26th 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 CZK 200.000

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Al Amari, temporary residence
Al Amari is a Palestinian refugee camp located in the West Bank. It has been here for more than seventy years and during this time its original appearance has been replaced by concrete buildings resembling a regular city. This is the Czech director’s second visit to this distinctive community, and despite many residents’ wariness of her, she forms friendships with the locals. The film consists of several portraits of refugees living in Al Amari and provides a report on the difficult everyday life of people surrounded by fear, war and violence. Taken as a whole, these portraits form the story of the filmmaker and her protagonists. „Here, you don’t actually do what you think or want. You do what the community wants, what your religion wants, what your family wants…“ (From the film.)
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Al Amari, temporary residence

Kristýna Kopřivová
Czech Republic, Romania, Palestine / 2021 / 42 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
ANIMOT
The experimental documentary filmed at rescue centres in Prague and Vlašim refuses the anthropocentric perspective and views the world through the eyes of wounded animals. The term Animot was taken over from Jacque Derrida. While the French philosopher and deconstructivist uses the term to refer to everything animalistic and non-human, the film, on the other hand, uses intimate details to point out the proximity between human beings and animals. They are connected by their vulnerability, helplessness and mortality.
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ANIMOT

Juliana Moska
Czech Republic / 2021 / 18 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Blood Kin
Sudetenland. Present. The grandson of a murdered factory owner is hired as a mystical guide to a wealthy old man’s fate. The curtly sketched wandering journey through a desolate landscape to the past reveals the roots of human brutality. Motives of personal morality, historical guilt for collaborating with the Nazis and redemption through revenge are unleashed in a phantasmagoric hallucinatory feria, a cruel dance of dehumanized figures driven to fulfillment by revenge, greed, and a faint vision of redemption. The historical allegory of Blood Kin, based on a real event, balances between documentary verisimilitude and expressive, surreal dramatization. “The desert is growing. Woe to those who hide the desert within themselves.” (Friedrich Nietzsche) This film is screened out of competition.
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Blood Kin

Miroslav Bambušek
Czech Republic / 2021 / 85 min.
section: Czech Joy
Central European Premiere
Brotherhood
Jabir, Osama and Uzair, brothers from Bosnia, followed the rules set by Islamic Salafism and their strict father Ibrahim. The radical preacher is now serving time for his involvement in the Syrian war and terrorism. Each of the sons is deciding for himself which path to adulthood he will follow. We watch them closely every day for several years as they struggle with their flock of sheep, inner doubts, and cultural expectations. This archetypal coming-of-age story about the formation of male identity captures the mood of Europe today, where more and more people, lost between tradition and modernity, cling to authority figures with definite answers. „I wanted to be as close to reality as possible. The photography needed to be simple, but I also wanted something poetic that would distinguish the film from a normal documentary. I wanted to have something that came close to what we would call magical realism.“ (Francesco Montagner)   Q&A with Francesco Montagner:    
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Brotherhood

Francesco Montagner
Czech Republic, Italy / 2021 / 93 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Eyewitness
"A documentary anatomy of mass murder for one monitor and 34 talking heads." These are the words the filmmakers use in the credits to describe their project, which thematises the execution of more than 260 Carpathian Germans, Hungarians and Slovaks by Czechoslovak army soldiers near Přerov in June 1945. The “massacre at Přerov” is made present through a minimalist dramatisation of the interrogation footage of direct participants, eyewitnesses, and others. It is as if the characters of ancient theatre were entering the Zoom “stage” and delivering a tragic message of fear, hatred and disinterest across the chasm of time. "The important thing is that it's on the National Theatre website. And after watching the docudrama, which is an hour and a half long, one can examine each individual testimony separately, this avoiding any manipulation by the filmmaker, letting each viewer make up their own mind." (Jiří Havelka)   Q&A with Jiří Havelka:    
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Eyewitness

