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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Testimonies

Testimonies is a selection of films that capture the current state of the world from various angles: as much as it may seem that there is no common thread running through them, within the context of Czech and international documentary filmmaking these are works that, for many diff erent reasons, cannot be overlooked.

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Capital in the 21st Century
This film has a 300 views limit. In the more than six hundred pages of his best-selling Capital in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty explores why the one-sided accumulation of capital leads to increasingly greater social inequalities and the transformation of a democracy into an oligarchy. Director Justin Pemberton has taken this book, rich in graphs, numbers and complex economic terms, and transformed it into an energetic audiovisual lecture, which, with the contribution of leading economic experts, explains the history of the complicated relationship between power and prosperity. This alluring kaleidoscopic collage humorously exposes the weaknesses of capitalism and points out what we may lose if we fail to reverse current developments.     “While we were making the film, I thought of Capital as a wild animal that can be really destructive when it’s just left to roam and follow its instincts but actually can be tamed and used for good and under the right circumstances.” J. Pemberton  
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Capital in the 21st Century

Justin Pemberton
France, New Zealand / 2019 / 103 min.
section: Testimonies
Czech Premiere
Homecoming - Marina Abramovic and Her Children
This film has a 500 views limit."I come from a dark place, Tito's Yugoslavia," says Marina Abramović at the start of the film, which captures her heartwarming return. The journey to her native Belgrade where the Serbian performer now calls home after many years leads us to the various cities where her travelling exhibition The Cleaner is being presented. The artist recalls her tumultuous relationship with her homeland, her parents and her own body, and recapitulates how she crossed the border between states and between creator and audience. Her work springs to life not only in archive footage, but also in the performances of young performers who, much like her children, carry on their "mother's" legacy.
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Homecoming - Marina Abramovic and Her Children

Boris Miljković
Serbia / 2020 / 83 min.
section: Testimonies
Czech Premiere
Hong Kong Moments
From June to November 2019, acclaimed Chinese director Zhou Bing filmed massive protests of Hong Kong residents against the law of extradition, and conceived his film as a monumental presentation of a historical turning point of “free” Hong Kong. Using various documentary material from the protests and numerous drone shots, he was able to create a professionally fine and well-edited mosaic of opinions of seven different people who, despite the fact that their subjective truths may dilute the essence of the fight against the dictatorship in People’s Republic of China, show the meaning of their fierce and (temporarily) victorious struggle for democracy. „We filmed seven Hong Kong people during three months. The protagonists including a front-line protestor, a First-Aider, a taxi driver, a local tea house owner, a police force, a district councillor and a young girl who participated in the election. They live in the same city but have different lifestyles and values. I tried to record their story from a calm and objective angle, in a direct film way.“ Z. Bing
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Hong Kong Moments

Zhou Bing
Hong Kong SAR China, Germany / 2020 / 90 min.
section: Testimonies
Czech Premiere
Living Water
Jordan is the second driest country in the world, and villages in the vast Wadi Rum desert depend on the water network located just below their feet. While the local population is faced with water shortages and expect the kingdom’s leaders to provide support like they promised, only large farms and the seaside town of Aqaba (where the King of Jordan has grand plans) have permits for deep-sea drilling. Through a series of interviews and poetic shots of the arid landscape, this ecographic documentary captures the complex state of the country, which is about to run out of valuable water resources, and the conflict between the state government and the local community worried about their future.   http://livingwaterfilm.com/
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Living Water

Pavel Borecký
Czech Republic, Jordan, Switzerland / 2020 / 77 min.
section: Testimonies
World Premiere
Oeconomia
This film has a 700 views limit. Director Carmen Losmann’s film looks for answers to some of the crucial questions of today: Why is economic inequality on the rise? Why are both individuals and states increasingly indebted? Why is it that it is the clients who pay the most for bank crises? In order to understand the rules of a game, from which only a very small percentage of the participants benefit, she approached representatives of the banking and financial sector. Some wished to remain anonymous. The director put their answers into the mouths of actors and supplemented them with illustrative computer graphics. The document thoroughly, clearly and with foresight, analyzes the paradoxes of continuous economic growth and presents a tangible form of a system whose mechanisms should remain invisible in the interests of capitalism.
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Oeconomia

