24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival
Opus Bonum is a competition section for the documentary films from all around the world, with the price for the Best World Documentary Film.
First Lights focuses on the first great works of beginning documentary filmmakers. Thee selected films offer a different view, allowing us to answer questions related to the history of documentary film, its changing topics and styles.
Between the Seas
Between the Seas is a competition section for the countries and nations of Central and Eastern Europe, including their historical, political, and cultural interrelationships.
Between the Seas: Student Film Competition
The most significant student films from the Eastern and Central Europe.
Czech Joy is not only a prestigious competition for the best Czech documentary, but also a celebration of the diverse range of new topics and the adventurous spirit of cinematic epxression.
Fascinations is a large factory for experimental filmmaking that takes films based on reality and strips them of all that weighs them down, thus significantly expanding the possibilities of filmic expression.
Exprmntl.cz is a competition survey of the latest Czech experimental films that touch upon reality and never cease in their search for new ways of expressing reality through classical and digital film.
Short Joy is a selection of documentary shorts, with the price for the Best Short Documentary Film. Watch all films online at DAFilms.com and pick the Winner! The vote ends on Tuesday, October 22 at midnight.
A Testimony on Politics
A Testimony on Politics creates space in which voices and visions overlap with images and rhythms, the urgency of the content with formal intransigence. A competition section screening this year’s most important political documentaries.
A Testimony on Nature
A Testimony on Nature is a competition section featuring this year’s documentaries that hold conversations on the creation and destruction, on threats and challenges, about man as part of and as a mortal enemy of nature, all through the refined medium of film.
A Testimony on Knowledge
A Testimony on Knowledge is a competition section offering a new definition of scientific documentary. The boundaries of human knowledge, the boundaries of the portrayable – and the possibilities of crossing them.
Exceptional cinema events that guide us through a deep and critical reflection of the meanders of lived life in an unparalleled manner.
Section Constellations presents films, that last year shone on world documentary skies. We introduce carefully selected titles from other film festivals.
Bold allegorical, radically poetic, and unusual documentaries produced at the fringes of the official structures of the post-war Soviet regime in Ukraine. Although Ukraine has no experimental cinema that might correspond to the avant-garde movements in Western Europe, America, and East Asia during the second half of the 20th century, experimentation with various forms of visual representation, media, and styles and genres took place in several forms at different places: On the margins of official art, at film schools, and outside the state-controlled system, directors created radically poetic films, hybrid works combining allegory, a distinctive visual language, staging, performance, and documentary observation. Some of the radically poetic films (whose creators were later called the Ukrainian School of Poetic Film) showed the clear infl uence of that legend of poetic filmmaking, Sergei Parajanov, who taught at the Ukrainian film school. Another influential figure was Feliks Sobolev, known for his visually stunning popular science films. Ukrainian visual collages were often characterized by an ironic subtext, especially in how they worked with the techniques associated with “official” documentary film, for instance enthusiastic voiceovers in the style of communist propaganda films. Among amateur filmmakers from this era, we see attempts at a more distinctive visual language, and so our retrospective also includes an example of a home movie that makes use of elements not usually found in such works (close-ups, motifs unrelated to family and shared experiences). The places of spontaneous experimentation and the documentation of performative interventions in public were first of all universities such as the Polytechnic Institute in Kharkiv or Medical Institute in Lviv. Some of the works created at film school were considered subversive, and some were rejected or even banned. (The best known example is the cult music film The End of Holidays.) Until recently, many of the films in this retrospective were unknown even at home, and some remain so today. Only two of them have ever been screened outside of Ukraine. This retrospective selection is part of the Ji.hlava IDFF’s long-term focus on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. At previous Conference Fascinations screenings, filmgoers – among them renowned international distributors, representatives from experimental film festivals, and gallerists – could learn about the Czech experimental scene (2015), underground and experimental film from the communist era in Eastern Europe (2016), experimental Balkan production from the same era (2017), and experimental and underground film from the Baltic countries under communism (2018). For generous help we would like to thank Oleksandr Teliuk and Oleksandr Dovzhenko and National Cinematheque of Ukraine. Andrea Slováková
