28th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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A Lonely Voice Against Moscow
The documentary follows in the footsteps of the controversial personality of František Kriegel, M.D., who was born into a Jewish family in Halych, saved lives as a frontline doctor in Spain, China, Burma and India, and after World War II joined the service of the Communist Party and the People's Militia. In 1968, he became one of the main representatives of our state and was the only member of the kidnapped delegation to save face and not officially condemn "fraternal aid," which had significant professional and social consequences for him.

A Lonely Voice Against Moscow

Martin Slunečko, Miloslav Šmídmajer
Czech Republic / 2023 / 52 min.
section: Czech Television Documentaries, Ji.hlava Online
The film already had its Czech Premiere
A Pub
Life is like a pub, a grotesque microcosm in front of which a pram and a coffin are parked. The parade of human destinies in the expressive detail of eyes, faces and bodies, intimate hugs, fleeting kisses, toothless mouths and wrinkled faces shows that we are all on a journey.

A Pub

Václav Táborský
Czechoslovakia / 1963 / 9 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Translucent Being: Václav Táborský
The film already had its Czech Premiere
A Song for Ms. Pilarová
Singer Eva Pilarová, lyricist Jan Schneider and composer Bohuslav Ondráček search for the right melody, word and tone in the magical space between silence and sound. The intimacy of their creative process is reminiscent of alchemy, where notes, lyrics and recording equipment give birth to a bitterly swinging love song, It Happens.

A Song for Ms. Pilarová

Václav Táborský
Czechoslovakia / 1967 / 14 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Translucent Being: Václav Táborský
The film already had its Czech Premiere
A Vague Dread Seems to Silence the Tongue
The Molly Maguires, a secret organization of Irish immigrants, were responsible for numerous murders in the mining region of Pennsylvania in the 1860s and 1870s. A one-sided historical narrative about the clash of different immigration groups is reconstructed in a film composed of contemporary written records and images of the sites exposed in the text. It views the tragic events as the result of a much more complicated context, involving issues of racism as well as growing social oppression and the slowly forming resistance to it. The long shadow of the painful events unfortunately still falls on the region today. “A Vague Dread Seems to Silence the Tongue attempts to conjure the spectre of violence that emerged out of the racial animus and labour struggles of the Civil War in the present day, setting the bloody events of the late 19th century against the contemporary landscape of a fading coal economy.” Source: Edward Kinh

A Vague Dread Seems to Silence the Tongue

Edward Kihn
United States / 2023 / 75 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Behind the Wheel
I'll throw you in a pit, cover you up with sand and you'll be gone, sighs the driver of a Tatra truck who has to drive eighteen times in one shift from the sandpit to the embankment in Veltrusy and back. Driving, dumping, loading and driving again; dust, heat and wind-battered, suntanned cheeks are the attributes of inadvertent heroism.

Behind the Wheel

Václav Táborský
Czechoslovakia / 1962 / 10 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Translucent Being: Václav Táborský
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Bergen - A City West of Reason
Norway's second-largest city is not just an ordinary settlement with an inferiority complex and big ambitions. Surrounded by the sea on one side and mountains on the other and slightly detached from the outside world, Bergen lives its own distinctive story. This cinematic tribute to the town and its people is conceived as a series of micro-stories told against the backdrop of film footage taken over more than a century. In it, we learn what gave Bergen its modernist architectural appearance, why it is still a welcoming place to newcomers and, above all, what underlies the undying pride of the inhabitants of this perennially rain-drenched city. “The rain, the humour, the passion, the arguments, the disasters, the complexes, the parties and the extravagance are some of the ingredients in this declaration of love for Bergen.” Source: VERDENSTEATRET

Bergen - A City West of Reason

Frode Fimland
Norway / 2020 / 76 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Special Event
International Premiere
BLIX NOT BOMBS
Q&A with Hans BlixThe former head of the UN Security Council's weapons inspectorate, Swedish diplomat Hans Blix, is currently enjoying a peaceful retirement; nonetheless, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 sent tremors through his life and career. In the wake of the tragedy, he was entrusted with the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the accompanying role of supposed peacemaker who had the ability to influence the future fate of the country. Without any proof of the existence of the weapons, a year and a half later they served as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq by US troops. In her documentary, Greta Stocklassa asks where the limits of diplomacy, human empathy or personal responsibility for political decisions that have an impact on world history begin and end. “The world has gradually become hostile. Is it just the way one grows up? Why can't we live in peace?” — Greta Stocklassa

BLIX NOT BOMBS

Greta Stocklassa
Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic / 2023 / 85 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Special Event
Czech distribution premiere
Czech Painter Jan Zrzavý
I’d still paint even if I were blind, declares Czech painter Jan Zrzavý in a film dialogue with himself about aging and infinity. For him, time is magically internalized. Stopped in the middle of nowhere, it transforms into blurred structures and landscapes, hidden from the outside world.