Carmen Losmann
Germany / 2020 / 89 min.
section: Testimonies
Czech Premiere
Overland
This film has a 750 views limit. Over the course of five years, a pair of documentary filmmakers visited the American prairies, the Mediterranean coast, and the Mongolian steppe to better understand one of the longest-running, human-predator relationships – falconry. Lauren, an anthropologist, travels the world and teaches injured eagles to fly and hunt again. Giovanni left Rome and lives in the countryside with just hawks, wolves, and horses to keep him company. The Khalifa, meanwhile, is preparing his falcon for the races in Dubai. All three continue to develop a tradition in majestic natural scenery that is as endangered today (as are some species of birds of prey) due to a vanishing wilderness, declining cultures, and the fragility of the ecosystem.      „Overland is a place of openness. For us, it is about he need to wake the wild in ourselves if we are going to protect the wild on this earth.“ E. Haviland James, R. La Noue  
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Overland

Elisabeth Haviland James, Revere La Noue
United States, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Italy, South Africa, Mongolia, Azerbaijan / 2020 / 104 min.
section: Testimonies
European Premiere
Rebuilding Paradise
On November 8, 2018, one spark was enough to start a fire on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which was one of the most devastating fires in California history. The fiery hell left 85 victims and more than 60,000 hectares of scorched land. The town of Paradise was also reduced to ashes. In the emotional documentary by Oscar-winning director Ron Howard, the surviving residents return to the place of destruction to overcome the trauma of losing their homes and face their uncertain future. Together with them, we experience a year of despair, facing the untamed element, and the hope and determination to start anew and rebuild the lost paradise.     „Well, I’d never been, you know, around anything like that, that sort of total devastation. And that in and of itself was shocking to the nervous system. And then to see and begin to interview people who, you know, had experienced the rug completely pulled out from under them, what was going to be left for them. And that became our story. And it’s also something that they wanted to talk about. They wanted to share that footage. They wanted people to understand that as we saw these individuals, make some pretty remarkable decisions and take these steps toward actually trying to rebuild their lives and this community, we would never forget that, you know, in their recent past was this harrowing experience.“ R. Howard  
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Rebuilding Paradise

Ron Howard
United States / 2020 / 95 min.
section: Testimonies
Central European Premiere
RES CREATA - Humans and other animals
This film has a 700 views limit. Technological advances and cultural development have disrupted the balance between humankind and other animals. Instead of looking at similarities, we focus on differences. Co-existence has been replaced by dominance. We have forgotten that we live in a house that does not belong only to us. However, the ties between humans and other inhabitants of the animal kingdom have not been irreversibly broken. In his visual essay, which is both intimate and philosophical, Alessandro Cattaneo focuses specifically on those things that connect us. The statements of thinkers and idyllic shots of interspecies interactions indicate that if we change the way in which we think about animals, it will be beneficial for the entire ecosystem.     “I loved animals, but from a distance. The film was an exploration of a new territory when we started to shoot the film. From that day on, I experienced being so close to so many animals. You feel really naked when you are two feet away from black horse and a man riding him without a saddle.” A. Cattaneo
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RES CREATA - Humans and other animals

Alessandro Cattaneo
Italy / 2019 / 80 min.
section: Testimonies
East European Premiere
Sanctuary
This film has a 500 views limit. At the turn of 2017 and 2018, Greenpeace launched a campaign to establish a natural reserve encompassing 1.8 million square kilometres of the Weddell Sea near the coast of Antarctica. It is one of the coldest bodies of water on Earth, boasting one of the best preserved biotope. Javier and Carlos Bardem, two ambassadors of the initiative, take us with them to watch the efforts of ecologists and scientists to protect this unique natural wealth and to explore exciting happenings in the field of activist environmental policy in the age of information and the post-factual where new tools need to be employed to raise awareness and reach mass support.
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Sanctuary