Thirty years after the events of Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution of 1989 that brought fundamental changes in political issues in former Czechoslovakia, their remembrance will probably look different from what they did in the past. Today, the rich country is divided more than ever, and it seems to be once again looking for its future and appearance. The Ji.hlava festival holds in esteem and protection the values that have helped to shape the direction of our country after 1989: freedom, democracy, justice, interest in public affairs and respect for different views. The anniversary of this major change in the life of Czech society will be remembered by presenting an original collection of films and lectures that will help to understand the pre- and post-revolution era, along with roots of the current crisis which may result in a sort of The Judge on the Czech Way turned into a documentary reconstruction by director Robert Sedláček. The time and spatial circumstances of the exhausted finish line of the so-called “real socialism” are described in the films by dissident filmmaker Michal Hýbek who was recording Václav Havel’s reactions after his last release from the prison, but also interviewed Alexander Dubček, the symbolic figure of the famous Prague Spring of 1968. Dubček in a previously unpublicized interview from September 1989, premiered at Ji.hlava festival, represents former communist reformers who were not pondering Western-style democracy in Czechoslovakia, but a reformed version of socialism. The voice of rigid communist representation is also heard in Jan Rousek’s new film, still in progress, A Normalization of Power. The breakthrough events of November 17, 1989 are summed up in the documentary by Lea Petříková and Jan Rousek, Velvet FAMU. The building of Prague’s famous film academy stands just around the corner from Národní třída where communist police forces stormed a peaceful student march on that day. And it was the students of Prague’s FAMU and DAMU (i.e. film and theatre academies) who initiated a general student strike at universities across the country. The strike very soon disseminated into theatres and led up to the general strike that virtually ended the communist sovereignty. Testimonies of former university students hold arguments against various conspiracy theories that are listed in a film by Andrea Sedláčková. The fast and furious pace of post-revolution years is captured in a documentary on Czech advertising and a lecture on ownership restitutions in the Czech film business. Advertising became symbolic of the rapid introduction of free market, meanwhile restitutions were attempts to come to terms with 40-year-old process of so-called nationalization whereby the communist government had relayed private businesses to state ownership. It remains an interesting fact that the topic of restitutions was more often dealt with through fiction film than documentaries at the time. A distinguished personality, playwright, essayist, dissident and later a president of both Czechoslovakia and the independent Czech Republic will be remembered in an almost forgotten documentary Vision 2000 by Juraj Herz and fragments from Petr Jančárek’s film (still in making) This Is Havel Speaking, Can You Hear Me?
A comprehensive look at the documentary methods, creative decisions, styles, and cinematic thinking of exceptional documentary filmmakers.
Explore today’s international music documentary and experimentation. How much of today’s flood of music is actually functional? Is there still such a thing as the art of sound (and the art of listening!) that has the force of the mythical Sirens?
Reality TV opens viewers’ eyes to new television formats and presents the full range of current forms of crossover genres such as docudrama, docusoap, reality show, and mockumentary.
Doc Alliance Selection
The Doc Alliance Selection Award is presented by the independent platform Doc Alliance, an association of seven European documentary film festivals: CPH:DOX, Millenium Docs Against Gravity FF, Doclisboa, DOK Leipzig, FIDMarseille, MFDF Ji.hlava, and Visions du Réel. This is award, as well as the online documentary film website DAFilms.cz, are the association’s key projects.
FAMU presents a selection of the most remarkable documentaries that have been produced over the past year in various academy departments.
FAMU International is an department of FAMU that incorporates the English language study programs. Students of these programs are from different cultures and societies which gives them unique perspecitve on local topics. In this section you will see films made by students of the Masters degree Directing program. Also shown will be films made by students of the one year program, their assignment was to create a portrait.
