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Jihlava 2021

Country Focus: Czech Republic

REPORT: Czech Joy in the Spotlight @ Ji.hlava 2021


- The industry panel showcased the newest domestic documentary works that premiered during this year's Ji.hlava IDFF

REPORT: Czech Joy in the Spotlight @ Ji.hlava 2021
Heaven by Tomáš Etzler and Adéla Špaljová

Czech feature-length documentary films were introduced during the Czech Joy in the Spotlight industry panel, which rounded up the latest wave of domestic works that had their local premiere during this year’s edition of the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival. The presentation was organised by the Ji.hlava IDFF and the Czech Film Fund, in partnership with Czech Centres. Here is an overview of the films in question.

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Heaven – Tomáš Etzler and Adéla Špaljová
Former Czech Television correspondent and the first Czech journalist to receive an Emmy, Tomáš Etzler introduced his latest feature film Heaven, which he co-directed with Adéla Špaljová who also served as an editor. The documentary focuses on a Chinese orphanage for disabled children. Etzler revealed that he worked with Chinese crews, producers, researchers and cameramen as a fully independent production, but the whole post-production of the film was carried out by the Czech company. The co-director called the film a rare glimpse into 21st century China which would be hard to replicate nowadays.

Eyewitness – Jiří Havelka
The latest work by playwright, film and theatre director and actor Jiří Havelka (who is currently readying his sophomore feature film The Train, read the news), Eyewitness had been created for the Czech National Theatre and was presented at the industry panel. Havelka uses a minimalist dramatisation for this video-theatre project, which explores the executions of more than 260 Carpathian Germans, Hungarians and Slovaks by Czechoslovak army soldiers near Přerov in June 1945.

Eyewitness by Jiří Havelka

How I Became a Partisan [+see also:
interview: Vera Lacková
film profile
– Vera Lacková
Slovak filmmaker Vera Lacková introduced her feature-length debut How I Became a Partisan, an intimate essay exploring the history of her great-grandfather – a Roma partisan in the Slovak resistance movement. Lacková unearths the topic which is vanishing from the collective consciousness while uncovering the roots of European racism. The film's producer Jan Bodnár noted that the film is available for festival distribution and sales agents.

How I Became a Partisan by Vera Lacková

Blood Kin – Miroslav Bambušek
Producer Saša Dlouhý of FreeSaM introduced Blood Kin, from Czech theatre and film director Miroslav Bambušek. Inspired by a real story, Bambušek spent 6 years shooting the film about the expulsion of Germans from the Czech Republic which he tackles as an imaginative docudrama combining realism and symbolism (the festival description is “a phantasmagorical hallucinatory faerie”). The film was shot in the Czech Republic, Poland and Azores. Blood Kin is a Czech-Slovak co-production supported by the Czech Film Fund, the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, and the Czech-German Future Fund. Aerofilms handles the Czech theatrical release.

Blood Kin by Miroslav Bambušek

Points for the President aka Attempt at Counterrevolution [+see also:
film review
film profile
– Martin Kohout
Žofie Strachotová and Jakub Wágner of GPO Platform introduced Martin Kohout's analytical docu-essay reflecting upon the ideals of November 1989 while attempting to understand the polarisation of the Czech society. The Czech Film Fund supported the film, while the producers said that the domestic release is planned for the beginning of 2022. They are currently looking for festivals, sales agents, and further distribution in the Central and Eastern European territory.

Points for the President aka Attempt at Counterrevolution by Martin Kohout

Ordeal – Zuzana Piussi
Slovakian documentarian Zuzana Piussi continues to chronicle the domestic socio-political situation in her latest work Ordeal (previously known as In the Fog - read the news) focusing on the state of justice after the seismic rift caused by the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée. Piussi further develops the thematic line of her previous film The State Capture through the prism of this unprecedented situation, when the police detained 13 judges on corruption charges. Ordeal captures the long-term crisis of the Slovak justice system where “justice [is] for sale.” The film is a Slovak-Czech coproduction supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund.

Ordeal by Zuzana Piussi

Out in Force [+see also:
interview: Martin Mareček
film profile
– Martin Mareček
Alexandra Hroncová of Vernes presented Martin Mareček's time-lapse observation documentary on the topic of the crisis of masculinity, Out in Force. In this uncompromising portrait, Mareček followed the well-known Czech critic and fitness buff Kamil Fila for five years through his midlife crisis, steroid abuse and several break-ups. The Czech Film Fund supported the film and HBO Europe served as a co-producer. Artcam Films handles the domestic release scheduled for January 6, 2022.

Out in Force by Martin Mareček

Leaving Beginnings Behind – Linda Kallistová Jablonská
Linda Kallistová Jablonská, who previously directed Welcome to North Korea, has made a sensitive portrait in her sequel of sorts to The Beginnings called Leaving Beginnings Behind. Jablonská observed three girls growing up in institutional care and this new film tracks 10 years in the lives of the protagonists since the first film.

Leaving Beginnings Behind by Linda Kallistová Jablonská

Healing Me – Tereza Tara
Producer Jan Hubáček presented the latest film by director, producer, artist and personal development coach Tereza Tara about her journey of healing in the form of a personal video diary titled Healing Me. Tara has been shooting the film over the course of 10 years during which she has met doctors, therapists and healers about her weakened kidney. Throughout her journey, she discovered that the ailing is a reflection of her unbalanced relationship with her mother and her partner. The film's producer Jan Bodnár said they are currently looking for a festival for the international premiere of the film, further distribution and a sales agent.

Healing Me by Tereza Tara

Preparations for Film T – Milan Klepikov
DoP and editor Jiří Holba introduced a feature-length debut by script editor and publicist Milan Klepikov, Preparations for Film T. The film, based on a short poem, is a poetic documentary based on the premise of a Czech poet Petr Král who believed that children are born into a world which has already ended.

Preparations for Film T by Milan Klepikov
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