorities. “Why don’t they use these sources to actually help us?” he asks. Ai Weiwei, who also designed last year’s Ji.hlava awards, and his Coronation follow up on one of his previous films with a similar theme: seventeen years ago he critically captured the situation of the SARS epidemic in a documentary entitled Eat, Drink and Be Merry (2003). The world premiere of a Romanian film cycle Around the Home in 60 Days that was made in spring of this year will be a more poetic experience. Seven Romanian documentary filmmakers reflect on the isolation due to pandemic and show different ways of coping with the crisis. Poetic montage of found footage is combined with compilations from public cameras around the world and with scenes from a puppet fairy-tale, and a visit from the outer space. “Empty streets look exactly the same on one night at Sukhumi in Abkhazia as in the afternoon in Bucharest during a nationwide lockdown,” to quote one of the films. Spanish film Interregnum by directors Fernando Gómez-Luna and César Souto Vilanova. It unfolds through “film letters” exchanged by two friends: one in Spain, and the other in the USA. They could not work together in person as their countries were most hit by the pandemic. Closed cities, isolation, frozen social and cultural life. The two friends decided to continue and survive the crisis actively: through lively correspondence using the film medium. Ji.hlava will host the world premiere of the film. Dissipatio by Italian director Filippo Ticozzi is a cinematic contemplation on time in the pandemic world. “Time turned into something peculiar. We were trying to be as silent as possible, terrified by our breath while our home turned into the kingdom of a new kind of time,” says the director about their film project that will see its world premiere at Ji.hlava. The topic of the corona virus also reflects itself in experimental cinema. Fascinations will show 14-minute hybrid film The Devil Had Other Plans (Act 2) by British director Guli Silberstein, which works with the viewers’ senses and reflects the “pandemic” feelings of fear and paranoia. Czech docs that reflect on the pandemic will also be included in the popular section Czech Television Documentaries. Among the film titles will be Tereza Nvotová’s New York in the Time of Corona, a unique look at the “paused” New York, one of the epicentres of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospital in the Frontline by Zuzana Kirchnerová Špidlová and Adam Oľha follows the extremely difficult work of healthcare professionals during the battle with COVID-19. And what about Ji.hlava? The Ji.hlava IDFF will take place as scheduled! “We are getting ready for a physical event. Personal meetings are irreplaceable as an inspiration, and films are primarily made for the big screen. However, this can only happen if safe environment is guaranteed by the festival organizers,” says Marek Hovorka, the Director of Ji.hlava IDFF, who continues: “Of course, we expect less visitors, but the situation can also be seen from a different angle: this year, Ji.hlava will offer enough seats to watch films and enjoy discussions that were too packed in the previous years. Consequently, visitors can look forward to a unique and concentrated experience, pure inspiration.“ Inspiration Forum using digital technology The preparations of the Ji.hlava’s discussion platform – Inspiration Forum – which will this year see its tenth edition are also in full swing. The visitors can look forward to six days packed with debates and discussions. “Digital technology will connect the audience and guests of the Inspiration Forum with speakers who cannot join the discussions directly in Czechia due the pandemic,” says Marek Hovorka. What topics will the Inspiration Forum offer? The potential of African continent will be discussed as well as the possibilities of feeding humankind and the impact of intelligent technology, the status of women in religion and why is the “crisis narrative” problematic. These issues will be explored for example by American professor Jessica Fanzo, who is an expert on nutrition and immunology and has for 20 years been researching the ways of reducing hunger in developing countries. The Forum’s guests will also feature South African philosopher Ndoni Mcunu, director of NGO Black Women in Science that supports African scientists. American journalist Peter Tinti, who focuses on human rights and organized crime, will talk about the issue of migration. The guest speakers will include Austrian social scientist and management philosopher Harald Katzmair who is a prominent expert in applied analysis of social networks. The topic of digital capitalism will be discussed by German social scientist Philipp Staab.