Czech Television Documentaries
Like with every year, Czech Television continues its interest in documentary filmmaking from the past year. In addition to their films that will be making an appearance in the festival’s competition segments, Czech Television will also screen an additional twenty-one films from their current productions at the Horácké Theater. They will offer sneak peaks of new documentary episodes (The Okamura Brothers from the series Czech Journal, Stories from the 20th Century, and Nedej se [Don’t Give In]), their documentary series (e.g. Up and Down through the Balkans with Adam Ondra) and their solitary documentaries, after which the audience can enjoy a post-screening talk with the filmmakers. Czech Television will also present its co-production and distribution documentaries, such as the story of the Rosťa and Vítek Novák brothers from Cirk La Putyka entitled Na Krev [For Blood] and directed by Erik Knopp, Eva Tomanová‘s documentary Začít znovu [Another Chance], and such documentary portrayals as Jiří Suchý: Tackling Life with Ease, Forman vs. Forman by creative duo Helena Třeštíková and Jakub Hejna, and Jiří Trnka: A Long Lost Friend from Tereza Brdečková and Joël Farges. The fascinating story of the daughter of a double agent for both the KGB and CIA, My Father, The Spy, will also be making an appearance at the festival. The international co-production from Estonian director Jaak Kilmi notably won the 2015 Czech Television Award at the East Doc Platform.
Workshops are a place where viewers can meet with filmmakers and their work, a studio where images can talk, because we can see them, talk about them, and ask about the films.
My Street Films
During the six years of its existence, My Street Films has established itself as a major educational project that encourages interested members of the general public to shoot short films on topics that they consider to be personally relevant. The project’s uniqueness lies in its openness – throughout the year it connects people who are actively involved in their communities with professionals in the media industry. In addition to national competitions for the best film, it holds workshops for selected participants devoted to documentary filmmaking, open seminars for the public, intensive practical workshops, and film screenings accompanied by a lecture and discussion. At the Ji.hlava IDFF, we present the winning films from the Czech competitions entered in the My Street Films Awards.
transparent landscapes / retrospectives
Translucent Being: Sergey Dvortsevoy
Sergey Dvortsevoy (1962) is a Kazakh director and documentarian of Russian origin. He is ften grouped with the Russian New Wave, which was formed at the turn of the millennium as a result of efforts to reflect the state of Russian society and a range of socio-economic issues through the medium of film. Dvortsevoy was born in Shymkent, Kazakhstan and prior to studying the art of filmmaking, he graduated from flight school in Ukraine and the Radio Engineering Institute in Novosibirsk. For a while he worked as an airline technician, then was admitted to the Higher Courses for Screenwriters and Directors in Moscow, which kicked off his career as the creator of documentary and fictional short films. In 2008 he made his debut with the feature-length fiction film Tulpan, who garnered him numerous awards at international film festivals – Best Director at the Tokyo IFF, Discovery of the Year at the European Film Awards, and the East of the West Award at the Karlovy Vary IFF. Tulpan contains strong links to Dvortsevoy’s socially critical documentary films and blends together elements of visual lyricism with a naturalistic effort to capture the real life of Kazakh herdsmen. The peak of critical naturalism in his work to date is the film Ayka (2018), which highlights the deplorable living conditions of migrants in Russian society, explicitly depicting the postpartum difficulties of women, which earned Samal Eslyamová the award for best actress at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
Translucent Being: Man Ray
Man Ray: A Film Painter The American artist Emmanuel Radnitsky (1890–1976) is better known by his pseudonym Man Ray. A multifaceted artist and a key figure of the interwar avant-garde, Ray was born into a family of Russian Jewish immigrants and spent his childhood in Brooklyn. While at high school, he received a scholarship to study architecture, but he decided instead to follow his dream of being an artist and subsequently worked a series of different jobs. Eventually, he studied fine art, thus gradually gaining access to artistic circles and discovering the European avant-garde. He began to photograph around 1914 and soon held his first exhibition. Thus began his definitive inclusion into the world of art, where one important experience was his meeting with Marcel Duchamp. Ray used new techniques to create original works of art. From 1921 to 1940, he lived in France, where he created most of his films. He was long known primarily as a Dadaist, a leading member of the Surrealist group, and the creator of four films. Between 1985 and 1996, however, several other films of his were discovered. Although none of them were intended for public viewing, they have helped to expand our understanding of Man Ray’s approach to film. Of special note are his visual sketches of his works of art, such as Autoportrait ou Ce qui manque à nous tous. For some of the films, it is difficult to ascertain their authorship with absolute certainty, and so we can only guess that they are the work of Man Ray. Even so, they are a valuable witness of the avant-garde of the 1920s. The reason for Man Ray’s departure from film at the turn of the 1920s and 1930s was not the emergence of sound but the increasing dependence on outside financing for filmmaking, his resistance to the collective viewing of films, and (as he himself admitted) the fact that he actually did not like moving images. David Čeněk
