28th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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A Cautionary Tale
Romanian senior Constantin Reliu has no documents, personal or pension rights. He worked in Turkey for 25 years. He was then deported from the country. On his return to his homeland, he finds that he was presumed dead. The system refuses to formally recognise that he is still alive but he still has the strength to fight the bureaucratic apparatus. With dry humour, documentary filmmaker Ilinca Calugareanu chronicles his lonely and harrowing quest to reclaim his lost identity. The story, reminiscent of the absurd starting point of Romanian New Wave films, is darker and more convoluted than it first appears, and the author becomes more and more involved in it. “A 63-year-old man declared dead in 2016 is invisible to the state.”

A Cautionary Tale

Ilinca Călugăreanu
United Kingdom, Romania / 2023 / 79 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Opus Bonum
European Premiere
A Hopeful Business
Freezing eggs today allows women to delay the ticking of the biological clock. In the Czech Republic, we already have almost fifty centres where these procedures are carried out. Moreover, after the pandemic wave, the number of women who have undergone this procedure has multiplied. It is therefore currently an unmissable demographic phenomenon that is making a significant contribution to population growth. In the long term, however, the statistics do not inspire much optimism.

A Hopeful Business

Natálie Císařovská
Czech Republic / 2023 / 26 min.
section: Czech Television Documentaries, Ji.hlava Online
The film already had its Czech Premiere
ACROSS
This autobiographical film, standing on the borderline between reality and fiction, explores diverse forms of faith and spirituality. Director Irene Dorigotti guides the film dressed in a Boy Scout uniform – a reminder of her family heritage – as she travels through her native Italy and remote areas, meeting spiritual leaders and ordinary people. For her, these encounters mark decisive moments in her spiritual journey and in her discovery of the role that religion can play in the life of contemporary man. Poetic images of landscapes, dreamlike passages and fragments of personal history, together with poignant music, create a powerful statement about the nature of humanity.“I spent most of my childhood walking in the woods and sharing the path with other children, seeking a God in falling stars – a God who could answer the big questions of a little life.” (Source)

ACROSS

Irene Dorigotti
Switzerland, Italy / 2023 / 77 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Atirkül in the Land of Real Men
In the vast plains of Kyrgyzstan, men have been cultivating a group sport with a long tradition. The aim of the game buzkashi is to steal the trophy of a dead goat from the rival team of riders, all while staying on horseback. Into this tough masculine world enters Atirkül, a woman with an enterprising spirit and a sense of humour. The film follows the everyday life of the headstrong horse lover Atirkül, whose ambition is to build her own buzkashi team of local young men to preserve the heritage of her native region. The ethnographic perspective alternates with a purely personal one, gradually revealing the possibilities of overcoming gender roles“They say it’s not for women! This makes me feel insecure. But I don’t care, I just follow my heart.”

Atirkül in the Land of Real Men

Janyl Jusupjan
Kyrgyzstan, Czech Republic, France / 2023 / 65 min.
section: Czech Joy, Ji.hlava Online
World Premiere
Believer
A young woman in love embarks on a dangerous journey to find a man she met on the internet and doesn't know much about. Her stubbornness goes so far that the director is forced to stop her. The film thus opens up questions about the author's responsibility for the subjects she is following in documentary filmmaking. “Bingru met Cai Jinlong, a guy from Guangdong, on QQ blog.”

Believer

Xinran Liu
China / 2023 / 22 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Short Joy
World Premiere
DISTANCES
Eight years ago, Shiv moved with his wife and young son from Nepal to Poland for a better life. Now in Warsaw, he makes a living by delivering food and by night as a taxi driver. At the same time, his teenage son goes to school and his wife sits at home unhappy. A time-lapse portrait of an immigrant family follows their seemingly ordinary life as well as interpersonal conflicts. Misunderstandings, old grievances and different values lead to the breakdown of family well-being and painful separation. The film sensitively portrays the problems faced by immigrants in Europe, and at the same time focuses attention on their individual life destinies, dreams and hopes. “You can’t drop out of school to become a YouTuber. It doesn’t work like that.”

