Looking Back: Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival 2018
A hundred years of Czechoslovakia, the pre-election campaign of Michal Horáček, Wim Wenders, Jean-Luc Godard, Lebanese films, and the Czechoslovak Orient. This year Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival had a packed program, and some very special guests. Photo credit: Stefan Berec. // Ji.hlava.
Brno, Nov 5 (BD) – From October 25 to 30, 2018, Jihlava played host to the 22nd International Documentary Film Festival, a celebration of documentary film and the biggest event of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. More than 300 films were screened, many of them world premieres. The festival included the traditional Q&A sessions with filmmakers, directors’ workshops, and open public discussions at the Inspiration Forum.
The festival’s attendance exceeded 1,000 last year; this year there were more than 5,000 accredited attendees arriving in Vysočina. In total, the Jihlava festival was visited by 40,000 people. The festival program included 327 films in eight cinemas across Jihlava and Třešť, and nearly 200 debates. 130 of the debates took place after screenings, and just under 40 were in the Inspiration Forum. There were eleven competition sections this year.
What was new?
Major draws at the festival were Witnesses of Putin by Vitalia Manski, a documentary about the current Russian president, and Aquarel, from the Russian filmmaker Viktor Kossakovsky. The winner of this year’s Czech Joy, a prize for the best Czech film, was Enclosed World, depicting life in prison. As well as the films, a big attraction for festival-goers was the “virtual reality zone”, which had 400 visitors this year.
Also interesting were film portraits of politicians from Gorbachev to Putin, a look at the Noah’s Ark in the Arctic circle, and the story of one dilapidated greenhouse in Ukraine. As traditional, it presented competitive new releases as well as an extensive program of cinema verité.
The festival celebrated the centenary of Czechoslovakia with the film section Alien looking for an apartment, mapping the stories of Czechoslovaks forced to find a new home for various reasons during the twentieth century. The section included stories of emigration from the United States, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
One of the guests was the well-known French political scientist and historian Jacques Rupnik, who lived in Prague for 15 years. His work focuses on Central and Eastern Europe, and he was an adviser to President Vaclav Havel for two years. At the festival, he presented his documentary Another Europe, created for the BBC.
Jacques Rupnik. Photo credit: Stefan Berec. // Ji.hlava.
This year Ji.hlava was visited by two big names of the movie world. The first was German director Wim Wenders, who used the festival to introduce his film Pope František: The Man of his Word (2018). This is the first film the Pope has personally collaborated with. “It’s not a custom-made movie. I could do what I wanted, and so I did exactly that. I wanted to give the Pope the space,” said the famous director, quoted in a document that came out at the instigation of the Vatican.
The second star of this year’s Ji.hlava was the iconic director of the French new wave, the 72-year-old Jean-Luc Godard, who also composed this year’s festival jingle. The festival featured his latest film, The Book of Paintings (2018), which won him the Canadian Jury Prize for the first time in history, the special Golden Palm – “A New Definition of Cinematography”, as described by the jury.
The Witness Policy Section included The Waldheim Waltz (2018) by Austrian director Ruth Beckerman, illustrating the crisis that hit Austria in 1986 when it emerged that one of the presidential candidates, Kurt Waldheim, had been entangled with Nazism in his past. The film won the Best Documentary Award this year in Berlin.
The Testimonies Section introduced the French film In the Realm of Perfection (2018), directed by the long-serving director of the film archive at the French Sports Institute, Julien Faraut. The film looks at the life and work of the controversial American tennis player, John McEnroe.
Among the new Czech films was Robin Kvapil and Radim Procházka’s film We Have More, a film about the election campaign of Michal Horáček, on which Kvapil worked as an adviser.
Michal Horáček. Photo credit: David Kumermann. // Ji.hlava.
The “Home” Section also responded to the centenary theme, presenting films depicting Sub-Carpathian Russia between 1919 and 1939, when it was part of Czechoslovakia and perceived as the Czechoslovak Orient. The films breathe poetry, romance and adventure, with hills, mountains, endless forests, wooden churches, and children playing. Films shown included Jiří Weiss’s Song about Subcarpathian Russia (1937) and Plick’s Spring of Carpathian Ruthenia (1929).
The theme of home blended with this year’s retrospective of experimental film, which traditionally has a fixed place in the festival program. “We focus on works with a clear relationship to reality. The home was a strong motive for film experimentation: both as an object of imaging and as an intersection with intimate, internal themes,” explained Ji.hlavy dramaturge Andrea Slováková.
The Inspiration Forum was expanded due to popular demand. “The programmed events were on the sixth day of the festival and counted on attendance of 50 people,” said Zuzana Kopáčová, spokeswoman for the festival. Appearing at the discussions were the Austrian writer and journalist Robert Misik, the Mexican education expert Emilian Rodríguez Morales, and the Polish scientist Aleksandr Przegalinska, an expert on the impact of artificial intelligence on human life. Dozens of other activities formed part of the “industry program” for film professionals, 1,200 of whom came from all over the world came to Jihlava this year. For example, the Emerging Producers workshop, Festival Identity or Fascination Conference, focused on the distribution of experimental films. “This year’s show has confirmed that Jihlava is becoming an increasingly popular destination for film professionals. Many of them appreciate, aside from the exceptional atmosphere, a high-quality industry program. Ji.hlava is a place where talents meet and unexpected collaborations and original documentary projects arise,” said program director Jarmila Outratová.
The awards went as follows:
Best World Documentary Film: “Vacancy” (Alexandra Kandy Longuet, Belgium)
Special mention: “Talks with TGM” (Jakub Červenka, Czech Republic/Slovakia)
Between The Seas
Best Central and East European Documentary Film: “Timebox” (Nora Agapi, Romania)
Special mention: “The Last Self-Portrait” (Marek Kuboš, Slovakia)
Between the Seas Student Film Competition
Winner: “A Well-Kept Secret” (Mihkel Oksmann, Estonia)
Special mention: “Heavy Metal” (Eugene Golovanevsky, Ukraine)
Best Czech Documentary Film: “Enclosed World” (Karel Žalud, Czech Republic)
Special Mention: “Central Bus Station” (Tomáš Elšík, Czech Republic) and “Solos for Members of Parliament” (Tereza Bernátková, Czech Republic)
Student Jury Award: “Passengers” (Jana Boršková, Czech Republic)
Best Experimental Documentary Film: “Blending and Blinding” (Richard Tuohy, Australia)
Special Mention: “Soar” (Patrick Bokanowski, France)
Best Czech Experimental Documentary Film: “Apart” (Diana Cam Van Nguyen, Czech Republic)
Special Mention: “Puddles, I Don’t Know” (Anna Petruželová, Czech Republic)
Best Feature-Length Documentary Debut Film : “Owner’s Portrait” (Joaquín Maito, Argentina)
Special mention: “Boy of War” (Cyprien Clément-Delmas and Igor Kosenko, Germany/Czech Republic)
Student Jury Award: “Boy of War” (Cyprien Clément-Delmas and Igor Kosenko, Germany/Czech Republic)
A Testimony on Politics
Best Testimony on Politics: “The Silence of Others” (Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar, U.S., Spain)
Special mention: “Still Recording” (Ghiath Ayoub, Syria/France/Lebanon/Qatar/Germany)
A Testimony on Knowledge
Best Testimony on Knowledge: “The Truth about Killer Robots” (Maxim Pozdorovkin)
A Testimony on Nature
Best Testimony on Nature: “Welcome to Sodom” (Florian Weigensamer and Christian Krönes, Austria)
“Vote for Kibera” (Martin Páv, Czech Republic)
Contribution to World Cinema Award
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