Jiří Havelka
Czech Republic / 2021 / 93 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Healing Me
Director Tereza Tara fell ill at the age of twenty-five. She captured her ten-year-long journey to recovery, which took her deep into the past and to the edge of the abyss, in the form of a personal and poetic video diary. With her weakened kidneys, she visited doctors, psychosomatic experts, and an alternative healer who urged her to surrender herself into the hands of God. Gradually, she began to see the condition of her dual organs as a reflection of her unbalanced relationship with her mother, her partner, and her own body. She finally understood that if she wanted to find a cure for her diseased kidneys and start living a better life, she needed to understand herself better first. “I came to the conclusion that what I do is called holistic cinema. Because in most cases, it encompasses all aspects of life – those I observe, myself observing, and a wide range of contexts that are important to me.” (Tereza Tara)
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Healing Me

Tereza Tara
Czech Republic / 2021 / 82 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Heaven
Tomáš Etzler worked for seven years as a foreign correspondent in China. He came to know a country that was developing at an admirably fast pace, was swayed by its energy, and for a moment believed that modernity could bring about political change as well. Before long, it dawned on him that many people would continue to be severely punished, and the regime would still keep most of the nation in a state of indecision and ignorance. Without neglecting that face of China today, Etzler chose to tell a story of hope in his personal documentary. Using the example of an orphanage for disabled children, he shows that the answer to collectivist brutality and ruthlessness can be mutual assistance, tolerance and empathy. “I don't like communists, I think communists everywhere in the world are criminals.” (Tomáš Etzler)
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Heaven

Adéla Špaljová, Tomáš Etzler
Czech Republic / 2021 / 71 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
How I Became a Partisan
A Roma partisan. An association that has been pushed to the outer edge of historical memory provides the starting coordinates for the director’s mission of emancipation. A web of themes and motifs emerges from a journey back through memories of her great-grandfather Ján Lacko. The revived stories of Roma partisans from the Slovak resistance movement are extricated and woven into a discourse on Roma identity, the roots of European racism, and disappearing traces of cultural and collective memory. Vera Lacková’s partisan battle remedies the collective consciousness in her native village as well as at the celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising. Empathetic moments in this “film resistance movement against oblivion” alternate with unexpected moments of ethnic humor and moral tragedy. “I often encounter situations when even Roma are seeking their identity. When my nephew was born, the neighbors looked into the baby carriage and said: ‘How nice and white.’” (Vera Lacková)
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How I Became a Partisan

Vera Lacková
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2021 / 90 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Kinloss
300 metres long, 85,000 tonnes, 6,200 containers of cargo. The Kinloss is one of the largest ships in the Danish Maersk Line's fleet of tankers, which traverses the world's oceans and handles the global circulation of goods. The filmmaker shot the tons of steel moving between Busan and Shenzhen as both a wasteland inhabited by a few human beings and an industrial monument to the cold beauty and helplessness of the advanced phase of consumer capitalism. Fragments of cabins, decks, engines, massive ropes and breathtaking views of the sea complement the depersonalised narratives of a cosmopolitan line-up of employees of the world's largest transport corporations. "What are we thinking? Have vessels gotten too large? Containers being jettisoned overboard, delayed transits due to terminal congestion and let us not forget the long line of vessels at many ports waiting for a berth." (Jon Monroe, transportation consultant)   Q&A with Alice Doušová:    
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Kinloss

Alice Dousova
United Kingdom / 2021 / 53 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Leaving Beginnings Behind
In her most recent film, Linda Kallistová Jablonská observes three girls growing up in a residential facility in Počátky, Czech Republic, over the course of ten years. She explores their dreams about liberty, the reality they must face as well as their ideas about their own future families. The sequel to her first longitudinal documentary about Adéla, Denisa and Pavla captures the rocky road to independence after leaving the facility, their reconciliation with the past, job search, new relationships, small joys and big disappointments. Not only does the director draw an empathic portrait of three young girls with no-one to rely on but themselves; she also explores the ways in which public institutions form young people’s attitudes to life. “I have just finished a film mapping ten years in the lives of three girls who had grown up in an institutional care facility. The girls face various struggles, and I wanted to know why. I looked into how the first years of one’s life actually form the person, and I’ve come to realize that institutional care strongly affects the whole life of a person who has grown up in it.“ (Linda Kallistová Jablonská)   Q&A with Linda Kallistová - Jablonská live:    
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Leaving Beginnings Behind

