The biggest documentary film festival in Central Europe kicks off in Jihlava
by Martin Kudláč
- Fifty-seven world, international and European premieres will be hosted by the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival
The 18th edition of the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, the biggest documentary film festival in Central Europe, starts on 23 October and will continue until 28 October. Jihlava, the oldest mining town in the Czech Republic, will welcome over 200 films from 42 countries, and the festival programmers have prepared 57 world, international and European premieres. “This year’s festival is a true tribute to the artistic and independent film scene. This tribute will take place in the presence of such special guests as Kidlat Tahimik (which translates as ‘Quiet Lightning’), the founder of independent Filipino cinema, whose films from the 1970s were declared by Werner Herzog to be among the most free to come out during that time, and noted Chinese director Wang Bing, the winner of awards at festivals in Venice, Rotterdam, Yamagata and Marseille,” remarks festival director Marek Hovorka.
The Czech Joy competition section is presenting a raft of domestic documentary films covering a wide range of themes. Veronika Lišková’s long-awaited documentary Daniel’s World, a humane portrait of a 25-year-old literary academy student and paedophile, will be competing alongside other films such as talented filmmaker Jan Gogola Jr’s depiction of a former government clerk with a passion for ornithology, František of His Own Kind; omnibus Gottland by a number of emerging documentarians, which is based on Mariusz Szczygieł’s book of the same name; Lean a Ladder Against Heaven, this year’s second film about Slovak priest Marián Kuffa and how he helps ex-convicts, drug addicts and homeless people (the first was made by Slovak documentarian Ladislav Kaboš under the title All My Children); and a look at Pavel Wonka, the well-known Czech dissident, anti-communist and the last political prisoner to die in a communist prison, in Pavel Wonka Commits to Cooperate, among others.
Other competition sections include Opus Bonum, focused on the most noteworthy documentaries representing diverse trends from around the world; Between the Seas, which spotlights countries from Central and Eastern Europe; First Lights, which showcases emerging filmmakers; Fascinations, promoting experimental filmmaking; and Short Joy, presenting a selection of the best European short documentaries. Retrospectives will be dedicated to prominent Filipino filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik; Alain Resnais, whose selected films were screened only a few times in France; and the creator of the famous audiovisual essays Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi, Godfrey Reggio, who will also be honoured with the Contribution to World Cinema Award.
Jihlava also boasts a rich industry programme, kicking off with Emerging Producers, the third annual promotional and educational project for talented documentary producers; Inspiration Forum, the fourth edition of a unique project for discovering new documentary film topics; Festival Identity, a platform for festival representatives; and Visegrad Accelerator, a creative, Visegrad-focused platform for the development of film activities, aimed at film professionals, critics, and representatives of film funds and festivals. Jihlava is also a partner of the East Silver Market, which supports producers and distributors from Eastern and Central Europe, and provides access to more than 270 documentaries.