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25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Czech Joy

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.

→ The winners will receive an award of 10,000 EUR

film database

A New Shift
This film has a 1000 views limit. The closure of the Paskov mine, 2017; drilling into coal mines in the Ostrava-Karviná district, once a tradition, is now becoming a thing of the past. The Nová šichta retraining program drives a laid-off miner, Tomáš Hisem, away from his pickaxe, jackhammer, football Baník matches and Padlock concerts and into the world of object-oriented programming. New opportunities and horizons lead to changes in his personal life and career. This tender portrait of an ordinary miner navigating his way through the labyrinth of the labour market reveals both the nooks and crannies of a performance-oriented society and the transforming industrial agglomerations. Strong will and determination prevail over the media simulacrum of retraining in an impressive struggle for the soul and the dignity of one working-class man. Q&A with the director and crew:   This film is being screened under the auspices of the Representation of the European Commission in the Czech Republic.
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A New Shift

Jindřich Andrš
Czech Republic / 2020 / 90 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Alchemical Furnace
After he finished shooting his last feature-length film Insects, Jan Švankmajer became the protagonist of a film himself. His creative method is partially revealed by Jan Daňhel and Adam Oľha, who spent three years with the internationally acknowledged filmmaker, graphic artist and unorthodox thinker. This allowed them to capture specific situations as well as the artist’s general thoughts on food, fetishes, and the end of both humankind and Western civilization. This playful, associative and tactile portrait, whose fluctuating form provides an outline of various options, is supplemented with the perspectives of friends and colleagues, chiefly Jaromír Kallista, the producer of Švankmajer’s films. The artist’s wife and muse Eva is shown throughout the film through memories, dreams and archive footage.     “We wanted to create a formally independent film that does not copy Švankmajer’s signature style. Just as in alchemy, we based our work on three mutually interconnected principles. Specifically these were Jan Švankmajer, Jaromír Kallista and Eva Švankmajerová. Another very important element was the Surrealist Group, which is Švankmajer’s second family.” A. OľhaQ&A with the filmmakers Adam Ol'ha and Jan Daňhel:
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Alchemical Furnace

Jan Daňhel, Adam Oľha
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2020 / 118 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Czech Journal: Vojna Ztohoven
The film addresses forms of political art, which inevitably come into conflict with state power, but focuses more on the specific socio-legal consequences of such creative gestures. Members of the Ztohoven art group are preparing for a lawsuit as a result of their performance, when they raised a pair of red boxer shorts in place of the president’s banner at Prague Castle, the seat of the President of the Republic. At the same time, they decide to help the family of Russian activist Oleg Vorotnikov, a member of the dissident group Vojna, who finds himself in much more acute conflict with power. The test of Czech activism begins ...   “It’s a very situational film, one that I’ve always wanted to make. The viewer will be able to form their own opinion, but in some way, it might also offer them insight into our government and society.” P. Nesvačilová Q&A with the filmmakers Petra Nesvačilová, David Čálek, Ztohoven: Martin Leskovjan, Roman Týc, Matěj Hájek:
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Czech Journal: Vojna Ztohoven

Petra Nesvačilová
Czech Republic / 2020 / 80 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Eternal Jožo, or How I Met a Star
"An untraditional documentary portrait reveals the complicated personality of the Slovak music legend Jožo Ráž, the singer for the pop-rock group Elán. From recordings of everyday situations, playful moments, intimate conversations about God and death, and memories of the past, the director composes a complex image of a man loved by the masses, who, despite all his life successes, feels lonely. Convinced of the importance of opening up to worlds that are foreign to us, the director shot the film over the course of ten years, succumbing to a nascent friendship, and his personal approach reveals the protagonist's civilian metaphysics, his “natural ability to live in the universe with God.”     "Filming is characterized by an ambivalence between the serious and the unserious; between sharing, rapprochement, distance, and conflict: Ráž's universe falls within a constellation of cocoa and whiskey, music and family, dictatorship and meditation, brevity and eternity, glory and screwdriver, God and nothingness, or even The Smurfs and Gargamel.” J. Gogola Jr.   Q&A with Jan Gogola ml. :  
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Eternal Jožo, or How I Met a Star