Linda Kallistová Jablonská
Czech Republic / 2021 / 97 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Love, Dad
Writing letters as a form of therapy and trying to cope with feeling misunderstood and abandoned is the central theme of this autobiographical graduate film. An adult Diana goes through the letters her father wrote her from prison when she was little. The warmth and lovingness of her father's words contradict his behavior when he returns home, which the artist is now trying to understand so she can re-establish her relationship with her estranged parent. Her unusual technique of combining live-action film with rotoscoping, 2-D, and cut-out animation creates an aesthetic space for authentic confession where the burning question echos: “Would everything be alright if I were born a boy?”
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Love, Dad

Diana Cam Van Nguyen
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2021 / 12 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
One-room School
Grecia from Venezuela, Linda from Vietnam and Andriy from Ukraine are pupils of META, an inclusive school that supports the integration of young migrants into Czech society. Their families were brought to the Czech Republic by different circumstances and each of them has different ideas about their own future. While eighteen-year-old Andriy, an ambitious boxer, wants to become independent as soon as possible, and Grecia, an artistically gifted student, would like to get into an art high school, Linda is still not sure what she wants to do with her education and career. The time-lapse documentary engagingly captures an important stage in the lives of young people for whom not only the language barrier, but also the long-term lockdown due to the coronavirus epidemic is an obstacle.   Q&A with Zuzana Papáčková:    
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One-room School

Petr Hátle
Czech Republic / 2021 / 52 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Ordeal
In the past ten years, the Slovak citizens’ trust in justice has fallen sharply. Thanks to the access to Threema messages of Marian Kočner, a businessman under investigation in relation to the murder of the journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová, a vast corruption network within state administration and the justice system has been revealed. Disintegrating the merciless machinery including corrupt judges, rich and influential businessmen, mafia, politicians, and innocent citizens alike, is all but an easy task. Reflecting on the long-term crisis of the Slovak justice system, Zuzana Piussi’s investigative documentary asks whether the justice system with its many failures can ever be corrected. “The film emphasises the fact that the failure of the justice system is one of the reasons why people vote for anti-system parties, expecting remedy from them. In vain. If the justice system was working properly, the state could never be controlled by oligarchy and mafia to such an extent.” (Zuzana Piussi)
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Ordeal

Zuzana Piussi
Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2021 / 75 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Our Purgatory
This collective film, a cinematographic performance, in a way a tribute to the poet and priest Jakub Deml, presents the experiences of individual creators upon encountering his texts from the ensemble "My Purgatory". It wavers between spontaneous, even raw film, and conceptual performance. A "heretical mass" of four interpenetrating parts in color (Closure, Pilgrimage, Home, Cemetery), which define typically Deml motifs. The fifth part, in high contrast black and white, is a reaction to the illusion of a colorful world, a voice from the graveyard that frames the eternally absurd human quest for immortality."We fear Death!" "Don't be afraid - you will be cleansed in Purgatory," said Revelation, shining in the strongest light. And we, assured that there is no hell for us, have plunged into this Light like an abyss.“ This film is screened out of competition.
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Our Purgatory

