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I Am the People wins Best Documentary and Best Debut at Jihlava IDFF


- Four documentaries that are Czech Television co-productions scored highly at the 18th edition of the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival

I Am the People wins Best Documentary and Best Debut at Jihlava IDFF
I Am the People by Anna Roussillon

The Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, the biggest documentary film gathering in Central Europe, has wrapped up its 18th edition. Seventy-five-year-old American documentary director Godfrey Reggio, who was in Jihlava presenting his most famous film, Koyaanisqatsi, was honoured with the Contribution to World Cinema Award. The festival screened around 200 films from 42 countries, and the programmers had prepared 57 world, international and European premieres.

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Czech Joy, the competition for domestic documentaries, presented 14 new Czech productions, including Martin Dušek’s Into the Clouds We Gaze, which won the top prize. “The director has managed to bring together his entire filmmaking team with a distinct sense for the language of film, thus producing a convincing outcome,” commented the jury about the movie, which portrays a fan of car tuning whose life is enriched by the roaring of the engines. The director has already won at Jihlava twice before, with A Town Called Hermitage (2007) and Coal in the Soul (2010).

“With a great deal of personal engagement, director Martina Malinová has created a valuable report on the meaningfulness and futility of contemporary social activism. The film’s value also lies in the director’s ability to take a critical look at a community of which she herself is a member,” the jury explained as it justified the Special Mention that it bestowed upon Malinová’s Lets Block, depicting the efforts of activist Miroslav Brož to blockade a pig farm on the site of a former concentration camp for the Roma.

The Best Central and Eastern Europe Documentary Award went to We Come as Friends [+see also:
film profile
, directed by Austrian documentarian and globetrotter Hubert Sauper, and exploring the division of Sudan. The jury of the Between the Seas section, which included Raymond Bellour and Albert Serra, thought that Sauper’s economic and environmental investigation was “reportage cinema at its most swift, mischievous, provocative, compassionate and plaintive”. Meanwhile, Anna Roussillon’s feature debut, I Am the People, won the top prize in the Opus Bonum international competition. “It offers an innovative introduction to the turbulent times of the Arab Spring. The hardships of peasants’ lives and work, as well as the wisdom and tenderness of the film’s heroes, help us to understand what the unbreakable ordinary people have to be like in order to get through dangerous and uncertain times,” remarked the jury. I Am the People was also hailed as the Best Debut in First Lights, the new competition for first films.

“In a single 15-minute shot, Deborah Stratman’s Hacked Circuit brilliantly pierces the glamour of Hollywood production, demystifies cinematic illusion and raises the troubling spectre of contemporary US governmental surveillance of everyday life,” Austrian experimental filmmaker Peter Tscherkassky and his wife, director Eve Heller, opined as they awarded Stratman’s film in the Fascinations section, which focuses on experimental docs. This year, for the first time, short documentaries competed for an award in the Short Joy section, and the first ever winners were duo Lisa Truttmann and Behrouz Rae for Babash, a “home video” portraying the life of a parrot with the same name. The Silver Eye Award, given out by the jury of the East Silver Market, went to Matej Bobrik’s The Visit for Best Short Film, Alina Rudnitskaya’s Blood for Best Medium-length Film and Alexander Nanau’s Toto and His Sisters [+see also:
film review
film profile
for Best Feature-length Film. The Special Mention went to the Czech omnibus movie Gottland, the most-watched title at the Jihlava Festival’s videotheque. Finally, Veronika Lišková won the Audience Award for her glimpse into the life of a homosexual paedophile, Daniel’s World.

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