Czech Painter Jan Zrzavý

Václav Táborský
Czechoslovakia / 1963 / 9 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Translucent Being: Václav Táborský
The film already had its Czech 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
First of May
The documentary First of May explores the more than a century-long evolution of the celebration and the meaning of this day. The structure is composed of memories, newspaper excerpts, testimonies found in archives, etc. - all these passages are brought to life by the actors' voices, taking on the roles of journalists, factory workers, policemen, workers and ordinary people who watch May Day, sometimes with interest and verve, sometimes with distance or irony.

First of May

Petr Smělík
Czech Republic / 2023 / 55 min.
section: Czech Television Documentaries, Ji.hlava Online
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Gutwasser
Gutwasser as a former military retreat and pilgrimage site with healing springs. The story of a place captured in a single house, a single name, a single drop of water.

Gutwasser

Kateřina Konrádová
Czech Republic / 2023 / 10 min.
section: FAMU Presents, Ji.hlava Online
World Premiere
History and the 8
The enduring Czech people have survived many historic dates ending in eight, from the Přemyslids to the Soviets. In a filmed opinion poll, Miloš Kopecký has a Schweik-like conversation with a tailor's dummy and, with a head carved out of stone, he debates the significance of Alexander Dubček and the Prague Spring.

History and the 8

Václav Táborský
Czechoslovakia / 1968 / 12 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Translucent Being: Václav Táborský
The film already had its Czech Premiere
If I Ever Lose My Eyes
When we close our eyes, the world around us disappears, but a new world appears within us. Visual artist Lea Petříková follows in the footsteps of people searching for this invisible world. As a gateway to augmented reality, she uses mysterious places instead of psychadelics. A mountain where the devil resides, a stone with the footprint of Christ, a UFO landing ramp or a crypt with ancient inscriptions are shortcuts to abstract, imaginary or spiritual worlds. The medium of film is such a gateway, like the Shroud of Turin painted with light and shadow, representing a magical imprint of something greater.“The film could be something like the Shroud of Turin, by imprinting something bigger. It's not just about capturing, but capturing something that transcends us, and making it so that we can experience that transference as well.” — Ladislav ValešThe second projection will have English subtitles.

If I Ever Lose My Eyes

Lea Petříková
Czech Republic / 2023 / 62 min.
section: Czech Joy, Ji.hlava Online
World Premiere
King Coal
The central Appalachian region has always been associated with coal mining, which to this day is not only a source of livelihood but also influences and shapes the lifestyle of local communities. Elaine McMillion Sheldon's documentary is a compelling mosaic that weaves together the past and present myths of the region, as well as a poetic reflection on a unique environment and its transformation. King Coal, as she calls her home, is indeed a place that, like the mountaintops, is dominated by rugged beauty, dreaminess and mysterious stories.“Some think that place matters less today. But here, we know that our bodies are only ever in one place.”

King Coal

Elaine McMillion Sheldon
United States / 2023 / 78 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Opus Bonum
European Premiere
LAST THINGS
Billions of years before the origin of life, our planet was an active, evolving entity. Rocks, crystals and minerals could tell stories, and in Deborah Stratman's meditative essay, they get the chance. Before and after does not exist for them. Also, in their story of Earth's evolution, the lines between past and future blur. Images of sublime rock formations are accompanied by commentary by renowned geologist Marcia Bjornerud as well as excerpts from philosophical texts and speculative fiction. To see the world from the perspective of minerals may be to admit one's own transience. And perhaps, in doing so, to understand our place in the universe. “I fell in love with the idea that storytelling and rhythm are a sort of genetic memory of our species. The land as tape recorder. Every rock as a text.” — Deborah Stratman Source: MUBI

LAST THINGS

Deborah Stratman
France, Portugal, United States / 2022 / 49 min.
section: Constellations, Ji.hlava Online
Czech Premiere
Mud Covered City
A report from an unfinished housing estate, which won an award at the Venice Film Festival, captures the sea of mud separating the inhabitants of Prague's Malešice from their dreams of a new world, one which they are given in an absurdly unfinished state. Concrete panels like biscuits stacked on top of one another, a tap with no water and a can of mud for lunch remind us that society is a playground where anything can happen.