Alvaro Longoria
Spain / 2019 / 74 min.
section: Testimonies
Czech Premiere
The Campaign Against the Climate
An investigative documentary unravels the net of complex relationships and motivations behind the groups that refuse to acknowledge potentially fatal impacts of the climatic crisis. Research and predictions of climatic experts and specialists from other related fields of science are questioned by communication specialists who reduce the issue to a task of finding convincing arguments to be fed to the general public. Given the world of lobbying and post-truth we live in, it's hardly surprising that some of the most influential anticlimactic think-tanks are financed by the biggest producers of fossil fuel. A gripping insight into the art of deception starts in 1988, the year when the world was getting ready to fight the climatic change. Ever since then, oil companies have worked behind the scenes, supporting or even organizing events in order to destroy or at least slow down environmental movements struggling to protect our planet, and to make the society turn against them.     “Mads Ellesøe is a journalist who can take on both the fine details and the big perspective. Both the compassionate portrait and the big revelation.”Introduction by the director  Mads Ellesøe
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The Campaign Against the Climate

Mads Ellesøe
Denmark, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium / 2020 / 53 min.
section: Testimonies
Czech Premiere
The Dilemma of Desire
This film has a 350 views limit. The clitoris mainly serves for female pleasure and has long been ignored by modern medicine until recently. While a woman's body has always been considered an erotic symbol, a woman's sexual desire has always been considered less important than a man’s or even taboo. Biologist Stacey Dutton, queer activist Coriama, designer Ti Chang, and artist Sophia Wallace point out how cultural, political and religious norms ruled by patriarchal society have led women to suppress their own desire. Each of them tries to demystify the established perception of female sexuality and, thus, end phallic dominance. Because without the equality of pleasure, there can be no equal society.   „The Dilemma of Desire is a film that connects the consciousness of clitoral facts -- THE TRUTH -- with a female empowerment that is way beyond sexual satisfaction.“ M. Finitzo
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The Dilemma of Desire

Maria Finitzo
United States / 2020 / 108 min.
section: Testimonies
Czech Premiere
The Jump
Like many citizens of the Soviet Union at the time, Lithuanian seaman Simas Kudirka believed that a better future awaited him in the West. On 23 November 1970, when the Sovetskaya Litva he was on passed by the USCGC Vigilant, he decided to take advantage of the opportunity and jumped no less than three metres from the Soviet fishing boat onto the US Coast Guard patrol boat. This bold attempt of his to obtain political asylum caused social upheaval and prompted some very important dialogue between the two world powers. The dramatic re-enactment of this curious incident also reveals how radically the US government’s attitude towards refugees has changed since the Cold War.At 14:30 You can join the Q&A with the director of the film The Jump Giedrė Žickytė through ZOOM HERE
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The Jump

Giedrė Žickytė
Lithuania, Latvia, France / 2020 / 85 min.
section: Testimonies
Czech Premiere
The Viewing Booth
Lying at the heart of the film is Virginia Woolf's rhetorical question whether we really perceive the images of war in the same manner. These considerations provoked the director of the film to carry out an unusual audiovisual experiment. He presented several volunteers with 40 videos published freely on the Internet, which depict various aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Closed in the viewing booth, they can play any of the clips, stop them at will, replay them, and comment on them. Their act of viewing, however, is recorded. And the director's dialogue with one particular participant eventually becomes an essential part of the film.     “It’s a film about a breakdown of communication, but that also becomes dialogue, although it’s a problematic dialogue.” R. Alexandrowicz At 16:30 You can join the Q&A with the director of The Viewing Booth Ra'ananem Alexandrowiczem through ZOOM HERE
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The Viewing Booth

Ra'anan Alexandrowicz
Israel / 2019 / 72 min.
section: Testimonies
Czech Premiere
Vivos
At the end of September 2014, a group of students from the Ayotzinapa School of Education was brutally attacked by the police and masked assailants while passing through the city of Iguala. Six people were killed and another forty-three are missing after being abducted. Since then, their relatives have been living in uncertainty, unsuccessfully asking government authorities for the truth. In their minds, the victims are still alive. By alternating meditative, lyrical images and intimate interviews with the survivors, Ai Weiwei builds a complex, overly empathetic account of the tragedy caused by the repressive practices of a corrupt state where justice is almost impossible to obtain.   „The film is not an investigative documentary. It puts aside the facts uncovered by investigations into the case, paying more attention to how human survival is maintained under such circumstances. How does an ordinary family, after losing a loved one, face this society? How do they face themselves in their domestic lives? They must confront a reality they are unprepared for, which is the need to demand justice from the government and society.“ A. Weiwei
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Vivos

Ai Weiwei
Germany, Mexico / 2020 / 112 min.
section: Testimonies
Czech Premiere
Ministerstvo kultury
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