Martin Ježek
Czech Republic / 2021 / 70 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Out in Force
The desire to achieve the greatest physical strength and moments of complete lack of mental strength define the life of film critic Kamil Fila during the filming of this atypical time-lapse documentary. The necessary moment of observation is broken in a longer period of time by the protagonist’s attempts to bring his life into harmony with the people closest to him, which, nevertheless, regularly lead to failure. The result is a portrait of an intellectual at his wits’ end, a man who struggles with the limits of rationalisation. It is precisely the openness with which Fila lets us peer into the depths of his private life that has a therapeutic effect not only for him but also for the viewer.   „Five years ago I was approached by a production company if I was interested in making a time-lapse film about the critic Kamil Fila and his then project of personal transformation. It was such a strange offer that I accepted.“ (Martin Mareček)   You can watch the Q&A with Martin Mareček here:  
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Out in Force

Martin Mareček
Czech Republic / 2021 / 91 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Peculiarity of Fisherman’s Soul
Every year, 15,000 Czech fishermen head to Norway to fulfill their desire to fish at sea. Here they experience moments of mostly male camaraderie, which, like the ubiquitous cigarette smoke, revolves around boyish talk over cans of beer and no one is immune to cabin fever. At least this is the case of six friends meeting in a restaurant in Jihlava. And when the legendary halibut start running through the fjords, the plot of this documentary tragicomedy is taken care of - the compulsive need to catch the coveted fish drives not only the six protagonists, but also the plot of the film itself. “As part of a comedically humorous narrative, the film depicts the themes of male friendship, unfulfilled dreams, and a very specific type of vanishing male identity.” (Ivana Pauerová Miloševič)   Q&A with Ivana Pauerová Miloševič :    
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Peculiarity of Fisherman’s Soul

Ivana Pauerová Miloševič
Czech Republic / 2021 / 77 min.
section: Czech Joy
Czech Premiere
Points for the President aka Attempt at Contrarevolution
This film is limited to 500 views.In his provocative mosaic of opinions from different sides of the political spectrum, Martin Kohout reflects on where the ideals of November 1989 and the former sense of community have disappeared to. He tries to understand the progressive fragmentation of Czech society through two recent events. Both the parliamentary elections in 2017 and the subsequent direct election of the president made it clear that there is no consensus in the country today on even the most basic concepts such as "freedom" or "democracy". Sources of concern, ideas about the country's future direction, and the national myths on which cultural and political figures and disaffected voters rely all vary. "One of things the film does is make us look at the other side. Not just state that there is something wrong with democracy and that populism is controlling people." (Martin Kohout)   Q&A with Martin Kohout:
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Points for the President aka Attempt at Contrarevolution

Martin Kohout
Czech Republic / 2021 / 105 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Preparations for Film T
In his film at the intersection of an experiment and a poetic documentary, Milan Klepnikov looks at the end of the world as defined by the poet Petr Král, who is convinced that children are born into a world which has in fact already ended. Trying to understand the young generation’s viewpoint and to capture the end of cinema as we know if, Klepnikov wildly chases and captures visual and auditive input, which he combines into a film sketchbook consisting of fragments of the lives of young people who apparently have been through the end of the world, but who still have many years ahead of them. “I appreciate Petr Král’s unshakable conviction about the end of the world as much as I like his peace of mind. Indeed, there’s no room for whining – not as long as there are certain moments, however meaningless or ridiculous they may seem at first sight, which can still be gained from the world.” (Milan Klepikov)
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Preparations for Film T

Milan Klepikov
Czech Republic / 2021 / 93 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
These Times Are Not For Us
For some people, the legendary singer Jan Nedvěd represents an obsolete kitsch artist, for others a musical cult icon representing values that are rapidly disappearing. The documentary follows the daily life of a musician, advanced in his years, who embarks on (perhaps) his last tour, recalling his youth spent in the great outdoors and recounting criticism he received for performing at political demonstrations. A series of interviews with Nedvěd about his passion for music, interpersonal skills, and his twilight years supplement commentaries on loved ones, loyal fans, today's young vagabonds, and the humorous controversy of contemporary musicians stiffly parodying Nedvěd's own songs.
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These Times Are Not For Us

Jan Látal
Czech Republic / 2021 / 51 min.
section: Czech Joy
World Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas
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