Mud Covered City

Václav Táborský
Czechoslovakia / 1963 / 7 min.
section: Czechoslovak Film Feuilleton, Ji.hlava Online
The film already had its Czech Premiere
O Baripen
Elena Lacková (1921–2003) was a prominent Romani writer, playwright and social worker. Her great-granddaughter, Alžběta Ferencová alias Zea, is a singer, dancer and actress. The film draws parallels between two family-related women who, despite social prejudices, dedicate their lives to artistic creation. Through archival materials and the stories of witnesses, the difficult fate of Elena Lacková is revealed: from growing up in a Roma settlement, through the period of the Roma Holocaust, to her emancipatory work under communism. The poetic narrative reveals how the personal can take on political dimensions in our society.“Overall, I feel there is a lack of space in the area of the media for us Romani people to express ourselves. That is why we need to claim that space.”Quote from A2larm.

O Baripen

Vera Lacková
Czech Republic, Slovakia / 2023 / 52 min.
section: Czech Joy, Ji.hlava Online
Czech Premiere
Orlando - or a Little History of the Middle Class
The protagonist of Virginia Woolf's Orlando was born a man. But, after thirty years of life, he wakes up as a woman and his previous perspective changes radically. Similarly, this personal film essay changes the perspective from which a middle-class story is usually presented. When you are neither rich nor poor, you struggle with the problem of identity all your life. All the more so if you are also a woman struggling for your rights, education and financial independence. Inspired by Daniela Dröscher's text, the film is not only about growing up in West Germany, but more generally about the difficulties of social mobility for those who are not heterosexual men. “It took a long time for me to realise that I'm from a lower-middle class family, from the petit bourgeois. For some time, I didn't know what to call my social position.”

Orlando - or a Little History of the Middle Class

Catalina Flórez, Jelena Jeremejewa
Germany / 2023 / 42 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Testimonies
International 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
Project 02
Google's data centres are renowned for their size and efficiency, but are also fraught with many questions. Adam Diller tried to penetrate the security fence and answer some of them. In his multimedia project, which in addition to this film includes a book and exhibition, he focused on a data centre in The Dalles, Oregon, built in 2006. Using both his own and archival footage, he uncovers the various layers of power, media and ecology to understand the history of the site and the material and discursive practices we come into contact with daily in our use of the internet. “The internet that this data center helps produce is changing our relationship with ourselves and everything around us.”

Project 02

Adam Diller
United States / 2023 / 65 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Testimonies
World Premiere
Republic of Judges
Originally a six-part television series, it offers a detailed insight into the political transformations of the last few decades in Brazil. The transformation of the regime, the introduction of the constitution, the development of human rights, but also the ever-swelling judiciary, whose high-ranking protagonists are paradoxically above the law. Without the use of typical talking heads, the narrative turns to archival footage, television reports, feature films and mood-art video clips to create a documentary collage. The film narrates historical events from a contemporary critical perspective and exposes the mechanisms behind the lawlessness in South American states. “They do not overthrow the powerful with weapons or battles, but with pens, sentences, and in coordination with the Public Ministry.” Source: Ponte Jornalismo

Republic of Judges

Cédric Fanti, Eugenio Puppo, Hugo Leonardo
Brazil / 2023 / 100 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Testimonies
World Premiere
Rosinha and Other Wild Animals
A historical documentary conceived as a discussion of history and method of production – this is one way to interpret the film about the Portuguese Colonial Exhibition, held in Porto in 1934. From archival print and video material, a pair of researchers piece together a picture of an event officially presented as a showcase of the southern European country's foreign achievements. However, with the hindsight of more than 70 years, the clearly racist dimension of the event stands out. The objectification of the gaze of the passing visitors on the titular Rosinha and other forcibly imported members of African ethnic groups finds a parallel in the operation of zoos, museums and similar institutions. “The titular Rosinha is a Guinean native who became the symbol of the first Portuguese Colonial Exhibition presented by the Estado Novo in 1934. A trip to the past to better understand the present.” Source: IndieLisboa International Film Festival

Rosinha and Other Wild Animals

Marta Pessoa
Portugal / 2023 / 101 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Opus Bonum
International Premiere
Ship
After more than 160 years of existence, one of the largest Croatian shipyards Uljanik is closing down. The place where ships of impressive size and importance were manufactured and then sailed away has been turned into an industrial graveyard for wrecks, dysfunctional cranes and abandoned workshops that once teemed with life. Through a collage of observational footage, however, we now observe the almost post-apocalyptic landscape of the site, which has become home to seagulls, sea creatures and hungry cats. How did Pula's originally important Austro-Hungarian shipping empire come to an end? The former glory of Uljanik and its road to extinction come alive in the memories of countless individuals, many of whom have dedicated their professional and private lives to Uljanik. “Everyday I walk past Uljanik and think about those [past] scenes. I simply don’t want to remember this moment now.”