Translucent Being: Feliks Sobolev
Feliks Sobolev: Film as Discovery Feliks Sobolev (1931-1984), who originally graduated as actor, first found himself at KyivNaukFilm (Kyiv Science Film) studio of documentary films by accident, yet in an ideal moment, in 1960. Khrushchev’s condemnation of Stalinism during the famous 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in 1956 and plans for a historically first manned space voyage had become indications of ideological unhinging and brought promises of new era in human evolution. Trust in limitless potential of science was a key feature of the “1960s generation” of intellectuals to whom Sobolev undoubtedly belonged, with the genre of popular scientific film being an ideal means of expression. The goal of each of Sobolev’s films was therefore making a discovery and, in this sense, he was soon to become unbeatable in his field in the whole of the USSR. The core of Sobolev’s documentary revolution lay in presenting popular scientific film genre as an emotionally full spectacle, turning the audience into participants of a real-time experiment with unanticipated conclusions. His original documentaries developed into an artistically autonomous sphere with their extraordinary information values visualized in original form. Moreover, for each topic treated in his films, the director was searching for his own esthetic solutions, making the outcome truly original through the combination of documentary footage, animation, acting, hidden camera recordings, macro close-ups of scientific experiments and technical inventions of his own. The maximum measure of intensive message was attained through a limited number of means. In his The Feat, he is telling an amazing story of war thanks to a single photograph and only a few handwritten letters. In his film essay Biosphere! Time for Conciousness, he complemented his reflections on the rise of life on Earth with associative and causal sequences of real-life and abstract images. This combination is intensified by polyphonic soundtrack including background noises, Bach’s music and repetitive pathetic monologue. Such search for transcendent expression became a manifestation of Sobolev’s composition courage par excellance. Other from a series his revolutionary films include The Language of Animals and Can Animals Think?, both of which became blockbusters in the USSR. A curious (and difficult-to-make) insight into the animal kingdom brought about both topical and formal renaissance of Soviet documentary filmmaking. The search for links between the animal and human world came with disturbing questions of human responsibility for future development of the planet Earth that went on to become characteristic treats of Sobolev’s work. Interest in the constitution of the human mind brought Sobolev to start making noteworthy psychological documentaries with the participation of both Soviet academic personalities and the country’s ordinary citizens. In his Seven Steps Beyond the Horizon, Sobolev attempts–despite the seeming existence of equality system in the USSR–to open up the topic of creating a superhuman entity, though not as a shock Stalinist-era worker, but as a carrier of the superbrain. The limitless boundaries of intellectual powers were explored suggestively by Sobolev through facilitation to overcome psychological barriers (Keep at It, You Are Talented!). The psychology of human behaviour brought the director to other topics viewed as controversial at the time. His film I and Others (1971), treating the principles of manipulation and social conformism, was perceived by thoughtful audiences as an antiregime provocation act. A perspective on the ways how easily people succumb to the opinions of others and, with no obligations, start labelling sweet as salty, black as white and a woman as a man, became an unprecedented “bomb” in Brezhnev’s Soviet normalization era. However, Sobolev’s skits with politically explosive topics finally led to his fatal destiny. Expecting the reception of a state honorary award, the director started his project Kyiv Symphony (1982), which eventually turned into a politically biased pamphlet after interventions by censorship, which brought him abhorrence of many of his collaborators. Aged only fifty, amid wasted fame and shattered state of health, Sobolev set out making his last film The Target Is Your Brain on the mechanisms of the U.S. propaganda, aiming to express views of both ideological camps with the same measure of stringency as in his model work, Mikhail Romm’s Ordinary Fascism (1965). Kamila Dolotina Films of the program were provided by Oleksandr Dovzhenko and National Cinematheque of Ukraine.