DISTANCES

Matej Bobrik
Poland / 2023 / 84 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Drifting Woods
Danish artist Pia Rönicke has been exploring Scandinavian forests as a changing historical and phenomenological space for several years. She draws inspiration from the concepts of ecologist Suzanne Simard, who sees the forest ecosystem as an arena where human and non-human life forms collide. Like the subterranean mycelium, this polyphonic film is not arranged hierarchically but in a network. In addition to the people connected to the forest and the land, it lets the trees themselves tell the story. Their non-linearly presented story begins at the end of the Ice Age and continues to the present day, when man has ripped the wood from its natural habitat and reduced it to an industrial commodity."The forest is dynamic. Clearings appear and new trees grow. Just like the cells in our body are not the same as last year, the forest is always changing." – Pia Rönicke Source: BLOOM

Drifting Woods

Pia Rönicke
Denmark, Sweden / 2023 / 100 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Testimonies
European Premiere
East Wind
A strong east wind brings snow, rain and also memories of her father. Only a few objects, newspaper clippings and diary entries make him present. But Maia would like to know him better, to piece together a complete portrait from the fragments. For this reason, she leaves Argentina, the land of her home, and travels to the West Bank, where her absent parent comes from. But at first she finds only more ruins, the remains of houses destroyed by the Israeli occupiers. As slowly as the calm sea ripples, the author's pilgrimage to her roots turns into an encounter with an entire nation that has been stripped of its home. The shared experience of loss helps her to fill the empty space in her heart. “When you had the accident, mom left eight blank pages in her diary. There is a gap from September 19 to September 27, 1986.”

East Wind

Maia Gattás Vargas
Argentina / 2023 / 74 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Microscopic Love
A stormy summer night. Lightning strikes the water. A chain reaction begins. Director Emilien Dubuc uses vivid imagery, evocative sound effects and microscopic shots of biochemical experiments to explain in detail how life on Earth is created. But his narrative gradually becomes less scientific and more personal.

Microscopic Love

Emilien Dubuc
Belgium / 2023 / 12 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Short Joy
World Premiere
Minuet
The documentary adaptation of the novel by the well-known Flemish writer Louis Paul Boon is conceived as a polyphony consisting of voiceovers of three characters inhabiting a common apartment. A man, a woman and their maid, the latter of whom is many years younger than them, take turns using their inner voices in expressing reflections on their own and each other's lives.“The poetics of the source novel take on new power as this highly original approach brings literature to life, while the apparent randomness of overlapping texts and recurring motifs makes for a very particular and unexpected filmmaking experience.”Source: Diagonale

Minuet

Hans Broich
Germany, Austria / 2023 / 71 min.
section: First Lights, Ji.hlava Online
International Premiere
My Paradise Is Darker Than Your Hell
Theatre director Jan Kačena poisoned himself in 2019 by inhaling fumes and suffered irreversible brain damage. While his partner makes a film as a declaration of love, he lies unconscious. In the film, the director follows moments in the everyday lives of three people close to him: Czech rapper Tyler Durden, painter Tadeáš Pochman and film director Helena Papírníková. In a naturalistic way, it captures drug addiction, self-destructive tendencies and family problems, which are the subject of intimate, often uncomfortable conversations. The result is a diary-style probe into the fate of the artistic bohemia of late capitalism. “Maybe you're just a spoiled brat playing the anarchist bit.”

My Paradise Is Darker Than Your Hell

Kateřina Dudová
Czech Republic / 2023 / 76 min.
section: Czech Joy, Ji.hlava Online
World Premiere
Nomad Solitude
Nomadism today is no longer just an expression of a traditional way of life or a free choice for young people, but an imposed necessity for many seniors in the US. For them, a house on four wheels remains the only economically affordable option. In this time-lapse documentary, we follow the lives of three women on a long journey across the United States as their lives have been transformed. How do they cope with radical change? And what do loved-ones and friends have to say about their decision? These questions are also answered in the film, which anchors the philosophy of desolation in a broader political and social context.“Each fleeing a part of their past, these three reckless women criss-cross the roads in the hope of rebuilding their lives.” Source: Grizzly Films