Inspiration Forum 2020


Special sections of the 24th Ji.hlava

What will the 24th annual programme of Ji.hlava look like? In line with tradition, the festival will offer classical and experimental creative documentary cinema and themed retrospective plus a number of off-competition sections.   ● Tilda Swinton and speed end of humankind ● Special Event ● Constellations ● Testimonies ● Polish trends ● Conference Fascinations: Poland ● Fascinations: Garden ● Discovering female creativity ● Siren Test ● Offscreen program Tilda Swinton and speed end of humankind The Special Event section that focuses on outstanding cinematic events will this year feature the first and last film of the above-mentioned Icelandic filmmaker Jóhann Jóhannsson called Last and First Man. And because the director died unexpectedly two years ago, his film was finished after his death. This “sci-fi poem” speaks about the end of humankind. It has been inspired by brutalist socialist monuments in former Yugoslavia, a text by British philosopher and author of sci-fi novels, Olaf Stapledon and Jóhannsson’s music. The film is narrated by the voice of Scottish actress Tilda Swinton who received the Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award at the Venice Film Festival just a few days ago. Special Events section Last and First Men (Jóhann Jóhannsson, Iceland, 2019) Five Hundred Plateaus (Andrea Slováková, Czech Republic, 2020) Constellations section The Constellations section showcasing the best of films shown at festivals over the past year will treat us, for instance, to Epicentro by Austrian filmmaker Hubert Sauper, the winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in the documentary category. It is a portrayal of the current version of the “island of freedom” – communist Cuba. In the film, Sauper again concentrates on the topic of colonialism that has been his long-term focus: Cuba was colonized first by the Spanish, then the Americans and finally rich western tourists, including the director. “I find one thing especially fascinating in relation to Cuba - the fact taht despite the isolation of their society, the people are highly educated. Cuban reflection on the contemporary world is super interesting,” says Hubert Sauper. A similar topic, only on a different backdrop will be explored by Merry Christmas, Yiwu, by Serbian director Mladen Kovacević. The film is set in Chinese city of Yiwu with six hundred incredible factories producing Christmas decorations and people fluctuate between the faith in communism and desire for the “Chinese dream”: a bit of freedom, wealth and love. Todd Chandler’s Bulletproof will take us among American students. On the backdrop of school rituals such as basketball matches and student parades he explores the phenomenon of “school shooters” and how they have transformed the US society. I Walk (Jørgen Leth,Denmark, 2019) Epicentro (Hubert Sauper, Austria, France, USA, 2019) Merry Christmas, Yiwu (Mladen Kovačević, Sweden, Serbia, France, Germany, Belgium, Qatar , 2020) The Truffle Hunters (Michael Dweck, Italy , USA, Greece , 2020 ) The Foundation Pit (Andrey Gryazev, Russia, 2020) Bulletproof (Todd Chandler, USA 2020) Microcassette – The Smallest Cassette I've Ever Seen (Igor Bezinović, Ivana Pipal, Croatia, Serbia, 2020) The First Bridge (Laila Pakalnina , Lithuania, 2020) Me and the Cult Leader – A Modern Report on the Banality of Evil (Atsushi Sakahara, Japan, 2020) The Metamorphosis of Birds (Catarina Vasconcelos, Portugal, 2020) The Wall of Shadows (Eliza Kubarská, Germany, Poland, 2020) Testimonies section The unbelievable story of Lithuanian seaman Simas Kudirka will be a part of the competition section Testimonies. During the Cold War, Kudirka randomly encountered an American ship on the sea. He made a dramatic leap from the board of the Soviet vessel to find his way to freedom. However, Kudirka was sent back to Russia. Rare footage in The Jump sheds more light on the global tensions in 1970s. Testimonies will also offer an intimate cinematic portrait of Marina Abramović, Serbian performer and body-artist who calls herself the “grandma of performance art” and has been pushing the limits of art expression for forty years. Homecoming: Marina Abramović and Her Children was made by Marina’s compatriot Boris Miljković. The Jump (Giedre Zickyte, Latvia, Lithuania, France, 2020) Homecoming – Marina Abramovic and Her Children (Boris Miljković,Serbia, 2020) Polish trends Festival retrospectives will also be packed with exciting film titles. Following last year’s theme of erotica, this year the experimental retrospective will focus on the phenomenon of gardens. “The garden is one of the popular motives, metaphors and visual inspirations in the film avantgarde,” says the section’s programmer Andrea Slováková. “The selection also showcases various approaches and methods of presentation: from Norman MacLaren’s stop motion-animation through exquisite structures of Kurt Kren, Takahiko Iimuru or Steina Vasulka, to works where garden artefacts are glued directly to the film reel, such as Biostructure by Alice Růžičková.” This year’s Fascinations will feature films made over the past 120 years. The selection will also include the pioneer of film abstraction Oscar Fischinger and