Jan Gogola ml.
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2020 / 81 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Miri fajta
The central figure of the documentary is Robin Stria, an amateur filmmaker who is trying to create the first Roma sitcom in the Czech Republic. Its title - Miri Fajta - means My Family in Romani, and the Romani creator wants to tell a story about Romani using Romani actors. At the same time, it offers him the opportunity to think more deeply about his identity and show it at a time when the issue of self-awareness is also a problem of representation, because Roma creators are scarce. The sitcom’s director is aware of the importance of representation in the media, and the documentary of which he is a hero points out the absence of minority performances, where they are not only the object of observation, but themselves become creative factors. “Against the background of Robin’s painful efforts to create original Romani theater and film work, we also tried to examine what it actually means to be Romani in the Czech Republic today, and its specific forms are reflected in this personal portrait of not only Robin but also other members of his team.” M. Chlup, P. Kačírek, Doc.revueQ&A with Petr Kačírek, Martin Chlup, Jan Hubáček and a protagonist Robin:  
personal program

Miri fajta

Petr Kačírek, Martin Chlup
Czech Republic / 2020 / 73 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Once Upon a Time in Poland
Director Karel Žalud, with directors Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda, visited Poland over the course of several years to better understand Poles and their relationship with God. In the film, Žalud turns to casual passers-by, nuns celebrating the anniversary of the baptism of Poland, a representative of the anti-Semitic Radio Maryja, and a priest accused of sexual harassment. While they are all clear on matters of faith, the filmmaker, who himself seeks spiritual support, is increasingly skeptical. Christianity in today’s Poland seems to offer answers, but only to questions agreed upon by the church and the conservative government.     “It’s like a road movie through the medieval Catholic landscape. In short, it is a documentary football match, with one team being the most atheistic nation in Europe, which we are, versus the Poles, who are the most Catholic.” V. Klusák
personal program

Once Upon a Time in Poland

Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda
Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia / 2020 / 97 min.
section: Czech Joy
International Premiere
Personal Life of a Hole
In the introduction to his atypical philosophical essay, Ondřej Vavrečka asks, “What is the world?” Is it at all possible to discover, understand and describe something that is so random and disconnected, so unanchored in space and time, as is the world of today? Is it not needless to look for sense or meaning where there is none? Therefore, rather than looking for fixed points, the filmmaker focused on holes and gaps, on inconsistency and imperfection – in nature, in culture, in love and in work. Together with scientists and philosophers, from Althusser to Žižek, he uses a lively, stylistically and thematically eclectic collage to explore how emptiness can be pondered.Q&A with Ondřej Vavrečka, Alžběta Janáčková a Andrea Slováková:  
personal program

Personal Life of a Hole

Ondřej Vavrečka
Czech Republic, Finland / 2020 / 62 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Pilgrimage to the Mountains
Art historian and theorist Jiří Zemánek and his friends set out on a nine-day pilgrimage from Prague to Sněžka, one they’ve done many times before. These modern pilgrims, inspired by the walking journey of the poet Karel Hynek Mácha, who completed the trip with Eduard Hindl in 1833, discover the beauties of the Czech landscape, read excerpts of poems and observations from Mácha's notebook, and observe a world in which untouched nature and modern civilization meet. The lyrical, meditative film, interwoven with humanism, offers an insight into the inner minds of pilgrims longing to merge with the world, highlights poetry as a tool for transforming human perception.     "And then there is no choice but to take one's meager belongings onto one’s back and set off. Jirka might read a poem on the road, perhaps from Mácha, Jeffers or Josef Hora, and our minds are open to the unknown. We already know that there is nothing to be afraid of: the path will set us straight and guide us, connect us with the landscape, with the clouds, with the starry nighttime sky. With ourselves.” K. Čtveráček   Q&A with  Karel Čtveráček and Jiří Zemánek:  
personal program

