Searingly topical themes and new media at the One World Festival
by Martin Kudláč
- The human rights film festival is embracing new media for its upcoming 18th edition
The One World Festival, one of the biggest human rights film festivals, gets going with its 18th edition on 7 March. It will focus on two major themes in the European geo-political space this year: migration and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The Looking for Home section attempts to offer several viewpoints on the migrant crisis, among others in the autobiographical essay Fragility by Swedish filmmaker of Iranian heritage Ahang Bashi, where she investigates the issue of integration; Daniel Andreas Sager’s The Long Distance, which looks at Kenyan runners who are migrant workers jogging for a better life; and Mark de Visscher’s My Jihad, which zooms in on the burning issue of jihadism and radicalisation in Belgium. In the Restless Ukraine section, the enigmatic and captivating documentary The Russian Woodpecker [+see also:
film profile] by Chad Gracia elaborates on a conspiracy theory stretching from Chernobyl to Maidan, as seen through the eyes of a young Ukrainian artist, inviting viewers to examine what is happening in Ukraine and why, and it is joined by films about the annexation of Crimea (Larysa Artiugina and Oleksandra Chuprina’s movie How We Became Military Volunteers, and Back Home by Inna Denisova) and Maidan (Captives by Volodymyr Tykhyy).
Last year, the festival screened 114 documentaries hailing from 59 countries; this year, the number of docs has climbed to 123, split among 12 thematic sections, starting with the main competition, which spotlights the most pressing and topical issues in the latest documentaries, such as Erik Gandini’s film essay The Swedish Theory of Love, focusing on a sociological experiment carried out in Sweden, proposing individual independence in order to reach personal happiness, but ultimately leading to disastrous results. Documentarian Sean McAllister follows a Syrian couple throughout their turbulent marriage and their life in Syria in A Syrian Love Story [+see also:
film profile], while Andreas Maus will compete with his visual investigation of a 12-year-old bombing, reconstructing the event and unveiling police failures in The Barber and the Bomb.
Other sections also offer a batch of topical issues, with some even anticipating events to come, such as in the Among the Species section, which revolves around artificial intelligence, extra-terrestrial life and animals. Meanwhile, the notion of normalcy will be challenged in Who Is Normal Here?, and the organisers are also sticking to some of the established sections from the previous edition, such as The Power of the Media, So-called Civilisation (which examines environmental issues) and a presentation of the latest domestic productions.
The novelty this year lies in embracing new forms, as the One World Festival ensures that it moves with current trends and evolutions, featuring documentaries that make use of new media, including virtual reality (DMZ: Memories of No Man’s Land and Witness 360° 7/7), interactive web series (Do Not Track), interactive documentaries (Lahore Landing) and video games (the heart-rending exploration game That Dragon, Cancer).
The One World Festival runs from 7-16 March in Prague, and the selected films will travel to 32 cities across the Czech Republic, subsequently concluding their journey at the tenth edition of One World in Brussels from 18-27 April.