Nomad Solitude

Sebastien Wielemans
Belgium, France / 2023 / 87 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Normal Love
Mike and Jeanne live together, spend their free time together, have sex – just about everything partners usually do. Except that at the beginning of their relationship, instead of mutual affection followed by gradual bonding, there is a legal contract. As contractual obligations, it lists some of the duties and rights that usually accompany the cohabitation of two people. The social experiment they both entered into with different expectations is the main theme of the film, which looks at the conflicting nature of emotions and reason in the web of interpersonal relationships. And it tries to answer the question: Is it possible to plan love just like a project with a set goal? “By behaving like a part of an ordinary couple's life, Jeanne tries to fit into a heteronormative world in order to show its absurdity.” Source: Leon Blog

Normal Love

Yannick Mosimann
Switzerland / 2023 / 92 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Not that kind of guy
Perpetrators of sexual assault tend to be portrayed as monsters. Signe Rosenlund-Hauglid, on the other hand, approaches them with empathy and an attempt to understand what led them to commit the crime. In her documentary, we follow a trio of men aged 20 to 27 who committed rape after a party. They face charges, trial, sentencing and eventual release. In the process, Morten, Benjamin and Kasper talk openly about their identity crisis, social stigma and suicidal thoughts. Faced with the director, herself a victim of an assault, they also realise how devastating an attack on someone's physical integrity can be. “Identifying yourself with the term 'rapist‘ is really quite impossible.” (from Not That Kind of Guy)

Not that kind of guy

Signe Rosenlund-Hauglid
Norway / 2022 / 40 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Testimonies
International Premiere
Of Fences and Men
The iconography of garden communities, which also includes fences, is spread out before us in a pictorial-sound study of a Czech phenomenon. All those swings, cottages, rusting gates and weed-ridden concrete panel walkways are monuments to human attempts to tame nature within reasonable limits.

Of Fences and Men

Petr Michal
Czech Republic / 2023 / 12 min.
section: First Lights, Ji.hlava Online
World Premiere
One Plus One Is Two
Jiří Menzel, a bachelor, is looking for a partner in an instructional film about how not to be alone. This socially futuristic probe into the souls of singles with a lack of dating opportunities shows that new times offer new possibilities – like a Swiss computer for finding the partner of your dreams.

One Plus One Is Two

Václav Táborský
Czechoslovakia / 1965 / 10 min.
section: Czechoslovak Film Feuilleton, Ji.hlava Online
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Places of the Soul
The death of the film director’s mother hit her very hard. She was just a child when this happened, and memories fade with the passage of time. Thus, the home videos that the most important woman in her life extensively shot begin to enter the picture. The documentary, with the poetic diction of the author's haunting voice, chronicles her journey from the sands of Arabia to the icy Antarctic, where she participated in a popular-science expedition. It is the contrast of two worlds, two completely different places, that brings her to question the titular places of the soul. Where do our memories remain? Where do we really belong at home? And where do we keep those who have already left us? “I'm the first Qatari woman in history to go to Antarctica, so this journey is a spiritual one and an exploration into matters of tradition, the environment, and the greater question of loss.” Source: Khaleejesque

Places of the Soul

Hamida Issa
Qatar / 2023 / 73 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Opus Bonum
World Premiere
Praise Me!
A documentary about the various forms of the desire for perfection. Director Eva Tomanová uses the stories of four protagonists to show the motivations that lead people to often unrealistic aspirations, and explores why and at what cost they aspire to fulfil them. She reflects on how treacherous the process of reaching the ideal is and how easy it is to get lost on the road to perfection.

Praise Me!

Eva Tomanová
Czech Republic / 2023 / 54 min.
section: Czech Television Documentaries, Ji.hlava Online
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Revenge Is the Answer
The film shows a cleansing ritual in the presence of two shoes and four girls who know that revenge is healthy for people.