Ship

Elvis Lenić
Croatia / 2023 / 65 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Opus Bonum
International Premiere
STAND BY FOR FAILURE: A NEGATIVLAND DOCUMENTARY
A look at 40 years of subversive work by the American collective Negativland. Would you go to jail for your work? They say they never had a hit single, but they had a hit lawsuit. Negativland's media collages, which predated the web-sharing era from the late 1970s onwards, resulted in a single called U2. The group documented the court-imposed punishment in such a way as to create a spectacular artefact, and a narrative about the moral standards around copyright and intellectual property. “Media is coming into our homes: its images and sounds flow into our living rooms. So I consider them mine – and I want the right to dispose of them,” says Negativland member Don Joyce.

STAND BY FOR FAILURE: A NEGATIVLAND DOCUMENTARY

Ryan Worsley
United States / 2022 / 99 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Siren Test
Czech Premiere
Summer and Winter
Families on a trip, people at work, festive parades, city streets, apartment interiors. Slides depicting everyday life in the former GDR serve as a visual basis for a reflective lyrical commentary consisting of excerpts from prose and essay works by James Joyce, George Orwell, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Virginia Woolf. Images of specific people, places and rituals – which we learn nothing of in greater detail – acquire timeless qualities thanks to extravisual reflections on mortality, fate or the imprint that we leave behind on this world, for example through photographs. “Apparently one grows more carnal and more mortal. As one grows older, only youth has a taste of immortality.”

Summer and Winter

Robert Manson
Ireland, Germany / 2023 / 40 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Opus Bonum
World Premiere
The Great Sadness
1953 was a year of great sadness for Czechoslovak citizens. Obligatory mourning intervened in their lives after the deaths of Stalin and Gottwald. Their grief was sincere because of the currency reform, which ruined their lifelong savings. In retrospect, 1953 was the height of social despair.

The Great Sadness

Pavel Štingl
Czech Republic / 2023 / 52 min.
section: Czech Television Documentaries, Ji.hlava Online
The film already had its Czech Premiere
The Many Lives of Édouard Louis
Édouard Louis comes from a poor family in the north-west of France. But, in less than a decade after the publication of his debut novel, The End of Eddy, he has become one of the leading figures on the French literary scene. The transformation of a boy from a proletarian background into a privileged Parisian intellectual with high cultural capital is one of the central lines of this biographical documentary. Louis is given the space to retell the story of his difficult childhood, adolescence and integration into a new social class in his own words. He introduces us to the landscape of his youth and to the act of writing, which for him is above all a means of crossing boundaries. “Here is a young man who has not stopped transforming himself for twenty years. His entire career has been marked by renewal.” – François Caillat Source: Outplay Films

The Many Lives of Édouard Louis

François Caillat
France / 2023 / 71 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Testimonies
Czech Premiere
The Modrý Case
Bohumil Modrý, the best hockey goalie in the world, who significantly contributed to the first international successes of Czechoslovak hockey after World War II. In 1948, he was offered a job in the NHL, but his stellar sports career and happy family life were destroyed by a trumped-up political trial in 1950. He died prematurely in 1963 at the age of 46 from the effects of imprisonment and radiation.

The Modrý Case

Roman Vávra
Czech Republic / 2023 / 54 min.
section: Czech Television Documentaries, Ji.hlava Online
The film already had its Czech Premiere
The Prison of History
Set history free. A modern history, enclosed for more than a quarter of a century in an abandoned prison in Uherské Hradiště with unique rooms preserved from the 1950s. The authors fill the emptiness of the premises with situational encounters with the building, nature and people who are united by their experience of the place and who are often divided by their life experience. A shared past as a starting point to a shared future. "I used to go to the Hradiště prison as a boy in a playgroup, without any idea, while playing in the former prison yard, of what happened there two decades ago. I perceive the emptiness of the grounds here, closed since the 1990s, as a manifestation of the historical void within us. I then see the prison of history as an opportunity to open up the site and ourselves, to meet each other as the living and the dead, despite the fact that we come from different generational, ideological and social worlds." – Jan Gogola Jr.

The Prison of History

Jan Gogola ml., Matěj Hrudička
Czech Republic / 2023 / 94 min.
section: Czech Joy, Ji.hlava Online
World Premiere
They Are Waiting Every Sunday
Baby clothes on the line, a fictional mother and cots for sixty-five boys and girls stuck in time paint a sensitive portrait of the residents of a children’s home. The probe into a fragile world of those who are waiting accompanies Táborský's socially-themed feature films Escape in the Wind and Miraculous Puzzle.

They Are Waiting Every Sunday

Václav Táborský
Czechoslovakia / 1962 / 9 min.
section: Ji.hlava Online, Translucent Being: Václav Táborský
The film already had its Czech 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
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