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REPORT: Docu Talents 2016

by Vladan Petkovic

The 12 most remarkable documentaries from Central and Eastern Europe, curated by Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival's Docu Talents and planned for theatrical release during the upcoming 12 months, were presented last week at the Karlovy Vary IFF. In addition, the Jihlava industry representatives revealed the names of the 2017 Emerging Producers, which will be featured at this year's edition, running from 25-30 October.

The Docu Talents 2016 slate features the following films:

A Long Day (Slovakia), directed and produced by Pavol Pekarčík (Velvet Terrorists), with the company Partizanfilm, an observational documentary about hearing-impaired children.

A Tall Tale (Slovakia), directed by Lucia Nimcova and produced by Roman Babjak (, a 34-minute documentary about hidden realities within communities excluded from the main historical narrative of Ukraine, through songs describing domestic abuse, murder, conflict, sex, love and hate.

The Self and the Other (Romania), directed by Ionut Piturescu (Quest) and produced by Alexandru Teodorescu (Saga Film), about two friends, one of whom is an architect and cheesemaker, and the other is called Spirtu, an economist and poet. Both of them are members of the Aromanian minority in Albania, who set out on a Balkan journey to create the Cultural Centre for Aromanian Research and Education.

Diagnosis (Poland), directed by Ewa Podgórska (The Chicken and the Egg) and produced by Małgorzata Wabińska, an artistic interpretation of the process undergone by the world’s first urban psychoanalyst, who treats a city as a human being.

Batalives (Czech Republic), directed by Karolina Zalabáková and Petr Babinec, and produced by Zalabáková and Lukáš Gargulák (Cinebonbon), about towns designed and built by Tomas Bata, a 1920s Czech entrepreneurial icon, in order to expand his business. It was shot in five of those towns across the Czech Republic, Croatia, India, Netherlands, and Brazil.

Gogita's New Life (Georgia), directed and produced by Levan Koguashvili (best known for fiction films Street Days and Blind Dates) with the company Kino Iberica, about a man who, after 14 years in prison, goes on the quest to find a wife.

Helena's Law (Czech Republic), directed by Petra Nesvačilová (Tell Me Where the Germans Are) and produced by Klára Žaloudková (Background Films), about police detective Helena Káhnová, who, with her colleague, managed to send several dozen people involved in the so-called “Berdych Gang case” to prison in the 1990s.

Nine Months War (Hungary), directed by Laszlo Csuja (The Clogging) and produced by Agnes Horvath-Szabo and Andras Pires Muhi (ELF Pictures), an observational documentary about the motives of a 24 year-old Hungarian who has been fighting in the Russian-Ukrainian war for nine months.

Opera About Poland (Poland), directed by Piotr Stasik (The Last Days of Summer, 21xNew York) and produced by Anna Gawlita (KIJORA), the first Polish cross-genre project, blending opera with documentary film. Free from temporary journalism and politics, it is a story about Poland and its archetypes, symbols, anthropology, philosophy and metaphysics.

Pepik the Czech Goes to Poland in a Quest for Love of God (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland), directed by documentary-making duo Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda (Czech Dream, Czech Peace), produced by Jana Brožková and Zdeněk Holý (Vernes). For the film, the documentary crew sets out on a summertime pilgrimage across Poland in order to investigate the situation regarding surrounding the notion of “Czech atheism vs. Polish religion” through the medium of film. 

The Road Movie (Russia), directed by Dmitrii Kalashnikov (Film About Love, Waiting for the Show) and produced by Kalashnikov and Angelina Kalashnikova (Eight and a Half Studio), about the collective image of a Russian man presented through a montage of dash cam videos from Russian roads.

There Will Be Fog on the Roads (Russia), directed by Ivan I Tverdovsky (known for fiction films Zoology and Corrections Class, both awarded at Karlovy Vary) and produced by Tverdovsky, Natalia Mokritskaya, and Mila Rozanova (New People Film Company), showing the peculiar ways in which drivers and highway patrols on Russian roads coexist, representing the paradoxes of the desperately corrupt society in modern Russia.

"Docu Talents introduced some upcoming films made by distinctive Eastern European documentary filmmakers," Marek Hovorka, director of the Jihlava IDFF and curator of the project, said. "The films presented at the Docu Talents last year, premiered at festivals in Rotterdam, Jihlava, Nyon, Karlovy Vary, at the IDFA, and in Leipzig. We wish these newly introduced films every success in the upcoming months, as well as the attention they deserve."  

As for Emerging Producers, Jihlava has selected 18 talented producers (16 representing Europe and two representing this year’s guest country Mexico), which it provides with educational, networking and promotional support. While the main part of the project takes place at Jihlava IDFF annually at the end of October, other activities and the promotion of Emerging Producers take place at major film events throughout the year. The list of selected producers for 2017 can be found here.

"Each October, Jihlava IDFF offers a great showcase of new talents on the region’s documentary scene. We are happy that thanks to this traditional collaboration with Karlovy Vary IFF, we can give the documentary filmmakers from Eastern Europe yet another opportunity to present their work," Jarmila Outratová, head of industry at Jihlava IDFF, said.

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