Revenge Is the Answer

Viktorie Aldabagh
Czech Republic / 2023 / 2 min.
section: FAMU Presents, Ji.hlava Online
World Premiere
Taxibol
A taxi driver and his passenger drive through Cuban villages and talk about travel, heartbreak and human destiny. One speaks English, the other Spanish, yet they find mutual trust and understanding. The passenger, a Filipino filmmaker, tells the taxi driver the shocking reason why he is in Cuba and asks for cooperation in his search. A seemingly documentary prologue opens a journey into the last days of a former general of the Philippine dictator hiding on a banana plantation. The history of colonialism and political dictatorship emerges in the blazing Cuban sun in a film standing on the borderline between reality and fiction. “It is a thrillingly anticlimactic story of an overwhelming calm and a horror so absolute that it is confused with everyday life; it is immanent to it and is therefore definitive, omnipresent, absolute as the air.” — Antonio Enrique Gonzáles Rojas, Rialta Magazine Source: Rialta Magazine

Taxibol

Tommaso Santambrogio
Italy / 2023 / 50 min.
section: Constellations, Ji.hlava Online
Czech Premiere
The World According to My Dad
“I thought it would be easier,” admits director Marta Kovářová halfway through the film. In the form of a vivid diary, she captures her father's fight for climate justice. Jiří Svoboda from the Institute of Physics of Materials of the Czech Academy of Sciences came up with an ingeniously simple idea to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He proposes a global carbon price. Accompanied by his daughter's camera and songs, the Brno scientist visits local protest meetings and global environmental summits. The infectious determination of both protagonists, however, clashes with the slothfulness of politicians and the inflexibility of power structures. Yet Svoboda never loses his humour and his belief that certain things make sense simply because they are the right thing to do.“I wanted to use the film to examine why the world couldn't work the way my dad imagines it in the kitchen.” — Marta KovářováThe quote from dok.revue.

The World According to My Dad

Marta Kovářová
Slovakia, Czech Republic / 2023 / 77 min.
section: Czech Joy, Ji.hlava Online
International Premiere
To Hear to Feel / Почути відчути
What can be done to cover 550 km? Ocean splashes, phone signals and kitchen rituals as a bilingual tale of the search for a love language.

To Hear to Feel / Почути відчути

Kateřina Konrádová
Poland, Czech Republic / 2023 / 10 min.
section: FAMU Presents, Ji.hlava Online
World Premiere
Two Tables Between Us
We were the closest, now we will be strangers – Věra and Vladimír say goodbye to the lost years of their marriage, which culminated in a divorce. Women's shoes, a man's briefcase, photographs of their young son and details of personal fetishes are transformed into alienation by fragments of human faces, bodies and memories in the abyss of the courtroom.

Two Tables Between Us

Václav Táborský
Czechoslovakia / 1961 / 11 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Translucent Being: Václav Táborský
The film already had its Czech Premiere
WHOLE FAMILY
The epidemic has divided many families in Romania. Despite various restrictions, one such family tries to stay in touch with both traditions and relatives abroad, even during a burial. In addition to modern technology, black humour helps its members to do this.

WHOLE FAMILY

Alexandra Diaconu
Romania / 2023 / 23 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Short Joy
International Premiere
Why My Mum Loves Russell Crowe
Emma's mother first idolized Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was then replaced by Russell Crowe, and the household’s DVD collection grew to include all the actor's films. At the same time, however, there is no real man in her mother’s world. She lives for her daughter and makes do with a few close female friends with whom she throws frivolous house parties. The apparent contradiction between the manifestation of the sex drive and its fulfilment leads the director to question the things that remain unspoken and yet define her and her mother’s coexistence. And, in deep introspection, it also leads to the painful realisation that she herself might be carrying her mother's traumas. “I see myself continuing to research between the line of art and documentary film. Letting my voice be heard in today’s society as a filmmaker who happens to be queer and female.” Source: Film Freeway

Why My Mum Loves Russell Crowe

Emma van den Berg
United Kingdom, Netherlands / 2022 / 25 min.
section: Doc Alliance Selection, Ji.hlava Online
Czech Premiere
Worship the Body
Jakub and Martin worship their own bodies. They are the source of their livelihood. They live half in Brno, half on the online OnlyFans platform, where they fulfil the fantasies of their followers – from displaying their biceps, which they build with regular visits to the gym, to golden showers and imitating pigs. They approach conversations about work the same way they approach their bodies – without inhibitions. “Look at these muscles. Me and Martin are flexing for you.”

Worship the Body

Simone Egarter
Czech Republic / 2023 / 23 min.
section: First Lights, Ji.hlava Online
World Premiere
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