Pilgrimage to the Mountains

Karel Čtveráček
Czech Republic / 2020 / 82 min.
section: Czech Joy
International Premiere
Pripyat Piano
This film has a 1000 views limitAn audiovisual elegy to a place abandoned by people, where all that remains are sounds trapped in crumbling pianos. The Chernobyl tragedy left behind a unique, tragic space, a long-forbidden zone. Traces of recent settlement are ubiquitous, released at the mercy of time and the effects of nature. Outside the realm of mere visual and haptic experiences, a documentary is released calling for the return of man as a creator and performer to continue their fatally cut-off work. In poems and songs composed by the original inhabitants of Pripyat, we can hear that a strong connection between people and their home persists.Q&A with the filmmakers Eliška Cílková (director) and Jindřich Andrš (producer):
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Pripyat Piano

Eliška Cílková
Czech Republic / 2020 / 18 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Traces of a Landscape
An immersive watercolour of the life of artist Jan Jedlička. The Czech painter, filmmaker and photographer emigrated to Switzerland in 1968 before making his second home in the desolate landscape of the Tuscan lowlands of Maremma. The empty palette of possibilities of internal exile gradually fills with enchanting paintings woven from a colorful mixture of shades of rocks, sediments, and pigments found in the landscape. The impressions of his new home, transferred ambiently onto canvas, photographs, and raw material of film, capture the inner sight and spiritual bond of an artist released from social structures, devoted only to his own work and life in a landscape of subdued light and shadow.     “Monitoring change is what interests me. There is no end result here, it evolves over time, it just keeps going.” J. Jedlička   Q&A - Petr Záruba, Alice Tabery:  
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Traces of a Landscape

Petr Záruba
Czech Republic, Italy / 2020 / 67 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
We are epicenters of the earthquake
The earth is scorched; trees are dying; species are becoming extinct; rivers are drying up. Human interventions have thrown the ecosystem off balance. The irreversible changes will have a devastating impact. A trip of a young urban couple to the country provides a base for a spontaneous poetic contemplation on dried-up landscape and mankind's environmental grief. Nature has ceased to be a relaxing place. Looking at nature can cause anguish. In this film about contradictions of ecological awareness, the ability to articulate such grief, be it through a prosaic statement or poem, meets the inability to let go off one's thoughts and feelings, to think outside the box and act on it.  
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We are epicenters of the earthquake

Tomáš Hlaváček
Czech Republic / 2020 / 40 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
White on White
White on White is director Viera Čákanyová’s video diary that she kept while staying at the Polish Antarctic station, where in 2017 she shot the film FREM (2019), whose main character was an artificial neural network. During her stay, the author chats with various artificial intelligences, leading conversations that touch on the nature of film, art, and the meaning of life while also revealing a way of thinking that’s free from humanity and from an emotionality that forces deep introspection. Footage from her routine, everyday life at the station contrasts with lyrical images of the immaculate Antarctic nature, which the author complements with her own commentary and thoughts provoked by the loneliness of the ice-covered landscape.   „How can you think something fundamentally inhuman? I'm making a film about artificial intelligence, but it's getting harder, more absurd. The Antarctic landscape works like a drug. Am I walking in the white darkness, looking for a sense of relief? I am matter with consciousness, far from thermodynamic equilibrium. That’s is the only thing I can report on.“ V. ČákanyováQ&A with the director Viera Čákanyová:
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White on White

Viera Čákanyová
Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2020 / 74 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Wolves at the Borders
The Broumov region owes its genius loci to - among other things - wolves. After more than two hundred years, they began reappearing in the local forests. Some locals welcome their return. They believe they can restore the natural balance and mitigate the effects of the catastrophic drought. Sheep and livestock farmers, on the other hand, see these wild animals as a threat to their livelihoods. They do not intend to bow down to an invisible enemy. Martin Páv stands as an impartial observer in the middle of an increasingly heated dispute. His visually captivating documentary shows how the landscape and the human desire for its control are also inextricably imprinted on interpersonal relationships and politics.     “When something new comes up, we based our reactions more on mere assumptions than on reality.” M. Páv   Q&A with the filmmakers (Martin Páv, Zuzana Kučerová, Lenka Štíhlová, Tomáš Havrlant):
personal program

Wolves at the Borders

Martin Páv
Czech Republic / 2020 / 80 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
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