A thematic retrospective that demonstrates the diverse forms of representation of bodily desire, attraction, and manifestations of physical love. From fragile photogenic nudity and a deep understanding and acceptance of sensuality to political proclamations, the avant-garde film challenges society’s relationship with portraying nudity and sex while also emphasizing diversity in the form of queer eroticism. It also makes a point to criticize the censorship of sensual expression in works of art while at the same time celebrating and exploring human intimacy. The thematization of physical attraction and admiration for sexuality, which is evident in various hints and delicate depictions of the naked body that date back to the interwar period, becomes the subject of more explicit symbolic games in the 1940s and 50s. Both tendencies intensified in the 1960s: depicting nudity and sex as a means of radical exploration of both intimate life and perception, as well as vigorous political manifestations. These were mostly directed towards official state regulations that imposed censorship of works of art in terms of a vaguely and conservatively defined “morality.” Helmut Costard, who depicted the minister as a talking penis, expressed an uncompromising opposition to German film law. Other films were not originally meant to be manifestos but became manifestos all the same thanks to the reaction from the authorities. Jack Smith’s now legendary work, Flaming creatures, was, according to his statements, meant primarily as a free-spirited, humorous film. However, the attitude of the state authorities (it was banned in 22 US states) made it a key film that articulated the opposition to film censorship after the film’s initial popularity within the New York underground scene and later amongst the American cultural community and the European avant-garde. Nowadays, it may seem trivial to strengthen the discourse of a healthy attitude towards the human body and to accept diff erent body proportions and shapes, but many avant-garde films were groundbreaking in that they worked with bodies not belonging to models but to ordinary people and occasionally even the films’ creators. The courage of some filmmakers also manifested itself in the form of self-presentation. Carolee Schneemann explored the feelings and experiences she had in sexual intercourse with her partner as she and others looked at his being captured. Among the explored areas also include queer sexuality, in which Kenneth Anger was a pioneer. Over the past three decades, filmmakers have also turned to analytical and poetic reflection of depicting nudity and sex, mostly in the form of found-footage collages that either refer to or work directly with pornographic films or otherwise critically remediate older representations. Andrea Slováková
Slovak documentary film in the 1960s
The selection of eight digitally restored films presents a survey of the Slovak short documentary cinematography of the 1960s and captures the diversity of approaches of individual authors to the documentary medium.
The design, as well as the technical and visual qualities of VR works are exponentially improving year by year. There are linear 360° films which we present in a VR cinema in four curated programme blocks, and six interactive experiences that will be presented as installations in the VR Zone at the DKO. Generally, the relationship of the VR experiences to the physical world is being significantly broadened by the use of elements of stage design or live action. In the Re-Animated installation, you will get a chance to walk on tree bark to experience forest on a very physical level. A prominent trend among the latest VR works is the focus on an analysis of artworks or artistic styles and their frequent motives include landscapes and ecosystems. VR ZONE = VR installations & VR Cinema* Venue: DKO ground floor Opening hours: Oct 25 – 28 from 10.00 AM until 9.00 PM and on Oct 29 from 10.00 AM until 5.00 PM Admission: daily pass for 80/160 CZK (festival pass holders/not accredited visitors) Reservation of VR installations: no reservations Reservations of individual VR Cinema screenings: online (50% of the capacity) / on-site (50% of the capacity + free seats) * Please make sure to arrive in the VR Zone at least 15 minutes in advance. * As part of your daily pass and upon prior reservation, you can visit all VR Cinema blocks and installation.
For the fifth time, Ji.hlava opens its Game Zone where it introduces computer games which address the pressing and complex issues of the contemporary world, use references to reality in unexpected ways, or seek exceptional visual solutions. We have been following certain game styles and approaches for some time already: games where the players’ actions contribute to the research and solution of scientific problems, games which explore political questions and contribute to the formulation of arguments in the social discourse, or the so-called slow games which motivate people to take a break from their frenetic daily routine.