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JIHLAVA 2017

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Ji.hlava’s Industry Programme is in full swing

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- The 21st edition of the Czech festival offers a series of presentations, meetings, screenings, talks and other activities aimed at film professionals working in all areas of filmmaking

Ji.hlava’s Industry Programme is in full swing
A photo of Katarzyna Surmiak-Domańska's master class during the Inspiration Forum

As is the case every year, the International Documentary Film Festival in Jihlava is organising a diverse and fascinating selection of industry events intended for every section of the documentary film industry. Several master classes are being given, featuring outstanding producers such as Ada Solomon (Toni Erdmann [+see also:
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trailer
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Q&A: Maren Ade
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]
) and Pierre-Olivier Bardet (National Gallery [+see also:
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]
Mrs. Wang), filmmaking legends such as Karpo Godina, and composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, among others.

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In addition, some master classes, talks, panels and discussions have been organised specifically to encourage festival visitors and professionals to start thinking about documentaries in an out-of-the-box fashion, such as the events in the Inspiration Forum, which is presenting meetings with selected directors from around the world and significant personalities from outside the film community: scientists, writers, visual artists and philosophers. In contrast with the festival and industry activities focused on the development of an existing topic, the search for co-producers and the extension of distribution possibilities, their master classes will help create a platform for the search for new themes and their interpretations within the sphere of documentary filmmaking. This year’s guests at the Inspiration Forum (held on 26, 27 and 28 October) include Russian journalist and social activist Zhanna Nemtsova, Croatian theatre director Oliver Frljić and Katarzyna Surmiak-Domańska, a Polish reporter who writes about sexuality and nationalism. In a reflection useful for both journalists and documentary filmmakers, Surmiak-Domańska underlined the three-fold responsibility of the interviewer in her master class: to establish a rapport with the interviewee, to handle their stories responsibly, and finally, to be cautious about letting their subject manipulate them. Drawing on her experience writing about the Ku Klux Klan in the USA, she also noted that it is often easier to do interview work outside of one’s country, where people don’t know you or your affiliations.

The Festival Identity section of the Ji.hlava Industry Programme is a platform dedicated specifically to showcasing world film festivals – not just documentary ones, but gatherings of various formats and programme orientations. While the entire networking platform is running from 26-27 October, the public presentation of the participants will be held on the 27th. Festivals like the Diagonale in Austria, Slovenia’s Kino Otok, France’s Festival des Cinémas Différents, Ukraine’s Festival of Film and Urbanism “86”, Frames of Representation in the UK and the Venice International Film Critics' Week will then be required to present themselves in the fast-paced “PechaKucha” style, limiting themselves to the most essential information. 

In contrast with the Inspiration Forum and Festival Identity, the Visegrad Accelerator focuses specifically on the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, making the platform for emerging film professionals one of the most regionally relevant events at the Ji.hlava IDFF, as it aims to introduce them to the international industry community and thereby accelerate their creative growth. While the featured events also focus on the film industry, VR and gaming industry in the Visegrad countries, the opening discussion on 26 October was dedicated specifically to the state of filmmaking in these countries, giving an overview of the trends in documentary and fiction cinema. The panel was moderated by Ji.hlava’s René Kubášek, with Hungarian film critic Géza Csákvári of NépszavaEva Križková of Slovakia’s KinečkoCathy Meils of Film New Europe and Pavel Sladký from Czech Radio participating in the discussion. 

The participants noted that the film-funding system in Hungary and Poland has undergone significant changes, making the financing of films somewhat complicated over the last few years, as reported by Csákvári and Meils. The latter also mentioned the two Polish documentaries that she sees as game-changing for Polish cinema: Rabbit à la Berlin by Bartosz Konopka and All These Sleepless Nights [+see also:
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 by Michal Marczak, a documentary that manages to look like fiction. In Slovakia, in contrast, film production, its quality and cinema attendance are all growing rapidly, said Križková, offering the opening film of the 21st Ji.hlava IDFF, The Lust for Power by Tereza Nvotová, as an example of a domestically and internationally successful Slovak film. And finally, in the Czech Republic, the two films that best represent the two main trends of current filmmaking are Little Crusader [+see also:
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interview: Václav Kadrnka
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]
 by Václav Kadrnka, which won the main award at the Karlovy Vary IFF, but which was definitely not a box-office hit, and A Prominent Patient [+see also:
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]
by Julius Sevcík, a movie seeking to emulate a Hollywood style of filmmaking.

Finally, most of the participants in the panel expressed concern over the political situation in some of the Visegrad countries, which is also influencing filmmaking: in Hungary, the only documentaries that can be produced with public funding are short or mid-length films, the subjects of which fit the politics of the national TV station – which immediately blocks cinematic examinations of topics such as LGBT sexualities or immigrant communities. Meanwhile, in Poland, while there is no direct censorship imposed on cinema per se, the situation is worrisome for those individuals working in management positions at the cultural institutions in the country because of the strained relationship between the government and the cultural sector. In addition, those films that have been exceptionally successful internationally, like Son of Saul [+see also:
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Q&A: László Nemes
interview: László Rajk
film profile
]
 by László Nemes and Ida [+see also:
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trailer
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interview: Pawel Pawlikowski
interview: Pawel Pawlikowski
film profile
]
 by Pawel Pawlikowski, were – at least initially – deemed anti-patriotic or uninteresting in their home countries. Despite their success, which did make certain things easier, there is still a long way to go, the participants noted.

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