US avant-gardist Stan Brakhage. The audience will traditionally be introduced to the unique experimental and underground cinema of one of the East European countries. Last year’s focus was Ukraine and this year’s attention will turn to Poland. “For six years already, Ji.hlava has been mapping experimental and underground film production from the countries of the so-called Eastern Bloc. Poland experienced strong experimental trends mainly since the 1970s and this part of filmmaking and thinking has been significantly affected by the National Film School in Łódź,” says Andrea Slováková. The Polish value this facet of cinema which they have thoroughly explored and processed. “From among the countries and regions that we have covered, Poland is most advanced in terms of their mapping and care for this type of films,” adds Andrea Slováková. The section will feature renowned directors including the representative of Polish New Wave, Jerzy Skolimowski and works that have yet not been discovered internationally. Conference Fascinations: Poland My city (Wojciech Has, 1950) There and Here (Andrzej Pawłowski, 1957) Article Zero (Wlodzimierz Borowik, 1957) The Musicians (Kazimierz Karabasz, 1960) My Street (Danuta Halladin, 1965) Pavement (Ryszard Waśko, 1972) A Square (Zbigniew Rybczyński, 1972) ABC (Janusz Polom, 1974) Video C (Pawel Kwiek, 1975) A Cube of Sugar directed: Jacek Blawut, 1986) Kineforms (Andrzej Pawlowski, 1957) Somnambulists (Mieczyslaw Waśkowski, 1957) Erotique (Jerzy Skolimovski, 1960) Sweet Rhythms (Kazimierz Urbański, 1965) System I-VI (Ryszard Waśko, 1973) My Film (Józef Robakowski, 1974) Text Door (Wojciech Bruszewski, 1974) Input output (Wojciech Bruszewski, 1977) A New Book (Zbigniew Rybczyński, 1975) Video A (Pawel Kwiek, 1974) Exercises for Two Hands (Józef Robakowski, 1976) Working Women (Piotr Szulkin, 1978) Fascinations : Garden Film Studies of Impatiens, Vetch, Tulip, Mimosa, and Desmodium (Wilhelm Pfeffer, Germany, 1900) Poem 8 (Emlen Etting, USA, 1932) Neighbours (Norman MacLaren, Canada, 1952) Mothlight (Stan Brakhage, USA, 1963) Easyout (Pat O’Neill, USA, 1971) There is a garden in my head (Jacques Verbeek, Karin Wiertz, Netherlands, 1987) Our Garden (Martin Čihák, Jan Daňhel, Czech Republic, 1993) Lilium (Karø Goldt, Austria, 2002) Wax Experiments (Oscar Fischinger, Germany, 1921-26) Bloeiende bloemen en plantenbewegingen (J.C. Mol, Netherlands, 1932) 3/60 Trees in autumn (Kurt Kren, Austria, 1960) Carol (Ed Emshwiller, USA, 1970) Selected Treecuts (Steina Vasulka, USA, 1980) Ma: Space/Time in the Garden of Ryoan-Ji (Takahiko Iimura, Japan, 1989) Biostructures (Alice Růžičková, Czech Republic , 1998) Dendromité (Karine Bonneval, France, 2017) Discovering female creativity The music film section has been an integral part of the festival. This year, its main theme is clear: films about female protagonists made by female filmmakers. “It just turned out this way,” says the curator of the Siren Test section Pavel Klusák, “we are obviously living in an era where female creativity is getting massively uncovered. The authors of today and of the past.” Sisters with Transistors is a great lesson on outstanding women who have influenced electronic music. Riveting film portrait called Lydia Lunch - The War Is Never Over indicates the close connection between radical art and social change utopia. Music film and event curator Pavel Klusák also prepared a seminar called Gotťák with rare audiovisual testimonies relating to the career of Karel Gott - the brightest star of former Czechoslovakia. Siren Test Lydia Lunch – The War Is Never Over (Beth B.,USA, 2019) Sisters With Transistors (Lisa Rovner, Great Britain, 2020) Offscreen program The accompanying music programme also focuses on several communities that confirm that creativity (even without singing) is oftentimes of a collective character and is reinforced in communities. You can look forward to PIO or the Prague Improvisation Orchestra or to the original programme by SoniXpace, curated by Michal Rataj, which will present trio Hornscape, Ivan Boreš, Michal Nejtek, Jan Trojan and Michal Wróblewski. The new wave of authorial music and sound art will be represented by Veronika Svobodová and Julie Lupačová. We are also proud to present the audio selection of filmmaker and thinker Karel Vachek whose commented playlist will illustrate a unique confrontation with Vachek’s values, taste and “theory of matter”.

Official spot of the 24th Ji.hlava IDFF

Directed by Mike Hoolboom

Emerging Producers 2021

Presenting 17+1 Emerging Producers 2021

Docu Talents from the East

We have announced the 2020 Docu Talents from the East @Sarajevo FF projects

Festival Poster 2020

Ji.hlava introduces this year’s festival poster: playing on the light theme

East West Index

Which regions are under-represented in the programming of film festivals and why. Panel discussion hosted by Ji.hlava IDFF during Cannes Marché du Film online

We are looking forward to 24th Ji.hlava IDFF!

Festival team’s statement on the upcoming festival edition

Donations for Single Mothers

Early Bird festival passes with donations for charity collection “Shopping for Single Mothers” have reached 24.000 CZK. Thank you!
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